Taking a bite out of space: Apple to launch satellite

Apple is looking into satellites that could beam information directly to its devices. This could allow iDevices to communicate without carrier networks.

Information is the new currency of tech. And we must have the right information the moment we need it. We rely on service providers to provide access to their networks. But what if we could bypass them and get straight to the info?

(Photo: NASA)

According to Bloomberg, Apple has a secret team working on satellite tech that could be designed to send data directly to devices. The news comes from sources close to Apple, who say the tech giant is hiring engineers from different engineering fields to undertake satellite creation.  The satellites could allow Apple to bypass network operators and send data directly to devices.

Apple’s creation could enable direct communication without carriers.

It’s early days, and the project may turn into a way for the company to provide better location services like tracking and improvements to Apple maps. The infrastructure could also enable direct connectivity between Apple devices without using carrier networks or scrapped altogether.

However, the latter seems unlikely as the report claims that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has a keen interest in the project, which may hint to it being a high priority. Also, there are big names associated with this secret venture.

Related image

The project is spearheaded by Michael Trela and John Fenwick, who are former Google aerospace engineers. They departed Google’s division for Apple back in 2017. The duo now reports to the team leader of iPhone engineering.

Apple likes to control its device ecosystem. There has been an increased interest by the company to produce more in-house hardware for its devices. Apple recently inked a US$1 billion deal to acquire Intel’s smartphone modem business. The deal included equipment, some patents and intellectual property.

Additionally, the deal included 2,200 Intel employees joining Apple. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year. The acquisition will enable Apple to design modems for mobile connectivity.

Beaming information directly to iPhones may help with navigation.

Apple used Intel modems for the XS devices instead of Qualcomm. Qualcomm is a global leader in the mobile hardware space. However, Apple and Qualcomm were locked in an intense legal battle with Apple accusing Qualcomm of charging exorbitant fees and coupling chip purchases with patent licensing. The two have since settled their legal dispute and agreed to a six-year licensing agreement. However, for the future, Apple will no doubt, invest heavily in creating its modems.

Going outside of network carriers and beaming directly to devices via Apple satellites doesn’t seem far-fetched considering the level of control Apple has on its device ecosystem.

Apple is not alone in its quest for satellite infrastructure. Amazon, SpaceX and One Web all have plans to launch thousands of satellites.