Android 14 to support satellite connectivity following T-Mobile/Starlink partnership

5G connected on Zenfone 8 with Android 12
(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A Google executive has confirmed that the next version of Android will support direct satellite connectivity.
  • T-Mobile and SpaceX recently announced a new partnership that aims to bring satellite connectivity to smartphones.
  • Apple has been rumored to have this in the works for its upcoming iPhone 14 and Apple Watch 8.

Satellite connectivity is all the rage, apparently. It seems while Android 13 continues its gradual rollout to phones outside of the Pixel series, Google is already teasing features for Android 14.

In a tweet on Thursday, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems, said that he's excited about the possibilities this brings and that Google plans to support satellite connectivity "in the next version of Android."

It isn't much of a stretch to figure out what "the next version of Android" might mean, but Google confirmed to 9to5Google that this is, in fact, Android 14.

Lockheimer's tweet is likely in response to the recently announced partnership between T-Mobile and SpaceX, utilizing the latter's Starlink satellites to provide basic connectivity to smartphones. The idea is to eliminate areas known as dead zones where even the best U.S. carriers have trouble providing basic service. This will initially include messaging such as SMS, MMS, certain messaging apps, and perhaps even video.

The beta for this isn't expected to kick off until late 2023 after SpaceX launches its next-generation satellites. However, the companies hope to expand the service to support calls and data, and the service is expected to be free for users on T-Mobiles "most popular plans."

In addition to this partnership, Apple has been long-rumored to have satellite connectivity support in the upcoming iPhone 14 and Apple Watch 8 devices. Apple is expected to announce its new devices on Wednesday, September 7, so we'll have to wait and see what the company announces.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.