Google rumored to partner with Garmin for satellite-based SOS messaging

Google Messages
(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A dive into Google Messages' latest update unearthed a possible collaboration with Garmin Response.
  • A Google/Garmin partnership could mean users in over 150 countries worldwide will find emergency SOS messaging support.
  • A placeholder UI for satellite messaging was recently discovered in Messages as Google already stated support would arrive for Android 14.

Google may be looking to partner with a well-known wearable brand for a notable safety feature in Messages. According to Neil Rahmouni, a deep dive into Messages' code unearthed a mention of "Garmin Response" in conjunction with Google's emergency SOS texts (via XDA-Developers).

If factual, a collaboration with Garmin could mean Google Messages' new emergency SOS system would find support in over 150 countries worldwide.

Additionally, the potential Garmin partnership could offer users access to its 24/7 emergency response coordination center. The company explains that its staff will respond to your SOS message, track your device, and continue to update users via text message until help arrives.

Rahmouni previously showcased Google's placeholder UI for emergency SOS messages in its default texting app. We were able to learn that SOS support would be an "integral" part of Messages and not some extra app users will need to download. Furthermore, it looks like Google will let users type their message — though the character count may be limited.

Android is a little greener than usual over the existence of emergency SOS messaging over satellite on Apple's iPhone. Although, early on, Google may look to differentiate itself as Apple only lets its users choose from pre-made text options instead of letting them write out their own.

But, it's best to take Google's development process with a grain of salt as things could change by the time it rolls out.

On the other hand, it's still unknown which Android phones will pick up the service when it finally launches. A Google executive late last year stated the company plans to roll out support for direct satellite connectivity with its next major OS release (Android 14). But it's worth noting that a function like this likely requires a certain type of hardware to operate.

Many flagship Android phones will likely contain what's necessary for emergency SOS messaging, leaving lower-end devices out of the equation.

Lastly, a discovery like this comes at a time when Garmin has partnered with the U.S. Space Force. Two-thirds of the force is utilizing the Instinct 2 Solar and the Forerunner 55 primarily because it meets the federal government's standards in cybersecurity alongside the ability to disable its GPS tracking.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.