Apple was working on an exciting iPhone 11 (or possibly iPhone 12) feature according to a report – but we’re only hearing about it now that the company has apparently put the project on hold.
According to The Information, citing “people familiar with the project”, Apple was working on a walkie-talkie-like feature. Not to be confused with Walkie-Talkie on the Apple Watch, this would have allowed users to send text messages to each other even in places where there’s no mobile signal.
The feature instead would have worked over long-distance radio waves, and there would be limits on how far a message could be transmitted, making it essentially like a text version of a walkie-talkie.
Supposedly known as Project OGRS (for Off-Grid Radio Service), it’s not totally clear why the feature is now apparently on hold, but there are two obvious possible factors. For one, the executive apparently behind it (Rubén Caballero), has left Apple.
For another, the feature would have apparently used Intel’s modems, but Apple is set to switch back to Qualcomm’s modems from next year, and looking further ahead will likely be making its own.
It’s not clear if or when development on the feature will resume (assuming this information is even right), but it might make sense for Apple to now wait until it starts building its own modems, so as not to have to tweak the tech two times over (first with the move to Qualcomm, and then to its own). In which case, we could be waiting at least a couple of years.