Apple has reportedly been secretly developing satellite technology to enhance its devices. A latest report by Bloomberg claimed. The IPhone maker may use its own satellite infrastructure to beam internet services directly to devices to improve connectivity and perhaps by-passing wireless networks.
Targeting as little as five years, aerospace engineers, satellite engineers and antenna designers are working on the project with Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker. It seems the work is still pre-mature and no final direction has been set. Still Tim Cook, CEO Apple, has shown interest in the project indicating it’s a company priority.
Apple working on such technology shows that they are mainly aiming to beam data to user’s devices, potentially mitigating the dependence on wireless carriers or improving its location precision enabling improved maps and new features.
It is still not clear at this stage that if Apple intends to go against the Google’s Starlink and develop its own constellation or simply harness on-the-ground equipment that would utilize existing data from satellites and improve its services for its users.
The team is led by Michael Trela and John Fenwick, former aerospace engineers who helped lead satellite imaging company Skybox Imaging before it sold to Google in 2014. The pair led Google’s satellite and spacecraft operations until leaving together in 2017 to begin a new initiative at Apple. They have been adding team members from the wireless industryincluding engineer Matt Ettus, who is now leading the initiative. Apple also hired Ashley Moore Williams, an executive from Aerospace Corp., who was focusing on satellites communication and Daniel Ellis who is a former Netflix Inc. executive with expertise in the Content Delivery Network (CDN). Apple has substantially expanded its R&D budget, spending $16billion in 2019, an increase of 14% from previous year. Apple plans to bring more technology in-house.