Tim CookSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • A Bloomberg report suggests Apple has a secret team working on satellites and wireless technology.
  • It claims the goal is to find new ways to beam data directly to devices.
  • The project is in its early stages but could mean Apple devices could connect directly without the need for a third-party network.

A Bloomberg report claims that Apple has a secret team working on a project that could see Apple use satellites to beam data directly to its devices.

According to the report:

The Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker has about a dozen engineers from the aerospace, satellite and antenna design industries working on the project with the goal of deploying their results within five years, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal company efforts. Work on the project is still early and could be abandoned, the people said, and a clear direction and use for satellites hasn't been finalized. Still, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has shown interest in the project, indicating it's a company priority.

The report claims that Apple's work in the sector "means the aim is likely to beam data to a user's device, potentially mitigating the dependence on wireless carriers, or for linking devices together without a traditional network."

Bloomberg says it could also mean that Apple is exploring using satellites as a means for more precise location tracking for its devices and Maps software. The report claims it is unclear whether Apple intends to put its own satellites into orbit, or simply tap into existing networks and use those.

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The report notes that Apple has hired execs and engineers from the aerospace and satellite industries, including Michael Trela and John Fenwick, who formerly headed up Google's satellite and spacecraft divisions. Also on the books is former Aerospace Corporation executive Ashely Moore Williams.

The idea of using satellites to beam data directly to devices is relatively untapped. As of just now, nearly all data communication requires a satellite and ground station to relay information. The report does note that this project is in its early stages, and could still be scrapped.