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Apple is developing satellites that could one day offer high-speed data for its smartphones, tablets, watches, and computers. Bloomberg(Opens in a new window) reports that Cupertino has a “secret team” designing satellites, and the technology might allow future hardware to bypass traditional wireless networks altogether.

The project should take several years to formulate. Still, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly sees it as a priority. Apple’s satellites aren’t going to roll out anytime soon, and that’s fine if they’ll eventually reduce the dependency on wireless carriers or at least improve location tracking. Apple hasn’t finalized its strategy, according to the report.

Satellite-based internet could replace US carriers as well as those abroad, dealing a significant blow to those firms while streamlining Apple’s business.

Currently, the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and AirPods utilize in-house chips. The majority of components, though, are still made by other companies. Apple has started work on MicroLED displays(Opens in a new window), and it did acquire Intel’s 5G modem segment earlier this year. So Apple clearly wants to handle the supply chain where possible. Dropping wireless networks for satellites aligns with that approach.

SpaceX also plans to offer satellite-based internet plans in mid-2020, and it will be joined by Amazon at some point. Regulatory filings reveal Amazon aims to launch as many as 3,236 satellites enabling high-speed, affordable internet. Both companies are prepared to spend billions of dollars in rolling out the necessary infrastructure.

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The report suggests Apple would like to set its satellites into orbit within the next five years. So don’t expect the next iPhone or anything else in the pipeline to feature satellite-based connectivity. Everything should continue relying on 4G networks until 5G takes over, and then Apple might start transitioning its hardware to satellites if performance meets expectations.

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