Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–May 11, 2015

FAA Can Allow Cellphones During Takeoff and Landing
Federal aviation officials acted within their authority in allowing airline passengers to use cellphone and other electronics during takeoffs and landings, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out a lawsuit from the nation’s largest flight attendants union that challenged the 2013 decision. The 60,000-member Association of Flight Attendants argued that small electronic devices could distract passengers from safety announcements and become dangerous projectiles. But the appeals court said the FAA has always had discretion on how to handle issues such as portable electronics and was free to change its interpretation of the rules. FAA officials said that cellphones and other small electronic devices were no more dangerous than books that passengers have been allowed to keep out. Story by Sam Hananel for the Associated Press.

Pentagon Considers Turning Cell Phones Into Walkie-Talkies During Emergencies
Let’s say it’s 2016 and the government has a message to get out to the public-ISIS is believed to be waging an attack on cell-phone towers in the United States. How can the feds communicate that to a population of cord-cutters when the towers are down? That hypothetical scenario is one of the problems the government and telecommunications providers are grappling with, as they strategize how to maintain the integrity of emergency communications in an increasingly wireless world. There are some solutions floating around in the Defense Department. That smartphone may not be as inert as most would expect when towers go kaput. “At the base level, electronics that people have in their pockets are radio transceivers, and they can not only talk to cell towers; they can talk to each other,” Defense Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen said. “Should we mesh these together” if towers are unavailable “to propagate a broadcast signal to replace the old civil-defense broadcast?” he posited. Story by Aliya Sternstein for National Journal.

Amazon’s Drones Could Track You Down to Deliver Your Goods
In a new patent application, Amazon revealed that its drone delivery system may be able to tap into consumer mobile phones in order to track where a person is at the time of delivery. The feature, called “Bring It To Me,” will allow the drone to deliver items directly to the user based on their current location as determined by a mobile device or Wi-Fi network. Amazon’s drones will also be able to communicate with one another about environmental factors that could affect a flight–weather, for instance–according to the patent. The filing also details how the UAV will use radar, sonar, camera, infrared sensors, or other components to assist in emergency landings. Story by Ruth Reader for Venture Beat.

Ringing Cell Phones Startle Mom’s Unborn Baby, New Study Finds
Today’s smartphones can give us travel directions, look up important information, and entertain us while we wait, but a new study suggests they may not be good for pregnant moms. A new study by doctors at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in New York City suggests a mom’s ringing cell phone can surprise and irritate their unborn babies. When the moms cell phones started ringing, the fetuses appeared to be startled, they turned their heads, opened their mouths, and blinked. In other words, the ringing cell phones appear to wake up and scare the unborn baby. Story in The Inquisitr.

Appeals Court Overturns Privacy Win in Phone-Tracking Case
Police don’t need a warrant to track the cellphones of criminal suspects, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday, reversing an early decision in a closely watched privacy case. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta held that the government didn’t violate the privacy rights of a man convicted of a 2010 armed robbery spree and sentenced to life in prison. The case is the latest digital-age test of the privacy protections of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Story by Jacob Gershman for The Wall Street Journal.

Seniors Say Smartphones Represent Freedom
A new Pew Research study shows the vast majority of smartphone users 65 and older find their devices to be incredibly liberating, even more so than Millennials in the modern world. According to the Pew survey, 82% of seniors with a smartphone say their phone represents “freedom,” not “a leash.” By comparison, only 64% of smartphone users age 18-29 felt the same way. 36% of smartphone owners in the younger age group referred to their phones as a leash, compared to just 18% of seniors. The same percentage of seniors (82%) were more likely to rate their smartphones as “connecting” rather than “distracting” (18%). Over one-third (37%) of smartphone owners under 30 considered their phones to be a distraction. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

News Now Mostly Read on Cell Phones
There’s probably a good chance that you’re reading this on your cell phone. The latest findings from Pew Research Center seem to indicate as much, anyway. The center published its annual “State of the News Media” report, aiming to provide a clearer portrait of an industry that continues to grapple with seismic changes. Chief among those shifts: how online readers are consuming their news. Analyzing data from January, Pew’s researchers found that 39 of the top 50 digital news websites drew more traffic from mobile devices than from desktop computers. Among the 20 most heavily trafficked digital entities, only three sites — BBC, CNET.com and MSN News — drew more desktop visitors than mobile. Story by Tom Kludt for CNN Money.

LeBron James Breaks Self-Imposed Cellphone Ban to Call Chris Paul
In order to stay focused during the playoffs, LeBron James has imposed a social media ban on himself during the Cleveland Cavaliers playoff run, one that includes not using his cellphones. After the Clippers’ Chris Paul made the game-winning shot over the Spurs in Game 7 on Saturday, James decided to bend his rule a bit. “I called him from my wife’s phone,” James told reporters. “He answered the phone, he was like, ‘What’s up?’ I told him don’t say nothing, you’re not allowed to reply, don’t say anything. I told him how amazing he was and how great he was. And I hung up on him. I haven’t spoken to him since. It’s the truth.” Story by Melissa Rohlin for the Los Angeles Times.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.