Because Android users may not need to select airplane mode in the future

It’s fair to say that smartphones have changed the world and the way we navigate our lives. Today’s smartphone technology allows people to use their phones like a computer. Apple has leapfrogged the competition with its revolutionary iPhone and iOS operating system. Not wanting to miss out, Google quickly acquired Android Inc and continued its development, becoming the market-leading smartphone operating system.

If consumer electronics and digital services website Android Authority is right, Google is developing something that will automatically detect when you’re on a plane. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations require all passengers to switch their smartphones and other electronic devices to airplane mode during flight. Due to FAA regulations, the cabin crew announces a reminder to everyone on board to switch their phones to airplane mode so they don’t interfere with the plane’s electronics.

A flight attendant using the phone to make an announcement.

Photo: Kostiantyn Voitenko/Shutterstock

The problem is that cell phones that connect to cell towers can interfere with aircraft navigation systems. This is especially important when performing an instrument landing on autopilot.

Google has filed a patent with WIPO

According to the Android authority, Google has filed a “Connect Flight Mode” patent with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). If your Android smartphone has the new feature, it will automatically switch your phone to airplane mode while you’re in a flight and then turn it off once you’ve landed. This will then alleviate the need for you to do it manually and automatically switch to airplane mode for those who usually forget to do it manually.

While it may seem like a gimmick, the Android authority says it will also support Bluetooth and WiFi, allowing you to stay connected. The patent also states that the feature will configure WiFi settings based on the type of connection offered by the airline. It will also be able to turn off the phone if the battery is low or if the quality of the network connection is poor.

How does your smartphone know you’re on a plane?

Today’s modern smartphones have gyroscopes, accelerometers, and other sensors, including a barometric pressure sensor that can measure altitude and predict the weather. Google may also use your booking activity as a potential trigger and additional information that indicates you may be on a plane.

Despite its excitement over a possible new feature, the Android authority points out that Google and other tech companies file many patents, but only a few of them ever come to fruition. Looking ahead, Google may be a bit late with its Connect Flight Mode, as the latest 5G connectivity could alleviate the need for phones to feature airplane mode.

A 5G tower somewhere in Germany.

Historically, the Wi-Fi connection offered on planes has been slow and the plane has to connect with a satellite which then connects with the ground. WiFi on planes is expensive, with airlines charging for the time you want to use it.

EU passengers will be able to connect to 5G networks

Last year the European Union ruled that passengers could connect to 5G networks while in the air, easing the need for airplane mode. The EU believes that opening the skies to 5G connectivity will allow passengers to use their data plans to download movies in minutes and enable European businesses to grow.

While there is some concern that 5G connectivity could interfere with aircraft in the US, this is not a concern in Europe. This is because the EU uses different frequencies than those used in the US.

Sources: Android Authority

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