Europe leaps onboard the in-flight call bandwagon, but it’s not going to be cheap

eu to rule on in flight calls and gadget use delta airlines electronics take off

As those few precious moments where we have to put down our electronic gadgets are about to end, thanks to new rules about using them on aircraft, it seems the hours where we don’t have to listen to one side of other people’s mobile conversations may be disappearing too. In-flight calls are rapidly becoming the norm, and the European Commission is the latest to bow to continuing pressure from travelers, and is about to change its rules. There is a welcome caveat, though.

In a press release, the EU Commission said it’s preparing to give airlines the chance to offer 3G and 4G connectivity to passengers while the flight is in progress, an upgrade over the previous 2G connections. However, the connection will only offer data, so any calling will be restricted to using Skype or another similar app. That’s not the only potential sanity saver either.

To use 3G or 4G onboard, mobile devices will connect to a base station inside the aircraft, which will then connect to a network as normal. This means users won’t be using their service, but a roaming one instead. According to this report, the highest roaming charges could be levied, so data could end up costing (based on Vodafone UK’s structure) £3/$5 per megabyte. Forget Skype, that’ll make you think twice about sending an email.

Those thinking they can be sneaky and connect to their own networks will be out of luck, as a jamming system will be used to keep signals inside the plane, and using the potentially costly service offered by the airline. The EU Commission says the airlines will be in complete charge of the in-flight network, so there’s almost no chance of it being cheap.

The EU will provide official word on both in-flight calls and the use of gadgets during takeoff and landing before the end of November.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.

Looking for flexible and inexpensive phone service? Check out our favorite MVNOs

Looking to switch from a major carrier to something a little more affordable? Luckily, there are a ton of great MVNO options to choose from. Check out our guide to the best MVNOs, from Boost Mobile to Google Fi.

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.

Microsoft’s latest patent paves the way for Andromeda dual-screen mobile device

The latest patent discovery from Microsoft showcases a new hinge design for quickly opening a dual-screen mobile device with a single hand. Could this be additional proof surrounding the rumors of the company's Project Andromeda device?

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.

Apple is spending $1 billion to hire up to 15,000 new employees in Austin

Apple has announced a series of expansions across the U.S. -- including a massive expansion to the company's Austin campus that will see it spending $1 billion to accommodate for up to 15,000 new employees.

Google Maps makes it easier than ever to find a Lime bike or scooter

Google Maps has added a new feature that helps you find a Lime bike or scooter in just a few taps. The feature currently works in 11 U.S. cities served by Lime, with more coming next year.

Quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed

Looking for a few accoutrements to make your smartphone even better? If you, or someone you know, is a sucker for accessories, you'll want to check out our collection of quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed.

Ditch your smartphone for a year and win $100k from Vitaminwater

Vitaminwater is willing to part with $100,000 if you're willing to part with your smartphone partner for a year. Could you last for a year armed with only a 1996-era phone? Here's your chance to find out.