FCC reportedly proposing that passengers can use cellular service in mid-flight – While the FAA has cleared the use of electronics on US passenger airplanes at all stages of flight, there’s still one major restriction in place: you have to shut off all cellular access.
That rule may not exist for much longer if the FCC has its way, according to sources for the Wall Street Journal. The agency will reportedly use its December meeting to propose letting passengers make phone calls and use cellular data whenever they’re flying above 10,000 feet. Don’t be too eager to start chatting in mid-air, though.
Dropbox releases major iOS 7 revamp with cleaner design and new features – Dropbox had been one of the biggest apps yet to receive a refresh in line with Apple’s radical iOS 7 visual style, but that changes today.
First teased earlier in the month when Dropbox announced a host of features focused on business, version 3.0 brings a cleaner design, new blue-on-white icon, and improved iPad interface that lets you easily switch in and out of fullscreen mode with a single tap. The app also supports iOS 7 features such as AirDrop, and Dropbox promises major speed improvements for viewing photos and playing back video. It’s available now in the App Store.
Gates Foundation announces grants to start building a better condom – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will fund research into next-generation condoms that people can use more effectively to reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
The foundation said it will award a pair $100,000 grants to researchers working on improving condoms, two of 81 grants it announced this week improve global health and development. One grant goes to Benjamin Strutt and a team from Cambridge Design Partnership in the United Kingdom, who are building a male condom out of a new composite material “that will provide a universal fit and is designed to gently tighten during intercourse, enhancing sensation and reliability,” the foundation said.
Some of iWork’s missing features return with the latest update – Some of the features culled during iWork’s 64-bit transition have reappeared with the productivity suite’s latest update. To start, Pages, Numbers and Keynote for OS X are regaining their sorely missed custom toolbars.
Additionally, Apple’s Keynote presentation app for both desktop and iOS picks up a handful of new builds and slide transitions. Oh, and of course there are the typical stability improvements and bug fixes across the board.
Virgin Galactic now accepts Bitcoin for future flights into space – As the value and credibility of Bitcoin continues to skyrocket, Virgin founder Richard Branson now wants to let people use the digital currency to finance a flight into space. Ahead of its first trips next year, Virgin Galactic has already had one “future astronaut” from Hawaii book a Bitcoin-funded ticket and hopes that its affluent clientele will follow suit.
An investor himself, Branson has been pushing for governments to regulate the peer-to-peer payment system and believes that today’s announcement will give it more credibility. Neither Virgin Galactic nor Branson has indicated just how many Bitcoins you’ll need before you get a return ticket to the heavens, but we suspect this isn’t the future that Gene Roddenberry was planning.
Microsoft takes over Times Square for Xbox One launch – Console launches don’t come along very often, so you’d expect Microsoft would pull out all the stops for the release of Xbox One. And that’s just what happened last night: Microsoft held several launch events across the globe, with its primary focus on New York City’s Times Square.
Thousands of fans lined up outside Best Buy Theater for a chance to sample Xbox One games and, come midnight, get their hands on a console. Microsoft also bought up a healthy amount of video billboard space across Times Square, ensuring that the world knew its latest product was about to arrive. Developers of several launch titles were on hand to chat with players, but the event didn’t focus entirely on games. The Xbox One is just as much about entertainment as it is video games, so it was only fitting that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis took to the stage before the final countdown.
Motorola inks deal with 3D Systems to build its modular ‘Ara’ smartphones – When Motorola threw its weight behind Phonebloks’ modular smartphone concept, it pretty much signaled to the rest of the industry that the Google company was dead serious about customization. But that radical vision of a completely upgradeable handset needs an equally radical manufacturing partner and Motorola’s found that in 3D Systems.
‘Bill and Ted’ actor launches Kickstarter campaign for Bitcoin film – Alex Winter, the actor-turned-director best known for his role as Bill in the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, is raising $75,000 on Kickstarter to make a documentary about the digital world that has been built around the virtual currency Bitcoin. He’s also recruited the producer from the Academy Award-winning documentary Undefeated and the marketing strategist from Banksy’s subversive film Exit Through the Gift Shop.
“Guns, drugs, and murder, and a new global currency that exists outside the control of government and banks,” Winter says in the introduction to his Kickstarter promo. The film will explore Bitcoin, the recently-shuttered online drug bazaar Silk Road, and other hidden parts of the internet.
Play through the Whodle: Doctor Who’s 50-year anniversary gets a Google Doodle – Celebrating 12 regenerations over 50 years, today’s Doodle is a downright charming mini-game based on everyone’s favorite Sonic Screwdriver owner.
While you’ll get to start with your favorite incarnation of The Doctor, meeting an untimely end from a Dalek or Cyberman will mean restarting the level as a different curiously dressed Time Lord. Bite the dust once too often and you’ll eventually have to continue playing as, ugh, Peter Davison. Give us your best times below – our current record is 12:59.
Planned J. R. R. Tolkien biopic will reveal the mind behind ‘The Hobbit’ – J. R. R. Tolkien’s invented lives — of Frodo, Bilbo, Smaug, Sauron, and many more — have already spawned six movies. Now the man’s real life is set to provide the basis for another. The LA Times reports that a script for a project tentatively titled Tolkien is currently being written that focuses on the author of The Hobbit‘s early years at Oxford University’s Pembroke College, his time as a soldier in World War I, and how those experiences affected his character and his work.
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