California governor Jerry Brown vetoes controversial bill on drone restrictions

Aerosense droneA California bill that would have forced drones to fly at a minimum height of 350 feet (107 meters) over private property has been vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in the wake of criticism that it could have damaged the state’s drone industry and the economy at large.

Senate Bill 142, had it become law, could have dealt a blow not only to hobbyists but to the aspirations of companies like Amazon.com that are aiming to make deliveries using drones.

The requirement to ask permission from property owners to fly below 350 feet would have forced companies to ask for permission from neighbors before making a delivery to a particular location.

In a message late Wednesday, Brown wrote to the members of the state senate that the issue had to be looked into more carefully. The bill as drafted, however well-intentioned, could have exposed “the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action.”

The bill would have introduced trespass liability even if privacy was not violated, Brown added.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat from Santa Barbara who introduced the bill, says drones raise privacy issues, despite their obvious benefits. The bill extended current rules pertaining to trespassing on private property to remotely operated aerial vehicles, according to Jackson.

The Federal Aviation Administration limits the flying of drones by hobbyists to a maximum of 400 feet. The 350 foot minimum altitude requirement of the proposed California law would have then limited hobbyists to a corridor of 50 feet.

Rules proposed by the FAA for commercial uses of drones limit the altitude drones can fly to 500 feet.

Some states have, however, have pushed ahead with their own legislation on various aspects of drones. In 2015, 45 states have considered 156 bills related to drones, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Before Governor Brown for consideration are two other bills that place restrictions on flying of drones over prisons or county jails and schools in the state.

Trade association Consumer Electronics Association welcomed the veto. “While we agree issues of privacy and drones should be addressed, this legislation was the wrong approach,” CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement. Safe and responsible drone use will transform the way people do business, he added.

Signs hint at next-gen 4K Amazon Fire TV

Amaozn Fire TVAmazon’s Fire TV media streamer hasn’t had a hardware update since it rolled out inearly 2014, but all signs are pointing to a new streaming box debuting soon, possibly with 4K capabilities. The latest hint is a mysterious new hardware filing with the Federal Communications Commission by Quill Royal LLC from Boise, Idaho for an “HDMI Digital Media Receiver.”

Quill Royal appears to be a shell company, which is a method Amazon typically uses to file its hardware devices with the FCC in secret. The latest filing was first uncovered byblogger Dave Zatz, who’s making a habit of uncovering Amazon’s secretive public filings.

There’s not a whole lot of detail about the new box except that it comes packing 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, an ethernet port, HDMI, Bluetooth 3.0 +EDR and Bluetooth 4.1 LE, USB port, and a microSD card reader. In one document there’s a reference to the device playing back a 4K MPEG4 file.

While it’s only an educated guess that this is a new Fire TV, the other strong sign that a new set-top box may be incoming comes from Amazon itself. The online retailer is currently out of stock of the Amazon Fire TV—a state of affairs that was first noticed in mid-August.

The impact on you at home: With an apparent FCC filing from Amazon showing up and the Amazon Fire TV out of stock for a while now, there’s a good chance this is the real deal. If you’ve been thinking about picking up an Amazon Fire TV, you might want to hold off on grabbing the device from another retailer.

There may be more Amazon Fire devices on the way too. On Thursday morning, Zatz said via Twitter that he may have also found three new Amazon tablets, a new Fire TV remote, and a new Fire TV controller.

SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick Launched Starting

SanDisk has launched the Connect Wireless Stick in India in its 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB variants, priced at Rs. 2,790, Rs. 3,790, Rs. 5,490, and Rs. 9,490 respectively. The wireless storage sticks will be available via Flipkart from September 18, and from other channels at a later stage.

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick, which also acts like a regular USB flash drive, works with devices like laptops, smartphones, and PCs, and connects to them with its built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. Users can wirelessly transfer and access bulky files or stream videos to and from up to three mobile devices simultaneously.

The device can stream a single HD video at 2Mbps for up to 4.5 hours on a single charge. In addition, the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick can be connected with PC and laptop devices, acting as a regular USB drive.

The storage stick works alongside the SanDisk Connect app, with which users can manage content between Android, iOS, Mac, PC, and Fire devices. Also, included are features like auto-backup of images, videos from camera roll.

“We live in an era where we are truly living a mobile lifestyle. We use our devices to capture life’s moments, and work in a way that was never before possible – all of which has created the need for a new generation of mobile storage,” Dinesh Bahal, Vice President, Product Marketing, SanDisk had said at the global launch in July, adding, “The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick is designed to give people a simple, intuitive way to save and access all of the great content they create and consume across multiple devices, without breaking the bank.”

New Apple TV Comes With 2GB of RAM

Apple, parallel to iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPad Pro launch, unveiled its latest Apple TV model, starting at $149. The company’s Apple TV specifications page revealed that the set-top box features an A8 SoC and will be available in 32GB and 64GB storage variants. Furthermore, the home entertainment system supports full-HD resolution displays, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 10/100Mbps Ethernet, USB Type-C port, and HDMI v1.4 connectivity. However, there was no mention of the amount of RAM inside the new Apple TV.

As per the developer documentation (via 9to5Mac), the new Apple TV comes with 2GB of RAM. The upgraded RAM is likely to boost the overall performance of Apple TV, resulting in faster opening of apps, navigating the interface, and better gaming performance.

(Also see:  The New Apple TV Comes With Old, Familiar Gaming Experiences)

Also, the updated device misses out on Gigabit Ethernet, supporting nothing more than 100Mbps on the wired front, but includes Gigabit Wi-Fi 802.11ac. Apple TV this time misses out on optical audio port as the audio is now only sent over the HDMI cable along with the video. As always, the USB port on the set-top box is only for diagnostics during servicing.

Apple TV includes the new Siri Remote, which features motion controls via the gyroscope and accelerometer, and also includes a touchpad, apart from enabling voice-based search, playback, and navigation via two microphones for Siri. The remote also includes an IR transmitter, and Lightning connector for charging. Users can also utilise the iPod touch and iPhone as controllers, as well as MFi-certified Bluetooth game controllers. The Apple TV gaming page currently shows Steelseries controllers as one of the supported accessories.

nimbus_steelseries_controller_siri_remote_website.jpgDeveloper Harmonix, best know for its Dance Central and Rock Band video-game franchises, also previewed Beat Sports for Apple TV at the Wednesday event. The game looked similar to Wii Sports, allowing users to swing the new motion sensitive Apple TV remote to hit the baseballs in the game. The title also comes with the support for up to four players, who can use compatible iPhone models and iPad Touch models as extra controllers.

The new Apple TV measures 98x98x35mm, weighs 425 grams. it is powered by tvOS, the iOS 9-based operating system that brings its own App Store.

Apple TV Aims to Capture ‘Cord Cutters’

The new Apple TV unveiled this week has the potential to do for television what iPhone did to mobile phones, while claiming a starring role in home entertainment.

Updated Apple TV hardware set for release in late October wasn’t expected to revolutionize the television industry, but it could strike a blow to cable companies that have been in a power seat when it comes to delivering shows and other content.

“It turns out fears surrounding the long-term prospects of the cable industry were well warranted,” said Yahoo senior vice president Simon Khalaf, whose mobile analytics company Flurry was bought last year by the Internet pioneer.

“We believe that the industry is facing a perfect storm: apps, app stores and Apple.”

While the unveiling of a new Apple TV on Wednesday did not come with word of deals to stream shows or films from networks or studios, it will have a version of the App Store that has been a hit on iPhones.

“We believe the future of television is apps,” chief executive Tim Cook said.

Apple released a software kit for outside developers, and showed off early versions of Apple TV applications being crafted by streaming services Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.

Siri searches shows
The product launch “sent a warning shot at the cable industry in particular and the media industry in general,” Khalaf said in a blog post.

“Now rather than having dozens of channels to watch, US consumers will have thousands of apps to enjoy on their flat panel TVs ranging from games, to e-sport apps, to live entertainment apps, and to whatever these developers will cook up over the next year.”

Siri virtual assistant software built in Apple TV allowed for natural language searches for shows, such as asking for something funny or a certain actor by name.

Analysts keyed in on the fact that Siri will search across applications on Apple TV, meaning that where shows or films come from should be unimportant to viewers.

People should also be able to see what they want on-demand instead of being at the mercy of cable broadcast schedules.

These options can spur a trend of “cord cutting” or ending the subscription “bundles” offered by cable and satellite TV firms.

Apps trump TV
A Flurry report found that for the first time ever, people in the US in the second quarter of this year spent more each day using mobile applications than they did watching television: a daily average of 198 minutes versus 168 minutes

“Just as they did on the iPhone and iPads, consumers will download these apps and spend plenty of time on them, leaving the dozen or so cable channels lost in a sea of apps,” Khalaf said.

By letting media companies keep control of their content in apps, Apple could find new money-making models while sidestepping worries studios might have about distribution rights.

Since games consistently rank as the most popular apps on mobile devices, the genre is expected to be thrive on Apple TV.

An Apple TV remote control features a touchpad along with sensors that allow it to act as a motion controller similar to those that transformed video game play as part of the original Nintendo Wii console.

Apple TV lacked the kind of computing power and storage capacity found in hard-core video game consoles but was fine for the kinds of “casual” game apps that have rocketed to success on mobile devices, according to analysts.

“I think Apple TV will usher in an era of casual games in the living room,” said Gartner analyst Brian Blau.

The new Apple TV will launch in late October at a starting price of $149.

Apple TV has lagged rivals with similar devices. According to the research firm Parks Associates: Roku leads the US market with a 37 percent market share, to 19 percent for Google Chromecast and 17 percent for Apple TV. Amazon’s Fire TV devices have 14 percent.

Apple shares rebounded a day after a lukewarm market reaction to the US tech giant’s launch of upgraded iPhones and other devices.

Shares rallied 2.2 percent to end at $112.57.

Analysts say Apple is seeking to diversify its product line amid a competitive global smartphone market, and that its new iPad Pro, Apple TV streaming device and Apple Watch may help.

“The new offerings are welcomed additions to the portfolio that will strengthen not only the competitiveness of each product category, but also the wider ecosystem and the increasing developer effort behind this platform,” said analyst Kulbinder Garcha at Credit Suisse in a note to clients.

Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research said that while the iPhone accounts for most Apple revenue, the upgraded Apple TV device “one of the biggest and most important things announced” and “should drive significant new revenue for Apple and for developers.”