AWT News Update: December 14, 2015

On this bright wintry December day, we have news about the FAA requiring drone registration, how Apple's CarPlay is helping one manufacturer sell cars, and a new radio station from Pandora.

  • The FAA finally announces drone registration plans, and if you own a drone that you just love to control from your iPhone or iPad, you'll need to get it registered soon if it meets weight criteria
  • One car manufacturer told the Wall Street Journal that Apple's Car Play is helping it sell cars
  • Pandora announces Thumbprint Radio, which will recommend new songs and mix them with old favorites

Text version of the podcast is below, or you can watch the video here

Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for December 14, 2015.

If you’re planning on buying a drone for Christmas for yourself or others, take note. The FAA finalized its rules for drone registration and announced the new regulations today. Any drone that weighs between .55 lbs and 50 pounds must be registered starting on December 21. There’s a $5 application fee, but the FAA is waiving the fee for the first month in order to get budding pilots to sign up. The FAA is using registration as a way to educate the millions of potential pilots on the airspace rules and to let them know that they are accountable and responsible for how and where they fly the drones. If your drone falls into the registration weight range, you have until February 19 to register. Failure to register can lead to a fine of $27,500; if you have an unregistered aircraft and fly it recklessly, those fines could jump up to $250,000 and three years in jail.

We’ve talked about CarPlay a lot here on the AWT News Update, but did you know that it’s actually helping one auto manufacturer sell cars? General Motors has rolled out CarPlay support faster and on more models than all of its competitors, and independent dealers are reporting that Apple’s iPhone integration capability is drawing in customers and helping to sell new cars. GM now has 27 models with CarPlay, including 14 of the 2016 Chevrolet cars and the majority of Cadillacs. A Wall Street Journal article quoted Chris Hemmersmeier of Jerry Seiner Dealerships in Salt Lake City Utah as saying "We've had people coming in because they've heard about it, and once they see it, they really do like it because it mirrors the look and feel of the devices they use. It's helping to close the deal once they see it." Wall Street Journal reader Richard Blau noted that "you have to give GM credit for their electronics. Much better than their natural competition. Much better than BMW or Porsche. Ridiculous as it sounds, the stereo in my Yukon sounds better than those in other, far more expensive vehicles. All should adopt CarPlay." Reader Brad Crystal added that Apple CarPlay “"Positively blows away the iDrive system in my BMW M4. Texting is a particularly cool feature in that it's entirely voice activated, and the voice recognition is dead-on accurate. It's as easy to send/receive texts as it is to make phone calls—with none of the obvious dangers associated with texting & driving."

Today, streaming music service Pandora launched a new featured station called Thumbprint Radio, which factors in all of a listener’s up votes across other stations. The new service appears to be targeting Apple Music and Spotify, both of which have launched personalized stations similar to those that have been solely Pandora’s domain in the past. The station will mix favorite tracks with new recommendations, and it won’t appear unless a person has at least three existing stations and has upvoted at least four songs on each station.

I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.