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Feds Declare ‘No Drone Zone’ for Pope’s Visit

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is warning drone users that they can’t fly the devices in cities where Pope Francis is visiting this month.

The Pope is scheduled to visit Washington, New York and Philadelphia on Sept. 22-27.

The FAA said that it is declaring the cities “No Drone Zones” during the Pope’s visit, despite its moves earlier this year toward crafting rules for increase use of the devices for non-military purposes. “If you plan to attend any of the Papal visit events, please leave your drone at home,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement announcing the flight restrictions.

“Anyone flying a drone within the designated restricted areas may be subject to civil and criminal charges,” he continued.

The FAA’s rules define small drones as devices that weigh less than 55 pounds and require them to be operated at heights that are less than 500 feet and speeds that are less than 100 mph.

Qualcomm Promises Faster Smartphone Downloads

New flagship smartphones due in the first half of 2016 will support faster 4G LTE speeds, thanks to a new Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

The Snapdragon 820 processor supports such capabilities as sending LTE data over Wi-Fi networks, including public Wi-Fi hot spots, when carrier networks are congested. Carriers Verizon and AT&T have said they would deploy the technology, called LTE-Unlicensed, over unlicensed Wi-Fi airwaves in 2016.

In networks supporting LTE-U, consumers “may experience a sudden boost in LTE speeds in areas that normally suffer from congestion,” Qualcomm said. The technology will also free up licensed-spectrum resources so that consumers without LTE-U phones will be able to download data faster as well, Qualcomm said.

The 820 chipset and integrated Qualcomm X12 LTE modem also supports other speed-boosting technologies. It is the first publicly announced mobile-device processor supporting LTE Category 12 downlink technology and LTE Category 13 uplink technology, allowing for peak download speeds of 600Mbps via three-channel carrier aggregation and peak upload speeds of 150Mbps with two-channel carrier aggregation, Qualcomm said.

Apple Music Launch Is Spotify’s Gain, Says CEO

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said last week that the streaming music service has added customers since Apple debuted Apple Music in June, as the tech giant’s expansion into music streaming has created a larger global market for Spotify’s service, Bloomberg reported.

The notion that Apple would be a “Spotify killer” was overblown, Ek told a crowd at a Rogers Communications event in Toronto. Though he declined to give specific numbers on customer gains, Ek said the Spotify is seeing more traction with music listeners than ever before. “We keep setting new records week by week,” Ek said.

Spotify is the world’s largest subscription music-streaming service with 20 million users who pay a monthly fee to listen to as much music as they want. The service costs $9.99 in the U.S., the same price Apple will charge for Apple Music once customers use up a free three-month trial. Apple’s position as the world’s largest music retailer — which it reached by offering individual songs for sale online through its iTunes service — is in danger, with music-streaming revenue expected to exceed sales from downloads next year, according to MusicWatch.

Ek said Spotify’s partnerships with wireless carriers is critical to growing its user base. The company has around 40 partnerships with carriers around the world, he said.

Rogers, whose wireless unit is Canada’s biggest with 10 million customers, recently began offering higher-paying users free subscriptions to Spotify’s premium service as part of its plan to increase data usage and keep customers from switching to competitors.

Amazon Brings 1-Hour ‘Prime Now’ Delivery To L.A.

Amazon continues its Prime Now expansion with the announcement that its one-hour delivery service is now available in Los Angeles, bringing its total to 13 cities. It will also be available in Orange County.

Amazon said it has established four Prime Now hubs in Southern California that can provide one-hour delivery, and deliveries will also be available from local Los Angeles groceries and bakeries. Service will be available from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Two-hour delivery is free and one-hour delivery is $7.99.

Music-Listening Habits Are Changing Drastically

Americans are listening to as much music as they were last year, but online listening and listening through cellphones accounted for a greater share of music-listening time, Nielsen reported in its fourth annual study of U.S. music listeners.

The study found that 91 percent of the U.S. population listens to music and spends more than 24 hours each week listening, “roughly” matching year-ago listening levels, Nielsen said.

A total of 75 percent of Americans, however, listened to music online in a typical week, up almost 12 percentage points from the year-ago study. And they’re streaming more songs on demand. Americans streamed more than 164 billion on-demand tracks across audio and video platforms in all of 2014 but streamed 135 billion on-demand songs in the first half of 2015 alone, Nielsen said. That’s up more than 90 percent from the year-ago period. Forty-four percent said they used a smartphone to listen to music in a typical week, up 7 percent from the last survey.

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