Google's clever patent could bring an enhanced Airplane mode to your phone

Google's "G" logo
(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A patent by Google has appeared, detailing a new "connected flight mode" which automatically swaps a device into a version of airplane mode.
  • This flight mode utilizes certain "triggers" to determine if a user is on a plane such as pressure drop, the plane's Wi-Fi signal, and more.
  • The patent details the new mode supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections and may disconnect to preserve a device's battery.

It looks like Google is in the process of developing a new way to change how our phones behave while on an airplane. The Google-owned patent details how the new technology will be able to automatically detect when a user is on a plane and switch to a type of airplane mode on its own (via ParkiFly). 

The patent explains the technology will engage "connected flight mode" and activate certain modifiers to your phone, laptop, or tablet's wireless connection.

This technology in development also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections which airplane mode typically turns off, along with a user's cellular connection. It will also configure its Wi-Fi settings to fit the specific type of connection airplanes accept. However, it looks like this flight mode technology is power-conscious and may disconnect you to preserve a device's battery life, depending on certain factors, such as the quality of the connection.

A diagram explaining Google's patented "connected flight mode."

(Image credit: Google)

Details suggest Google's new flight mode will let your device configure its Wi-Fi settings according to network quality for a sustained experience. With flight mode enabled, a device's automatic backups, background app refreshes, and updates are turned off.

The patent's abstract states that the mobile computing device transitions to this mode "in response to having determined that the sensor has detected information indicating that the mobile computing device is located on the airplane," which may involve "triggers" such as a pressure drop, ultrasonic signals, the Wi-Fi signal of a plane, and a user's travel booking activity.

Once these and other triggers are no longer detected and users are back safely on the ground, their devices will switch back to normalcy, restoring all connections and app behavior.

For right now, all we have is the patent to see what Google is working on. There's nothing officially concrete to say whether or not the company will actually follow through on this new "flight mode" technology for Android phones. However, if and when it does arrive, it may be useful for those of you that may forget to put your phones in Airplane mode when on a flight.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.