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Edmunds: The pros and cons of software running your car

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Edmunds: The pros and cons of software running your car

Software was a big theme for automakers attending CES 2023 in January. BMW, Stellantis, Volkswagen and a joint venture between Honda and Sony showed off upcoming or concept vehicles that are significantly reliant on computers and code. The takeaway was clear: More and more vehicles will be run top to bottom by software, not hardware. In some cases, the future is already here.

What will it be like for shoppers when vehicles are dominated by bits and bytes instead of gears and gaskets? Edmunds’ experts break down what’s in store.

SOFTWARE-DEFINED VEHICLES

The phrase “software-defined vehicle” is an industry term used to clarify the difference between a traditional car that is enhanced by technology and one that is run by technology.

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While cars of the past 20 years have gained touchscreens and have plenty of engines- and safety-related computing power, those software features are largely stuck in time once the car rolls off the assembly line. The future holds that nearly every vehicle feature will be controlled by software, which offers the potential to improve features over time.

Another key difference is updatability. Consider the smartphone. Their manufacturers seamlessly update their software on a regular basis to fix bugs and breaches and add functionality. Software-defined vehicles work similarly. They have high-speed Wi-Fi and cellular connections that automakers use to send out software updates via the cloud to their vehicles. There’s no need for owners to bring their vehicles to a dealership or service centre.

A NEW DAY AND A NEW FEATURE FOR YOUR CAR

Tesla is a pioneer in adding software-based features to its vehicles. Over the years it has introduced improvements to the touchscreen interfaces and added new features such as video games. It’s even issued updates that enhance vehicle performance. Startup EV brands Lucid and Rivian are following suit by employing over-the-air updates to give their vehicles new features and functions and issue bug fixes.

The software also allows for the introduction of features that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury arm, is using facial recognition and fingerprint scanning with its new all-electric GV60 crossover. The physical key is required to set up both functions, but after that, the owner can basically operate the car as easily as a smartphone.

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Established companies are jumping in as well. Last summer, Ford used software to enable its BlueCruise hands-free driving system in tens of thousands of F-150s and Mustang Mach-Es. The vehicles had the hardware for the system already installed; the over-the-air update made it complete. It applied to the cars wirelessly, without the need for a dealer visit.

Maintenance is another potential advantage. These highly digital vehicles can monitor preventive and predictive maintenance and even diagnose problems from afar. It takes the guesswork out of what could go wrong and what needs to be adjusted without a visit to a mechanic shop or dealership.

THE DOWNSIDE OF THIS NEW TECH

Software allows new features that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. But sometimes these features aren’t so great in practice. Tesla and Rivian, for example, use touchscreen-based controls to direct the flow of the cabin’s air vents. It seems neat in theory but turns out to be a finicky and distracting process in real-world driving. Old-school air vents that you adjust by hand just work better.

Software crashes and glitches are also problematic. Issues that PC users are all too familiar with cane crop up in cars. It might be a touchscreen that goes blank and is inoperable while the driving, glitchy operation of certain controls, or advanced driver assist features that aren’t as fully vetted as they should be before being added to vehicles.

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The risks of software crashes and privacy breaches are real issues. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for someone with malicious intentions to take over the operation of a car and cause damage. Also, some experts are both applauding the technology and advising caution as it relates to personal data privacy: the more data collected from drivers, the more potential for hacking.

EDMUNDS SAYS:

The software will continue to evolve to change the vehicle ownership experience. Test-driving different new vehicles offer a sense of how much digital functionality you prefer. You might enjoy the opportunity for a quick fix or update via Wi-Fi. But technology-averse shoppers will likely prefer a vehicle with a more traditional design, which might include buying used.

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp has unveiled a groundbreaking feature that revolutionizes text messaging by allowing users to customize their messages like never before.

Prior to this update, users were limited to basic text modifications such as bold and italic; however, the new feature introduces a plethora of formatting options, including numbers, bullets, block quotes, and text highlighting.

The process is simple and intuitive, requiring users to incorporate specific symbols to achieve their desired text format. For monospacing text, users can enclose their message with three backticks on both sides. Adding a quote is as easy as placing an angle bracket and a space before the text.

To strike through a message, users need to flank their text with tilde symbols, while bolding requires asterisks on both sides. One of the standout additions is the ability to create bulleted lists effortlessly. Users can precede each word or sentence with an asterisk or hyphen and a space to generate a neatly organized list.

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Moreover, numbering and spacing at the beginning of text with “1.” facilitates the creation of itemized lists, enhancing the overall clarity and structure of messages.

Inline code can now be seamlessly integrated into messages by enclosing the text with backtick symbols at the start and end. This provides users with a practical way to share code snippets or emphasize specific phrases within their conversations.

The accompanying image showcases the versatility of this new feature, illustrating the various formatting options available to users. WhatsApp users across iOS, Android, and web devices can now leverage this advanced text formatting feature to elevate their communication experience.

The update reflects WhatsApp’s commitment to continually enhance user experience and foster more expressive and organized conversations. Whether you’re conveying information, emphasizing key points, or sharing code snippets, the new formatting options provide a dynamic and engaging communication platform for users worldwide. 

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

 Facebook owner Meta will set up a team to tackle disinformation and the abuse of generative artificial intelligence in the run-up to European Parliament elections in June amid concerns about election interference and misleading AI-generated content.

The rapid growth of generative AI, which can create text, images and video in seconds in response to prompts, has triggered fears that the new technology could be used to disrupt major elections, across the world this year. 

European Parliament elections will take place June 6-9. Its 720 lawmakers, together with EU governments, pass new EU policies and laws.

“As the election approaches, we’ll activate an Elections Operations Center to identify potential threats and put mitigations in place in real time,” Marco Pancini, Meta’s head of EU affairs, said in a blogpost.

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He said experts from the company’s intelligence, data science, engineering, research, operations, content policy and legal teams will focus on combating misinformation, tackling influence operations and counter the risks related to the abuse of generative AI.

Meta, which currently works with 26 independent fact-checking organisations across the European Union covering 22 languages, will add three new partners in Bulgaria, France, and Slovakia, Pancini said.

Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI and 17 other tech companies earlier this month agreed to work together to prevent deceptive artificial-intelligence content from interfering with elections across the globe this year.

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‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

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'X' faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

The popular microblogging site ‘X,’ formerly known as Twitter, has been inaccessible across Pakistan for over a week. 

Despite a brief interval when the site was accessible, users are now reporting a persistent outage, even when using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the government agency responsible for overseeing telecommunications, hasn’t released any official statement regarding the suspension of the service.

This lack of transparency has only intensified the frustration among users who heavily rely on ‘X’ for information and news updates. Users who initially turned to VPNs as a workaround have also hit a roadblock, as the microblogging site remains inaccessible. 

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The situation has raised concerns about the government’s stance on digital freedom and freedom of speech. The outage has not gone unnoticed by the public, with many expressing their discontent on various platforms. 

Criticism has been directed towards the government and the IT minister for what is perceived as an attack on freedom of speech and a hindrance to the revenue generated by the country’s thriving IT professionals.

Earlier, the Sindh High Court issued a directive to restore access to ‘X’ across Pakistan, recognising the site’s significance for information dissemination. However, despite court’s order, there has been no implementation, leaving users and advocates of digital freedom in a state of dismay.

The suspension of ‘X’ has broader implications, impacting not only the general public but also businesses and professionals who rely on the platform for communication, networking, and staying informed about the latest developments. The longer the outage persists, the more severe the consequences may be for the nation’s digital landscape.

As the public awaits an official statement from the PTA and the government, concerns about the potential ramifications of such a prolonged suspension continue to grow.

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