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The Audi Allroad has one surprising new feature for the tech crowd


The 2017 Audi A4 Allroad talks to you. And it has something important to say.

During my recent test, the car sensed when my iPhone was still connected to the USB port. A voice reminded me to take my phone with me.

Admittedly, it’s a minor feature on a car that is equipped with multiple safety sensors, including one that adjusts your speed for the car in front of you and shows an alert if you get too close in traffic. Yet the surprise for me is that this is the first car I’ve tested that shows signs of greater awareness about my needs as a driver…when I’m not even driving.

You can see how this could evolve. A car can be a mobile computer on wheels, and I’m surprised in many ways that it hasn’t become more advanced. A car could have an Xbox One built-in, a 4K surround-sound video entertainment system, it could let passengers in the backseat process a movie using a high-end video editing app, it could be a server to hold our files and share them over a high-speed cellular connection. You can always bring a laptop with you, but a car could provide processing power and larger screens to help passengers do real work as you drive. I’m sure this is coming, as cars start driving themselves and we think of other ways to stay productive on a commute or a long drive in the country.

For now, the Allroad is essentially reminding me that life exists outside of the driver’s seat. Eventually, your car could also tell you about meetings you have coming up, let you ask about the weather for your destination, and give you a quick synopsis of the news and sports you care about the most. And I hope it isn’t Alexa or Google Assistant running on your phone, because I could see Audi or other brands developing their own assistant that also tells you about road conditions, faster routes — anything that will help you become a better driver and engage in a dialogue with you.

It won’t be that difficult, either. The Allroad knows when you have connected your phone. And if you leave the car, it doesn’t make sense to keep your phone connected. That’s not rocket science. An AI helper in an Audi could also learn how you drive, where you drive, and what you care about. It could easily adapt based on your music choices, suggesting when your favorite bands are playing live near your route. With your permission, it could monitor which websites you visit, your GPS route, and other personalization, and then provide more relevant information.

This “brain” would be similar to Alexa but tied more directly to the car. The car would know where you are at all times when you drive. Safety sensors are great, but the car could use other sensors, like facial recognition and cameras, to know who is in the car. If you stop at a grocery store, the car could interface with the store and scan your receipt, letting you know if you forgot the milk. Your car could report on your location and other factors so you don’t have to text about your plans.

Cars already have the processing power required for adaptive cruise control and some level of autonomous driving, like keeping you in your lane. It wouldn’t be a Herculean step for the Allroad to start talking to you about more than forgetting your phone.

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About Ms. A. C. Kennedy

Ms. A. C. Kennedy
My name is Ms A C Kennedy and I am a Health practitioner and Consultant by day and a serial blogger by night. I luv family, life and learning new things. I especially luv learning how to improve my business. I also luv helping and sharing my information with others. Don't forget to ask me anything!

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There's a good reason why security analysts get nervous about bundled third-party software: it can introduce vulnerabilities that the companies can't control. And Microsoft, unfortunately, has learned that the hard way. Google researcher Tavis Ormandy discovered that a Windows 10 image came bundled with a third-party password manager, Keeper, which came with a glaring browser plugin flaw -- a malicious website could steal passwords. Ormandy's copy was an MSDN image meant for developers, but Reddit users noted that they received the vulnerable copy of Keeper after clean reinstalls of regular copies and even a brand new laptop.

A Microsoft spokesperson told Ars Technica that the Keeper team had patched the exploit (in response to Ormandy's private disclosure), so it shouldn't be an issue if your software is up to date. Also, you were only exposed if you enabled the plugin.

However, the very existence of the hole has still raised a concern: are Microsoft's security tests as thorough for third-party apps as its own software? The company has declined to comment, but that kind of screening may prove crucial if Microsoft is going to maintain the trust of Windows users. It doesn't matter how secure Microsoft's code is if a bundled app undermines everything.

Source: Monorail, Tavis Ormandy (Twitter)

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