This week, German Automaker Audi has introduced a new concept electric vehicle called the A6 Avant e-tron. Inspired by Audi’s Sportback, the Avant is intended to be a luxury EV wagon with room to haul all manner of gear. It looks slick, like someone crashed a Subaru Crosstrek and slapped a glass roof on top. Audi says the car is built on its Premium Platform Electric (or confusingly PPE) system, which it co-developed with Porsche. The battery technology aims to give the Avant 186 miles on a 10-minute charge, with an estimated total range of over 400 miles on a full charge.
Of course, for now it is only a concept. But unlike other automakers – Tesla Cybertruck anyone? – Audi is used to bringing its concepts to market. So this is an electric vehicle that you’ll probably be able to drive one day, although US models may differ slightly from this design.
Here’s some more gear news from this week:
Google IO is happening
On Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announcement that the company’s annual IO developer conference will take place on May 11-12. The event will be held at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, Calif., with a limited in-person audience watching from the seats. For anyone who wants to join, IO will also be streamed online.
The main event is usually the big conference draw, where Google executives announce a variety of new software updates, hardware releases, and weird things from the hologram booth. Google also tends to reveal big details about the next version of its Android mobile operating system at IO. The company released its second developer preview of Android 13 this week, and the final version of the operating system is expected in late summer, so expect to see a preview of the new features in May.
For a refresher, check out everything Google announced at last year’s event. All of our event updates will be here.
Netflix may start charging for shared connections
Look at your ex’s Netflix account and despair, moochers. Netflix has announced that it is testing a new policy of charging additional fees to users who share their accounts with others outside of their home.
In its newsletter (filed under “Innovation”), Netflix claims that profile sharing “impacts our ability to invest in new TV shows and movies.” Apparently, every time your stepdad logs into your account, another poorly executed reboot loses its wings.
Netflix says it doesn’t yet plan to block users who share passwords, but it strongly encourages them to pay to do so. Users can add up to two “sub-accounts” for an additional $3 each.
For now, Netflix’s sharing crackdown is only happening in Costa Rica, Chile, and Peru, but the company says the policy may soon expand to other countries.
It’s so hard to say goodbye to Amazon
A report of Business Intern reveals that Amazon deliberately made it harder for some users to cancel their Prime membership. According to leaked documents, Amazon’s so-called Project Iliad intentionally added friction to the process of canceling a Prime account by requiring users to go through several steps before they could finally opt out. This kind of labyrinthine user experience, activists say, is deliberately designed to frustrate users trying to cancel a paid service. (Here’s how to make sure you won’t be fooled by these dark online schemes.) After the project was implemented, Prime cancellations dropped 14% in 2017.
In other Amazon news, workers at three Amazon warehouses went on strike this week demanding higher wages and longer breaks.
Standard smart home issue sees delays
Matter, the proposed connectivity standard that would allow smart home devices from different manufacturers to talk to each other, is delayed for several months. Matter was supposed to arrive mid-year, but now the Community Standard Alliance — the collaboration between smart home giants like Apple, Google and Amazon that oversees the standard — tells Verge that Matter will now be available in the fall. 2022 The delay comes after more manufacturers than expected expressed interest in joining. Until then, you’ll just have to juggle apps every time you want to adjust your thermostat or smart bulbs.
Listen to the Gadget lab podcast
On this week’s show, our guest is WIRED senior writer Khari Johnson. Khari covers artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology for us, and in two recent articles he wrote about some of the issues that can arise when law enforcement relies too heavily on facial recognition software to identify the suspects. It’s a problem that’s exacerbated by the fact that facial recognition technology typically struggles to accurately identify women, children and dark-skinned people – basically anyone who isn’t a man. White.
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