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Wi-Fi is finally rolling out across British Airways planes

Well, it got there in the end – years after Wi-Fi started appearing[1] on flights operated by US airlines, it’s now officially coming to the British Airways fleet as well. You’re going to have to be lucky to find it at the moment though, as it’s only up and running on three planes.

That number will rise to 118 long-haul aircraft over the next two years, BA says[2], so maybe don’t delete your Netflix downloads just yet. Apparently passengers will get alerted to the presence of on-board Wi-Fi shortly after the flight gets underway, with two different plans available to buy.

Stump up £4.99 (around $ 7/AU$ 9) for the Browse package and you get enough bandwidth to check your email and chat on WhatsApp. Upgrade to the £7.99 (around $ 11/AU$ 14) Stream package, and you’ll be able to enjoy Netflix and YouTube while up in the air.

Get yourself connected

Those prices are just for an hour of sweet, sweet Wi-Fi connectivity though – you’ll have to fork out more cash for the four hour package or for the whole flight. For a limited period, Visa is sponsoring a scheme to give all passengers an hour of Wi-Fi for free, so maybe see how many movies you can download to your phone in that time.

According to the FAQ page[3], you’re looking at a minimum of 250Kbps for the Browse package and 1Mbps for the Stream package, so make your choice accordingly. Alternatively, just enjoy being unplugged from the grid for a few hours instead.

Wi-Fi will be available once your flight reaches 10,000 feet, though any packages you buy are tied to the individual device you buy them on. BA says its short-haul flights will also get connectivity in the future, and the firm is hoping to have 90 percent of its planes with Wi-Fi on board by the time we get to 2019.

Via Engadget[5]

References

  1. ^ started appearing (www.techradar.com)
  2. ^ BA says (mediacentre.britishairways.com)
  3. ^ the FAQ page (www.britishairways.com)
  4. ^ Wi-Fi at 35,000 feet! Honeywell demos new in-flight tech for flyers, pilots (www.techradar.com)
  5. ^ Engadget (www.engadget.com)

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Porsche talks Mission E, Audi partnership and more in exec interview

Porsche is a company that always does things its own way, whether that means tossing the engine into the rear of a sports car and developing it over the next 50 years or releasing information about upcoming models in the form of an extended, dry interview with a random executive. Unfortunately, it’s the latter tendency that concerns us today. However, Porsche dropped some fascinating nuggets about the Mission E in an interview with Albrecht Reimold, member of the Executive Board for Production, and we’ll break those down for you.

To start with, Mr. Reimold gave us a date for the Mission E to go into production: 2019. Porsche apparently has no capacity left right now for manufacturing the Mission E at its Zuffenhausen facility, so it is building a new factory and an all-new assembly line just for its much-anticipated electric car.

The factory, also in the Zuffenhausen neighborhood of Stuttgart, is being conceived as a “Zero Impact Factory” which goes beyond merely being carbon neutral and starts to consider the sources for the materials used to build cars.

Enlarge Image

Albrecht Reimold breaks down some of Porsche’s plans for the Mission E’s production timeline.

Porsche

Porsche is also apparently working on something called Premium Platform Electromobility with Audi that will serve as the underpinning for a bulk of Porsche and Audi models in the future that will allow both companies to bake in electric and hybrid drivetrains more holistically than they are currently able. Reimold states that this new platform architecture is separate from Mission E development. The other huge announcement is that Porsche plans to offer Mission E drivetrain components for sale to other manufacturers.

This is interesting in that allowing smaller companies to buy in rather than having to develop their own tech could cause a much more rapid proliferation of electric vehicles in the near future.

Couple that with Porsche’s planned use of an 800-volt system architecture for the Mission E, and that could spell significant changes in infrastructure as well.

Enlarge Image

Porsche’s Zuffenhausen factory is at maximum capacity, so the automaker is expanding with a new Zero Impact facility nearby.

Porsche

We’re incredibly excited about the Mission E, as it promises to be a different take on electric powertrain design, and with any luck, it could be the most engaging EV to hit the market.

We’ll continue to keep you updated as more information trickles out.

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Uber and co don't want you to own your own self-driving car

Uber has joined forces with other online taxi and ride-sharing companies to outline what they think the future of transportation within cities should look like. And although many of the shared principles point to a positive outlook for the coming years, one, which appears to suggest outlawing privately-owned self-driving cars, is causing a stir. 

ZipCar has brought together a group of companies, including Uber, Citymapper, Lyft and BlaBlaCar, to produce the Shared Mobility Principles For Livable Cities[1] policy document. At first glance, many of the principles in the document are positive, outlining a commission to renewable energy and prioritizing the needs of people over vehicles. 

However, the final principle may be cause for concern. It states: “We support that autonomous vehicles (AVS) in dense urban areas should be operated only in shared fleets.”

The document then goes on to explain some of the reasoning behind the need for shared fleets, including better control over emissions and stricter regulation.

“Due to the transformational potential of autonomous vehicle technology, it is critical that all AVs are part of shared fleets, well-regulated, and zero emission. Shared fleets can provide more affordable access to all, maximize public safety and emissions benefits, ensure that maintenance and software upgrades are managed by professionals, and actualize the promise of reductions in vehicles, parking, and congestion, in line with broader policy trends to reduce the use of personal cars in dense urban areas.”

An urban monopoly?

This suggests that these companies, as well as some of the other green pressure group signatories, may not want people to own their own self-driving cars, at least within urban environments. Although their reasoning may make sense, it points to a monopoly over autonomous cars that would give individuals less choice over their choice of transport. 

The Competitive Enterprise Institute[2] reports that one way around these kinds of policies in the US may be for individual states to draw up their own plans that would stop companies and local governments from restricting the use of self-driving cars. 

For many members of the public, automated cars may still sound like the futuristic vehicles of our sci-fi dreams. However, if Uber’s ambitious plans are anything to go by, they could be arriving within the next 18 months. 

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi made headlines after he predicted[3] that we’ll be seeing Uber automated cars on the road for use by the public, outside of testing, within that timeframe. That means that discussions about restricting ownership of self-driving cars shouldn’t be ignored, even if the intentions of Uber, ZipCar and the other companies involved appear to be good. 

References

  1. ^ Shared Mobility Principles For Livable Cities (www.sharedmobilityprinciples.org)
  2. ^ The Competitive Enterprise Institute (cei.org)
  3. ^ predicted (www.techradar.com)
  4. ^ Uber wants the driverless car experience to be sick bag-free (www.techradar.com)

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Samsung Galaxy S9’s iPhone X feature previewed

If the latest rumors are to be confirmed, Samsung is going to be adopting one of the main features of the iPhone X, into the upcoming Galaxy S9. The Galaxy S9 is expected to be unveiled during MWC 2018 in February and now it has been discovered that Samsung plans to introduce a feature called Intelligent Scan. This feature has been uncovered within the latest Android Oreo beta and the accompanying description for Intelligent Scan is that it can:

Combine face and iris scanning to improve accuracy and security even in low or very bright light.”

It’s no secret that Apple’s Face ID has trumped Samsung Face Unlock in every way, so we are assuming that Intelligent Scan is going to be the improvements that bridge the gap between Face Unlock and Face ID.

The big issue with Face Unlock is that a still picture can expose it in most scenarios, so Intelligent Scan should remove any security issues that we have seen in the past, as a priority. You can see an image above of how Intelligent Scan will work in low light conditions above.

Let us know what you think about Samsung putting this feature into the Galaxy S9. It was always going to happen right? Enjoy the leaked renders from EVLeaks below and tell us if you are going to be choosing the next Galaxy over the iPhone X in 2018. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.

Also See: Samsung Galaxy S9 feature revealed early

China will block all non-approved VPNs from next month

From next month, China is going to start freezing out overseas VPN[1] providers, blocking them so folks can’t use these services to get round the country’s infamous ‘Great Firewall’.

Following reports last summer[2] that such a ban was in the pipeline, according to Radio Free Asia[3], the government now plans to implement this move at the end of March.

Specifically, Zhang Feng, chief engineer from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, clarified that all unlicensed VPN services would be blocked, meaning that all VPN firms will need to be officially licensed by the government in order to operate in China.

Regulation across the nation

Zhang noted: “We want to regulate VPNs which unlawfully conduct cross-border operational activities.”

He added: “Any foreign companies that want to set up a cross-border operation for private use will need to set up a dedicated line for that purpose. They will be able to lease such a line or network legally from the telecommunications import and export bureau.”

The Great Firewall already prevents access to a good number of sites and services, and things are only going to get more difficult with VPN workarounds being clamped down on much more tightly.

All the major State-owned Chinese telecom giants have already been told to make sure that their 1.3 billion subscribers can’t use VPN services to circumvent government censorship.

You may also recall that last year, Apple ejected a number of VPN apps[4] from its App Store over in China at the behest of the government, including some very big-name VPN providers.

References

  1. ^ VPN (www.techradar.com)
  2. ^ Following reports last summer (www.techradar.com)
  3. ^ Radio Free Asia (www.rfa.org)
  4. ^ Apple ejected a number of VPN apps (www.techradar.com)
  5. ^ best VPN services (www.techradar.com)

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