This week, the German car manufacturer Audi showed a new electric vehicle concept, the A6 Avant e-tron. Modeled after Audi’s Sportback, the Avant is intended to be a luxury EV car with room to carry all kinds of gear. It looks slick, like someone crushed a Subaru Crosstrek down and put a glass roof on it. Audi says the car is built on its Premium Platform Electric (or PPE, confusingly) system, which it co-developed with Porsche. The battery technology is intended to enable the Avant to cover 286 miles on a 10-minute charge, with a total estimated range of over 400 miles on a full charge.
Sure, for now it’s just a concept. But unlike other automakers – Tesla Cybertruck anyone? – Audi has a history of actually marketing its concepts. So this is an EV you’ll probably be able to drive someday, although US models may vary slightly from this design.
Here’s some more gear news from this week:
Google IO is underway
On Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company’s annual IO developer conference will be held on May 11 and 12. The event will be held at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California, with a limited personal audience watching from the seats. For everyone else who wants to join in, IO will also be streamed online.
The keynote event is usually the big draw of the conference, where Google execs announce a variety of new software updates, hardware releases, and weird hologram stand stuff. Google also tends to reveal some big details about the upcoming 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 a rollout of new features in May.
For a refresher, check out everything Google announced at the event last year. All our updates on the event will be here.
Netflix may start charging for shared logins
Look at your ex’s Netflix account and despair, sloths. Netflix has announced that it is testing a new policy to charge additional fees for users who share their accounts with others outside their own home.
In its News Feed (filed under “Innovation”), Netflix says profile sharing “affects our ability to invest in great new TV and movies.” Apparently every time your father-in-law logs into your account, another poorly executed reboot loses its wings.
Netflix says it has no plans to block users who share passwords just yet, but strongly encourages them to pay for it. Users can add up to two “subaccounts” for an additional $3 each.
For now, Netflix’s crackdown is only happening in Costa Rica, Chile and Peru, but the company says this policy could be extended to other countries soon.
It’s so hard to say goodbye to Amazon
A report from Business Insider shows that Amazon has deliberately made it harder for some users to cancel their Prime membership. According to leaked documents, Amazon’s so-called Project Iliad deliberately added friction to the process of canceling a Prime account by making users go through multiple steps before finally being able to unsubscribe. This kind of labyrinthine user experience, activists say, is intentionally designed to frustrate users who try to cancel a paid service. (Here’s how to make sure you aren’t misled by these dark patterns online.) After the project was implemented, Prime’s cancellations dropped 14 percent in 2017.
In other Amazon news, workers at three Amazon warehouses went on strike this week, demanding higher wages and longer breaks.
Smart-Home Standard Matter sees delays
Matter, the proposed connectivity standard that allows smarthome devices from different manufacturers to talk to each other, is being delayed for several months. Matter was supposed to arrive mid-year, but now the Community Standard Alliance — the partnership between smart-home giants such as Apple, Google and Amazon that oversees the standard — tells the Verge that Matter will now be available in the fall of 2022. delay comes after more manufacturers than expected expressed interest in joining. Until then, all you have to do is juggle apps every time you want to adjust your thermostat or smart bulbs.
Listen to the gadgetlab podcast
This week’s show features WIRED senior writer Khari Johnson. Khari covers machine intelligence and facial recognition technology for us, and in two recent stories he wrote about some of the problems that can arise when law enforcement agencies rely too much on facial recognition software to identify suspects. It’s a problem compounded by the fact that facial recognition technology typically struggles to accurately identify women, children, and dark-skinned people — basically anyone who isn’t a white male.
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