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By Jay Bonggolto
Apple hires former CEO and co-founder of an electric vehicle company
by Jay Bonggolto
Image via Canoo Reports about Apple developing an electric vehicle to compete with Tesla and other EV manufacturers popped up in 2015 after CEO Tim Cook reportedly gave his go-signal a year prior. The tech giant went on to hire top talent to fill positions for its EV project codenamed Titan and poached key people from other firms, including Doug Betts, who was quality lead at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The project was later discontinued.
Now, Apple may be reviving its EV ambitions. The company confirmed that it has recruited Ulrich Kranz, formerly the senior executive at BMW AG’s electric car division. He was also the co-founder and CEO of Canoo, an EV company based in Torrance, California. Citing sources privy to the matter, Bloomberg reports that Kranz will help oversee Apple's EV project.
Kranz joined Apple approximately a month after he left Canoo. Prior to his role at Canoo, Kranz served as a Senior Vice President at BMW, where he worked for three decades, as per his LinkedIn profile. He developed some of the firm's vehicles, including the BMW i3 and the i8.
In 2016, Kranz left BMW to provide consultation services for an investment firm and EV startups. Apple's move to hire someone with decades of automotive experience marks the company's growing EV push. Kranz will report directly to Doug Field, a former Tesla executive who now leads Apple’s car project. That said, it might take a couple of years before we see an actual Apple vehicle on the road, seeing as the effort is still in its infancy.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft announces new calling features for Teams, such as CarPlay
by Rich Woods
Today, Microsoft is announcing a bunch of new calling features that are coming to its Teams collaboration service. It also provided some numbers, saying that Teams users made over 650 million calls in October, 11 times as many as in March.
Going forward, you'll be able to set OneDrive or SharePoint as a default location for saving call recordings, rather than Microsoft Stream. That should make it easier to share, give you more of a storage capacity, and more. There's also an improved Calling app that's meant to streamline the whole calling experience into a single location; that app will work with Apple CarPlay, another improvement that Microsoft touted today.
If you're not a fan of spam, well, you're like everyone else. Spam identification is coming, and Teams will also attest outgoing calls so they don't get rejected as spam. There's also automatic reverse number look-up, so you'll see the name of who's calling you.
Along the lines of call management, you'll soon be able to switch between mobile and desktop. It should make general mobility a lot easier, where you can answer a call from your phone while you're driving, and switch to your desktop when you arrive at your office. This feature is coming in early 2021, along with a new low-data mode that will let you set bandwidth limits. Call merge will also be helpful for call management, letting you combine calls.
Microsoft also announced some new advanced calling features, such as a new Survivable Branch Appliance that can keep calls going even if there's a network outage. There are also new collaborative calling capabilities like putting call queues into a channel, so you can collaborate before and after the call. The firm is also making sure that when you transfer a call, the caller won't get disconnected if no one is available on the other end.
Finally, there are some new devices on the way. These include phones with hardware buttons, more Teams displays, and more. You'll also be able to get them through a device as a service plan, which is available now.
By Jefferson Mangubat
Google Maps now supports CarPlay Dashboard, coming to Apple Watch soon
by Jefferson Mangubat
Google has announced a couple of new updates for Maps. Starting today, the navigation app is compatible with Apple's CarPlay Dashboard, with plans to also roll out support for Apple Watch in the near future.
Maps has now added support for CarPlay's split-screen functionality, allowing users to play or pause songs from their media app, for example, while also using with Maps' turn-by-turn navigation at the same time. This multi-tasking capability is designed to let you "get the information you need while keeping your focus on the road". The integration is now available on all vehicles worldwide with CarPlay support.
Over the coming weeks, Google is also rolling out a new Maps app to Apple Watch. This will enable users to receive driving, biking, and walking directions on their wrist. The navigation app will also provide an estimated time of arrival at the users' known destination such as home, work or any other location they have previously saved. For other destinations not saved yet on the app, users have to start on their iPhone first and then pick up where they left off on their smartwatch.
By Abhay V
Android Auto now available for eligible BMW vehicles
by Abhay Venkatesh
Google unveiled Android Auto back in 2014, and ever since, vehicle manufacturers have been integrating support for the technology in their cars. The offering itself has evolved in the years, with support for wireless connections – albeit for a limited number of devices – arriving in 2018. However, one major carmaker that held out on adding support for Google’s offering was BMW.
That changed in December last year, as the company announced that it will be adding support for Android Auto in July 2020. With July almost coming to an end, BMW customers with cars running BMW Operating System 7.0 have begun receiving the update. Android Police reports that their car had to be updated from a service center. It is not clear if only select models need a visit to authorized service centers.
As announced last year, support for Android Auto comes only in the wireless form, and users cannot use the functionality via a wired connection. The service integrates with the entire digital cockpit, which means that apps such as Google Maps will be able to display information on the digital drivers’ display and the heads-up display.
While the addition of Android Auto is a welcome addition for customers of one of the world’s largest carmakers, there are a few downsides. Firstly, the omission of support for wired connections means that only a handful of devices from Samsung and Google can be used with the system. Additionally, the experience is reportedly buggy. The Android Police report adds that the phone lost connection frequently and there was a noticeable lag in switching between songs on Spotify.
Eligible cars include all models that are running the BMW Operating System 7.0 or newer. It is possible that some 2020 models – such as the new 5-series – could have shipped with support built-in. You can head to the Remote Software Upgrade menu in the car to search for upgrades - in case it is being made available via an over-the-air upgrade. However, if you do not see an update, you might have to get the upgrade installed from a service center. BMW has not provided the specifics of how the update is supposed to be distributed.
Android Auto is coming to BMW vehicles in 2020, but only wirelessly
by João Carrasqueira
Android Auto has been around for a few years now and expanded to a few brands of car manufacturers over time. One notable omission so far, though, has been BMW, one of the largest carmakers in the world. That's set to change soon, though, as BMW USA has announced it will be adding support for Google's connected car technology in mid-2020.
Not only will Android Auto provide the typical experience you'd expect from it, the feature will also integrate seamlessly with BMW's "fully digital cockpit". That means you don't just get information shown in the central display of the car, but also in the instruments panel above the steering wheel, and even the heads-up display that's projected towards the bottom of the windshield. This should help minimize distractions.
A possible downside to this is that the feature will only work wirelessly, so there's no support for Android Auto in wired mode, something that's strongly suggested by BMW's press release and confirmed by Android Police. This limits you to a handful of phones that support Android Auto in wireless mode, including the Galaxy S8 and Note8 series and later, or Google's own Pixel devices, plus the Nexus 5X and 6P. Interestingly, the Pixel 4 isn't mentioned on the list of compatible devices, though this could be an oversight.
Support for Android Auto will be available for all BMW vehicles that have the BMW Operating System 7.0. You'll be able to see it in action at CES early next year.