Jaguar, Audi, Porsche and BMW: their EV futures

Electric saloons and crossovers were big – seriously big – news at the Geneva Motor Show.

Jaguar had the big production car story with the I-Pace. Which is perhaps why Audi felt the need to send a couple of prototypes of its rival e-tron shuttling around the showground, wrapped in disguise graphics.

Porsche showed a reasonably realistic vision of its second Mission E model, and told Top Gear a lot more detail about the first Mission E, which launches next year.

VW showed a big saloon concept, the ID Vizzion, which will go into production in 2021. By which time VW will have have tacked on a steering wheel.

BMW, meanwhile, had nothing to show but announced it will put into production the i4. That’s the real-world version of last autumn’s Vision i Dynamics concept car, itself a realistic derivation of the fantastical BMW 100th anniversary concept. (OK, time to ‘fess up, we called it the i5 when we first wrote about it.)

Aston Martin unveiled the Lagonda too. While we know they’re serious about Lagonda and about EVs, this particular concept is pretty far-fetched. It’s designed around solid-state batteries, a technology that’s not even in the prototype stage yet. At least not in vehicles, only in the lab.

Hyundai had a production electric Kona, available with two battery sizes, the biggest able to store 64kWh for 300-odd miles of real-world range. There was even a SsangYong EV, a crossover due in 2019. As with the Kona, there’s a similar version with an engine, the new Korando due later this year.

Among carmakers building both electric and combustion cars, there is one striking difference. Do they scratch-design the EVs, or do they share platforms with their conventional petrol, diesel and hybrid cars?

BMW has a platform-sharing approach. The i4 uses an adapted version of the architecture that serves everything from the next-gen 3 Series to the upcoming X7, including the current 5 and 7 Series. I asked BMW boss Harald Krüger why they don’t have a dedicated electric platform, which is what Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes, Porsche – and of course Tesla – have settled on.

The reason, he said, is flexibility. “Who can predict future electric market share?” So if EVs stiff out, BMW won’t be over-committed. Not only that, but also the opposite, says Krüger. “Even if EV grows fast we can react fast and build them on the existing combustion-car production lines. If you have dedicated EVs, what do you do with the old combustion-car plants?”

OK, but what if building a dedicated EV platform results in a better EV? Krüger simply tells me to look at the i4 concept, and asks if I see any problem with the looks, performance or range.

Porsche says electric cars would be additional sales, not substitutes, like when people buy a Cayenne as well as, not instead of, a 911

But Audi’s R&D chief, Peter Mertens disagrees. “The e-tron has an architecture called PPE, or Premium Platform Electric. It’s dedicated to electric and won’t be used for combustion cars or even plug-in hybrids. We have a Chinese wall between the two. They are so different as to proportions, packaging, weight distribution.”

Which is all very well, but until 2016 Mertens had the same R&D role at Volvo. And there he was responsible for the CMA platform, which sits under the new XC40. That one was designed to accommodate a full-EV version.

Jaguar has seized the advantages of a bespoke EV platform. The I-Pace’s proportions are radically different from the other Jag SUVs. Jaguar design chief Ian Callum likens it to the shift in sports cars from front to mid engines.

Absent a bulky engine at the front, its design pushes the driver forward, allowing more cabin space, and the long wheelbase leaves room for a bigger battery. Compare that with the long-bonnet BMW Vision i Dynamics.

What about the lack of flexibility and extra risk BMW’s Krüger talks of? The Jaguar is built under contract by Magna in Austria, so to an extent Jaguar has off-loaded the risk to Magna. It’s Magna who makes the E-Pace, too, as well as two BMWs and the Mercedes G-Class, so it manages to be a pretty flexible shop.

But Audi’s Mertens acknowledges the risk that BMW’s Krüger is talking about. “Yes, it does give us less flexibility in production. We have made a bold commitment.” The e-tron is to be made in a re-fitted Audi factory in Brussels. Mertens says Audi expects 15 per cent of its cars will be full-electric by 2025.

Porsche is pretty solidly committed too. That’s an understatement. It is investing €6 billion (£5.5bn) on electric R&D and production and the world’s highest-power charger network. Those things will zap up a Mission E from zero to 80 per cent charge in an astonishing 15 minutes.

Porsche has found space in its historic Zuffenhausen plant to install a dedicated new production line for the Mission E. I asked Porsche’s Sales and Marketing chief Detlev von Platen about his sales expectation. “There have been thousands of studies into the takeup of EVs and they have got thousands of answers. But €6 billion says we will be bold.”

That Mission E production line is geared for 20,000 cars a year, including other versions like the Cross Turismo, shown as a concept in Geneva. For reference, Porsche sold 250,000 cars and crossovers last year. Von Platen says the electric cars would be additional not substitutes, like when people buy a Cayenne as well as, not instead of, a 911.

Porsche is also developing leasing schemes where an owner pays a monthly fee and can swap between several Porsche models. That means if an EV wouldn’t work for, say, a holiday to a remote place, they would swap into a Cayenne or Panamera for the occasion.

Porsche’s R&D chief Michael Steiner says the Mission E uses a dedicated Porsche platform. The battery has cut-outs in the footwells so the passengers sit lower than other electric cars, to get a low roof line and the centre of gravity right down. Odd then that they jacked it up for the Mission E Cross Turismo concept, but the first production Mission E will be low as a snake’s belly.

Steiner confirms that Porsche is additionally working on the PPE platform with Audi. That’s the one used by the Audi e-tron, and its battery is a simple sandwich shape.

So Porsche will launch a second full-electric line. There will be the Mission E family, and, later a whole other electric crossover lineup on the PPE platform. That’s another part of the €6bn then. Will it be too similar to the Audi? “No-one questions that the Macan is a Porsche, even though it is related to an Audi.”

What does Steiner think of the possibility of a flexible platform that would also allow petrol versions? “You would have to compromise. You would have to make room for the engine, and for batteries.”

Those things are very different shapes. He says with solid-state batteries it would be easier, because those batteries might be half the size and weight of lithium ion. But even so, “Porsche does not like compromise.” Tell that to BMW then…

[“Source-topgear”]

Gear that improves on what was and changes what might be

Gear that improves on what was and changes what might be

Consider these new products for savvy travelers. (Handout)

hape-shifting innovations put a twist on the familiar in this gear roundup.

Picture perfect

The quality of photos from a smartphone is so good that many travelers leave their clunky camera gear at home. To give you even more photographic flexibility, Pixter has introduced a pack of four compact specialty lenses that clip onto any smartphone.

The Pixter Pro Pack includes a wide-angle lens; a 238-degree super fisheye lens; a 10X macro lens; and a telephoto lens. The lenses come in a padded travel case and have front and back lens caps.

Cost, info: Pixter Pro Pack lists for $154.90 (lenses are about $55 apiece a la carte).

Twofer toy

Pillow Pets

Taking a buddy along can make children happier and when that pal is a plush companion that morphs from a toy into a pillow, you’ll please and placate your child.

Pillow Pets are chenille-stuffed animals (also some cute cars) that widen and flatten into a pillow with the release of a cinch strap. Sizes average 12- to 16-inches-square when fully open. All are machine washable.

Pillow Pets also come as zippered sweatshirts. Bunch up the garment for a nice, fat cushion or use just the padded hood part as a pillow and wrap the rest around your child for an extra-warm hug with pockets.

Cost, info: Pillow Pets run $20 to $25; animal-head hoodies cost about $20. www.mypillowpets.com

This bag does tricks

Eagle Creek

Pulling a rabbit out of a hat is just a trick; pulling a backpack out of a wheel-aboard bag? That’s magic.

That’s what the wizards at Eagle Creek Luggage have conjured with the new Morphus International Wheeled Carry-On. With a quick unzip, what had been a single 20½-by-13¾-by-9-inch roller bag separates into a backpack and a wheeled bag, offering about double the space you started with.

Both are made with polyurethane-coated polyester and have top- and side-padded grab handles, double lockable zippers and reinforced seams.

The wheeled bag has thick, treaded wheels; a hinged kickstand keeps the bag upright. The soft backpack has zip-away padded interior sleeves that can accommodate a 15-inch laptop and a tablet, as a well as a nifty built-in cord winder, a key fob and padded pouches for fragile electronics.

The backpack’s two trolley straps can slide over the wheeled bag’s telescoping pull handle. Zipped back together, the bag can be wheeled, or carried using the pack’s back straps.

All this abracadabra isn’t cheap, but it’s a class act, even without the wand.

Cost, info: Morphus International Wheeled Carry-On costs $329.

A bag that suits

Selk’Bag

Is anything as yummy as curling up in your tent inside a toasty sleeping bag on a chilly night camping? Is anything as awful as having to get out of that warm sleeping bag to go out into the elements?

No problem if you have the new SelkBag Wearable Sleeping Bag, designed to keep you comfy in and out of the tent.

It looks like a giant snowsuit, but lets you be much more mobile. It has zip-off booties, big kangaroo-style pockets and flaps at the wrists that let you quickly free your hands.

It’s made of ripstop nylon and polyester with hollow fiber polyester insulation, and its insulated adjustable hood extends from a high thermal collar.

The zip-off booties let you substitute your own shoes when you are active, and the booties’ reinforced nylon soles and lateral grips for traction make them tough enough for a stroll.

The bag comes in a range of colors and patterns, including Star Wars-themed designs, in adult and children’s sizes.

One quibble: The SelkBag is not equipped with a drop seat so you must wriggle out of the bottoms when nature calls. A fix is in the works.

Cost, info: SelkBag Wearable Sleeping Bag in adult sizes costs about $170 for the Original (warmest) model; a lighter, less-insulated model costs $99. Children’s SelkBags cost $69 to $89. www.selkbagusa.com

[“Source-latimes”]

Samsung Max App With Data Saving and Privacy Protection Features Released

Samsung Max App With Data Saving and Privacy Protection Features Released

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Samsung Max app has been released
  • The app is available for select Galaxy devices
  • Replaces the Opera Max app on Galaxy A and Galaxy J handsets

Samsung on Friday released an Android app that is designed to offer mobile data savings and privacy management. Called Samsung Max, the new app is designed by Samsung R&D Institute India and is available for free download on Google Play and Galaxy App store for select Galaxy devices. The proprietary app will also come preloaded on all Galaxy A and Galaxy J series handsets in a few emerging markets, including India, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam – replacing the recently discontinued Opera Max app.

Similar to Google’s Datally that was launched in last November, the Samsung Max offers foreground data compression service that allows you to reduce data consumption from your installed apps. The app also has the functionality to block background data and data access for any app. It compresses webpages, photos, videos, and media within apps and browser to drop data consumption. Similarly, it lets you manage data permissions for specific apps and customise data consumption for existing apps to save your data for other useful tasks.

Alongside offering data savings and data compression features, Samsung Max provides regular reports to let you see which of your favourite apps are consuming the most of your data limit. The app also has a boost Wi-Fi feature that is touted to uplift connectivity even in a crowded Wi-Fi hotspot or at a weak signal area.

Samsung has provided a bunch of features that are specific to security as well. Primarily, the Samsung Max app not just compress but also encrypt all the network traffic that flows from your apps using Samsung’s in-house servers. The South Korean company also claims that has been using a “bank-grade”, secure network experience. In the same vein, there is Samsung Max’ data-savings cloud access make data usage efficient and secure from third-party services.

The Samsung Max app encrypts data when it is sent through a public Wi-Fi network. Likewise, there are features such as tracker blocking and DNS masking to offer a secured Web browsing experience. You can view privacy reports to see how the app adds security to other apps and network connections.

While the Samsung Max by default serves ads, you can choose whether to view ads inside the app or on the lock screen only while your device is plugged in and charging. The latter can be enabled by switching to the premium mode.

“At Samsung, we’ve been committed to creating inclusive data saving and privacy protection services for all our devices. Because of this, we are now introducing Samsung Max to our mid-range devices as an exclusive and unique service that sets Samsung devices apart from the rest of the smartphone market,” said Seounghoon Oh, Vice President Samsung R&D Institute India.

It is worth noting here that the Samsung Max app is presently incompatible with devices other than the eligible Samsung devices. You can check whether it is compatible with your Galaxy handset by visiting Google Play or Galaxy App store.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

25 Android and iPhone Apps to Add a Second Phone Number for Business Only Calls

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls

A smartphone is just as much a business communication device as it is a personal one. But using a single number for both on your phone is unprofessional and unnecessarily problematic. But smartphone technology and the many apps available in the marketplace allow you to easily get a second phone number avoiding these problems entirely.

If your phone can accept a second SIM card, you can get another number from your service provider. However, if you don’t want to use this option or can’t because you don’t have a secondary SIM slot, you can use an app to get a second number on your phone.

Why Get a Separate Business Number?

First, it clearly separates your personal and business conversations, while at the same time protecting your personal private number. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about figuring out who is calling you because the dedicated line identifies it. Last but not least, it gives you a professional appearance.

Some apps may have either a free version or trial period, so if you can, try them out before you purchase a plan. And be sure to read the fine print, because unlimited calls, SMS and text are in most cases between users of the app.

Second Phone Number Apps for Small Businesses

Here are 25 apps you can use to add a second number. All of the second phone number apps are available for Android and iOS, except for LineUp, Numbers Plus, Second Phone Number, and Swytch, which are only for iOS.

GoDaddy Smartline

The GoDaddy SmartLine was just announced recently by the domain name company. You can get a local phone number with a US area code plus customizable voicemail, business hour ring option, text messages and more. You can try it free for 30 days.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - GoDaddy Smartline

Burner

Burner is one of the more popular apps for creating a secondary number. It was originally designed to create a temporary number, but permanent options are now available. The mini burner will give you 14 days with limited talk time and text messages, while the permanent version is a monthly plan for as long as you need the number. There is also a three-line plan if you happen to need more numbers.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Burner

Google Voice

With Google Voice, all you need is a Google account to get a new phone number. The calls can be routed to your mobile phone, computer, home, office or another location. In addition to standard calling features, the app also transcribes voicemail messages to text.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Google Voice

Hushed

Like Burner, Hushed has temporary and permanent options for your second phone number. It starts with a free number for three days, followed by seven-day and permanent plans you have to pay for. Features include custom voicemail messages and call-forwarding.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Hushed

Dingtone

Dingtone gives you a free US number so you can make calls or text to any landline or mobile device in over 230 countries. The company uses its dedicated VoIP network to deliver HD voice and also provides instant messaging to share photos, videos, locations and contacts. Yearly and monthly subscriptions are available in the US, UK, Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Dingtone

Free Tone

Free Tone says it gives you unlimited free calls and texts to U.S. and Canadian phone numbers when you get your own number from any area code with no trials or hidden costs. The company uses VoIP technology to deliver the service. The free calls only apply to the contiguous US and Canada, so make sure you check if you plan calling anywhere else.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Free Tone

CoverMe

CoverMe gives you end-to-end encryption to make secure private calls and send texts with your new number. The app also has a private vault to hide photos, videos, passwords and files. You can get US and Canadian numbers for many different area codes.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - CoverMe

Cloudphone

Cloud Phone  describes itself as a business phone system for managing your business and personal calls. It includes one touch access to call recording, conference calling, eavesdrop, voicemail transcription and flip call features. The app includes a professional company greeting and an auto attendant for call routing, voicemail and call forwarding.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Cloudphone

iPlum

iPlum has domestic and international functionality with support for 22 global languages on smartphones and tablets. You pay as you go by only purchasing the credits you need for your second number. You can port your existing phone number with caller ID, dedicated voicemail, call forwarding and picture and video messaging.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - iPlum

Line2

Line2 offers full feature business phone systems for your second number starting with 1,500 minutes of outbound calling or forwarding. You can get a number in any city in the U.S. or Canada with visual caller ID, group calling and messaging, number blocking and more.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Line2

LineUp

The second number LineUp provides offers texting, photo messaging, calling and voicemail. The subscription-free pricing lets you use the number for a single call or long-term use. The company also provides vanity numbers for your business with calling and texting features. The calling and texting minutes you pay for roll over instead of expiring, and they are good for any LineUp numbers you have.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - LineUp

Numbers Plus

Numbers Plus lets you create multiple numbers and keep them as long as you want. Currently it only supports US and Canadian numbers for making calls and texting. You can try it for free and use the in-app purchase feature for additional time and numbers.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Numbers Plus

Phoner

The Phoner app has a random phone number generator to quickly give you a temporary or permanent number. Once you get the number, you can access reverse phone number lookup, phone call recording functions, anonymous texting and calling, along with SMS and MMS.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Phoner

Ring4

Ring4 gives you a local or international number in 20 countries with features such as text with emoji, call recording, do not disturb mode and more. If you make international calls, you can make or receive calls and texts overseas with a US number, with no roaming charges.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Ring4

TalkU

TalkU gives you a free second number to make and receive calls in the US and internationally. Call any mobile or landline phone number in more than 200 countries with unlimited free calling and texting between TalkU users. Features include Visual voicemail with instant listening, call screens, group calling with free group conference calls, and walkie-talkie.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - TalkU

Talkatone

Talkatone gives you a free US or Canadian phone number to make free calls in those countries. Inbound international calls are also free, with monthly subscription fee for making calls to select countries. The app supports ads, but you can pay for the service to have them removed.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Talkatone

Swytch

Swytch has designed its app so businesses can give their employees work mobile numbers, instead of work mobile phones. This is a great cost effective option for many small businesses. For the employees it means not having to change personal handset, network operator or SIM card. And for business owners, it means saving on the purchase of increasingly expensive smartphones.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Swytch

Sideline

Sideline built its business with a free version loaded with features, but now it is only available as a paid service. Still the high-quality features such as auto-attendant, along with standard calling options seem worth the price for many businesses.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Sideline

Second Phone Number

Second Phone Number  gives you as many numbers as you want with monthly or yearly subscriptions. The phone numbers are available for 31 countries with features including contact management, numbers for specific business use, texting, SMS and more.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Second Phone Number

Telos

Telos gives you unlimited calling and texting with a second phone number. You can get a US phone number in any area code as well as international numbers in several countries. Calls can be forwarded to any landline or mobile number with voicemail, auto reply messages and blocking features.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Telos

Textfree

Textfree starts with free text messages, inbound calls and limited outbound calls for your second number. It is important to remember you have to use your free number at least once within a 30 day period or the company will reclaim it. You can keep the paid numbers for as long as you want.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Textfree

TextMe Up

TextMe Up lets you manage as many numbers as you like and switch between multiple numbers in one screen. Features include HD voice and video calling, as well as group messages with texting, photo and video sharing. You can call numbers in the US, Canada, UK and 200 countries with monthly plans.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - TextMe Up

Textplus

Textplus provides real free US phone numbers with unlimited free SMS text and MMS to any US or Canadian number. While inbound calls are free, you can only make ad-supported free calls. If you don’t want the ads, you can opt for the paid service. The app uses push notifications to instantly deliver text messages. You can also send emojis, stickers, animated GIFs, and voice notes with support for group blast messaging.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Textplus

Virtual Phone

You can place and receive calls and text messages to any phone number or SIP device with Virtual Phone. The app includes features to keep track of all caller information, such as geographical location, time zone, caller’s name, and phone. Advanced business call management and routing rules, interactive voice menus, custom greetings, multiple voice mailboxes and more are also available.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - Virtual Phone

WhatsCall

WhatsCall lets you make calls to users even if they don’t have the app or an internet connection. It includes one touch recording for incoming and outgoing calls, call block and caller ID. The company has different offers to earn credit for free calls, including watching ads, playing games, completing tasks and inviting friends.

25 Android and iPhone Second Phone Number Apps for Business Only Calls - WhatsCallMan With 2 Smartphones Photo via Shutterstock

[“Source-smallbiztrends”]