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Ford’s electrified vision for Europe includes its Mustang-inspired SUV and a lot of hybrids – TechCrunch



Ford of Europe’s vision for electrification includes 16 vehicle models — eight of which will be on the road by the end of this year — the company announced at its Go Further event in Amsterdam.

Those plans include a plug-in hybrid variant of its Kuga SUV, its Mustang-inspired crossover, and a commercial transit van.

Ford’s European electrification strategy is in line with its plans for North America to focus largely on hybrids. For instance, in a separate event on Tuesday Ford took the wraps off its latest generation of the Escape, a 2020 model vehicle for the North American market that is sportier, loaded with technology and, comes with hybrid and electric options.

Last year, Ford ramped up its plans, announcing that it would phase out most cars it sells in North America. Ford will continue to produce the Mustang and focus the rest of its efforts in North America on trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles, as well as a move into electric vehicles.

The operational piece of Ford of Europe’s strategy, which does include a couple of all-electric vehicles in the mix, namely the Mustang-eseque SUV, will be largely led by Stuart Rowley.

Rowley, who took over as vice present and president of the regional outfit on April 1, will be responsible for all operational leadership of the business unit, including acceleration of the European transformation strategy. He reports to Jim Farley, president of Ford Global Markets.

The majority of the vehicles introduced Tuesday at Ford of Europe’s event are either hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles. Two of those vehicles – a plug-in hybrid Explorer SUV and  a new plug-in hybrid Tourneo for the commercial van market – made their global debuts at the Go Further event.

A plug-in hybrid variant of Ford’s new mid-size Kuga SUV, which will have a 31-mile range for the battery piece of the hybrid picture, was also introduced along with new Fiesta EcoBoost Hybrid and Focus EcoBoost Hybrid models that feature mild-hybrid technology for optimized fuel-efficiency.

Ford focused on the commercial end of the market as well, with plans to bring an all-electric Transit van to Europe by 2021. Ford is bringing a plug-in hybrid version of the Transit van to market this year. This plug-in hybrid will have a 13.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and Ford’s 1-liter EcoBoost gas engine, which acts as a range extender. The powertrain will have an all-electric (sometimes referred to as a zero-emission driving range) of 31 miles, and a total 310 miles range using the range extender. The vehicle is being trialed in London, with further testing scheduled to start soon in Valencia, Spain, and Cologne, Germany.

The Ford of Europe event confirmed that the often-teased ‘Mustang-inspired’ electric crossover will be more than a North American market. The vehicle, Ford said Tuesday, will be able to travel 600 kilometers, or 370 miles, on a single charge when it comes to market in 2020, an estimate based on European fuel consumption and emissions standard known as WLTP.

The WLTP, or World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, is a new standard that is supposed to make European fuel economy labels more realistic. (In the past, ranges in Europe were wildly overstated compared to the more conservative EPA estimates. Vehicles in the U.S. use EPA estimates.

Ford has said it’s targeting a 300-mile range for its electric crossover in the United States.

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Disney Vodafone Neo sorta turns Grogu into a Tamagotchi



The Neo is a smartwatch made in a collaboration between Disney and Vodafone. This watch utilizes technology developed or licensed by Vodafone with characters, sounds, and imagery from Disney. The Neo is called “the smart kids watch” by Vodafone, and is “designed & connected by Vodafone, featuring Disney.” One of the “sidekick” characters featured with the device is Grogu, AKA The Mandalorian character previously known as “The Child” (unofficially nicknamed Baby Yoda!)

Neo is a smart watch that works with the ability to call, receive calls, and track location with GPS. Service is provided by Vodafone – at the moment that means this device is only available in the UK, for people that use Vodafone service.

The most exciting bit of this equation is personalization via Disney sidekick. Per Vodafone, “kids can personalize Neo with their own Disney sidekick who comes to life in the watch.” These “sidekicks” will “make daily activities fun” as they “spring to life through the day.”

Each sidekick has its own set of activities with unique sound effects. Over time, the collection of characters available for use as sidekicks will grow “at no extra charge.”

This watch will be available at first in two colors: Mint and Ocean. The watch is waterproof at a fresh water depth of 10 meters for up to 30 minutes – IP68 rated, not approved for swimming or diving. There’s also a 5MP camera on the side. This is a very strange and oddly appealing device, of that you can be sure.

This watch includes no internet access – which, as Vodafone suggests – makes this “the ideal starter device.” This watch will be available starting in early 2021 through Vodafone, and no pricing has yet been revealed. You’ll need to pay a fee up front (likely) and a subscription cost (definitely) once the device is released. UPDATE: Pricing starts at 99GBP up front with a monthly fee starting at 7GPB.

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Google Authenticator update fixes the biggest pain of 2-factor security



As anybody even vaguely internet-savvy knows, you can never really have too much security for your accounts. Hacks are increasing in number, but even though options like two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA) are often available, there’s one big reason people might not turn them on. Now, Google Authenticator is addressing it.

What is 2 Factor Authentication?-

Two-factor authentication sits alongside your – hopefully strong – password, rather than replacing it. The idea is that, in addition to something you know, such as a password, you also demonstrate you are who you say you are with something you have.

That’s usually a device, such as a smartphone or a USB dongle, which either generates a code or needs to be inserted into the computer to prove you’re you. One of the most popular apps for that is Google Authenticator, available for Android and iOS. Once set up correctly with 2FA-compatible accounts, it generates a six-digit number every 30 seconds. If you don’t have the code number that the account you’re logging into expects, you don’t get access.

It means that, if someone hacks or guesses your password, they’re still much less likely to get into your account because they probably don’t have your phone with the authenticator app loaded on it. The downside, however, comes when it’s time to change your phone.

Google Authenticator adds 2FA migration

By design, two-factor authentication codes can only be generated by a single device at any one time. That means you have to transfer your 2FA settings over to a new phone when you upgrade: if you switched from an older iPhone to a new iPhone 12, for example, you’d need to migrate the two-factor authenticator settings across in order to retain easy access to your accounts.

Google Authenticator hasn’t traditionally made that easy. Indeed, if you’ve wanted to migrate, that’s basically been a manual process: logging into the security settings of each account and going back through the 2FA process. That typically generates a QR code which you scan in the app to register it.

This week, however, there’s an update. The new Google Authenticator – updated for Android and iOS – allows you to export your registered two-factor accounts. From the accounts view, tap the overflow button in the top-right corner and then choose “Export Accounts.” There’s the option to select which accounts you want to switch over, or you can select all of them.

On your new device, meanwhile, once you have the latest version of Google Authenticator installed, you can choose “Import existing accounts” and then scan in a QR code to transfer them.

Since the codes can only be generated by one device at a time, if you load them onto your new smartphone then they’ll be removed from the old phone.

As anybody who has moved between phones recently knows, the more two-factor authentication you rely on, the more tedious that process can be. Google Authenticator isn’t the only 2FA app out there – and some already offer account exports, too – but it’s definitely one of the most popular and straightforward (not to mention, free). And, as security researchers know all too well, the easier you can make it for people to use higher levels of protection for their accounts, the less likely they are to get hacked.

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Google will let anyone with an Android phone be a Street View photographer



Throughout the years, Google has been building out Street View through a fleet of cars that have photographed a ton of roadways from all different angles, but it seems that even a company as big as Google has its limitations. That’s why today it announced that it’s opening up contributions to Street View from anyone with an Android phone.

While that might not match the true Street View experience of driving a car equipped with 360-degree cameras, it will allow Google users to contribute photographs of less-travelled places to pad out Street View’s offerings. Those with an Android phone running the updated Street View app will find a “connected photos tool” that lets them to record images for Street View as they walk along a street or a path.

All users need to do is record their view as they travel, with ARCore and Google getting the images ready for Street View from there. After the images have been uploaded, ARCore automatically rotates and positions what was captured to create a series of connected images like the ones you normally see in Street View. Then the images are uploaded to Street View within Google Maps for all the other users to see.

This new feature will particularly handy for Google in its quest to map the world, because even though its Street View cars have accomplished a lot, there are still a bunch of places where they can’t easily go. Aside from that, there are also places that change frequently, so Street View data that Google records itself could be outdated a short period of time later. By letting users capture and upload Street View data with a smartphone, Street View becomes a little more immune to featuring outdated photographs.

Google says that user-submitted content on Street View will be identified with a blue dotted line, and in cases where Google itself has captured imagery for an area, that be shown as the primary Street View content and identified with a solid blue line. For now, the connected photos feature in launching in beta in just a few regions around the world – Toronto, Ontario; New York, New York; Austin, Texas; Nigeria; Indonesia; and Costa Rica – with more regions coming online in the future.

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