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The future of in-car internet

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However, first and foremost on the minds of both car-makers and lawmakers is the need to make it safe. You shouldn’t be checking Facebook on the move, and at Audi that means restricting what you can see.

“The functions intentionally do not offer the entire spectrum of the internet, but instead present a selection that offers maximum usefulness,” says Ricky Hudi, Audi’s head of electric and electronic development.

Audi A6

So while driving you’re limited to a sophisticated satnav that draws in photographs from both Google Earth and Google Streetview, as well as a far wider array of information about services nearby than the traditional satnav ‘points of interest’, again Google sourced.

Meanwhile on BMW’s system, the driver can email the car all the details about tomorrow’s appointment, including the exact address, plus who to meet and when. This will be welcomed by anyone who’s tried to save time by typing in satnav details with one eye on the traffic lights.

In the future we’ll start to see apps written either by third party software whiz kids or by the car companies themselves to give drivers more information on specific subjects, such as where’s the cheapest petrol.

One difficulty right now is that some mobile phone companies don’t allow tethering.

“This is an issue,” says technology industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan, Vishnu Muralidhara. “Users argue that they’ve paid for unlimited data, so they should be able to use it how they want, while some companies says that data is just for your use, not for multiple uses.”

Vodafone in the UK does allow tethering, but charges an extra £15 a month for 2GB, plus an extra £15 if you go over that. If for example you’re regularly using a phone to stream internet radio via the car’s stereo, you could find that limit busted quite quickly.

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