Tech Digest daily round up: EVs to cost same as petrol cars, claims Vauxhall owner

Stellantis makes the electric version of the Fiat 500

Electric cars will soon cost the same to run and buy as vehicles with petrol or diesel engines even without government subsidies, the owner of Vauxhall has claimed. The prediction from Stellantis, which also owns Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat, came as it outlined a €30bn (£26bn) plan to electrify its vehicle range. The plan includes developing cars able to drive 500 miles on a single charge and building five “gigafactories” in  Europe and the US by 2030. It also wants to speed up charging times to hasten drivers’ switch to electric cars, predicting charging rates of 20 miles of range per minute.

People have been urged not to ignore the NHS Covid app if they are advised to self-isolate, after cases of the dominant Delta variant rose by a third in the past week. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it is important that people continue to use the app, amid concerns about the increasing numbers being “pinged” as restrictions are rolled back. Rules governing travel for people in England are due to be eased on July 19 but measures on self-isolation for the fully vaccinated will remain in place until August 16, raising fears that people will delete the app rather than risk having to cancel a holiday. Yahoo!

The government is facing a legal challenge over the use of private email accounts and WhatsApp by ministers and senior officials. Campaign group Good Law Project believes current official guidance on it leaves an “accountability gap”. It follows reports about health ministers using private email to discuss government business. The government said the guidelines were “appropriate” and official business was conducted in line with guidance. It is not against the rules for ministers to use private email – but Cabinet Office guidelines say “substantive discussions” and formal decisions should be accessible. But Good Law Project believes the government’s approach is unlawful – and is seeking to challenge it in the courts. BBC 

A future version of WhatsApp will give more control over the amount of compression it applies to sent images and videos. WABetaInfo reports that the two features are currently in development for the Android app, and should eventually present three quality options when sending images and video. The options are “Auto,” “Best quality,” or “Data saver.”If it releases in this form, it could let you force media to be more compressed if you’re worried about internet speeds or data caps, or lower the amount of compression to ensure images or video are sent in their highest possible quality. Currently, avoiding WhatsApp’s compression involves changing a file’s extension to send it as a document rather than an image or video (The Next Web has a guide on how to do so here). The Verge
People in the UK have sent more than 112 million tweets about Covid-19 since the beginning of 2020, Twitter revealed as the platform defended its role as a space for “healthy conversation”. New figures published by the social media site show that since January last year, hashtags encouraging people to stay at home to save lives and to wear a mask have dominated online discussions. The social media company argued this showed it was succeeding in promoting healthy conversation and had updated its rules at the start of the pandemic to combat harmful content. But the platform and wider social media have been widely criticised for the scale of misinformation and conspiracy theories that have been allowed to spread online during the pandemic, including false claims linking the virus with 5G and around vaccine safety. Yahoo!

Chris Price
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