Ford is helping dealerships make mobile service an option for more customers
Ford is ramping up its remote service offerings to save customers a trip to their dealership for things like oil changes and recall repairs. The updated program promises that more Ford owners nationwide can get access to complimentary pickup and delivery of their vehicles, as well as mobile repair options.
Mobile services from Ford won’t operate from a central location, though. It will still be up to dealerships to offer remote services and to choose what services to provide at a customer’s home or business. Ford is, however, lending dealers a hand to get the services up and running. “We’ve been working with multiple teams at Ford to offer our customers more ways to personalize vehicle service,” stated Ford National Dealer Council chairman and dealership owner Tim Hovik in a press release.
Historically, dealership models have fragmented the vehicle purchasing and service experience for customers, which can leave the impression — good or bad — on the manufacturer instead of the dealer.
Some companies like Tesla, however, continue to disrupt dealership models. By eschewing dealerships, Tesla controls the purchasing and service experiences for its cars entirely in-house. The automaker is particularly known for its mobile techs that can be booked in-app to come to customers’ driveways and do things like replace smelly air filters in Model 3 vehicles.
But Ford is attempting to catch up to the times. In this week’s press release, Ford cites a JD Power customer service index study that concludes customers with remote experiences for vehicle repair are more likely to recommend their car brand. Last year, it split its combustion car business from its electric offerings so that it could better compete with Tesla with transparent pricing and online ordering.
Customers are expecting a modern online car purchasing experience with an intuitive mobile app that supports them, working off a baseline set by Tesla. That’s where Ford has an opportunity because dealerships that play ball can send out trained technicians for “light repairs and routine maintenance,” saving customers time and improving their ownership experience.
In practice, Ford’s online and mobile service offerings still live and die by the dealership though. FordPass, the automaker’s sort of catch-all smartphone app, lets customers do things like remotely see their car’s status, get support and recommendations, and book service appointments. At time of writing, I attempted to book an appointment for my Ford Focus EV on the app, but I couldn’t find any dealerships that offered mobile service (I’m a FordPass rewards member, too). In fact, the dealership I purchased the car from did not support booking anything through the app.
Microsoft fixes reversible screenshot vulnerability on Windows
Microsoft has pushed an update to fix a screenshot editing vulnerability in Windows 10 and 11, as spotted earlier by Bleeping Computer. The security flaw, dubbed the “aCropalypse,” could let bad actors recover the edited portions of screenshots, potentially revealing personal information that had been cropped out or concealed.
According to Microsoft, the issue (CVE-2023-28303) affects both the Snip & Sketch app on Windows 10 and the Snipping Tool on Windows 11. However, it only applies to images created in a very specific set of steps. That includes those that have been taken, saved, edited, and then saved over the original file, as well as the ones opened in the Snipping Tool, edited, and then saved to the same location. It doesn’t have any effect on the screenshots modified before saving them and also doesn’t impact screenshots that had been copied and pasted to, say, the body of an email or document.
Microsoft first learned of the issue earlier this week. That’s when Chris Blume, the chair of the working group for the PNG image format, brought it to the attention of David Buchanan and Simon Aarons — the same security researchers who discovered the aCropalypse vulnerability affecting the Google Pixel’s Markup tool. This, similarly, lets hackers reverse the changes made to screenshots, making it possible to reveal the personal information in an image that someone thought they were hiding, whether by cropping it out or scribbling over it.
You can download the latest updates for the affected apps on Windows by heading to the Microsoft Store, clicking Library, and then choosing Get updates. If you have automatic updates enabled, you should notice that the Snipping Tool should be set to version 10.2008.3001.0, while the Snip & Sketch tool will be version 11.2302.20.0. Just like the patch Google issued, Microsoft’s change won’t update the edited screenshots that had already been posted online, though, which could potentially leave thousands of screenshots on the web that bad actors can exploit.
Microsoft reportedly orders AI chatbot rivals to stop using Bing’s search data
Microsoft doesn’t want its rivals to use Bing’s search index to power their AI chatbots, according to a report from Bloomberg. The company reportedly told two unnamed Bing-powered search engines that it will restrict them from accessing Microsoft’s search data altogether if they continue using it with their AI tools.
As noted by Bloomberg, Microsoft licenses out Bing’s search data to several search engines, including DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, and the AI search engine You.com. While DuckDuckGo, for example, uses a combination of Bing and its own web crawler to provide search results, You.com and Neeva also pull some of their results from Bing, helping to conserve some of the time and resources that come along with crawling the entire web.
Microsoft apparently draws the line at using Bing’s search index as fodder for AI chatbots, however. Sources close to the situation tell Bloomberg that Microsoft believes using Bing’s data in this way is a violation of its contract, and that it may choose to terminate its agreements with the search engines accused of misusing this information.
“We’ve been in touch with partners who are out of compliance as we continue to consistently enforce our terms across the board,” Microsoft tells Bloomberg. “We’ll continue to work with them directly and provide any information needed to find a path forward.” It’s unclear whether Microsoft took action against any search engines, and the company didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.
With more companies like Google introducing their takes on OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, Microsoft likely wants to make its own search data exclusive to Bing’s chatbot. The tool is already powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4, the latest and most powerful version of the company’s language model, and is capable of answering various questions, creating summaries, generating code, writing social media posts, and more.
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