Audi is making it even easier to access the interwebs wirelessly with the updated 2011 A8 sedan.  Although others, like Ford, have made this available as a dealer installed option, Audi will be the first to offer it straight from the factory.  A8 owners will now be able to access all of their data from the road (preferably while riding, rather than driving).

Network access must be provided via a data enabled cellular SIM card or bluetooth phone with tethering ability (i.e. now might be a good time to jailbreak your iPhone).  It would also be a good idea to make sure your phone's plan includes unlimited data access.  Coverage and signal strength will be dependent on your provider's network.  In theory, though, you'll be connected from the road wherever you travel.

As a mobile Wifi hotspot, the 2011 A8 will become a portal to all of your precious email, social networks, streaming media, and online games.  A few of you may want to use it to check up on less important stuff too, like news and stocks.  While you're surfing, stop by the HGM network for the latest in automotive news and reviews!

Transfer rates on the network can reach 7.2 Mbit/sec, according to Audi.  For those of you concerned about security, data protection is also available in the form of WAP2 encryption.  Rest easy.  No, wait, you're driving so we're going to need you to stay awake.

While this feature has the potential of being a huge distraction to the driver, is it really much worse than reading email or texting from a smartphone behind the wheel?  Don't get me wrong, the driver's seat is most certainly not a place for multitasking.  If used responsibly, the internet-connected car will be a great asset to groups of traveling business people and families on vacation.  And to think, all my sister and I had to do on long trips was annoy each other in the back seat.

What's your opinion, will turning cars into wifi-hotspots make driving more dangerous?

[Audi via Autoblog]