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Discussion of the hottest personal tech stories of the week; mobile apps, gear, social networking, and entertainment.

Discussion of the hottest personal tech stories of the week; mobile apps, gear, social networking, and entertainment.
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Discussion of the hottest personal tech stories of the week; mobile apps, gear, social networking, and entertainment.




Life After Facebook

Former Facebook bigwig Chris Cox has been busy. In March, Cox left his position as chief product officer of the social media giant, where he had overseen Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. Since then, he’s taken on advising roles with an environmental data company and a political firm gearing up for a 2020 marketing campaign. He’s also gotten a lot more partisan in the process. On this episode of the Gadget Lab podcast, a conversation with Cox about his post-Facebook activities, the merits...


Finally, We Can ‘Like’ Apple’s Keyboards Again

Tech companies say they want to serve their customers, but sometimes they’re curiously resistant to fixing problems with their products. Their solutions can be alternately welcome, or divisive. Last week, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri announced that the company would soon start testing a feature to hide likes on its platform. The limitation is meant to both decrease social pressures and to curb bullying, and maybe at the very least it will make us all a little less narcissistic on the internet....


When Big Tech Buys Your Darlings

Given all the criticism, mistrust, and investigations that have been levied at Facebook in the past couple years, one might think that they would do their best to lie low for a while. Instead, Facebook has decided to rebrand to be as prominent as possible across the various apps it owns. In a similar flex of brand might, Google recently bought health tracking company Fitbit, in a bid to expand its reach into wearable tech. But what happens to the customers of these smaller companies when...


Deep Listening

The way we listen to audio has evolved with technology. Headphones, once bulky skull-huggers that kept us plugged into a device, are going increasingly wireless. The simplicity makes it easy to wear your AirPods for hours at a time, and with the noise-canceling feature of the newly released Pro model, you can block out even more of the outside world. Inside our homes, smart assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant sit ready and waiting to listen and record snippets of our lives,...


YouTube Creators Want More From YouTube

Without video creators, YouTube wouldn’t be one of the world’s biggest social platforms. Without the platform, YouTubers wouldn’t be, well, YouTubers. But video creators are regularly facing new policy changes from YouTube that could impact their ability to make money from their work — and it’s not always clear what these changes are, or why YouTube is making them. Now, as part of a push for fair treatment, YouTubes are looking to collective action. And the effort is being led, in part, by...


Facial Recognition Tech Is Coming to a School Near You

Despite a lack of evidence that more technology makes kids safer, facial recognition technology may soon be coming to a school near you. It’s part of a growing trend of increased surveillance and security in schools, and a WIRED story this week examined the delicate ethics of this technology. On the one hand, proponents say that the technology could help school staffers open gates for parents or staff, watch for persons of interest, ensure a child is leaving school with a guardian, and even...


It's Time to Put Down Your Phone

How long have you gone without checking your phone in the past week? 10, 15, maybe 20 minutes while you’re awake? Our screens have commandeered our eyeballs and taken hold of our lives. Our phones buzz constantly with notifications, even when we intentionally move them off the dinner table, away from our bedsides, and out of sight. Ten years ago, before smartphones had even become mainstream, filmmaker Tiffany Shlain felt like something was askew in her life—and believed that technology had...


Panos Panay Says Microsoft’s New Phone Isn’t a Phone

Microsoft surprised just about everyone this week by showing off a pair of new mobile devices with two screens apiece. The pocketable Surface Duo and the tablet-like Surface Neo won't actually go on sale for at least one year, but Microsoft trotted the devices out anyway to signal how it's positioning its future in the mobile landscape. The company’s hardware chief, Panos Panay, joins us on the show this week to talk about the Duo and Neo, and what they say about productivity in the mobile...


Spot, the Robot Dog, Learns New Tricks

For 25 years, Boston Dynamics has been building robots and releasing videos of the terrifying things running around, opening doors, and fending off stick-wielding humans. The company’s most famous creation is a four-legged, canine-esque robot called Spot. Now, for the first time, the company is unleashing Spot out into the world. Aimed at workplaces like construction sites, select customers will be able to lease one of the signature robots and get it to do their bidding. On this week’s...


Your DNA Belongs on the Blockchain

You may not realize it, but when you send a spit-filled tube off to a lab that’s going to analyze your DNA, you’re linking the most unique identifier possible (your gene sequence) to other sensitive personal information, like your name, home address, and credit card number. How can you know that the DNA lab will properly decouple your genetic data from your personal information? Well, you just have to trust them. Obviously, that arrangement isn’t ideal, which is why a new startup called...


iPhones to the Max

New iPhones! A shinier Apple Watch! So many camera lenses! On this week’s episode of Gadget Lab, it’s Apple week yet again. Lauren, Mike, and Arielle discuss all the new devices and services that made a splash in Cupertino. Also, they delve into the state of Apple events as a whole, and whether all the onstage excitement is a little removed from what’s happening in the rest of the world. In other news, California prepares to pass a law that would force ride-sharing companies like Uber and...


How Uber Went Down in Flames

Once upon a time, there was a true unicorn, a startup named Uber. Led by CEO Travis Kalanick, the company broke all the rules of business and truly disrupted the way people move through the world. But with a meteoric rise comes a steep fall. As it turns out, an inherently unstable business model and an even more unstable leader do not bode well for long term success. On this episode of the Gadget Lab, we are Super Pumped to talk New York Times tech reporter Mike Isaac about his explosive new...


Why It’s So Hard to Unlink Yourself From Facebook

If you have both an Instagram and Facebook account, chances are they are connected, whether you like it or not. But what if you didn’t connect them in the first place, or if you have a Finstagram account that you really don’t want linked back to your main? Too bad, because once Facebook has enough data on you to sync your accounts together, it’s never letting go. (Yeah, that “unlink account” button? It doesn’t actually work.) This week, WIRED staff writer Paris Martineau joins the show to...


You’ve Got Microplastics

Plastic is everywhere. No, really, it is everywhere. Tiny bits of plastic waste, called microplastic, have come to permeate nearly every part of the planet. We drink it in our water. We breathe it in the air. It is inescapable. On this episode of the Gadget Lab podcast, WIRED science writer Matt Simon joins Mike, Lauren, and Arielle to talk about where microplastic comes from, how it gets into our bodies, and what, if anything, we can do about it. Also in the news: Reddit gets into the...


How Google’s Secrecy Lead to Company Turmoil

For years, Google has flourished in large part because of its famously open internal structure. Leadership encouraged active and vocal communication between employees who held strong opinions or dissented with the company’s decisions. But over the past three years, that free-thinking atmosphere has become the breeding ground for deep divisions among Google’s workforce. Executive secrecy about controversial Google projects and a lack of unity on how to address charged political issues has...


Amazon's Quest for World Domination

Amazon didn’t become the behemoth it is by accident. Its services, like Amazon Prime, and products, like the Echo smart speaker, were designed to learn everything about you and become essential fixtures in your daily routine. But the convenience that Amazon offers often comes at the expense of privacy. On this week’s episode of the Gadget Lab podcast, Lauren sits down with Jason Del Ray, host of Recode’s new podcast *Land of the Giants* to talk about how Amazon came to rule the retail...


Bumps in the Road to Our Robo-Car Future

From fledgling startups to automotive giants like General Motors, there’s a whole lot of companies looking to develop fully self-driving cars. But that goal is still a long way from reality. The world is a messy, unpredictable place, and it turns out that robots aren’t that great at handling the array of variables that come up when trying to move around in it. This week on the Gadget Lab podcast, WIRED transportation writer Alex Davies joins Mike, Arielle, and Lauren to talk about why it’s...


Why New York’s Revenge Porn Law Is Flawed

This week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill criminalizing the spread of nonconsensual pornography, or revenge porn. WIRED’s Emma Grey Ellis joins Mike and Lauren to talk about what the law does, and what it still fails to address. Also in the news, Samsung says that it has finally—finally!—fixed the problems with its Galaxy Fold smartphone, and the FTC wants to change the way Facebook manages privacy. Show Notes: Read Emma’s story about New York’s revenge porn law here....


Twitter’s Redesign Is Impressive. Is It Enough?

On Monday, Twitter began rolling out its first desktop redesign in seven years. It was a mostly aesthetic makeover, with changes like a new layout, dark mode, and a more prominent search bar. As with anything Twitter, the reaction has been polarizing, with many users criticizing the platform for not doing enough to address its major problems. Today on the Gadget Lab podcast, Arielle, Mike, and Lauren discuss the changes Twitter has made, and how the company continues to grapple with its...


Facebook's Libra and the Future of Money

Last month, Facebook announced its plans to get into the cryptocurrency race with Libra. A blend of blockchain and partnership with 28 companies, Libra has been pitched as a money transfer service and a unique currency rolled into one. But just by virtue of being a Facebook venture, Libra immediately garnered controversy. Some people think it could help bring the entire cryptocurrency industry into the mainstream, while others think giving Facebook access to their financial information...