Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News

Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News

www.wired.com
The latest tech news from WIRED.


Pandemic Panic
Mar 27 • 32 min
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to keep track of what’s real and what’s not. There is a constant deluge of news from across the world, some of it is based on false assumptions or panicky reactions that fail to put data or science…
The Generation Gap
Mar 20 • 26 min
As the number of coronavirus-caused quarantines has spiked across the globe, people are being driven into isolation en masse. In some countries, social distancing measures have been helping, but they also come a little too late. This week on Gadget Lab,…
Socially Distanced
Mar 13 • 39 min
As COVID-19 sweeps across the world, it has prompted thousands of people to isolate themselves to avoid spreading the virus. This week on Gadget Lab, we look at what happens when schools and universities close, conferences get canceled, and employees are…
Is Facebook Forever?
Mar 6 • 42 min
Facebook started in 2004 as a simple network for connecting students at Harvard University. At the time, nobody could have predicted that it would grow to become the largest social network in the world, with 2.5 billion monthly active users, or that it…
There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Feb 28 • 35 min
This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED senior writer and former show host Arielle Pardes drops by to talk about how Silicon Valley has ruined work culture. Then WIRED senior writer Lily Hay Newman comes on for a conversation about cybersecurity, encryption, and…
The Anti-Bias Bot
Feb 21 • 37 min
Many companies say they want to diversify their workforce. Far fewer have actually succeeded in doing so, even if they’re earnestly trying. And one of the first hurdles can come before any candidates have even been interviewed: The language used in…
Smartphone Launch Events Are Silly
Feb 14 • 33 min
On Tuesday of this week Samsung held its annual Galaxy Unpacked event in San Francisco. It did what most tech companies set out to do when they host a big event: Announce shiny new products (Galaxy S20! Another folding phone! Some earbuds!) and get…
The Virus and the Vote
Feb 7 • 29 min
This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED digital director Brian Barrett joins us to talk about the app that derailed the Iowa caucus—and what it means for elections to come. Then, a conversation with WIRED staff writer Megan Molteni about how the spread of the…
Everything Old Is New Again
Jan 31 • 30 min
It doesn’t take much to make people nostalgic anymore. With the rapid pace of technological advancement, folks get whimsical for even their clunky cell phones from 2005, or a defunct video service from just four years ago. Nostalgia sells—especially when…
Open Wide for Mouth Tech
Jan 24 • 36 min
There’s money in your mouth. Figuratively speaking (we hope). A growing number of startups and full-fledged companies are looking to bring their smart technology into your mouth. A toothbrush that uses AI to monitor your brushing, dental floss as a…
One Wheel, Zero Buttons
Jan 17 • 36 min
There’s an old joke about Steve Jobs, that he never wore a suit because he hated buttons. There’s some truth to that old trope about designers always trying to refine their creations to their absolute core. Minimize the clutter, clear the mind, purify the…
Best of CES
Jan 10 • 36 min
CES, the all-consuming tech trade show, took over Las Vegas this week. Convention halls and hotels were jam packed with shiny gizmos, bleeding-edge technology, and dazzling devices. Of course, our intrepid Gadget Lab reporters were there in the midst of…
Sex Toys and Toothbrushes
Jan 3 • 34 min
Next week, we’ll be bound for the largest consumer electronics showcase of the season. CES starts on January 7 in Las Vegas, and we’ll be heading into the fray to touch, swipe, drive, cuddle, ride, and otherwise experience all of the latest gadgets the…
Our Favorite Stuff from 2019, Plus Our 2020 Predictions
Dec 20, 2019 • 27 min
2019 was a tumultuous time for technology. While product engineers created hybrid franken-gadgets and software companies turned nearly everything into a subscription service, we also grappled with the increasingly chaotic ripple effects of social media…
The Case for Cassava
Dec 13, 2019 • 35 min
The cassava plant is one of the most important food sources in the world. In Africa, it sustains 500 million people and provides a stable income for farmers. The crop is also susceptible to viruses transmitted by the common pest known as the whitefly,…
Going Places
Dec 6, 2019 • 34 min
In May, Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer run by billionaire Elon Musk, filed a patent to put lasers on its cars. While this might sound like a step toward some kind of James Bond-mobile, the intent is actually to use the lasers to clean dirt and…
Life After Facebook
Nov 22, 2019 • 27 min
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…
Finally, We Can ‘Like’ Apple’s Keyboards Again
Nov 15, 2019 • 28 min
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…
When Big Tech Buys Your Darlings
Nov 8, 2019 • 28 min
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…
Deep Listening
Nov 1, 2019 • 33 min
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…
YouTube Creators Want More From YouTube
Oct 25, 2019 • 37 min
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…
Facial Recognition Tech Is Coming to a School Near You
Oct 18, 2019 • 32 min
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…
It’s Time to Put Down Your Phone
Oct 11, 2019 • 45 min
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…
Panos Panay Says Microsoft’s New Phone Isn’t a Phone
Oct 4, 2019 • 47 min
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…
Spot, the Robot Dog, Learns New Tricks
Sep 27, 2019 • 39 min
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.…
Your DNA Belongs on the Blockchain
Sep 20, 2019 • 38 min
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…
iPhones to the Max
Sep 13, 2019 • 33 min
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…
How Uber Went Down in Flames
Sep 6, 2019 • 50 min
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…
Why It’s So Hard to Unlink Yourself From Facebook
Aug 30, 2019 • 40 min
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…
You’ve Got Microplastics
Aug 23, 2019 • 43 min
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…
How Google’s Secrecy Lead to Company Turmoil
Aug 16, 2019 • 39 min
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…
Amazon’s Quest for World Domination
Aug 9, 2019 • 40 min
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…
Bumps in the Road to Our Robo-Car Future
Aug 2, 2019 • 42 min
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…
Why New York’s Revenge Porn Law Is Flawed
Jul 26, 2019 • 44 min
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.…
Twitter’s Redesign Is Impressive. Is It Enough?
Jul 19, 2019 • 51 min
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,…
Facebook’s Libra and the Future of Money
Jul 12, 2019 • 37 min
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…
Rebalancing Our Relationship With Tech
Jun 28, 2019 • 64 min
This week, a conversation with Aza Raskin, cofounder of the Center for Humane Technology at Stanford University, about the “asymmetric power relationships” between the people who use tech and the companies who control it. In the news, Jony Ive, the famed…
A Genius Move
Jun 21, 2019 • 54 min
If you thought an internet giant stole your hard work and claimed it as their own, how would you ever prove it? Well, what if you could booby trap the information first? On this spine-tingling episode of the Gadget Lab podcast, Mike, Arielle, and Lauren…
The Biggest News From E3
Jun 14, 2019 • 54 min
This week was E3, the trade show where the biggest names in gaming debut their latest shiny products and software. On this week’s Gadget Lab podcast, WIRED’s Peter Rubin joins Mike, Arielle, and Lauren to discuss the latest developments in cloud…
Everything From Apple’s WWDC
Jun 7, 2019 • 55 min
The iPhone is still undoubtedly Apple’s most important product. So why were some of the biggest announcements this week at the company’s annual developers conference around the iPad and the Mac? On this week’s Gadget Lab podcast, Mike, Arielle, and Lauren…
Making Surfing More Sustainable
Jun 2, 2019 • 58 min
The great irony in the sport of surfing is that the process of making a surfboard puts a great deal of strain on the environment. The various chemicals and materials used to assemble boards, leashes, and wetsuits end up polluting the waterways, and…
Samsung’s Innovation Dilemma
May 24, 2019 • 58 min
What’s a giant consumer electronics maker to do when it notices that younger customers are more interested in paying for experiences, rather than things? That’s what WIRED senior associate editor Arielle Pardes had the chance to ask Samsung’s David Eun…
YouTube’s Latest Beauty Scandal
May 17, 2019 • 39 min
Beauty product reviews on YouTube aren’t just about beauty products and internet capitalism. They’re a conduit for drama, loyalty politics, and “cancel” culture, as WIRED’s Emma Grey Ellis has learned throughout her reporting on some of YouTube’s biggest…
If You Build It, They Will I/O
May 10, 2019 • 53 min
Developer conferences aren’t just a chance for tech companies to incentivize app makers and show off the latest tricks and tools in software. The events also present an opportunity for companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google to assure the public…
The Making of Adam Savage
May 3, 2019 • 54 min
You might know Adam Savage as the co-host of the television show MythBusters, as the editor of Tested.com, or as the host of countless web videos that show him building machines, sewing costumes for Comic-Con, and occasionally blowing something up in his…
Preserving Your Right to Repair Your Gadgets
Apr 19, 2019 • 71 min
What happens when your drop your phone and shatter the screen? Or when its battery starts to grow noticeably weaker? These common technological woes are things that you should be able to remedy yourself—just buy some parts, get some tools, and fix your…
What Happens to Uber After Its IPO?
Apr 12, 2019 • 49 min
Uber filed to go public this week. No big surprise there; everyone in the industry has been waiting months for the ride-hailing giant to hit the accelerator on its IPO. What did raise an eyebrow were the details the company divulged in its filing—from how…
Introducing Citadel Dropouts: A Game of Thrones Podcast
Apr 12, 2019 • 46 min
We’re confused about what exactly this hoped-for Targaryen Restoration is about, politically. And is Game of Thrones, like, good anymore? Laura Hudson and Spencer Ackerman preview the political and social themes fueling the forthcoming final season of…
Reporting From Syria
Apr 5, 2019 • 21 min
This week, we’re joined by a special guest: freelance war correspondent Kenneth R. Rosen. Ken is working on a series of stories for WIRED about the reconstruction efforts in Syria. The first of Ken’s stories, “The Body Pullers of Syria,” published earlier…
The Case for Male Birth Control
Mar 29, 2019 • 47 min
Hormonal male contraception is not a new idea––in fact, researchers have been working on solutions for men the pill was invented for women. But early tests around male contraceptives were inconclusive, and as birth control pills exploded, interest in a…
Game On at Google
Mar 22, 2019 • 48 min
Google’s Project Stream, first unveiled last October, gave gamers a taste of what it would be like to stream heavy games directly from the cloud – from a Chrome browser, even. That effort has now evolved into something much, much more ambitious. At the…
Flickr Cofounder Questions Big Tech
Mar 15, 2019 • 67 min
“Should this exist?” is not typically a question that technologists ask themselves, Caterina Fake says. The Flickr cofounder-turned-investor says that most entrepreneurs and engineers will ask themselves, “Can this exist, could this exist, how can we gain…
How to Quit Your Tech Job
Mar 8, 2019 • 53 min
Jessica Powell was the top communications executive at Google when she found herself Googling, in no uncertain search terms, how to quit her job at Google. She tried approximately 837 different tactics before she ended up taking the leap, and now she’s a…
Alex Kipman’s Holographic Tendencies
Mar 1, 2019 • 52 min
Microsoft just unveiled a brand new product, but it really doesn’t want to hype it. That’s according to Alex Kipman, technical fellow at Microsoft who is credited with inventing Kinect and HoloLens. Kipman joins the Gadget Lab podcast this week to talk…
You’ve Got to Know When to Fold ‘Em
Feb 22, 2019 • 42 min
At its flagship phone event this week in San Francisco, Samsung announced not one but four different versions of the new Galaxy S10: A phone with a 6.1-inch display, a plus-sized model, a “less expensive” version of the phone, and a handset that will…
The Treacherous Allure of OG Usernames
Feb 15, 2019 • 59 min
Product designer and internet native Chris Messina was lucky enough to snag the username @chris on Instagram back when Instagram was known as Burbn, and, like all of his early usernames, it became a part of his digital identity. But having an OG username…
The App Smackdown
Feb 1, 2019 • 49 min
Move fast and break app store rules: That very well may have been Facebook’s motto for awhile now, only, we’re just learning about it this week. After TechCrunch reported that Facebook was sidestepping Apple’s rules for enterprise apps and distributing a…
Amazon Delivery Bots Are Here
Jan 25, 2019 • 42 min
Kids are particularly terrible for robots. At least, that’s what researchers in Japan discovered when they let a robot roam around a shopping center in Osaka in 2015. A group of kids antagonized the robot, forcing the researchers to program an algorithm…
Nike’s Truly Smart Sneakers
Jan 18, 2019 • 46 min
Self-lacing sneakers have been the dream since Marty McFly first rocked Nike MAGs in 1989, but most attempts at turning shoe leather into smart sneakers have been expensive, produced in small batches, and frankly, a little gimmicky. Until now: Earlier…
The Best of CES
Jan 12, 2019 • 52 min
We came. We saw. We touched a lot of gadgets. This week was the annual CES, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics show, and WIRED’s team was on the ground covering all of the top tech trends to emerge from the show. In this week’s episode of the…
The Year in Tech, in One Word
Dec 21, 2018 • 49 min
If you had to sum up the year in tech in one word, what word would you choose? That’s what we at the Gadget Lab asked ourselves as we looked to somehow recap a year’s worth of tech-related drama in approximately 45 minutes. 2018 was the year that we…
Apocalypse Now
Dec 14, 2018 • 56 min
Most people, at this point, believe that climate change is a real thing that will harm future generations of humans. And yet, a cognitive dissonance exists around that knowledge and our sense of responsibility: A much smaller percentage of people believe…