What's Tech?

What's Tech?

www.theverge.com/whatstech
Experts explain the tech that surrounds us bit by bit.


The What’s Tech series finale
Dec 6, 2016 • 22 min
When I started at The Verge in 2014, I needed an excuse to learn about technology. My background was in covering video games, television, and pop culture, and I lacked the basic cognitive functions to hold a phone above my head without dropping it on my…
What are Snapchat Spectacles, and do I have to be a teen to wear them?
Nov 16, 2016 • 19 min
Snapchat Spectacles, the mysterious and incredibly hyped hardware from Snap, Inc., have arrived. Vending machines for the video camera sunglasses are springing up around the country, first in California and Oklahoma, and who knows where else next. Verge…
How smartphone cameras took over the world
Oct 25, 2016 • 23 min
In the early 2000s, the digital photography revolution made it possible for miniaturized camera hardware and image sensors to be packed into cell phones without adding a significant amount of weight. Then the iPhone was announced. As the smartphone war…
How HTTPS is slowly but surely making the internet safer
Oct 19, 2016 • 29 min
Over the past couple years web security has become a staple of the nightly news. The stories usually hinge on government leaks, foreign hackers, or web encryption. There’s menacing subtext that practically everything put online is vulnerable to “cyber…
Why is everyone making GIFs of themselves?
Oct 13, 2016 • 14 min
Our most sacred and special task as human beings is to document our own existence with a single-minded dedication. That’s why we have massive iCloud photo libraries, 15GB of video of that really cool Springsteen concert on our phones, Instagram accounts…
How immersive haunted houses and participatory plays are making Halloween scarier
Oct 6, 2016 • 24 min
Here at The Verge, we love Halloween and everything about it. Horror movies, non-horror seasonal movies, seasonal beverages, seasonal bots, this Pumpkin Guy, horrifying makeup tutorials, poop-shaped candy — bring it on. In particular, we love to be…
Why smartphone batteries explode, and why they may get worse
Sep 20, 2016 • 16 min
Samsung has officially recalled the Galaxy Note 7 worldwide, after more than 90 of the large smartphones in the US overheated due to defective batteries. Overheating is, in this case, an understatement, as some owners have claimed their smartphones…
How Snapchat’s goofy faces made everyone comfortable with selfies
Sep 13, 2016 • 13 min
I didn’t take many selfies until I downloaded Snapchat. But like so many people I’ve fallen in love with lenses, the optional tools that make my face look like a dog or an emoji or an advertisement for junk food. Now, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t mug…
The good and bad news of the Earth-sized planet Proxima Centauri b
Sep 8, 2016 • 20 min
Late last month, news broke of the exoplanet Proxima Centauri b. Orbiting the closest star to our Solar System, there’s a lot to love about Proxima b since it shares a few key traits with our own home planet. But before we start making intergalactic…
A few simple tech tips for living in a dorm or a New York apartment
Aug 30, 2016 • 22 min
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A simple explanation of No Man’s Sky and its internet-fueled controversy
Aug 25, 2016 • 16 min
The first trailer for No Man’s Sky, published in December 2013, promised a universe with enough planets, creatures, and vegetation that it could not be fully explored by one player in a lifetime. The hype was immediate, and it only continued to build with…
Hate going to the grocery store? Maybe it’s time to try food-delivery services
Aug 17, 2016 • 17 min
Imagine if grocery shopping was just another online subscription service, like Netflix or Spotify. You complete a survey, sharing your likes and dislikes, and the platform sends, week after week, precisely measured portions of proteins, veggies, fruits,…
Why Sony and Microsoft are already announcing and releasing new consoles
Aug 10, 2016 • 16 min
A new round of video game consoles has began last week with the release of Microsoft’s One S. The slim, white hardware is a minor upgrade to the original Xbox One, and the predecessor to next year’s flashier upgrade, codenamed Project Scorpio. Next month,…
Is your neighborhood the next great social media app?
Aug 2, 2016 • 19 min
I had never heard of Nextdoor when I lived in New York City. Social media services catering to individual neighborhoods weren’t useful in an apartment building where most tenants lasted a year, and longtime residents kept to themselves. In my first year…
A podcast explains the power of podcasts
Jul 26, 2016 • 16 min
For 72 episodes, What’s Tech has invited guests to explain technology and its cultural periphery — from drones and fan fiction to ASMR and biohacking. We were bound to make a podcast about podcasts eventually. This was inevitable. For this momentous…
Why Pokémon Go is a hit, how it helped Nintendo, and when its moment could fizz out
Jul 19, 2016 • 20 min
Pokémon Go had a week unlike any video game I’ve covered in my career. Here’s a collection of the posts we penned last week, ranging from players finding dead bodies to Craigslist entrepreneurs selling pre-played accounts. My friend and former boss Chris…
The agony and the ecstasy of life as a webcomic artist
Jul 13, 2016 • 13 min
As a teenager, my only interaction with the world of webcomics was Achewood. Launched in 2001 and published sporadically ever since, Achewood is like Seinfeld crossed with Adult Swim. It felt for me in the early 2000s like this lone, weird thing. A few…
How The Bachelor became social media’s favorite sporting event
Jun 28, 2016 • 25 min
“Is The Bachelor tech?” You might ask this question while listening to this week’s episode of What’s Tech, a podcast that provides introductory explainers into the many pockets of technology and the culture around them. I believe the answer is yes. The…
What you need to know about doxxing, the average internet user’s nightmare
Jun 21, 2016 • 30 min
My entire body clenches when I hear the word doxxing. Each time I write something that, for whatever reason, upsets a corner of the internet, I wonder if my personal information — phone numbers, address, social security number, credit card information —…
What you should know about torrenting
Jun 14, 2016 • 16 min
I was a teenager in the days of Napster and LimeWire, when illegal files flowed through the internet like free hamburgers through a freshman dormitory orientation session. I didn’t understand the legality of file sharing, let alone the technical…
How a computer the size of a credit card is changing education — and GameBoy emulators
Jun 7, 2016 • 15 min
For longer than I would like to admit, I thought Raspberry Pi was a dessert. I’m not proud of that. Fortunately, I eventually learned what Raspberry Pi actually is, and though it’s not nearly as tasty, it’s just as exciting: an affordable, customizable…
How people play Nintendo games on a computer, and why that’s probably illegal
May 31, 2016 • 19 min
Whether or not you’ve used a video game emulator yourself — and if you have, it’s okay, I’m not gonna snitch — it’s impossible to deny their prevalence. Since the age of modern computing, people have figured out how to use code to mimic game consoles like…
What are graphics cards, and why do you want one?
May 24, 2016 • 28 min
Graphics cards! So hot right now. Whether it’s the slow realization that jumping on board with the 2016 VR revolution requires a tricked-out gaming rig you’d never previously have dreamed of stashing under your desk, or the blitz of hype surrounding…
Everything you wanted to know about Drake, but were too afraid to ask
May 17, 2016 • 27 min
Share on Facebook Tweet Share Pin Drake is a former child actor, current pop star, and the secular god of memes — even if he denounces that last label. Born Aubrey Drake Graham, the Canadian celebrity has been inescapable, not just for fans of music, but…
Why movie theaters should and shouldn’t be afraid of VOD
May 9, 2016 • 28 min
A couple weeks ago, my friend and colleague Bryan Bishop visited Las Vegas for a flashy conference called CinemaCon, where movie studios and theater owners discuss the future of the film industry — a future that isn’t as predictable as it used to be. Many…
Why the future of video games may be free-to-play
May 3, 2016 • 19 min
If you own a smartphone or have a Facebook account, odds are you’ve played a free-to-play game. Maybe you grew crops in Farmville or scrimmaged in Clash of Clans. If you’re anything like me, one of those city-building games (the kind that publishers…
What is a gadget blog, anyway?
Apr 28, 2016 • 19 min
This week, The Verge launched a gadget blog. It’s called Circuit Breaker, and you can read about its origin and purpose in The New York Times. Paul Miller, the editor of Circuit Breaker, has spoken a lot this week about the broader hopes and ambitions for…
Why bots are the new big thing, and what that means for ordering pizza
Apr 19, 2016 • 32 min
2016 is shaping up to be the year of the bot. Late last month, Microsoft made a big bet on tools that will help developers create artificial intelligence software meant to improve the lives of humans by completing small tasks, and last week Facebook…
Why artificial intelligence is more important than ever and how it will change our lives
Apr 12, 2016 • 29 min
For nearly 60 episodes, one question has persisted through What’s Tech: what is happening in the ending of Steven Spielberg’s 2001 sci-fi film A.I. Artificial Intelligence? To settle the question once and for all, I invited my friend and artificial…
What is Slack, why is everybody using it, and will it destroy my work-life balance?
Apr 5, 2016 • 21 min
I love Slack, the mega-popular corporate-friendly chat client. I love it so much that I desperately want to delete it from my phone, because I can’t help but check its messages every hour of every day. Yesterday night, I responded to a message at 3AM.…
Wrestlemania: why you should watch, even if pro wrestling isn’t your thing
Mar 29, 2016 • 23 min
This Sunday the WWE will host the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. Wrestlemania will takeover the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, which has a maximum capacity of 105,000. If things go as the WWE plans, the show will be the biggest pro wrestling event…
Everything you need to know about the Hyperloop, a potential transportation game-changer
Mar 15, 2016 • 22 min
In 2013, billionaire eccentric inventor Elon Musk announced an idea called the Hyperloop: a super-fast, low-friction transportation system that looked like the prom photo for a subway tunnel and a bullet-train. Musk made the Hyperloop an open-sourced…
Dota 2: an explainer for newcomers and the confused family of addicts
Mar 4, 2016 • 26 min
A $3 million vide game tournament is happening right now in Shanghai, China, pitting 16 of the best Dota 2 teams against each other. But what, pray tell, does any of that mean? Dota 2 is an immensely popular video game that mixes elements of many genres,…
Before the driverless car, there was the PRT
Mar 1, 2016 • 17 min
My colleague Adi Robertson, I recently learned, is a fan of oddball transportation. On our work trip to the Sundance Film Festival, she gleefully introduced me to the funicular, a small and nicely furnished box that travels up and down a cliffside on a…
Encryption: what is it exactly, and who is right about it?
Feb 18, 2016 • 35 min
Normally we publish What’s Tech on Tuesday morning, but we couldn’t hold next week’s episode until then. A federal court has requested Apple help the FBI gain access to the contents of an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple…
Reusable rockets could send you to space — eventually
Feb 16, 2016 • 31 min
Coverage of SpaceX and Blue Origin, the two private companies pursuing the reusable rocket, is near inescapable. Maybe you watched a launch on our site, or saw one of the not-quite-landings in a Facebook video. Space news has become so ubiquitous in tech…
It’s time to give film cameras a second chance
Feb 9, 2016 • 26 min
I am perpetually envious of my friend and colleague Sam Byford. He lives in Tokyo, and has access to new Hatsune Miku vinyls, Nintendo 3DS limited editions, and Sega arcades. His is the technological life I wish I could live. There’s one gadget, however,…
The Super Bowl: how to sound like an expert
Feb 2, 2016 • 24 min
Super Bowl 50 approaches with the reliability of the morning sun, and yet, you still have so many questions. There are the obvious questions, which I can answer here. What teams are in the Super Bowl? The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. What…
Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal: which service is right for you?
Jan 26, 2016 • 19 min
I’ve used Spotify for a few years, but I’m curious if I should make a switch to one of the dozen and change alternate music streaming services. Apple Music has free concerts, I’m told, and Tidal has better audio quality. But every time I consider shifting…
What is Sundance?
Jan 19, 2016 • 28 min
[Apologies, the original file uploaded incorrectly. This is the complete episode.] My options at the movies this week include a 1980s Dublin-set rock musical, a dark comedy that hinges on a lap dog, a thriller involving the moon landing conspiracy, a…
What is Tumblr?
Jan 12, 2016 • 23 min
Tumblr was the first social media platform to feel irrelevant. I’m young enough to have blogged my way through high school, but old enough for my blogging to be unusual. I used Xanga, and then LiveJournal. When Facebook launched, I traded both platforms,…
What is CES?
Jan 5, 2016 • 32 min
The Verge’s Dieter Bohn shares the history of the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, which is taking place this week in Las Vegas, Nevada. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What is a hoverboard?
Dec 29, 2015 • 30 min
The Verge tested Lexus’ hoverboard in August. Thanks to science and a considerable promotional budget, the car maker’s hoverboard actually hovered above the earth — as its name suggested. The experience was the culmination of a shared pop culture dream…
What is Windows 10?
Dec 15, 2015 • 28 min
Last week, I wrote about Microsoft’s plan to bring Xbox One and Windows 10 closer together. I’ve been wondering what this future might look like. I know a good deal about Microsoft’s video game consoles, but Windows remains a bit of a mystery. I switched…
What is an internet router?
Dec 8, 2015 • 27 min
When I joined The Verge, many of my peers from the video games press congratulated me on a lifetime of writing about internet routers. I laughed at their silly joke. How much, I thought, is there to really say about an internet router? If only my naive…
What is Fallout?
Dec 1, 2015 • 19 min
On a recent Sunday afternoon, you may have noticed Brutus — Fox’s NFL mascot — wearing a new set of protective armor. This costume wasn’t promoting a nonprofit initiative meant to distract from professional football’s abundance of PR debacles, nor was it…
What is an internet meme?
Nov 24, 2015 • 19 min
I remember my first meme. I was in my grade school computer lab — this was a time when computers were still novel, not mandatory. My fifth grade teacher was explaining email to our classroom, and how she could use it to talk with a friend in another…
What is the quantified self?
Nov 11, 2015 • 26 min
I have tried various health trackers, and they always wind up buried in the bottom drawer of my dresser. I should love the pursuit of a quantified self. I like data; I want to be healthier; I enjoy new technology, even when it’s fussy and doesn’t really…
What is alien life?
Nov 3, 2015 • 24 min
More recently, discussions of extraterrestrial life have become mainstream. Brilliant minds like Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson have made headlines with their thoughts on how humans should or shouldn’t make contact. This week, I invited my friend…
What is Minecraft?
Oct 28, 2015 • 29 min
This week Microsoft released Halo 5, the latest installment of its most iconic exclusive for Xbox consoles. The adventures of Master Chief and his console cohorts, however, pale beneath the popularity of the stories created by players in the universe of…
What Is The Patriot Act
Oct 20, 2015 • 23 min
A little over a month after the events of September 11th, 2001, an Act of Congress called the USA Patriot Act was signed into law by then President George W. Bush. Despite its controversial expansion of government power pertaining to domestic…
What is TV?
Oct 13, 2015 • 31 min
“There’s too much television,” said FX CEO John Landgraf at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour. Landgraf, whose in part responsible for the success of shows like Fargo, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Archer, and The Americans,…
What are online ads?
Oct 6, 2015 • 43 min
As someone whose paycheck in some part comes from ad revenue, talking about online advertising can feel complicated. At their worst, digitals ads are annoying, intrusive, and for those of us with modest data plans, costly. Ads also provide revenue for the…
What is ASMR?
Sep 29, 2015 • 19 min
I have ASMR. Or maybe the correct phrasing is that I’m susceptible to ASMR. It’s tough to talk about the phenomenon, because ASMR lacks the mandatory scientific evidence that proves, well, its existence. And if it does exist, what the hell is it anyway? A…
What is Tesla?
Sep 22, 2015 • 31 min
The electric car isn’t a newfangled idea birthed from the neck of a generation of idealists jaded by the economic, cultural, and atmospheric cost of oil. Our grandparents’ grandparents’ generation dreamed of electric cars. Some of them actually built the…
What is instant replay?
Sep 15, 2015 • 24 min
After 16 games, dozens of touchdowns, and countless hits, the Dallas Cowboys 2014 season came to an end in January when officials, reviewing an instant replay, decided a mind-imploding reception by all-star wide receiver Dez Bryant was in fact not a…
What is Destiny?
Sep 8, 2015 • 29 min
Destiny became so popular, so quickly that it’s success seems almost like, well, it’s destiny. But that wasn’t the case. Developer Bungie’s road to making the massive first-person shooter is strange and storied. This week, nearly a year after its release,…
What is Star Wars?
Sep 1, 2015 • 33 min
The transformation of the fan-made greeting “May the 4th be with you” into the foundation of an annual Star Wars publicity storm had the sharp smell of cynicism. But this week it seems quaint. Force Friday, a new, wholly corporate creation, will close…
What is fantasy sports?
Aug 25, 2015 • 14 min
A Forbes article from last years cited 33 million annual players of fantasy football. More shocking, much of fantasy football’s growth has happened in just the past 15 years thanks the to advent of online leagues. To explain fantasy football, and fantasy…
What is Virtual Sex?
Aug 18, 2015 • 37 min
My earliest memories of the internet are in AOL chat rooms. I’d spend the summer of 1998 in chats dedicated to games, James Bond movies, baseball, and whatever else interested my ten-year-old mind. Each conversation was unique, but they always began the…
What is biohacking?
Aug 11, 2015 • 24 min
We have a few cyborgs on staff. Ben Popper is arguably the reporter best known for peeling back his skin to insert a piece of technology, which he chronicled in his feature, Cyborg America. But others have gone under the knife. I wanted to know why. You…
What is space colonization?
Aug 4, 2015 • 26 min
After a light night spent skimming the Interstellar Wikipedia page, I began to wonder about some of the bigger questions of humankind: Will we live on Mars? Will we inhabit the moon? Will we just build our own giant space home away from home? Will Matthew…
What is internet television?
Jul 28, 2015 • 29 min
I am nostalgic for internet videos in the time before YouTube. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I remember watching strange, absurd, hideous shorts — shot on home camcorders or animated with cheap software — on websites I’m no longer sure exist. What’s…
What are video games?
Jul 21, 2015 • 26 min
If you named a video game, I could probably tell you who made it, when, and how it was received. I’ve reported on the medium in some capacity for seven years, and in that time I’ve acquired an encyclopedic-like understanding of the industry. But knowing…
What is beauty vlogging?
Jul 14, 2015 • 26 min
Sometimes I’m ashamed by the pockets of the internet I overlook until a friend holds them right in front of me. I knew beauty vlogging was a thing, for example, but I didn’t grasp that the video format attracts millions of viewers. Nor had I considered…
What is Bitcoin?
Jul 7, 2015 • 32 min
Will Bitcoin make me rich? That was my first question about Bitcoin when I heard the term years ago. I didn’t know a thing about cryptocurrency, or why or how a Bitcoin might be used, but it sounded like an internet gold rush. I never invested in Bitcoin,…
What are selfies?
Jun 30, 2015 • 17 min
The selfie gets a bad wrap. Labeled shallow and self-centered by its critics, self-portraiture has a rich history, dating back to humanity’s earliest works of art. What changed between artists painting themselves last century, and people snapping photos…
What are emoji?
Jun 24, 2015 • 17 min
Emoji have become such an everyday part of my life that I can’t remember my iPhone keyboard without the adorable icons. The tiny cartoon characters have been my go-to solution for Poe’s Law, a way for me to express that my text messages should be read…
Bonus: What is Verge ESP?
Jun 16, 2015 • 58 min
We’re taking this week off because Chris is deep in the throes of E3. We’ll be back with a brand new episode next Tuesday/ But today, we have a special bonus! Verge ESP is a brand new podcast from the Verge where Emily Yoshida and Elizabeth Lopatto find…
What is Uber?
Jun 9, 2015 • 29 min
Uber is an ideal topic for an episode of What’s Tech. It’s a ubiquitous piece of technology that millions of people use across the planet. But even intelligent veteran tech executives throw around the name without really knowing what it represents. We’ve…
What is E3?
Jun 2, 2015 • 29 min
In two weeks, I will fulfill one of my childhood dreams for the sixth time over by attending E3. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, held every June in Los Angeles, is no longer the biggest video game convention on the planet, but it’s the most important.…
What is space travel?
May 26, 2015 • 28 min
I want to visit space before I die. I have no practical reason to do so, and surely I’m not alone. I just want to. There’s something about the concept of exploration that I pine to achieve. Which is a little silly, considering I haven’t seen most of the…
What is Twitter?
May 19, 2015 • 24 min
While traveling from New York City to my new home in Austin, I downloaded Twitter onto my phone. I have a sordid history with the social media platform, particularly when its stream of opinions is accessible all day, every day. But I wanted something to…
What is high-tech coffee?
May 12, 2015 • 23 min
Every day I practice the same routine: I hop out of bed, take a shower, get dressed, and drink a cup of coffee. The process is so repetitive, it’s become this uninspired dance I do with my eyes half closed. I never stop and consider how I could make these…
What is the Marvel Universe?
May 5, 2015 • 22 min
If you watched Avengers: Age of Ultron this weekend, you’re in good company. The film had one of the strongest openings of all time. As the credits rolled, though, I wondered about the sustainability of this behemoth franchise. I invited The Verge’s Kwame…
What is a camera?
Apr 28, 2015 • 24 min
I love my new camera, even though I have little understanding of how it works. I recently wrote about the Fuji X100T, which I swear is less complicated than its Terminator-esque name would have you believe. I love how it looks, how it feels, how its…
What is the singularity?
Apr 21, 2015 • 20 min
If only new episodes of What’s Tech appeared on Mondays, we could have run this week’s explanation of the Singularity on 4/20. That would have been appropriate. This is, after all, the strangest thing we’ve recorded — and our pilot involved a man almost…
What is vaping?
Apr 14, 2015 • 22 min
Don’t smoke. At least, don’t start smoking because of this episode. Vaping has become a niche of tech culture, to the point that I can’t attend a press event without getting lost in a plume of root beer flavored vapors. I don’t particularly enjoy the…
What is live streaming?
Apr 7, 2015 • 23 min
When Gary Schteyngart wrote about the äppärät, an iPhone-like device that could stream our thoughts and conversations while monitoring our popularity, the idea seemed like an extreme parody of real life. The gizmo plays a central role in his 2010 novel…
What are self-driving cars?
Mar 31, 2015 • 21 min
Our future will involve driverless cars. At this year’s CES, car companies and graphics card manufacturers alike featured the technology that they believe will power the vehicles of tomorrow. But how soon will we be driving hands-free? Is the country…
What is VR?
Mar 24, 2015 • 20 min
Recently, VR’s made a striking comeback. Last year, Facebook acquired Oculus, the frontrunner in VR hardware, for $2 billion. Since then, we’ve seen aggressive movement in the industry from Samsung, Sony, and Valve, to name only a few of the companies…
What is Snapchat?
Mar 17, 2015 • 18 min
You might not Snapchat, but chances are your niece or nephew loses hours each week to the increasingly popular social media app. The Verge’s Sam Sheffer explains the app once known for nude pics, and how it’s become a respectable competitor amongst…
What is hacking?
Mar 10, 2015 • 18 min
Hacks, exploits, and system security are regularly in the news, most notably with the hacking of Sony Pictures. Russell Brandom illuminates a culture that’s more complex than how it’s often portrayed, and explains the nitty-gritty in layman terms. Learn…
What is net neutrality?
Mar 3, 2015 • 19 min
The Verge’s Editor-in-Chief explains net neutrality. The recent historic vote by the FCC in favor of net neutrality will have a decisive impact on the future of the internet. But when did the pursuit of net neutrality began? And what exactly is it?…
What is a smartphone?
Feb 24, 2015 • 19 min
The Verge’s Executive Editor Dieter Bohn explains smartphones. The iPhone and Android have made smartphones ubiquitous. But when did cell phones become smartphones? And what makes them so smart anyway? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit…
What is fan fiction?
Feb 17, 2015 • 18 min
The Verge’s Entertainment Editor Emily Yoshida explains fan fiction. This past week’s Fifty Shades of Grey film adaptation made a staggering amount of money, but did you know the series began as Twilight fan fiction? And that fan fiction owes its…
What are smartwatches?
Feb 12, 2015 • 15 min
The Verge’s smartwatch expert Dan Seifert explains smartwatches. People have been clamoring for something like the smartwatch since the days of Dick Tracy, but will the new crop of smartwatches meet our futuristic expectations? Learn more about your ad…
What are drones?
Feb 12, 2015 • 19 min
The Verge’s Business Editor and drone expert Ben Popper explains drones, the flying unmanned aerial devices flying over battlefields, metropolises, and Popper’s own backyard. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices