Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News from WIRED

WIRED

WIRED’s Gadget Lab podcast breaks down which gadgets, apps, and services you need to know about, and which ones you can move to the virtual trash bin. Learn how today’s tech shapes our lives—plus get your hosts’ personal recommendations at the end of each episode.

Reel Talk About Instagram
Jul 28 2022
Reel Talk About Instagram
If you've opened Instagram recently, you've certainly seen Reels. The photo-sharing app has started aggressively pushing the TikTok-like video feeds onto its users, a move that has sparked a heated response. Longtime users, and even celebrities like Kylie Jenner, have been urging Instagram to ditch the feature, which in addition to showing you more viral videos also shows you fewer updates from your friends and loved ones. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has defended the move, saying that Instagram is sticking with Reels and showing more videos in general, no matter how you or the Kardashians feel about that. This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED senior writer Kate Knibbs joins us to rant about Reels and why all the social media platforms are copying TikTok now. Show Notes Watch Mosseri’s recent video about Reels (on Twitter, of course). Read Kate’s story about how Instagram keeps showing her sick kids. Recommendations Kate recommends the book The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism by Adrienne Buller. Lauren recommends the Jordan Peele movie Nope and also Jason Parham’s WIRED review of the film. Mike recommends the Netflix show How to Change Your Mind and John Semley’s WIRED story about the companies racing to engineer new psychedelic drugs. Kate Knibbs can be found on Twitter @Knibbs. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Zucka Kappa Meta
Jul 21 2022
Zucka Kappa Meta
Facebook has nearly three billion users, which means that when it makes a change to its business, it affects nearly half the planet. Facebook's ambitions have often manifested in chaotic, unpredictable ways and had profound societal impacts for years after they've been implemented. So when the company decided to rebrand to Meta and funnel billions of dollars toward building its own virtual alternate reality, it's a move that's bound to come with some big consequences—if nothing else, for Meta itself. This week on Gadget Lab, we're joined by Shirin Ghaffary from Recode and Alex Heath from The Verge. The new season of their podcast, Land of the Giants, is all about Facebook's transformation into Meta and what it means for the billions of people on Facebook, and in the world at large. Show Notes Listen to the Land of the Giants podcast here or wherever you listen to podcasts. Read Alex’s interview with Mark Zuckerburg about Facebook rebranding as Meta. Recommendations Shirin recommends the book Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Alex recommends the show The Bear on Hulu. Lauren recommends Taylor Blake’s TikTok channel and the viral videos of her emu, Emmanuel. Mike recommends the book Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand, by John Markoff. Shirin Ghaffary can be found on Twitter @shiringhaffary. Alex Heath is @alexeheath. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Seriously, What Is the Metaverse?
Jun 30 2022
Seriously, What Is the Metaverse?
Technologists have been crowing about “the metaverse” for a long time now, and here at WIRED we’ve written about it quite a bit, too. But sometimes we’re still unsure exactly how to define this next generation of the internet, which is contingent on 3D experiences (instead of the flat, 2D screens we’re currently glued to) and also a persistent, continuous federated identity. Still confused? It’s OK: On this week’s Gadget Lab, we talk to Matthew Ball, a strategist, venture capitalist, and author, whose new book The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything, hits shelves July 19.  We ask Ball how he defines the metaverse, how the internet can possibly be reinvented when the current version is so driven by corporate interests, whether the metaverse should be regulated, and what a realistic vision of “interoperability” might be.  Show Notes Matthew Ball’s book is The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionize Everything. Read Gilad’s June cover story about Web3. Follow all of WIRED’s metaverse coverage here. Recommendations Matthew recommends the show The Old Man on FX and the legal podcast about the US Supreme Court Strict Scrutiny. Gilad recommends trying out an electric car sometime. Lauren recommends the 5-4 podcast, also about analyzing the Supreme Court. Matthew Ball can be found on Twitter @ballmatthew. Gilad Edelman is @GiladEdelman. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apple In Real Life
Jun 9 2022
Apple In Real Life
Spring is in the air, so you know what that means: Developer conference season. Apple held its Worldwide Developers Conference this week and used Monday’s keynote address to announce a bunch of new software updates for iPhones, iPads, and Macs. (Oh, and there are also two new MacBooks.) These kinds of events are good indicators or where the tech industry is headed, so we like to take a good look at all the forward-looking software and hardware Apple unveiled at WWDC. This year's event was an in-person affair, though it mostly entailed watching a pre-recorded video while sitting in an outdoor theater. This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED product writer Brenda Stolyar joins us to talk about Apple's grand strategy for ruling the universe and what it was like on (and under) the ground at WWDC. Show Notes:  Read more about the new features coming to iOS and iPadOS and Apple’s MagSafe chargers. Check out everything Apple announced at WWDC. Here’s more about the EU’s ruling that manufacturers must make mobile devices have uniform charging ports. Recommendations:  Brenda recommends season four of the Netflix show Stranger Things. Lauren recommends asking your smart speaker to play ocean sounds while you sleep. Mike recommends the podcast Why We Run. Brenda Stolyar can be found on Twitter @BStoly. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Google Gadgets Galore
May 12 2022
Google Gadgets Galore
It’s springtime again, which means developer conference season is in full swing. (Hoo-ray?) This week marks the return of Google I/O, the annual conference for programmers who build apps for Google’s many platforms. But I/O, while technically a software conference, has also long been a launch pad for Google hardware. This year, we saw new phones, new earbuds, a Pixel tablet, and even the oft-rumored Pixel watch. This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu joins us to talk all about Google’s announcements, from hardware to software to voice assistants. We also debate the ideal shape for a smartwatch (which, for the record, is round). Show Notes:  Read all of our Google I/O 2022 coverage in one place. We wrote about the hardware and software announcements, Assistant, and tablet enhancements for Android. Khari Johnson wrote about Google's new skin tone recognition system for AI. We also have Lily Newman’s roundup of privacy and safety features coming to Android 13. If you missed the keynote address, watch a replay. Recommendations:  Julian recommends that you should try paying for professional movers if you move, but also get some mover’s insurance. Lauren recommends the book Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe. Mike recommends slip-on shoes for cycling, work, and life. Julian Chokkattu can be found on Twitter @JulianChokkattu. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Snap’s New Drone Takes Flight
Apr 28 2022
Snap’s New Drone Takes Flight
The social photo-sharing and messaging app Snapchat is bigger than you probably think it is. According to its parent company, Snap, the app has more than 330 million active daily users—that’s over 100 million more users than Twitter. Since the Snapchat app is all about sharing photos, Snap likes to come up with innovative and unique hardware designs that give its users more interesting ways to take those photos. You might remember its camera-bedecked Spectacles from a few years ago. Now Snap has unveiled a “selfie drone” called Pixy. The $230, palm-sized gadget lifts off, takes a sharable photo or video of you, then lands. It’s just a bit of whimsical fun, which is very much the point of the whole Snapchat experience. This week, Michael and Lauren talk about Snap’s new drone, as well as the company’s place in the larger social media landscape. Show Notes:  Read more about the Pixy drone in Lauren’s latest story for WIRED. Read about Snap’s first Spectacles, the second ones, and the third ones. Also read about the augmented reality glasses the company released last year. Recommendations:  Lauren recommends the episode of The Verge’s Decoder podcast with crypto investor Chris Dixon. Mike recommends the YouTube channel Fault Radio for streaming electronic music DJ sets. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Browse Better
Apr 15 2022
Browse Better
Even if you spend a lot of time on the internet, you may not give much thought to your browser. Once you find one you like (probably Google Chrome, if you're anything like the other 3 billion people who use it), chances are it just fades into the background while you do your scrolling. But behind the scenes, browsers handle a lot of information, especially when it comes to collecting all of your sweet, sweet data. This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED senior writer Matt Burgess joins us to talk about the dark side of browsers, and how to go about blocking ads and controlling your data online. Show Notes:  Read Matt’s story about DuckDuckGo’s desktop browser. Listen to the WIRED podcast here. Here’s the EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere browser extension. Here’s the Minimal Twitter Chrome extension. For ad-blocking, check out Ghostery. Read Lauren’s story about how websites tracked her after she called off her wedding. Recommendations:  Matt recommends the memoir A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter, and also pomegranate seeds. Mike recommends giving cash at weddings instead of buying something off the registry. Lauren recommends Apple TV+, particularly for shows like Severance, WeCrashed, and The Morning Show. Matt Burgess can be found on Twitter @mattburgess1. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Peloton Bets Big on Body-Tracking
Apr 8 2022
Peloton Bets Big on Body-Tracking
Peloton has had a turbulent couple of years. After the ups and downs of the pandemic economy came a rash of bad press spurned by a series of tragic product accidents. The resulting stock dips and executive shake-ups put the fitness tech company's future in flux. But now, Peloton is trying something new. Or at least new-ish. The Peloton Guide is a device with a camera that sits on your TV and monitors your workout. (Just don't call it a Kinect.) It's far more modest than Peloton's large, fancy stationary bikes and treadmills, and something Peloton hopes will lure in more subscribers. Still, it's another bet on our continued interest in at-home workouts—a market that may not be as robust as Peloton hoped it was. This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED executive editor Brian Barrett joins us for a conversation about Peloton's newest product and the company's future. Show Notes:  Read Lauren’s story about the new Peloton Guide. Here’s Adrienne So’s review of the Guide. Recommendations:  Brian recommends the novel Middlemarch by George Eliot. Lauren recommends the Apple TV+ show WeCrashed. Mike recommends the memoir The History of Bones by John Lurie. Brian Barrett can be found on Twitter @brbarrett. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices