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Wired - The Gadget Lab

Technology Podcasts

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.


San Francisco, CA


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




Smartphone Launch Events Are Silly

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 customers stoked for features like "sub-6 5G compatibility" and "Space Zoom." It was the kind of product launch that has become standard over the years for big tech companies. This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED senior associate editor Julian...


The Virus and the Vote

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 coronavirus is claiming lives, disrupting the economy, and creating chaos in the global supply chain. [#iframe: https://playlist.megaphone.fm?p=DGT6274552575](100%x482) Show Notes: Read more about what the hell happened with the Iowa caucus...


Everything Old Is New Again

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 you imbue a familiar screen with a bleeding-edge, high-tech foldable display. Companies are building devices meant to make you feel like you’re bounding into the future, while still invoking those good ol’ days. But does sentimentality...


Open Wide for Mouth Tech

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 subscription service, wearables for teeth—oral hygiene is a booming business for tech companies, who see dollar signs every time you flash your pearly whites. But who does this actually help? Do we really need to spend $200 on a high-powered...


One Wheel, Zero Buttons

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 experience. That’s what consumer electronics manufacturers are still doing, and we explore this trend by pointing at two recent developments in our world: new smartphone designs totally devoid of buttons, and the rising numbers of...


Best of CES

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 it all. This week on the show, Mike and Lauren talk with WIRED digital director Brian Barrett at CES. They'll guide you through the glitzy extravaganza, from folding laptops to high-tech sex toys, and highlight the most important trends...


Sex Toys and Toothbrushes

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 consumer tech industry wants to put in front of our eager eyeballs. On this week’s show, Michael Calore, Lauren Goode, and special guest Tom Simonite run through all the trends we expect to see at CES, from the practical (5G, smartphone...


Our Favorite Stuff from 2019, Plus Our 2020 Predictions

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 and the realization that there are people listening to our private home recordings. (Not to mention Elon Musk's new murdertruck.) On this episode of Gadget Lab, we're going to try to make sense of it all. We talk about the most important...


The Case for Cassava

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, which can devastate farms. Biologist Laura Boykin has found a way to stop the spread of these diseases. Boykin founded the Cassava Virus Action Project, where she and other scientists use a pocket-sized device called a MinION to sequence the...


Going Places

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 grime from windshields and the lenses of cameras used for self-driving features. It’s a high-tech ambition that hints at Tesla’s larger goals. The news also came the same week that Elon Musk takes the stand in a trial where he’s accused of...


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...


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...


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...