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The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.


In OneZero. More on Medium.

Folding smartphones like the upcoming Galaxy Z Fold2 from Samsung (awful name!) might seem gimmicky, but there’s reason to believe they’ll have a meaningful impact on how users interact with…

Repairing devices is a key part of reducing their long-term environmental impact, but many consumers don’t know when to do it

A man repairing an open smartphone
A man repairing an open smartphone
Photo: Armin Weigel/picture alliance/Getty Images

While consumers generally expect to be notified of regular maintenance on their car — any time the “check engine” light comes on, they know it’s time to take it to the shop — many remain unaware of a host of common repair needs for their gadgets or don’t know when to get their devices serviced.

It doesn’t have to be this way. After Apple was caught throttling iPhones with older batteries, the company added a Battery Health feature that does a decent job of letting users know when it’s time to seek a replacement. …


They’re slightly less efficient, and that’s a good thing

The new Razr phone is displayed during the unveiling of the Razr as a reinvented icon.
The new Razr phone is displayed during the unveiling of the Razr as a reinvented icon.
Photo: Michael Kovac/Motorola/Getty Images

In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today to give you a better tomorrow.

I miss my old Razr phone. It was a lavender-tinted pink, which at the time seemed very sophisticated, and because I was among the first in my 11th-grade class to get one, I experienced my own short-lived burst of cool as people crowded around me, oohing and aahing at the new technology. …


The ergonomics might suck, but for most of us, bigger is better

The new Apple iPhone Xs and Xs Max against a bright modern neon yellow background.
The new Apple iPhone Xs and Xs Max against a bright modern neon yellow background.
Photo: AdrianHancu/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus

A small iPhone presents a big problem for me: I can’t see its screen. Not that well, anyway. Even the screen on my iPhone XR, which is just under six inches tall and three inches wide, is a bit small (I bought it because it was the cheapest new phone at the time). …

How ‘good enough’ became the mantra of tech design

Image courtesy of the author

Every successful product begins with an idea. A way to share photos online. A portable music player. A modular phone. Next comes an MVP — a minimum viable product — or perhaps an MMP — a minimum marketable product. At this point, if the idea is good, it will become a real product. We’re at the beginning of a journey. Oh, the places we’ll go. The possibilities, the excitement.

Right now, we have a clear road map. We made the minimum viable product so we could get something built quickly, and it’s obvious what to do next — make the…

Illustration: Evan Weselmann

Bad Ideas

Rather than feeling zen, cutting my screen time left me frustrated, bored, and isolated

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do, and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

We all believe we spend too much time on our phones. Parents post about it on Facebook. Teens meme about it on Twitter. Tech executives tout the promises of technology while simultaneously boasting about their digital detoxes and refusing their own children screen time. …

‘Cave’ events in New York, L.A., and Denver promise to block out distractions so you can finally get to work

Photos: Courtesy of Caveday

A few weeks ago I sat in a circle with eight strangers at a rented meeting space in Los Angeles. It was 9 a.m. on a gloriously clear Sunday morning, the hour when the weekend day still stretches languidly ahead, and the shadowy outline of the coming workweek is still just over the horizon.

The number of lovely Sundays in a lifetime are finite, and yet on this day all of us had chosen to pay $25 — the equivalent of brunch or a fancy yoga class — to spend this one indoors, working.

This light, airy meeting space decorated…

Mall kiosks gather email addresses and phone numbers, and it’s not all about your security

Illustration: Lily Padula

Phone charging lockers — the kind you’ll find in malls, airports, and stores like Banana Republic — solve a simple problem. They let you charge your phone without tying you to a wall socket, so you can run your errands without the persistent concern that you’ll run out of juice. They’re almost always free, but there’s a catch: These kiosks take your picture and require you to turn over personal information like your email address or phone number.

If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that you should pause for a second before handing any of this over to…


Mobile Device Management potentially gives your company the ability to spy on your location, your web browsing, and more

Credit: Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty

Many of us have given up on the idea of carrying around a dedicated work phone. After all, why bother when you can get everything you need on your personal smartphone?

Here’s one reason: Your work account might be spying on you in the background.

When you add a work email address to your phone, you’ll likely be asked to install something called a Mobile Device Management (MDM) profile. Chances are, you’ll blindly accept it. (What other choice do you have?) …

No matter where you lost it

Credit: Zbynek Pospisil/iStock/Getty Images Plus

With a panicked jolt, you realize that your pocket feels suspiciously light. You double-check, and sure enough, your phone is gone. And with it? Your camera, photo album, address book, calendar — the list goes on.

Fortunately, there are some preemptive steps that can ease the pain if it happens. David Weissman, a spokesperson for Verizon, stressed the importance of backing up every piece of data on your phone. “I don’t rely on the phone to store any content,” he said. “Every picture I take immediately gets backed up in the cloud. So if I lose my phone, it’s only…


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