AI gadgets, bendy phones, and more from MWC | The Vergecast

AI gadgets, bendy phones, and more from MWC | The Vergecast

Intro (00:00:00)

  • David Pierce introduces the Vergecast podcast and mentions seeing Dune Part 2 at the Alamo Draft House.
  • He expresses his enjoyment of the movie and recommends watching it on the biggest screen possible.
  • The main topic of the podcast is Mobile World Congress (MWC), which is described as a trade show that can be either boring or interesting depending on the year.
  • This year's MWC was particularly interesting, and the discussion will focus on the latest gadgets and insights into the future of mobile technology.

MWC ‘24 w/ Allison + Jon (00:01:19)

  • MWC is usually the second most interesting trade show of the year after CES in Las Vegas.
  • MWC focuses specifically on mobile technology, primarily smartphones.
  • The definition of "mobile" is evolving due to advancements in AI, leading to new types of devices.
  • Companies are exploring alternatives to the traditional smartphone model dominated by Apple and Google.
  • There's a desire to move beyond the concept of a phone as a mere slab of glass running apps from app stores controlled by Apple or Google.
  • MWC showcased not only new phones but also innovative ideas about the form, function, and significance of mobile devices in our lives.
  • Allison Johnson and John Porter, Verge reporters who attended MWC, will share their insights and experiences from the event.

Behind the scenes at MWC (00:03:04)

  • MWC is a trade show where companies showcase their latest gadgets and innovations.
  • The weekend before the show is filled with press events, making it hectic for journalists to attend.
  • The show officially starts on Monday, with a focus on smaller players and hands-on time with gadgets.
  • Allison's first MWC experience lived up to the hype, with a busy schedule and challenges navigating Barcelona.
  • Samsung Galaxy Ring was on display for the first time.
  • Humane AI pin made an unannounced appearance.
  • Deutsche Telecom booth had a T-Mobile vibe with magenta lights and stadium seating.

Lenovo's transparent laptop (00:06:28)

  • Lenovo showcased a transparent microLED laptop with 1,000 nits brightness, envisioning it as an artistic tool for sketching on a drawing tablet beneath the display while seeing objects behind it.
  • The company suggests it could be used in high-end front desks of banks or businesses to project a high-tech image.
  • Other companies, like LG, have also experimented with transparent display technology, suggesting its potential use as a virtual fish tank in dentists' offices.
  • Lenovo is focusing on repairability, collaborating with iFixit to make their business laptops more easily repairable.
  • Lenovo's new ThinkPad laptops feature improved repairability with removable components using just a Phillips head screwdriver.
  • Icons and QR codes on the laptop provide easy access to replacement part information and video guides on Lenovo's website.
  • The transparent laptop design serves as a marketing strategy to attract customers to Lenovo's more practical and popular black laptops.

Motorola’s bendy phone (00:11:42)

  • Motorola showcased a concept bendable phone.
  • The phone can bend backwards and has a flexible screen.
  • It features a metal bracelet that can be attached to the phone for support.
  • The bendable screen can be used to run a launcher or full apps.

Samsung Galaxy Ring (00:13:37)

  • The Samsung Galaxy Ring is a lightweight smart ring.
  • It has a concave shape that takes up less space on the finger.
  • The ring offers fitness and wellness tracking features.
  • It is designed for individuals who prefer not to wear a smartwatch.
  • Compatibility with iPhones may be limited initially, with plans to support them in the future.

Xiaomi's watches and phones (00:15:48)

  • Xiaomi's watches have interchangeable bezels, allowing for customization beyond just changing the strap.
  • The Xiaomi Watch S3 is a lower-end watch, while the Xiaomi Watch 2 is a higher-end Wear OS watch.
  • The Xiaomi 14 phone has a straight-edge design and a vegan leather back.
  • The Xiaomi 14 Ultra has a round camera bump and a variable aperture camera, which allows the aperture to get bigger or smaller like a dedicated camera lens.
  • John got to see Nothing's new phone at MWC.

Nothing Phone 2A’s reveal (00:18:32)

  • Nothing Phone 2A reveal event was held during MWC.
  • The phone was showcased inside monoliths at the event.
  • Verge staff attempted to quickly upload photos of the phone to their website but encountered technical difficulties.
  • Discussion about the future of smartphones and what they might look like beyond just a collection of apps run by Google or Apple.
  • Verge staff discuss the idea of a "Posta smartphone" and what that might entail.

Brain AI’s gadget concept (00:22:38)

  • Brain AI is developing a new type of phone called the "appless phone."
  • The phone has a regular OS and a digital assistant that can launch pages and build interfaces based on user requests.
  • The AI is trained on interfaces and can present information in a user-friendly way.
  • Users can ask questions and get answers, watch videos, and interact with the interface without switching between apps.
  • The phone is currently focused on shopping but plans to expand to productivity and other areas in the future.
  • No launch date has been announced, but the company is targeting Europe and the US.

Humane AI Pin demo (00:26:02)

  • The Humane AI Pin is a new product category that has a philosophical idea of getting rid of smartphones and screens.
  • The Rabbit R1, another experimental non-phone gadget, was warmly received despite its similar approach, possibly due to its teenage engineering industrial design.
  • The Appas Phone takes a middle ground approach by customizing the smartphone experience with fewer apps and more tailored features.
  • Allison's experience with the Pin was awkward, requiring close physical contact to project onto someone's hand.
  • The Pin's features, such as projecting a settings menu onto a wall, were seen as cool but impractical for everyday use.
  • The Pin's price, subscription fee, and need for a separate SIM card raise questions about its target market.

Best of MWC picks (00:30:10)

  • John's favorite: Barbie flip phone by HMD.
  • Dieter's favorite: Bendy phone that can play Connect 4.
  • Dieter's second favorite: 28,000 mAh battery phone.
  • Alison's favorite: Lenovo's repairable laptops.
  • Alison's second favorite: Samsung Galaxy Ring.
  • John's favorite thing he wished he could take home: Infinix concept phone with e-color shift that changes colors when charging.
  • Alison's favorite thing she wished she could take home: Xiaomi 14 Ultra with the photography kit.
  • Question: What are your thoughts on the Nothing Phone (1)?
  • Dieter's opinion: It's a good-looking phone with a unique design, but the software is still a bit buggy.
  • John's opinion: He agrees with Dieter, but he thinks the Nothing Phone (1) has a lot of potential.
  • Alison's opinion: She thinks the Nothing Phone (1) is a great option for people who want a unique phone that stands out from the crowd.

Web crawlers and AI (Vergecast Hotline) (00:33:50)

  • The Internet Archive's mission to archive the internet conflicts with websites' control over their content, leading to websites becoming more cautious about who can access their data due to the rise of AI and the potential for automated crawling.
  • Companies are increasingly putting their content behind paywalls to protect their data and generate revenue, challenging the open nature of the internet and creating uncertainty about the future of the open web.
  • Important resources like the Internet Archive and Wikipedia should remain free and open to ensure their continued existence and value.
  • The Vergecast podcast, produced by Andre Marino, Liam James, and Will Por, expects a busy season with upcoming announcements from AI, Apple, and Google, and encourages listeners to send their thoughts, questions, and ideas to the show.

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