It's September, which means Apple has announced yet another round of new iPhones. During a typically bombastic media event at the company’s headquarters on Tuesday, September 12, Apple showed off regular and Pro versions of the iPhone 15, as well as a couple of new Apple Watch models and a smattering of software enhancements that aim to make moving around with your devices easier. The big news—though something Apple quickly glossed over in its presentation—is that the company has finally eschewed its proprietary Lightning connector in favor of the ubiquitous (and European Union–mandated) USB-C standard. It's a big change, but one that Apple doesn't exactly seem happy to have been forced into making.
This week on Gadget Lab, we dive into all the details about everything Apple announced this week, from the hardware to the software to the services.
Dig into everything Apple announced at its September event. Read Adrienne’s story about the new Apple Watch models. Read Julian’s stories about the new iPhones 15 and why it matters that Apple has made the switch to USB-C. Also, check out Lauren’s story about Apple’s new expensive but massive iCloud+ plans.
Adrienne recommends Ripton hiker jeans. (Also read her story about technical jorts.) Julian recommends the AnkerWork M650 wireless microphone system. Lauren recommends the latest episode of SmartLess with guest Kara Swisher. Mike recommends shatta, a fermented chile pepper sauce you can find at your local Middle Eastern grocer.
Adrienne is on social media as @adriennemso. Julian is @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.
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Note: This is an automated transcript, which may contain errors.
Michael Calore: Lauren.
Lauren Goode: Mike.
Michael Calore: Was Tuesday's Apple event everything you ever wanted?
Lauren Goode: In what way?
Michael Calore: USB-C. You finally got a USB-C iPhone.
Lauren Goode: It's a low bar when your life is that affected by a charging standard. But yes, life has already changed and I can tell you how. And that was not even the most interesting part of Tuesday's Apple event.
Michael Calore: I cannot wait to hear more.
Lauren Goode: I bet you can't, Mr. Pixel.
Michael Calore: Whatever. Let's do it.
Lauren Goode: Let's do it.
[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]
Michael Calore: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I am Michael Calore. I'm a senior editor at WIRED.
Lauren Goode: And I'm Lauren Goode. I'm a senior writer at WIRED.
Michael Calore: We're also joined this week by WIRED reviews editors Adrienne So, sitting over here right next to me—
Adrienne So: Hey, guys.
Michael Calore: —and Julian Chokkattu, sitting over here on the other side.
Julian Chokkattu: Hello, hello.
Lauren Goode: Yes. Things have already gone off the rails in studio here. We just have to let you all know, but you're not going to hear that part of the podcast.
Michael Calore: That's right. That's right. We've been chatting, testing the microphones, testing the microphones.
Lauren Goode: Testing the mics, telling people what we had for breakfast.
Michael Calore: Well, we are all here in the studio together because this week the three of you went down to Cupertino, California, for Apple's big September event as it is done every year for more than a decade. Apple announced new iPhones. There were also new Apple watches and some new software features to go along with the new products. And as we've talked about on the show before, a lot of these updates can feel kind of samey with iterative feature enhancements coming out every year.
Lauren Goode: Samey.
Michael Calore: Samey, samey.
Lauren Goode: I like that word. Next time I put that in a WIRED article, I expect you will not edit it out.
Michael Calore: Oh, never, never. It's my favorite neologism. But we should start today's discussion with the one big change that Apple made to its phone lineup that is not samey. Apple has ditched the iPhone's Lightning port and replaced it with a USB-C port. Julian, I want to start with you. Tell us why did Apple do this to us?
Julian Chokkattu: So USB-C, Apple has been adding it to its devices. It was one of the first companies to add USB-C to a MacBook back in 2015. And it has slowly been adding that port to its other devices like iPads, except the last holdout has been the iPhone. Last year the European Union ruled that all phones, tablets and cameras by the end of 2024 are required to have a USB-C port. So that kind of Apple had a decision to make. Do we just not sell phones in the European Union? Do we just change the port in the European Union and use Lightning everywhere else? But of course I think this change was going to come at some point eventually. So this is the year that it's happening, but also they probably were going to do it at some point anyway. It's worth noting that they collect licensing fees and make a lot of money from all the other companies that make Lightning accessories. So this was just an opportunity that they were probably pushing away as far as possible so they can collect as much as possible. And now it's changing. And so now we have a USB-C port which means that you can use the same cable you have for your MacBook, your iPad, your Android phone if you weirdly also have an Android phone and a MacBook and an iPad. But other devices—
Michael Calore: Your Switch, your headphones.
Julian Chokkattu: Yeah, your Nintendo Switch, gaming consoles, wireless earbuds, all sorts of things have USB-C nowadays. Even electric scooters can charge with USB-C now. So there's no reason not to have this port and hopefully it cuts down on the number of e-waste to buy, not having all these different types of cables that you need to buy and you can just stick with that one single connector.
Michael Calore: But it's not actually just one cable for USB-C, is it?
Julian Chokkattu: Yeah, that's the downside of USB-C's is that there's so many different standards. And so one cable that you just buy for 20 bucks on Amazon probably doesn't have the capabilities that you might be looking for. For example, the new iPhone supports USB-C over display port, which allows you to connect, for example, your MacBook to an external display and then you can just use a USB-C cable to connect the display and have that display outputted to that external monitor.
Michael Calore: So you can do that with an iPhone?
Julian Chokkattu: You can do that with an iPhone now, but you have to make sure that the cable you buy supports display port over USB-C, and you got to look at the fine print and the product information and all that kind of stuff. Same thing is true for power standards. People don't really know that cables actually have a specific wattage output. So just because you have a MacBook and you're using some random cable, MacBooks usually require 60 watts of power. If your charging adapter can output that, that's great. But then if you buy a cheapo cable that only supports 20 to 30 watts, you're not going to get that max power and you might get a notification saying, "Hey, your charger is not powerful enough," or something like that. So Apple is going to be shipping with a 60-watt charger in the box for the new iPhone model. So you at least can use that to charge your MacBook. However, if you have a MacBook Pro, those need a little more power, so you'll probably have to pay Apple a little bit extra for the higher wattage charging cables.
Adrienne So: I was actually wondering about that yesterday as you were sitting in the theater fumbling crazily about for whatever thing we could plug in to charge whatever, all of our thingamabobbers. I was just like, "How many reports are we going to get in the next few years of like, I keep my Lightning cable in a kind of *Raiders of the Lost Ark–*type special chest versus all of my USB cables that, I'm throwing the coffee off of them because they've been sitting in my mug holder for four months or whatever?" How many reports we're going to get of people blowing their iPhones out because they just plugged whatever into whatever, wherever?
Julian Chokkattu: Yeah. I mean even with the change though, they pretty much admitted that you would have to buy another cable to take advantage for the iPhone 15 Pro. Those support a higher data transfer speed. So Lightning cables have been limited to 480 megabits per second. They weirdly decided to just stick with that same specification for the standard iPhone models. So with the USB-C, you're still getting 480 megabits per second, which is just weird because that's such a really old standard. And most phones these days, for example, the 499 Pixel 7A has USB 3.2 support, whereas iPhone's only offering USB 2.0. But the iPhone 15 Pro does support USB 3, which allows for 10 gigabits per second data transfer speeds. But they said in the keynote, they were like, "You'll have to buy your cable separately," which really, you're paying that much for a very expensive—
Michael Calore: This is the Pro level phones.
Julian Chokkattu: The Pro level, but they're still only providing a limited cable in the box. I don't know why they couldn't just bundle the Pro cable that allows for that type of data speeds, but Apple has got to make money somehow.
Lauren Goode: Well, Julian, you mentioned in your story that you wrote ahead of the event about the big switch to USB-C that one of the reasons that Apple was so insistent on Lightning until the European Union stepped in. And let's just give a little round of applause here for the European Union, my goodness. I mean, everyone thinks that they're just taking months off vacation, but actually they're passing GDPR, Digital Markets Act, Digital Services Act and right-to-repair laws in France and all of a sudden they're like, Apple change your charging standard. They're accomplishing quite a bit these days. But you wrote in your story that the reason why Apple was so stuck on Lightning was because it was a source of revenue for them when third parties were basically licensing that technology to make. Was it called the MFi program?
Julian Chokkattu: Yeah, the Made for iPhone, MFi.
Lauren Goode: MFi, yes.
Julian Chokkattu: I don't know if they call it, MFi or whatever. I mean there were a lot of rumors that saying that Apple was going to implement an MFi program for USB-C, and that would also turn it into a way for a consumer buying a cable would then see a label that says, "Oh, this one supports display port. This one supports fast charging," or whatever. But they didn't announce anything like that. They presented zero information about any type of MFi program. So it seems like at present, there just is nothing. And I think maybe they're just going to rely on the new revenue that they've been collecting with MagSafe and since maybe that's sort of the way that they're going. So it's not like there's a complete loss. They did introduce MagSafe and a lot of companies are making MagSafe accessories. They're still collecting licensing freeze from that. So I assume maybe they realized, "Well, it's fine if we lose the Lightning connector revenue because now we have MagSafe."
Michael Calore: So it obviously is a big win for consumers and for people who buy iPhones because now they're going to have one less piece of clutter in their lives and hopefully they'll be able to reuse cables across devices as long as they buy ones that have all the capabilities that they need from all their different devices. And we were expecting it. As Lauren mentioned, you wrote a story leading up to it, so it was sort of a big moment that everybody was waiting for, but Apple spent maybe a minute and a half, two minutes on it and just breezed right past it.
Julian Chokkattu: Yeah. I mean, I don't know. It seems like from the lead up, especially earlier this year, maybe it was last year where there was some executives talking about it on a panel and they actually came out and said that iPhone will switch to USB-C. But they sounded very disappointed about it. They were like, "Yeah, I guess we got to do it. Those damn European laws." So I can't tell really why they would be so disappointed because they haven't really changed Lightning for 11 years and there's no real changes or improvements in terms of data transfer speeds or charging speeds. So it's like, why would you be upset about your consumers being able to now use the same cable for all your devices and also have access to those faster speeds? They're claiming that the iPhone 15 Pro has, I think it was 20 times faster data transfer speeds over the iPhone 15 because that's using the older spec. So it's like that's the kind of difference that we should have had for some time now, but it just hasn't. And thanks to the European Union.
Adrienne So: Maybe it's hard for executives and consumers alike to just imagine how much of a change this would be when you're actually holding a device in your cable in the hand. I've had Apple devices for who knows how long, so many Lightning connectors. There's one plugged in everywhere. And your MagSafe, so it's fine. But it's just like the physical act of remembering to put a USB-C into your iPhone versus a USB-C cable, that's an actual physical change that's going to happen in the real world that's going to be affecting a lot of people really soon. And that's pretty mind-blowing.
Julian Chokkattu: Yeah, I mean it's also worth remembering that there's still a lot of people that don't know, like my barber was asking me, should I get the new iPhone? And I was like, "Well, they're changing the port." And he's like, "What's Lightning?" Right? They don't know the terminology and that's fine.
Adrienne So: It's an iPhone—
Julian Chokkattu: Right, it's a cable. And so there's a lot of people that are going to be like, "What the heck is this new port that I haven't really had to use?" They might not quite understand that, and there might just inevitably be a lot of these Lightning accessories becoming e-waste quickly because people don't know what to do with them. They're like, "I can't use that cable." So I'm hoping people just give them to people who are not upgrading and hold onto them in some other ways, but it's just an inevitability that there will be some Lightning accessories that are just not going to be useful now if you're upgrading.
Lauren Goode: This makes me think that we should be doing a guide for how to responsibly dispose of your Lightning cables. A former WIRED reporter who's now the editor in chief of MIT Tech Review, Mat Honan messaged on, was it Twitter or Threads? One of the sites and said, "Lauren, what the F am I supposed to do with my Lightning cables now?" And I said, "Just throw them all in a box, so someday you can tell your daughters that you had to trudge uphill to school both ways in the snow while carrying a bag of Lightning cables."
Adrienne So: There is a free cycle in Portland, and I was recently doing this exact same thing but with micro USB cables. And so I put them all in the box and they sent it at the door and I kicked and spat on it on the way out.
Lauren Goode: Wow. Intense.
Adrienne So: I know. I had a lot of feelings about—
Lauren Goode: Was it therapeutic?
Adrienne So: It was.
Lauren Goode: Sounds it.
Michael Calore: Before we move on, Julian, I want to give you an opportunity to do a quick lightning round about what else stood—
Lauren Goode: No pun intended.
Michael Calore: … stood out about the new phones.
Julian Chokkattu: Well, I guess it's really the Pro models, like the standard—
Michael Calore: Titanium.
Julian Chokkattu: Yes, titanium. Titanium is the big one.
Adrienne So: Are we going to miss an opportunity to do singalong?
Lauren Goode: 15 seconds of that?
Julian Chokkattu: Titanium is the new material that they're using for the pro models. It is surprisingly very light when you pick up the iPhone 15 Pro Max. You're just like, kind of feels cheap, because you know that lightweight cheap feeling sometimes some products have? But no, it's just titanium. It's lighter weight metal and more durable. There's now an action button on the Pro models only, so that got rid of the mute switch, which has been on the iPhone since 2007. So now instead of just flipping a switch, you can press the button to customize it to different actions. like muting the phone, or there's actually even ways to connect it to Siri shortcuts so you can control it, have it push the button to turn on all your home lights or something like that.
Lauren Goode: Can I just say I think that's going to be a disaster? I'm going to fumble that button so many times and trigger so many things I don't want to trigger. We'll see. I haven't tried it yet, but truly I'm not being coy. I don't have that phone. I haven't tried it yet, but we'll see. I'm just going to put a pin in that one.
Julian Chokkattu: It does a little animation on the Dynamic Island that suggests press and hold the thing to activate whatever you've set it to. So it's not necessarily, I think, always going to just be a single press, but I think there's some customization options there. But yeah, no, it is definitely a weird change that they just decided to do. I guess maybe to have it fall in line with the Apple Watch because that button exists on that. And then the cameras. I guess there's now the Pro Max has the exclusive 5X optical zoom camera, which not something we haven't seen before. Samsung has 10X optical zoom. Google has 5X optical zoom, so that's just sort of an extra perk that you get with paying that $1,200 price tag for that model. I mean, they also have been doing this weird thing where they keep saying, "You have seven lenses in one phone," because now they're counting macro and then they're now splitting a lot of these zoom modes into just like they're calling it 24 millimeter, 28 millimeter. I'm like, "No one cares about this. No one knows what this stuff is except pro photographers." And we know Pro photographers aren't the only ones buying Pro iPhones. Everyone buys Pro iPhones too, so it's very confusing to me and it's just digital zoom I think. So it's weird, but those are I think the main highlights. I could spend time on talking about all the other smaller stuff, but that's what the big takeaway is.
Michael Calore: Well, we should mention that you did write a news post about the new phone that has a lot of those details in it and we should expect to see some reviews in maybe a few weeks.
Julian Chokkattu: Yes. Soon.
Lauren Goode: Or sooner.
Julian Chokkattu: Or sooner.
Lauren Goode: Julian's article is called “Apple's iPhone 15 Marks a New Era.” It's one of our most popular stories this week, so everyone can read that on WIRED.
Michael Calore: All right. Let's take a quick break and we'll be right back.
Michael Calore: OK, welcome back. I feel like we've exhausted the iPhone as a topic forever even though we haven't even come close, but we do have to move on. So I want to talk about the watch. Adrienne, this is your domain. You are the watch expert on the panel.
Adrienne So: OK. The most important thing for me was that I was all hyped up on a new watch color and I was really convinced. Me and a lot of people were really convinced it was going to be black. Turns out it was pink and all of those jokes I was saving, I had to immediately delete. And so that was the thing—
Lauren Goode: Will you give a preview? What were some of the jokes?
Adrienne So: I don't know. It was like taking the black, the knight's watch. I mean, come on. They were all just lined up. They were teed up, ready to go. I had to throw them all out. So that was the main thing. I'm done now.
Michael Calore: That was the—
Adrienne So: I'll be leaving. OK. So Apple did come out with updates to two of their watches yesterday. Both the Series 9 and the Watch Ultra 2 have the new S9 chip set. In addition to being faster and more efficient. There's a lot more things that you're able to do with a faster chip set. And the main thing that they announced yesterday was Double Tap. They've taken some of the things they've learned from Assistive Touch, which has been around. This is Apple's disability program. If you have mobility issues, you've always … Not always, since about the Series 4, you've been able to clench or make gestures with your hands to do critical actions on the watch. But with the S Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra, you can just double tap. Tapping your index finger and your thumb together and you can use it to stop and start workouts or stop and start music. I got to have a preview of it yesterday and it was really cool. I can totally imagine one of my hobbies is rock climbing and running and I never remember to stop or start workouts. And so if you're clinging to a rock face, it's with one hand, it's pretty convenient to be able to do things on your watch with the other hand and not flail off into outer space. So that's pretty cool.
Lauren Goode: And just to be clear, when you say double tap, you mean you're making a gesture right now that people can't see, but you're tapping two fingers together?
Adrienne So: Yes.
Lauren Goode: So you're not tapping the watch itself?
Adrienne So: No. Yeah, that's an important clarification to make. It's not your non-watch hand. That is the one that's holding your coffee, carrying the baby, clinging to the wall, and then you're tapping your index finger and your thumb of your watch hand together. It's using the gyroscope, the accelerometer. And this is the crazy part. They're actually tracking minute blood flow with the optical sensor. They're sensing the blood that is flowing to your fingers. This whole time. I was just like, they're tracking my heart rate as it skyrockets every time I get a Slack. I'm like, "That is the thing that they're tracking." But no, they're actually measuring the muscle movement of your fingers tapping together, which was crazy.
Lauren Goode: Wild.
Adrienne So: Yeah. Oh, and the other big thing that I almost totally forgot about Apple claims that the watch is carbon neutral.
Michael Calore: How do we feel about that?
Adrienne So: I know. But the thing is, it's only if you buy a specific watch with the specific case and the case has to be recycled nylon. And I was just like, "Is that really going to happen? There's like 40 zillion Apple Watch bands out there." I mean, nobody's going to ditch their Hermes band or whatever, their Milanese Loop.
Michael Calore: Oh, some people will for sure.
Lauren Goode: Yeah. Also, is it carbon neutral because of the way that they're manufacturing it or because they're buying offsets?
Adrienne So: It's part manufacturing, like there's recycled cobalt and other recycled materials in the watch. And then that was another interesting thing, was that they are purchasing carbon offsets to offset the emissions from charging the watch throughout the lifespan of the watch.
Michael Calore: So those offsets, they work sort of like saying Hail Marys after confession at church, right? Are they …
Lauren Goode: Trigger warning. I mean, one of us went to Catholic school.
Michael Calore: They make you feel better?
Lauren Goode: Yeah, sure. Penance.
Michael Calore: Yeah. But do they actually have an impact, I think, is the big question that a lot of people are asking today and this week.
Lauren Goode: Yeah, I think it's something we've been asking continuously in our coverage at WIRED of environmental policies that are being established by big tech companies like Microsoft and Google and Apple. A lot of them have relied on offsets to establish some form of carbon neutrality. And Greenpeace and other organizations will point to that and basically say it's not enough. I think we're going to be doing more reporting on this because more and more of the tech companies are going to come out with initiatives like this and that's our job.
Adrienne So: I know. It's a big puzzle and the edges of it are always shifting. For example, one of the new materials that they announced yesterday for the new watch bands is fine woven, which is a suede material that's intended to replace the use of leather. Cows burp a lot, but also is plastic, even recycled plastic a really good thing to be encouraging more people to buy. So there's a lot of math that I'm not sure if it really maps out.
Michael Calore: Yeah. Recycled plastic is not perfect, but it is better than creating virgin plastic. Reusing plastic that's already in the ecosystem is better than creating new plastic that clogs up the ecosystem even more. We are already completely screwed when it comes to how much plastic we put on this planet. So if we could reuse some of it for our, I believe it's going into watch straps, it's going into cases, it's going into air tag holder key chains.
Julian Chokkattu: I mean I actually did a story a couple of years ago on this case manufacturer that was making biodegradable plastic cases. And when I spoke to some experts they were like, "That's great because these cases are plastic, but they can biodegrade in landfill conditions within two years versus a thousand years for whatever plastic takes. But those same experts were like, "Great, but why can't they just use materials that are not plastic or just alternative types like bamboo cases or some other types of materials?" And that's sort of the same case here where it's like, "Great that it's recycled plastic, but it would be great with Apple's capital if they could explore materials that maybe were just completely fine for the environment, especially since their cases are often inevitably going to end up in a landfill at some point.
Michael Calore: All right. So Apple spent a lot of time talking about their environmental efforts. They did not spend a lot of time talking about USB-C and they also did not spend a lot of time talking about iCloud. But Lauren, you noticed this because it popped up at the end of the keynote and you jumped on it and wrote a great story about it. Can you please tell us the changes that are coming to iCloud+?
Lauren Goode: Oh, well, thank you for that, Mike. It also helps that you have an editor when you're like, "Hey, I'm going to write about this," and your editor says, "Go forth." So thanks. At the very end of the event, Greg Joswiak, a long time Apple executive said, "Oh, by the way, we're going to be expanding our iCloud+ options." This is premium iCloud. You get five gigabytes of iCloud free whenever you buy an iDevice, but then after that you start paying for it. And these two new tiers of iCloud pricing got a pretty enthusiastic response from the crowd there. I would say even more enthusiastic than the announcement of USB-C, maybe because people knew USB-C was coming and they're expensive. There's one that offers you six terabytes of storage for $30 a month, and the next option is going to be double the price for double the storage $60 a month for 12 terabytes of iCloud. That's a lot of iCloud and that's also very expensive, but to me this really points to the future of Apple, which is really what the story is about that as hardware sales slow. And this is not just an Apple phenomenon, this is globally, we've talked about this before on earlier episodes of Gadget Lab, smartphone sales are slowing around the globe. The market is pretty much saturated. People are replacing their new phones less frequently. You can get a really good secondhand phone, mid-range phones are pretty great, macroeconomic factors. All these reasons. People are being slower to upgrade their phones. And last quarter Apple reported a 2 percent dip in iPhone sales. Now, that is typically a slow quarter the summer quarter for Apple because everyone knows the new iPhone is coming in September. But the area of Apple's business that grew tremendously was its services business. And services includes things like iCloud, App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV+. It's credit card, which we can only get here in the United States. I have one. It's pretty great credit card.
Michael Calore: Also titanium.
Lauren Goode: I never thought I'd say those words. It's a pretty great credit card. Also titanium. But this is all part of Apple's ballooning services business and this is a huge part of the company's future. And so really the iCloud thing, it was remarkable to me that they were just… It was like an offhand, "oh by the way." I was like, this is it. This is where we're all headed paying Apple 50 to 60 bucks a month to store our stuff.
Michael Calore: And I think it's important to note that the new Pro model phone, it has the capability to capture spatial video, which is basically video that has 3D metadata in it, and it does this by capturing depth information while you're shooting video and it uses two cameras. Those files are bigger. They also have a headset coming out next year, the Vision Pro that is going to be able to do spatial stuff on it. You may need more storage for whatever you capture, whatever you consume for that. So our needs as users of these devices for data storage is also growing. The photos are bigger than ever.
Lauren Goode: Totally.
Michael Calore: The lossless audio files are bigger than ever.
Lauren Goode: Yeah. Julian brought up a good point as we were gapping before we started taping, all of the photos you capture now are going to be at a minimum 24-MP images and then the onboard storage for iPhones has not changed. You're still starting with 128 GB of internal storage for most phones except for the brand new Pro Max phone which is going to start at 256 GB of storage. So on the device itself, people are just going to start running out of storage much more quickly with this super heavy media that they're trying to store on their phone. And so they're just going to keep going more and more towards iCloud. And that is a big service for Apple,
Adrienne So: And that's not even to mention the whole Apple ecosystem. I'm not sure if I am the only one here who actually pays for Apple Arcade and their commitment to online mobile gaming. And it was just like, "Oh my God, are you going to be able to play Assassin's Creed on your phone?" And whether that is actually going to happen or now that the Apple Watch is becoming a much more capable sports watch and able to measure all of these much more advanced metrics, if people are actually going to start using Fitness Plus or any of the attendant … The more storage you offer and the more services they have, the more thoroughly you get enmeshed in this system.
Lauren Goode: Totally. Especially if you have kids, right? And your kids happen to have iPhones or iPod Touches too, then they're into the gaming and they're taking lots of photos and all that stuff. And so it makes sense if you have some kind of family bundle at some point to pay that much for iCloud. But the lock-in is a great point too. And if I may give a little shameless plug for my other podcast, Have a Nice Future, another WIRED podcast that we taped this week with Cory Doctorow. I mean we get really nerdy, but it's a delightful conversation about lock-in ecosystem, lock-in and a lack of interoperability between services and switching costs, which is an economics term for basically the hassle of taking data portability, taking all your data from one service and deciding to move to another because it's such a great hassle. A lot of people don't bother to do it. So when you start paying Apple $60 per month for iCloud, you store your whole life in there, your family's whole life in there. You're not only paying that upfront cost, but eventually you could be paying a switching cost if you ever decided to leave. And so that's pretty much how they get you behind the walls of that beautiful garden.
Adrienne So: I mean, that's exactly what happened to our family. I have a six-year-old and an eight-year-old who already know how to operate their own Apple Watches and their own iPads. And they're basically creating consumers at an embryonic level almost. They come out of the womb already able to double tap this is what.
Michael Calore: All right. Well, that feels like a good place to end. Thank you for that image.
Adrienne So: You're welcome.
Michael Calore: Let's take another break and then we'll come back with our recommendations.
Michael Calore: OK. This is the last part of the show where we go around the table literally this time because we're not on Zoom for once and we ask everybody to give us a recommendation that our listeners might enjoy. Adrienne, you go first. What is your recommendation?
Adrienne So: I have two, and you can't stop me. It's just to go online and watch the Tim Cook, Octavia Spencer skit, which is online and there's an actual part in it where you can see Tim Cook and Octavia Spencer go head-to-head and you're like, "OK, for one of you acting is your job and the other one it is not." But my actual recommendation is I'm wearing them right now, they're the Ripton hiker jeans. Last year I wrote a piece about how they're jorts and I did it. I got the word jorts on this podcast. They're super stretchy. They look like jeans and they're incredibly wearable. I've been putting my biking briefs under them. I wear them rock climbing and hiking and they look like jeans. And I in no way look like I'm capable of doing anything. And they have the longest jorts ever. They have jants, they have jeans now and they are incredible. They're high wasted, super stretchy, super comfortable. They've got gussets all over the place so you can mountain bike or do whatever you want in these. And they've got zip pockets. They've got studded buttons at the cuffs so I can cuff them up and put them in my little wellies when it starts raining in Oregon. So they rule.
Michael Calore: So what you're saying is that they are configurable for many different types of footwear for the active person?
Adrienne So: Many types of footwear, many types of activities. I was climbing with a friend this summer and she was like, "Have you been wearing the same jorts this whole time?" And I was like, "Yes." And now I can have the same pair all through the winter, so it rules.
Michael Calore: Ripped in.
Lauren Goode: How much are they?
Adrienne So: Ripton. They're $118. I think they have a bunch of different washes. There's like an acid-washed one if you want to go full Bret Michaels this winter.
Michael Calore: And there's men and women's cuts.
Adrienne So: Yes. And they have overalls too.
Michael Calore: Nice. Good rec.
Lauren Goode: Good recommendations. Oh, we should also note too that regarding Octavia Spencer's participation in the Apple event, that was a pre-taped thing and I asked an Apple spokesperson about it because of the SAG strike, and they seemed pretty concerned about how Apple was going to be perceived and immediately got back to me and said that commercials and promotional work for brands and retailers are not impacted by the SAG strike. So that is how Octavia was able to tape that.
Michael Calore: Hallelujah.
Adrienne So: Thank God.
Michael Calore: OK, Julian, you get to go next. What is your recommendation?
Julian Chokkattu: My recommendation is something that blew our video producer Alicia's mind at the Apple event. I brought a … It's called the AnkerWork M650. Not a great name.
Michael Calore: Cool name.
Julian Chokkattu: It tells you nothing of what it does, but it is essentially just wireless microphones. And the just beauty of it is that it comes in almost like a wireless earbuds case and it's all magnetically pops into their own slot and they all charge automatically. The case acts like a charging brick as well. And it has a little transmitter and they come with cable that you can connect to your camera, but they also come with two little adapters that you can use to switch between Lightning and USB-C. So it was just super handy to just quickly switch between devices and you could just throw the thing on someone's shirt, all wireless, no cables, and the sound quality is great. It did great noise cancellation in a very, very, very loud hands-on demo area. And Alicia's mind was blown. I was like, "Wow, I should get the word of this thing out there a little bit more." Not that Anker needs introductions or anything, but they make all the popular accessories and all.
Michael Calore: This is Anker, A-N-K-E-R.
Julian Chokkattu: Yes. They make all the popular accessories all on Amazon. AnkerWork is just like their, I don't know, work titling for more professional folks.
Michael Calore: It's pro. It's pro.
Julian Chokkattu: Yeah, it's a pro product I guess. But if you need to record yourself and have someone else also in that little thing, then you can just use this one thing. I think it's about 250 bucks.
Adrienne So: As someone who Alicia has had to personally mic up for multiple events and who tends to go to events dressed in jammies, she has spent so much time trying to thread all of her wires and clip things onto my clothes and that the fact that she could just put something on my shirt and then just walk off things, it's the USB-C port of portable mics.
Julian Chokkattu: That's a good way of putting it.
Michael Calore: Solid. OK, Lauren. What's your recommendation?
Lauren Goode: I'm going to caveat this with, I haven't actually listened to this podcast episode yet, but I'm going to, and I'm so certain I'm going to love it that I'm going to recommend it to our listeners. And let's just say hypothetically, maybe the reason why I wasn't able to listen to it this morning in the car is because I went to go plug in a cable in my car this morning that was suddenly unusable for reasons I shall not get into. I may be under an embargo, but yes, I wasn't able to listen to this podcast episode in the car this morning as I was planning to. It's SmartLess. I've recommended SmartLess on the show before. Love those guys. But it's SmartLess interviewing Kara Swisher, who is a friend of the Gadget Lab pod. She has been on the pod before. She's also my landlord. Yes, I rent one of Kara Swisher's properties. I used to work with her. I used to work for her. We've known each other for a very long time and she's not giving me a reduction on rent for pimping this podcast episode, but I can't imagine two things I would enjoy more coming together than the SmartLess guys and Kara. And so she's on the show this week, so that's what I'm going to be listening to and I recommend that everyone else give it a listen as well. Apparently they asked her a lot about AI.
Michael Calore: Oh.
Lauren Goode: Yeah. This is what I hear.
Michael Calore: OK.
Lauren Goode: That's all I have to say. She messaged me something else last night and I said, "I can't believe you didn't include me when you went to … I would've just fangirled the SmartLess taping." And she said, "It was remote." Well, I could have lurked on Zoom. I mean, that wouldn't have been weird at all.
Michael Calore: Yeah. The fact that you would've fangirled, I think, is why she did not.
Lauren Goode: I know how to keep it under wraps. OK. But that's what I recommend.
Michael Calore: Nice.
Lauren Goode: And, Mike, the person who has steered our excellent Apple coverage all week this week, what's your recommendation?
Michael Calore: It has nothing to do with Apple or even apples.
Lauren Goode: Nice.
Michael Calore: But it is food. I want to recommend shatta.
Lauren Goode: Say more.
Michael Calore: It is a Levantine hot sauce. So it's a hot sauce that comes from, I think, there are Yemeni variants. Most of the shatta that we encounter here in the US is from Lebanon or Palestine, or Jordan. So this is a hot sauce that is pretty common in Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. It is also pretty common around the world in other variants. It is nothing but crushed fermented chili peppers with salt and vinegar, and olive oil. There are many different ways to make it. There are also many different ways to buy it, but it is super versatile and I've been using it on just about everything. So whatever you normally put hot sauce on, like your eggs, pizza, sandwich, bowl of hummus, I don't know. What do people put hot sauce on? Whatever you put hot sauce on, you can put shatta on and it is delightful. If you've ever gotten a falafel or a shawarma and they said, "Would you like it spicy?" And you said, "Yes," they're putting shatta on your falafel and your shawarma. So it's that flavor. It's kind of tangy. It's pretty spicy. The stuff that you buy at the store is generally not too spicy. There are some very common brands that you can find at Whole Foods and all of the globally minded food purveyors in big cities. I would recommend that you go for the ones that are the hardcore Palestinian hot sauces, the Palestinian shatta or the hardcore Yemeni shatta. That stuff is awesome because it's twice as hot and it's twice as tangy and it usually comes in a bigger jar, so you get a lot more of it.
Adrienne So: OK. Mike, on a scale of Frank's buffalo sauce at one and pure capsaicin a 10, where on the scale is shatta?
Michael Calore: Oh, well, I mean, three or four, because hot sauces are crazy, but I will say that it is hotter than your average hot sauce that you get at Taco Bell or that's on the table at your diner. But it provides the same kind of heat, but it's more flavorful because it's fermented, for one, but also it's really tangy and acidic.
Julian Chokkattu: Is it that bright red color?
Michael Calore: Yeah. It's crushed chili peppers.
Adrienne So: What have you been—
Michael Calore: It can also be green.
Adrienne So: What is your favorite thing to eat shatta on? That's the first time I've ever said that word out loud.
Michael Calore: Avocado toast.
Adrienne So: Oh, that sounds fricking delicious.
Julian Chokkattu: Sounds good. Avocado toast.
Michael Calore: Yeah. I do two slices of toast and then a layer of shatta. And it's kind of runny, so you got to eat it fast because otherwise it'll soak through the bread and then avocado on top of that and then za'atar on top. And it's delightful.
Lauren Goode: You're never going to be able to afford a home if you keep getting shatta and avocado toast.
Michael Calore: I think it's fine. I think we're all going to be fine. All right. Well, thank you all of you for your recommendations and thank you all of you for being here in San Francisco with us this week.
Lauren Goode: Super great to have you guys in studio.
Julian Chokkattu: Thank you for having us.
Adrienne So: So happy to be here in person.
Michael Calore: And thanks to all of you for listening. If you have feedback about our show, you can find all of us on the various social medias. Just check the show notes. Our producer is the excellent Boone Ashworth and we will be back next week. Until then, goodbye.
[Gadget Lab outro theme music plays]
Michael Calore: … And we will be back next week. Until then, goodbye.
[A dog barks in the background. Everyone laughs.]
Adrienne So: Oh my god, what great timing.
Lauren Goode: Perfect timing. That was great. So great.
Michael Calore: All right.