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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Android’s Getting Brighter and Bubblier, and We Can’t Wait

Google made a slew of announcements at its IO developer conference this week. A whole new look for Android! New privacy features! Better smartwatch software! A friggin’ hologram booth! Some of the updates were weird, unfinished prototypes. Others are set to begin seeping into the software millions of people use in the coming weeks.

On this episode of Gadget Lab, WIRED senior associate editor Julian Chokkattu joins us to talk about Android 12, the other important Google announcements, and why they matter.

Show Notes

Read about everything Google announced here. Read Lauren’s story about Project Starline here. Read Julian’s story about Google’s Wear OS upgrades here. Read Lily’s story about Android’s new privacy features here. Read Lauren’s story about Snap Spectacles here.


Julian recommends taking some time to evaluate your desk setup so you can improve your posture and avoid injury. Mike recommends the music history podcast And Introducing and its miniseries on the book Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad. Lauren recommends ice cream.

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.

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Lauren Goode: Mike.

Michael Calore: Lauren.

LG: Mike, what is the last thing that you Googled?

MC: I think it was Snap Spectacles.

LG: Oh man. We're really just living in the metaverse, aren't we?

MC: You wrote a story about it, and I wanted to send the link to somebody, so I Googled it.

LG: Well, thank you. But today we're not actually talking about snap spectacles. We are talking about, well, Google.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]

LG: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I'm Lauren Goode. I'm a senior writer at WIRED.

MC: And I'm Michael Calore. I'm a senior editor at WIRED.

LG: We are also joined by WIRED senior associate editor, Julian Chokkattu, who … Julian, we just realized the other day we actually haven't had you on the podcast in all of 2021. How is that possible? You used to come on regularly. It's really great to have you back.

Julian Chokkattu: Thank you for having me. It's just not been so gadgety of late, but I think that's starting to change.

LG: OK. Well, you're on now. We're very happy about it, and we're just happy it's not Gilad again. OK. So this week was Google IO … Gilad's going to be so mad at me … This week was Google IO. It's Google's big annual developer conference. Google announced a whole bunch of new software features in the opening keynote, which happened on Tuesday. And we're going to talk about those announcements here today and unpack what it all means. So in the second half of the show, we're going to get into this smaller, weirder stuff. No, we're not going to be talking about cubits and quantum computers, mostly because we don't understand it, but it's going to get weird in the second half. But first, let's focus on the big stuff, because I think the changes that will affect the most people are the updates to Android. Google is clearly trying to improve the whole Android user experience. And that includes some extra attention to privacy features.

Julian, what are some of the new Android features that stuck out to you?

JC: Yeah, so the main things that you'll probably see the most are the huge, bubbly, bright colors that are now all over the interface. One of the things that Google is touting is this new Material You design language. It's an upgrade over the previous Material Design. And basically, now the intention is that you the user will be able to customize the entire color palette of your favorite apps and icons, everything to your own little, fun tones, based on a collection that Google provides.

So, that's something that will come to Google's products later this year, and then maybe Android later on. But overall, you're just going to be able to customize the entire color palette of all your apps, which is fun and unique, and I think people will overall really like that. And also that also extends to all sorts of little changes that you can do hin the Android operating system. So for example, if you change your wallpaper background, the entire interface will pick up on those tones in your wallpaper and just change the UI to match some of those tones. So you have a unified theme. And yeah, I think that's just stuff that seems pretty small, but overall just makes it feel like a more mature operating system.

And of course, the more maybe controversial stuff is if you pull down the notification shade, you'll see these giant blob icons, which they look like the control center in iOS. And they take up so much more room than before. So now when you pull it down, I've been testing the beta on the Pixel 5, and there's barely any room for me to see one or two notifications. It takes up a lot of space.

To be fair, this is a small screened phone, so it might be better on other, bigger devices, but I think that's a double-edged sword, in that it makes it so much actually easier to use. I can quickly access all of those quick setting tiles. Some of those now include things like Google Pay and smart home controls, which used to be relegated in a different area of the Android interface, but it just makes it all easier to use. But the trade-off is you might have to squint your eyes a little bit. So I don't know, toss up over there.

MC: Yeah. I use the dropdown for quick settings multiple times a day, to switch between Bluetooth devices that I'm connected to, headphones and speakers and things like that. I am annoyed by how small it is. So I'm glad that it's getting bigger, but this is something that design nerds call information density. It is a big trade-off because all of a sudden, you've got a phone that the person is used to because there's so much stuff on the screen. And then you're basically taking half of that stuff that they're used to being there, and you're putting it somewhere else. And they have to find it. And that creates this friction, and they're going to hate it, but it's probably better for usability in the long run.

JC: Yeah. And I think a large part of that is phones are getting bigger. And sure, some companies are making smaller phones, but the trend is still less bezels, more screen. And if it helps in any meaningful way that I can access that button all the way in the top left corner of the phone a little easier, I'm for it. The good thing is there are improvements to widgets, which maybe will mitigate some of those trade-offs. Overall, they're getting a big design overhaul. Of course, a lot of that will depend on if third-party developers will actually adhere to those design changes, but hopefully you're going to get more widgets and better widgets to utilize, instead of relying on that dropdown menu for your notifications.

And widgets just look better overall. They'll also match the theme of the system. And widgets are getting better. And it's strange because Apple debuted widgets last year for the first time, and Android has had widgets for so long, but they've just been broken and messy for the longest time as well. So now it's-

MC: Ugly.

JC: … weird. And ugly. Yes. So it's nice to see a Google playing catch up again.

LG: What would you say were the most significant privacy changes coming to Android?

JC: A couple of similar features, if you've come from using the last version of iOS. So for example, if you open up the camera or an app is using microphone, it'll indicate that with a little green dot on the top right corner of the screen, and you also have more control over your location data, and whether you are allowing some of these apps to use your camera and microphone. So for example, from the quick settings itself, you can just shut off access to the camera and the microphone right there. So once you turn that off, if an app that requires a camera opens up, it just won't show anything. So it's a nice, granular control over those two functions.

And also, there's a new function for if an app is requesting your location data, you have now a new option to give them an approximate location. So, instead of giving a very precise location for an app, say for something like the weather app, now they'll get an approximate, rough idea of where you are, which honestly makes sense. My weather app does not need to know exactly where I am to give me weather data.

MC: That's actually really important. I'm reminded of a location service that Yahoo launched about a decade ago, it was called Fire Eagle. And when I reported on it, the cool thing was you could set it to auto report your location, based on your available location data, but you could also manually input a location. So if you were sitting in San Francisco, you could tell it that you were in Toronto or Dubai.

And when I was talking to some privacy experts, actually that was their favorite thing about it was the fact that you could lie. And they told me that every location service should allow you to lie or at least in some way obfuscate your location. So actually, I really appreciate this because sometimes just telling Google your approximate location is good enough and more desirable. If you just want a list of all of the best Thai restaurants in your city, all they need to know is what city you're in. They don't need to know your exact cross streets.

JC: Yes, definitely. I think it's definitely a useful feature overall. Definitely took a long time coming.

And the other big thing is that there's this new Android Private Compute Core, and it's basically a walled-off sandbox garden, where a lot of the machine learning algorithms are going to take place there. So things like on the Pixel devices, you have a feature called Now Playing, where the phone automatically detects music that's playing in the background. That's always been on device, but now all of this stuff is being shoved into this walled garden. So it really has no access whatsoever to being able to connect to a network and send stuff or send any data from the cloud. So that means no one else can also try and pry into that data. It just gives you a little more peace of mind for some of the AI-specific tasks that are happening on your phone. And I'm going to assume that means there are some more AI features that will be coming later on into other Android devices and Pixel devices this year that will fall into this Android Private Compute Core, which is a bit of a long name also.

LG: Man, if I had a dollar for every time we hear on device these days. Am I right, Mike?

MC: Seriously, seriously.

LG: If I had a dollar for every time I heard on device, I still wouldn't be able to afford an iPhone. So to that point, I do have an iPhone, though. I think you two both use Android phones much more than I do. And Mike, you are a full-time Pixel user. I use Pixels … Well actually, I have a Pixel here. I shouldn't say that. I have a pixel here that I use for very specific applications, but my daily driver is an iPhone, which brings me to my next question, which is, will any of these Android 12 features, whenever they actually roll out to all the Android phones, are they enough to sway someone who's either currently on an iPhone or maybe thinking about leaving the Android universe and going to iPhone? Will these keep them on Android?

JC: It's a hard question because overall, I think no. I think there are … Anytime Google does anything to improve privacy and security in Android, I don't think you're ever going to convince someone who is an Apple user that they can do it better. So I think there's nothing really that can pull those people away from using an iPhone, as opposed to an Android phone.

And overall here, I think an Android 12, it's a much more polished system, but I also don't see any particular feature that sticks out and says, this is something that I really want to switch my entire ecosystem for. Maybe this … it's a very big maybe, but there is one feature that's coming. We don't really know too much about it. Google says that they're trying to improve the Android camera, and they are working with 15 image makers to improve the computational processing. So when you're taking photos of someone with darker skin, you're going to have photos that will ideally better reflect their skin tone and better expose the image, and deal with curly and frizzy hair better when you're doing a portrait mode image. So things like that, that seems like a very nice touch that might actually impact a lot of people's daily lives when they take photos. Again, I don't know if that's enough to sway someone to switch an entire ecosystem, but that does seem like a perk.

MC: I also look forward to Apple launching that feature in iOS within a year, by the way. That's the way these things work. Phones just chase each other. And that's good. It's good because there's competition, and it's good that the innovations get copied because then, no matter what phone you use, you get something that is similar.

LG: Yeah. I love the competition between the duopoly of Apple and Google.

MC: Yes. Here are your two choices, Apple and Google. Neither of them are perfect. Whichever one works for you. Julian, if I have an Android phone, and I am interested in trying the big, bubbly, more colorful Android 12, what do I do?

JC: Well, the beta is available now. I do not recommend it because ,most importantly, I can't tweet. The Twitter app just shuts down immediately when I try to send a tweet. So if that's important to you, like it is for me, don't do it.

MC: That's a feature, not a bug, man.

JC: But basically, there is a beta available right now for a bunch of phones, actually more than I think ever before. So if you have another Android device, you might be able to try it out. I still recommend waiting. The official release is going to come by sometime in August or September.

LG: All right. We're going to take a quick break, and then we'll be right back to talk more about Google IO.


LG: Welcome back to Gadget Lab. We are unpacking Google IO, the company's annual software developer conference, which happened this week, virtually of course, but we were all there, at our desks, covering it, virtually of course.

We've just talked about some of the changes that are going to be coming to Android later this year, but now we're going to go both very small and very big. And I guess very small, we'll start with the wrist. Julian Wear OS. For a while, I thought that Google just completely forgot it existed. We weren't really sure what was going on with the Fitbit acquisition. And then Google said, "Hey, here's Wear OS." Now they're calling it Wear. Tell us what's new.

JC: Yeah, for a while I thought Google forgot it also existed. It basically is this … They launched Android Wear seven years ago, it changed to Wear OS sometime later. And of late, they just haven't really announced a bunch of features or anything. Now that's changing. Fitbit is finally under Google, and they are now strangely co-developing Wear with Samsung. Samsung owns its own Tizen operating system that has been using for its Galaxy smartwatches. And those have been wildly popular. And you could say that those are the closest competitor to the Apple Watch, and being able to tap into Samsung, which is also the biggest provider for Android phones around the world, it is a pretty big deal because now you can deploy this new Wear later this year and have a much wider user base, at least hopefully. That's the idea.

And basically, they're taking a bunch of smarts from what Samsung has been able to do with its own Tizen operating system, injecting that into this new version of Wear. And you'll see things from better battery life on the watch to just better performance across the board. And then there's this Fitbit aspect that is going to pull in a lot of those Fitbit functions and features that you're familiar with, and putting that into Wear OS for much better, accurate tracking, heart rate monitoring that won't kill your battery life.

And a lot of that will also lead into Fitbit devices running Wear. Later this year, there's going to be premium Fitbit smartwatches. And of course, Samsung is going to come up with its own. There's rumors of a Pixel watch later this year as well. And hopefully, it just means a better smartwatch that runs Wear. And finally, Google's also decided to put its own effort in there and create some first party apps for its own smartwatch platform. So YouTube music finally is going to have an app, and you'll have offline listening. They're partnering with other developers to bring new and existing apps and improve them on the platform as well, so Spotify will also have offline listening. And it just seems like they finally give a crap about having a smartwatch platform and utilizing their resources.

LG: I do wonder what this means for competition though. Because on the one hand, maybe Google will finally make a wearable decade compete with the hugely popular Apple Watch. But on the other hand, let's talk about Fitbit.

Fitbit, just a little backstory for those who aren't aware, Fitbit was the market-leading wearable maker for, I would say, several years after it first launched back in 2007. Then the Apple Watch came out and crushed Fitbit's prospects. Google announced it was going to buy Fitbit at the end of 2019. The deal underwent a lot of scrutiny, both in the EU and the US. It has finally passed muster. Now, as Julian mentioned, Fitbit is a part of Google.

But Fitbit is known for making still pretty popular, relatively cheap wristbands. People do buy Fitbit smartwatches, but they also buy the lightweight rubber bands that you just wear on your wrist. Samsung, on the other hand, tends to make a little bit more flashy, jazzy, fancy smartwatches. And then Google has been tinkering with this Wear software for a while.

If all three of those combine forces, what does that mean in terms of having different product categories, having different segments in the wearable market, having that cheap $100 wristband option or even $70 wristband option, compared to the $300 smartwatch? Doesn't more consolidation actually mean less competition?

JC: It's tricky because you fall into the same argument that people were having with Windows phone and competing with Android and iOS. A lot of the issues that were plaguing Windows was that no one really wanted to develop for them. And the problem is no one wants to develop for a platform if there's no users. So, the problem with Wear and Tizen is there were not enough users really to pool resources and for developers to create apps for those services. So I think the idea here is that, if we all work together, at least we can get enough developers to come on board.

And then, more people would likely flock over if there are also more apps to use and more of a benefit to gain from having a larger, wider audience. So I think it's a cat chasing a mouse thing, where you're never going to have one perfect solution because you need the user base, but then you also need the developers, and both need to exist, really, for something to succeed.

MC: Another point to that is that the main selling point for the Apple Watch is as a fitness tracker, it's the health features on the Apple Watch. So when Google buys Fitbit, it gets all of the people who are really good at health tracking on the Google team. And then when Google partners with Samsung, the Samsung watches, the Fitbit watches, and any Wear OS watch is now going to have all of the smarts that have been at Fitbit and have been exclusive to Fitbit for years. So now Google has a wearable platform that is also really good at tracking fitness stuff and health stuff.

LG: Great. So, we'll just send all of our sleep data directly to Google now. I should just email, I should just wake up an email Sundar and be like, "Sundar, I think I only slept seven hours and 34 minutes last night. I tossed and turned quite a bit."

MC: You should get one of those devices that auto tweets your sleep habits, like the scales that auto tweet your weight.

JC: That's a thing?

MC: Oh yeah.

LG: That's been a thing for a while, actually.

MC: As you can imagine, not very popular. Lauren, I want to move on because we have to talk about Project Starline.

LG: Yeah, definitely not something you're going to put on your wrist.

MC: This is a … Well, I'll let you describe it. But basically, it's a video telepresence booth.

LG: Yeah. That's a good way to describe it. It's hyper-realistic presence. OK. So, this came through maybe a month or so ago, at this point. I heard from Google that they were going to be showing off this thing at Google IO that was coming directly out of the AR/VR department of the company.

And so, I immediately assumed they're going to be doing AR glasses. Everybody's doing AR glasses. These are going to be AR glasses, the follow-up to Google Glass. And so, they invited WIRED in for a briefing. I went. I think this was actually my first time in a Silicon Valley office since February of 2020 or whatever it was. So I went in for my in-person meeting, which was very exciting.

So I was escorted to this booth, tucked away in an office in Mountain View. And it looks like a diner booth. There are two benches facing each other with this little table in the middle. And there are depth sensors and cameras and lights, and directly in front of you is this 65 inch diagonal light field display. And this person appeared in front of me. It was the product manager for this product, Project Starline.

And he looked like he was there in person. There was depth and shadows, and he was holding an apple, and the apple looked pretty real, but he was not in person. He looked like he was trapped in a clear box, is the way I thought about it. But he was not in person. He was on a different floor of the building. And this is their holographic, hyper-realistic, volume metric, whatever you want to call it, video conferencing system that they've been tooling away on for the past five years.

MC: So, what you're looking at is essentially just a really high quality 3D television, but you're not wearing glasses.

LG: That's correct. You're not wearing glasses. The person appears to just pop out in front of you. They're life-sized. Google has applied all kinds of special effects to the imagery, to add different shadows and shading and depth and light to make them seem like they're right in front of you. And then it also has that effect that maybe you've had before with 3D TV or a flat screen TV, where the moment you go to the side a little bit, you look at it from a side viewing angle, the person just flattens out again and disappears. So all of a sudden, all of the magic is gone. But if you're directly in front of them, in the seat that Google put me in and said, "Sit there," the person actually looks like they're in front of you. It was pretty wild.

And also, they're using spatial audio. So when a person talks through this video conferencing system, you hear them on both sides of you, in a way that you might in a natural environment.

MC: Wow. So we've all been on Zoom calls for over a year now, and we know that there's this awkward thing that happens where people talk over each other, and that's usually due to latency issues where the connections aren't exactly synced up. So I imagine with all of this visual and audio information and all the 3D information coming in, there must be some of that same problem happening, right? The latency problem.

LG: Yes. And I'm glad you brought that up because this is where we really get into Pied Piper from HBO Silicon Valley, because we're going to talk about compression algorithms. Google is using the standard technology that it uses for Google Meet, just the video conferencing app that we've all been using. It's pretty boring. It's a Zoom competitor or a Microsoft Teams competitor. They're fundamentally using that video conferencing technology to make this synchronous chat happen.

But they say they have developed a special compression algorithm specifically for 3D video, that processes it really, really quickly, so that as you're talking to the person, it's all happening "in real time" and it doesn't feel like there's actually any latency in the conversation. So that was pretty cool. The booth I was in was hardwired. I couldn't get a direct answer from Google as to how fast the connection actually was.

They claim that at some point, it should be able to work over Google's standard office wifi connection, not sure how well it would work at home if all of your kids are Zoom schooling, and someone's watching Netflix, and you're using a pretty standard 25 megabit or whatever it is connection. So I saw it in a very controlled environment, but it was pretty cool, I will say.

Now, of course, you're not going to be able to access this. This is a prototype. We have no idea when it's actually coming out. Google says they're going to be trialing the Project Starline booths with a couple of enterprise clients in the coming months. And then maybe in the meantime, they'll take some of these technologies that they've been experimenting with over the past five years, and they'll start to apply them to something like Google Meet. But this is really futuristic, probably wildly expensive stuff.

JC: This is the stepping stone to Star Wars holograms, so …

LG: It is.

JC: I'm all for it.

MC: So if this is what the AR and VR teams at Google have been working on, does this mean that they don't really care about all the other AR and VR stuff that they've been cramming down everybody's throats for the last five years?

LG: That is an excellent question. You wouldn't be wrong for thinking so, for a couple of reasons. One is that we know that the first version of Google Glass didn't really work. There was pretty strong reaction to it from just the public and how creepy it felt at the time. And we know that not many people actually bought it. And Google Glass, by the way, does still exist. And I know this because anytime you suggest in an article that Google Glass is dead, you got to Swift email from Google public relations telling you, "No, no, it's still alive. It's called Glass Enterprise part two," or something like that. And occasionally, I hear from people that … I live in Silicon Valley, so this actually happens. People will be like, "My doctor was using Google Glass today." And I'm like, that is bizarre.

MC: Yikes.

LG: It is still out there, but I don't get the sense that all of their efforts are focused on that right now in this particular area of Google. And then, they had Project Daydream, which was their VR headset and hand controllers. And that was supposed to be not only the headset itself, but a platform for app makers, to make VR apps for Google. And the company ended up discontinuing that.

So I asked Clay Bavor, who heads up Google's AR and VR efforts, if Google is over the idea of a heads up display. And what he said is, look, there's something … And I'm paraphrasing at this point. There is something nice about going and just sitting down in this booth and not having to put something on and not worry about form factor and lightness and things like that. And still have this holographic video experience, this hyper-realistic video experience.

But I wouldn't discount Google working on a heads up display entirely. Everybody at this point, and we've talked about this a lot, Facebook, Microsoft, Snap, which we also wrote about today on WIRED.com, reportedly Apple are working on some version of augmented reality face displays. And I have to assume that Google has a bunch of prototypes in the basement somewhere that they're working on. Probably somewhere next to Google Glass Enterprise Edition II or whatever it's called.

MC: Well, I look forward to recording this podcast over Starline the next time we're all in lockdown because of a global health emergency.

LG: Oh, thanks a lot for that, Mike. When we come back, we'll try to offer you some uplifting recommendations.


LG: Julian, as our guest of honor, what's your recommendation this week?

JC: It's not a particular product or anything really. It's just over the last year, I have been at my desk probably a little more than before, and I have developed a very, very mild case of carpal tunnel. And so, I have been working for a while on trying to figure out the best way to mitigate it. And I spoke to an expert, and I just want to let people know that we really should take some time to make sure your monitor is sitting at eye level, so you're not craning your neck. You want to make sure your table is elevated to the right levels so that you're not bending your hands when you're typing or using your mouse.

One other thing I've been exploring and we're considering writing about on WIRED.com is also when you're purchasing a mouse, you want to make sure it's a right sized mouse. For example, there's a lot of mice that are just very, very small. I have really big hands, so it doesn't make sense to really use it. And my posture was changing because I was gripping it the wrong way, but having a bigger mouse made it go away.

So, just take some time to evaluate your desk set up and get off the couch. And don't crane and type like that. Just try to be a little more holistic about how you're working, and it just will save you a lot of pain. I'll just say that.

MC: What about lying in bed? Is that OK?

JC: Yes. No, no, don't do that.

MC: I've taken to lying flat on my back and just closing my eyes and humming until the void appears. And that seems to be the best way for me to work.

JC: Yeah. I would say that's a very good option. One day, we'll have computers just strapped into our eyes so we can actually apply in bed and just work like that.

MC: Oh, boy.

LG: It all comes full circle.

MC: Maybe a warm gel bath.

LG: All right, Mike, what's your recommendation this week?

MC: I'm going to recommend a podcast. It's a music history podcast. It's called And Introducing, just two words, And Introducing. So I need to take you back 20 years because in 2001, a book came out by the journalist Michael Azerrad. It's called Our Band Could be Your Life. And there's a bunch of chapters in this book, and each chapter concentrates on the history of one band from the 1980s and 1990s underground. So there's chapters on Sonic Youth and The Replacements, Butthole Surfers, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi. Basically any big underground rock band in the 1980s is featured in this book.

So this podcast, to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of this very popular, very influential book, is doing one episode about each chapter. So you get one episode about each band that's in the book. To cap it all off, at the end they're going to have Michael Azerrad, the author of the book, on the podcast as an interview to cap it.

So, it's a pretty wild journey. You just get to do these deep dives into these bands. The hosts are really fun. You learn a lot. Even if you've read the book, there's still information to be learned. So that's my recommendation for anybody who's read that book and loved it, or anybody who has that book sitting on their shelf and has never fully absorbed it. And Introducing is bringing you inside of it.

LG: Mike, I just want to pause for a moment because I'm stunned. I think I'm stunned silent. Are you recommending a music podcast?

MC: Yes. A nerdy music history podcast.

LG: Oh my gosh. This is so out of character.

MC: It really is. I think maybe it's time I should just launch my own music history podcast.

LG: I think you should.

MC: It's what all my friends are doing. It seems like the hip thing to do.

LG: You'd be so good at it. You'd be a great … You could do a podcast about music history podcasts.

MC: Now we're talking. Now we're talking. Lauren, please tell us what music history podcasts do you recommend?

LG: As much as I made fun of Gilad earlier, my recommendation this week is actually very Gilad-like. I'm recommending ice cream.

MC: That is very Gilad-esque.

LG: That's it. Just ice cream. Please, I hope the vegans don't get upset. There's vegan ice cream out there too. Yeah. Or the lactose-intolerant out there. I'm very sorry, but I'm recommending ice cream.

MC: Always a strong recommendation, but why now?

LG: I happen to be on the East Coast right now, along with Julian. And it's very, very warm. I forgot how humid it is here. I feel the moisture just wicking out of me all day long. But I miss it here. I swear, guys.

And also, I'm staying with my brother's family, and my niece and nephew are here, and they're kids. They're teenagers, but they're kids, and they love ice cream. And so we've been going out for ice cream in the evenings, and it's just really nice. It's just a nice little slice of summer. I get to spend time with my niece and nephew. We went to this great little farm last night here, and sat outside and had some ice cream. I had vanilla with Heath Bar crunch and hot fudge topping. My niece had a ice cream called Play-Doh. It was bright yellow, and it actually looked like Play-Doh. It was actually nauseating to look at. My nephew … I don't remember what he had, but then he made fun of my mom, their grandmother, for getting pistachio. He was like, "It's such an old lady flavor." I was like, "Be nice."

So yeah, I don't know, just really enjoying it. So I recommend ice cream with your family and summer evenings.

MC: Julian, what's your favorite flavor, man?

JC: I could go for mint, pistachio, AmeriCone Dream is always a good one.

MC: Oh, the Ben & Jerry's AmeriCone Dream?

JC: Yeah. Yeah. The Stephen Colbert one. I think that's my current favorite, I'd say, but it changes often.

MC: Yeah.

LG: That's really good. That's a good one.

MC: One of my first jobs was working at Ben & Jerry's when I lived in Vermont. I scooped ice cream for a couple summers. I love Cherry Garcia.

JC: Interesting.

MC: I realize it's on-brand, but also it's really good ice cream.

LG: Are you recommending an ice cream that links back to a band? I'm shocked.

MC: Stop picking on me.

LG: Maybe one of these days, we'll be able to all get together in person and have ice cream.

MC: And we can hang out in the gel bath and eat it.

LG: Listen to And Introducing. All right. I love when things go off the rails. That is our show this week. Thank you so much, Julian, for joining us. We have to have you back on again soon.

JC: Thank you for having me.

LG: And thanks to all of you for listening. If you have feedback, you can find all of us on Twitter. Just check the show notes. We'll put our Twitter handles in there. And the show is produced by the excellent Boone Ashworth, who we will be sending ice cream. Goodbye.

[Gadget Lab outro theme music plays]

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