clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Recode Daily: What it’s really like to live with so-called smart devices

Plus: the fight for the future of TV, YouTube wants to feature more of its creators as trending, and Google employees stage a sit-in.

An upward trending curved line graph titled “Assistant anger”, showing “How I want to kill Alexa” on the X axis and “How many times I must repeat myself” on the Y axis. T
A very scientific representation of assistant anger v. how much I want to kill Alexa.
Rani Molla, Zac Freeland/Vox
Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

Here’s what it’s like when you let smart devices invade your home. Shoppers are expected to buy 862 million smart devices this year — things like speakers, security cameras, thermostats, light bulbs. But are they really making our lives any better? Rani Molla decided to find out by letting a dozen smart devices take over her apartment. As Molla writes, she was “armed with a healthy dose of cynicism” but also “intrigued” by these devices’ potential usefulness. She chronicles her mix of reactions — bemusement, excitement, and, at times, comical frustration as she integrates the items into her daily routine.
[Rani Molla / Recode]

[Want to get the Recode Daily in your inbox? Subscribe here.]

The fight for the bundle is the war for the future of TV. Since around 2012, the longtime “crucial piece of TV business architecture” — bundles of channels lumped together in cable TV subscriptions — have been on the decline. That’s because consumers are increasingly subscribing to an a la carte menu of digital streaming networks and one-off shows instead. That’s leaving major TV programmers like Disney and AMC Networks trying to “sell extra content to consumers on the internet, while keeping their core stuff locked inside a bundle.” But it’s a plan that might not work so long as this extra content is sold as an add-on instead of a replacement for expensive monthly packages. As Kafka writes, “interpreting TV distributors’ moves to bulk up their bundles isn’t a sign of strength for the bundle — it’s a sign of weakness,” as competition mounts — not just from companies like Netflix but tech giants like Amazon, Apple, and Google, which are “nibbling around the edges” of selling media subscriptions.
[Peter Kafka / Recode]

YouTube wants half of the trending videos on its site to come from its own creators rather than outside sources. In a quarterly letter from YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, the company announced that half of all videos on its trending tab would come from YouTubers, “with the remainder coming from music and traditional media.” As TechCrunch’s Jonathan Shieber writes, the move “is meant to help ease concerns the site’s biggest stars have” as many of these users have grown “worried that their footprint on the trending tab is shrinking as the company favors ‘safer’ content coming from other, more traditional, media like repurposed television clips, movie trailers, and music videos.” But it also raises questions about how the company will balance the desire to promote videos made by YouTubers with the responsibility to take down content that violates community guidelines such as the video of the recent Christchurch shooting.
[Jonathan Shieber / TechCrunch]

On the six-month anniversary of the Google walkout, employees launched a sit-in to protest alleged retaliation by management against workers. Hundreds of employees participated in the sit-in at Google’s offices around the world, including in New York and Cambridge, a source told Recode. Last week, two organizers of the Google walkout — Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton — alleged that management had penalized them after they helped put together the historic protest against the company’s handling of sexual harassment claims. Earlier this week, several other Google employees shared stories of alleged retaliation in a public Medium post. The company has said they prohibit retaliation and denied charges in recent statements to the press.
[Colin Lecher / The Verge]

Top Stories from Recode

Facebook is sharing data to figure out how it messes with democracy. It’s part science — and part PR.
[Emily Stewart]

Apple is spending even more of its huge tax cut on Wall Street stock buybacks. Investors, not workers, are the big winners in the iPhone maker’s tax savings.
[Emily Stewart]

This is Cool

Air conditioners as planet saviors.

Recode and Vox have joined forces to uncover and explain how our digital world is changing — and changing us. Subscribe to Recode podcasts to hear Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka lead the tough conversations the technology industry needs today.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.