Gadget Lab Podcast: Pinterest’s Evan Sharp on What Makes Good Software

Why did Apple’s Jony Ive name Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp as one of the figures in technology who he believes will change the future?

If you were wondering about that, here’s a great chance to learn a little bit more about Sharp and make the call yourself. During the 25th anniversary festival for WIRED last week, the Gadget Lab team had the chance to interview Sharp on stage, among other high-profile technologists. Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing these taped conversations as a part of the podcast.

In this particularly interview, Mike and Arielle ask Sharp what it’s like to receive praise from Ive, how machine learning is changing software design, and whether Pinterest can remain once of the internet’s last happy places.

Show notes: Click here to read more about Jony Ive’s nomination of Evan Sharp for our 25th anniversary issue. And here’s Lauren’s WIRED 25 interview with Kevin Systrom, which we mentioned in this week’s show.

Recommendations this week: Lauren recommends the Dakota backpack from Dagne Dover. Mike recommends these awesome smartphone accessory lenses made by Moment.

Send the Gadget Lab hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen

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Amazon’s Whisper Mode Is Finally Fixing the Worst Thing About Alexa: It’s Too Damn Loud

Amazon Alexa isn’t self-aware—yet—but starting today the voice-enabled assistant will start being at least a little less oblivious about its surroundings. That’s because Amazon has begun rolling out a ‘Whisper Mode’ to its Echo smart speakers, which can detect when users make requests in hushed tones, prompting Alexa respond in kind.

Whisper Mode, one of seemingly dozens of new products and features announced by Amazon last month, went live for some (but not all) Echo owners today in the U.S. and basically works as advertised. To see if your Amazon Echo device has it, simply whisper to Alexa and see if it whispers back. As of this writing, my first-generation Amazon Echo did not have the new feature, but The Verge’s Dan Seifert tweeted video of a newer model that does:

According to Amazon, Whisper Mode is one of several new Alexa features—like email integration, location-based reminders, and Alexa Hunches, which can proactively suggest commands you typically request before you make them—that will become available on “select new and existing Echo devices in the coming months.” It’s not clear if owners of third-party Alexa-enabled devices will also get these cloud-powered Alexa upgrades soon, or ever, so shop accordingly this holiday upgrade season.

But at least Echo owners who get Whisper Mode will enjoy being able to ask Alexa requests and questions in the early morning or late at night without rousing the whole house. Alexa, whatever you do, please don’t wake the baby.