Do you hear that huge suction sound? It is the smartphone market

Surprise, surprise, smartphone sales are down again. According to technology analyst firm IDC, phone sales in the first quarter of 2023 are down nearly 15 percent year-on-year. sales have declined in recent fiscal quarters.

Much of the slowdown is likely due to a confluence of pandemic-related economic factors such as chaotic supply lines and soaring inflation. But another aspect that might explain why fewer people are buying phones is that, for the most part, the phones are perfectly fine. Today’s smartphones have fallen into disrepair in terms of both their design and software capabilities, and the future of phones is likely to involve slow, iterative improvements rather than big leaps that warrant faster upgrades.

The response from smartphone manufacturers to this drop in sales, at least on the surface, has been a resounding “it’s good.” Companies aren’t going to stop releasing new devices every year anytime soon. They also try to create interest and hype by trying new form factors. Google is reportedly planning to announce a $1,700 foldable Pixel phone at its IO event on May 10, which it hopes will get people excited about their phones.

Here’s some more tech news.

An apple a day

Apple has been in the health tracking game for a while now. In 2020, the company launched Apple Fitness+, its slick Peloton rival service that syncs with its best-selling Apple Watch. Now it seems that Apple is planning an expansion of the service powered by machine intelligence.

According to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, Apple is expanding its digital health services to include personalized fitness coaching and emotion tracking. The services may also appear in a new version of the Health app on iPad. The AI-powered part of the app is said to be able to pull data from your wearables and make health recommendations throughout the day, such as when to exercise and how to eat healthier.

Apple’s mood monitor and some other health features are expected to be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in early June. Coaching features will likely not be introduced until this year.

Hello Finite

Healthwise, Amazon has decided to shut down its Halo product line. That means no more Amazon Halo fitness trackers and alarm clocks that track your sleep. Halo devices were never huge in the fitness market, but they were quirky and creepy. Fitness trackers have been touted as being able to monitor almost every aspect of the wearer, including monitoring your emotions and scanning your body fat. Amazon says its Halo devices will stop working on July 31, but the company will offer refunds to anyone who bought a Halo device last year.

Amazon has been looking to reduce its operating costs. In November, it trimmed its Echo offerings and has laid off employees in its human resources, cloud computing and drone divisions. But don’t let Halo’s closure fool you: the company is still very much interested in health. (Especially all that sweet, sweet patient data.) Amazon is moving forward with its Amazon Clinic telehealth service, and in February it completed the acquisition of primary care provider One Medical.

Gadget Lab Bro-dcast

Balls. About half of the people on this planet have them, but the ugly bags tend to be categorically ignored in the decent part of society. Recently, dozens of companies have begun to capitalize on the scrotum by selling gonad cleaning fluids, lotions, and deodorants. Companies have long used society’s beauty standards to market products to women, and now it’s men’s turn. For the most part, marketing has worked to turn men’s grooming products into a $70 billion industry in just a few years.

This week on Gadget Lab podcast, WIRED’s Chief Fact Checker Zach Jason joins the show to talk about his experiences with scrotum sprays and the wide world of men’s grooming products.

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