Dumb Phones, Apple Vision, & More

Dumb Phones, Apple Vision, & More
The Light Phone III takes Light Phone's intentional design philosophy to the next level, adding a camera, larger screen, and user-replaceable battery.

Dear Studio Fam,

We take design more seriously than most digital agencies, imbuing our products not only with elegant user experience but beautiful interfaces derived from bespoke branding. Our first story may seem odd given it revolves around a smartphone that is purposely limited in features to free users from the addictive qualities of some apps. We also examine news of Apple’’s plans for the next VisionOS device and review yet another FTC lawsuit against Big Tech. There’s also an update from a major AI company that has yet to break into the mainstream, and news of a failure in the EV industry.

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Light Phone III: The Purposefully Dumb Phone Gets A BIt Smarter
The first Light Phone came out almost ten years ago on Kickstarter, promising customers an elegant yet simple cell phone that couldn’t do anything but make and receive phone calls..The company’s second device was better received, featuring “intentional" smartphone features like Maps and Music on a grayscale E-ink display without the distractions of social media and selfies, let alone color. The third Light Phone, available for preorder this week, refines the intentional smartphone experience with a robust, repairable design. There’s a camera now, but not on the front, and the company is remarkably vague about whether users will be able view pictures on the device.

Apple Focusing On Cheaper Vision
Anonymously sourced reporting from The Information says that Apple’s next VisionOS device will be a cheaper version of the Apple Vision Pro, targeting a price point of less than half of the first generation device. This should not come as a surprise to most people, despite the framing of the story as a “shift of priorities.” Making VisionOS more accessible was an explicit call out in WWDC24, with new developer tools announced with the understanding that a larger user base was coming soon. There are tons of obvious ways to make the AVP more affordable. Apple has done this before with its iPhone SE series so we can likely expect changes such as  making the central frame out of plastic instead of aluminum, removing the headband speakers and requiring AirPods, and making the battery pack a separate upgrade.

FTC Sues Adobe for Dark UX
The Federal Trade Commission expanded its antitrust campaign to yet another major tech company, this time targeting Adobe for deceptive billing practices. Unlike other complaints against companies like Google and Meta, the FTC’s lawsuit not only names the company but specific corporate executives allegedly responsible for instituting multiple “dark UX” patterns in the subscription and payment features of the Creative Cloud product. At the center of the government’s claims is the early termination fee for customers who elect monthly billing which was never properly disclosed in the sign up process.

Anthropic Matches GPT4o With New Claude
Amazon-backed Anthropic unveiled its newest version of its ClaudeAI, showcasing features and performance it claims puts the company on technological par with market leader OpenAI. Benchmarking LLMs is a complex and largely subjective process, but initial reviews of Claude 3.5 Sonnet note its speed and larger context window, meaning the AI can consider more information relative to queries and create  longer responses. Still missing from Anthropic’s growth plan is widespread distribution in the way that ChatGPT is integrated across Microsoft products and Google has put its Gemini AI into over a dozen Google products.

EV Maker Fisker Is Dead
Fisker Inc., the second EV startup from car designer Henrik Fisker, filed for bankruptcy in the wake of bad press and practically non-existent sales. The company launched its Ocean SUV last year to glowing press which described the company’s first vehicle as a potential “Tesla killer.” But the Ocean suffered from software glitches in addition to the limitations faced by all non-Tesla EVs, namely lack of access to a reliable charging network, and disastrous reviews all but eliminated the company’s sales funnel.  

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