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WhatsApp Chats Will Soon Work With Other Encrypted Messaging Apps

WhatsApp Chats Will Soon Work With Other Encrypted Messaging Apps

Meanwhile, Julia Weis, a spokesperson for the Swiss messaging app Threema, says that while WhatsApp did approach it to discuss its interoperability plans, the proposed system didn’t meet Threema’s security and privacy standards. “WhatsApp specifies all the protocols, and we’d have no way of knowing what actually happens with the user data that gets transferred to WhatsApp—after all, WhatsApp is closed source,” Weis says. (WhatsApp’s privacy policy states how it uses people’s data).

When the EU first announced that messaging apps may have to work together in early 2022, many leading cryptographers opposed the idea, saying it adds complexity and potentially introduces more security and privacy risks. Carmela Troncoso, an associate professor at the Swiss university École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, who focuses on security and privacy engineering, says interoperability moves could potentially lead to different power relationships between companies, depending on how they are implemented.

“This move for interoperability will, on the one hand, open the market, but also maybe close the market in the sense that now the bigger players are going to have more decisional power,” Troncoso says. “Now, if the big player makes a move, and you want to continue being interoperable with this big player, because your users are hooked up to this, you’re going to have to follow.”

While the interoperability of encrypted messaging apps may be possible, there are still some fundamental challenges about how the systems will work in the real world. How much of a problem spam and scamming will be across apps is largely unknown until people start using interoperable setups. There are also questions about how people will find each other across different apps. For instance, WhatsApp uses your phone number to interact and message other people, while Threema randomly generates eight-digit IDs for people’s accounts. Linking up with WhatsApp “could deanonymize Threema users,” Weis, the Threema spokesperson says.

Meta’s Brouwer says the company is still working on the interoperability features and the level of support it will make available for companies wanting to integrate with it. “Nobody quite knows how this works,” Brouwer says. “We have no idea what the demand is.” However, he says the decision was made to use WhatsApp’s existing architecture to run interoperability as it means that it can more easily scale up the system for group chats in the future. It also reduces the potential for people’s data to be exposed to multiple servers, Brouwer says.

Ultimately, interoperability will evolve over time, and from Meta’s perspective, Brouwer says, it will be more challenging to add new features to it quickly. “We don’t believe interop chats and WhatsApp chats can evolve at the same pace,” Brouwer says, claiming it is “harder to evolve an open network” compared to a closed one. “The second you do something different—than what we know works really well—you open up a wormhole of security, privacy issues, and complexity that is always going to be much bigger than you think it is.”

14 Best Android Phones (2024): Unlocked, Cheap, Foldable

14 Best Android Phones (2024): Unlocked, Cheap, Foldable

We test a ton of Android phones. We like the ones below, but you’ll be better off with one of the options above. If you haven’t yet done so, check out our Best Cheap Phones guide for more.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE for $600: I used this phone for several weeks and found it was more than enough to meet my needs. The cameras are surprisingly decent—you even get a usable 3X optical zoom, though its results are not as excellent as the ones from the Galaxy S23. The performance gave me zero issues, and the battery often lasted me a little more than a day with average use. The 6.4-inch screen is a pretty nice size that’s not too big and not too small, and you still get perks like wireless charging and a 120-Hz screen refresh rate. It has dipped as low as $400 during Black Friday, so I highly recommend you wait for a sale.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Series ($700+): It seems like last year’s Galaxy S23 range (9/10, WIRED Recommends) may be disappearing faster than usual, as stock is low across a variety of retailers. If you can find them, the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23, the 6.6-inch S23+, and the massive 6.8-inch S23 Ultra are full of high-end features, from the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that keeps even the most demanding games running beautifully to the fluid and bright 120-Hz AMOLED displays. Battery life has improved across the board, with the S23 comfortably lasting more than a day and the S23 Ultra hitting nearly two full days with average use. The triple camera systems are the highlight, delivering remarkable results whether it’s day or night. The S23 Ultra has the special 10X optical zoom camera, which is no longer available on the latest S24 Ultra, and I miss it. It was nice being able to capture sharp photos of objects far away. It’s the only phone in the trio with the embedded S Pen stylus if you like to doodle. Try to avoid the MSRP since they’re a year old; sometimes, these prices match the latest models, which is a bad deal.

OnePlus Open for $1,700: The OnePlus Open (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is the first folding smartphone from OnePlus, and it’s surprisingly good. OnePlus has some clever software trickery to make multitasking on this booklike foldable simple and effective. The camera system delivers good results, the screens get plenty bright, and the battery life is excellent. I just wish the water resistance was better and that it had wireless charging.

Google Pixel 6A for $349: Google’s continuing to sell the 2022 Pixel 6A (8/10, WIRED Recommends) at a marked-down price. It’s still excellent value and a worthy purchase. It’s powered by Google’s first-gen Tensor chip, which means you’re getting some of the best performance for the money, and it supports all the same great (and helpful) software smarts as the flagship Pixel 6 series. It’s got an OLED screen, a decent camera system, and lengthy software support. There’s no wireless charging and it has a 60-Hz screen.

Xiaomi Poco X6 for £319 and X6 Pro for £369: Not in the US? You should take a look at the Poxo X6 or Poco X6 Pro (7/10, WIRED Recommends). These are speedy phones considering the low prices, with great displays, and decent battery life, plus the X6 even has a headphone jack! It’s a shame there’s a lot of bloatware, limited water resistance, and the cameras are lackluster.

Google Pixel 7 Pro for $600: The 2022 Pixel 7 Pro (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is a good buy if you can find it at this price (or lower). You get a 6.7-inch screen with a 120-Hz refresh rate. There’s Face Unlock, but this isn’t secure like the version on the Pixel 8, so you’ll have to rely on the fingerprint sensor to access sensitive apps. Cameras are a big part of Pixels, and the Pixel 7 Pro remains one of the best with an upgraded ultrawide with autofocus, enabling a Macro Focus mode for close-ups. Its telephoto camera has an excellent 5X optical zoom too.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 for $1,499: The Fold5 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) remains an excellent big-screen folding smartphone. The cameras can take some great photos, the displays can get shockingly bright, and Samsung promises lengthy software support. But the introduction of the Pixel Fold has shown me how much more I prefer the wider front screen. The Fold5’s external screen feels too narrow, and some apps feel squished (though it’s a little easier to grasp when closed). It’s frequently available for $1,499 so try not to pay more.

Samsung Galaxy A54 for $453: Samsung also has a great A-series mid-range phone, the Galaxy A54 5G (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It’s a nice alternative to the Pixel 7A or OnePlus 12R. The 6.4-inch AMOLED screen can ratchet up the brightness like crazy, so you never have to squint, and the screen reacts more smoothly thanks to the 120-Hz refresh rate. It matches the Pixel on security updates but it offers an extra year of OS upgrades for a total of four. The reason why it’s not above? Performance is good, but things can get a little stuttery when you try to juggle many apps at once; the Pixel 7A and OnePlus 12R easily beat it in speed. The A54’s battery can last more than a day at least, and the camera system holds its own. There’s no headphone jack on the phone, no wireless charging, nor is there a charging brick in the box, but you do get a microSD slot if you want to expand the 128 GB of included storage.

Sony Xperia 1 V for $1,398: Sony’s latest flagship phone (7/10, WIRED Review) is super expensive. But it’s one of the few smartphones with a 4K OLED screen, and it’s rare to see a high-end phone with a headphone jack. There are a lot of toys for camera nerds, whether you want to capture a photo with manual settings or use Sony’s Cinema Pro app to capture cinematic footage. You can even use the phone as an external monitor for your camera. It’s a shame Sony has a short software update policy, and its camera system is still too clunky.

Motorola Edge+ 2023 for $600: A Motorola smartphone with contactless payment support, 5G, wireless charging, plus a promise of three OS upgrades and four years of security updates? Say it ain’t so! The Motorola Edge+ finally matches its peers on several counts and exceeds them in some ways. It has a bright 165-Hz OLED screen, it’s lightweight, and its 5,100-mAh battery easily lasts two days. The downside? The cameras are not as good as the cheaper Pixel 7A. Read our Best Motorola Phones guide for more picks.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G for $300: This OnePlus phone (6/10, WIRED Review) doesn’t break the mold, and you should pay up for a Pixel 6A or any of the phones above if you can. But if your budget is tight and this phone goes on sale, it does the job. Performance is good, and there’s two-day battery life.

11 Best Smart Bulbs (2024): Lamp Bulbs, Ambient, Color, Etc

11 Best Smart Bulbs (2024): Lamp Bulbs, Ambient, Color, Etc

Remember the allure of the Clapper? No more getting out of bed to hit the light switch! It seemed cutting edge at the time (you can still buy it), but technology has come a long way since then. Now you can control the lights, set timers and schedules, and change colors with your smartphone or your voice if you have a voice assistant—no clapping required.

Smart bulbs are a great place to start when creating a smart home. Most options are relatively cheap, they’re easy to install, and they’re something you use everyday already. Plus, there are no cameras or door locks for someone to hack into, and no wiring to mess with. Do you want to try voice controls? Consider getting a smart speaker or smart display, but you can always use the smart bulb’s app. Of the dozens we’ve tested over the years, these are the best smart bulbs.

Updated February 2024: We’ve added new testing notes on bulbs from Nanoleaf, Philips Wiz, and Philips Hue.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.


The US Has Big Plans for Wind Energy—but an Obscure 1920s Law Is Getting in the Way

The US Has Big Plans for Wind Energy—but an Obscure 1920s Law Is Getting in the Way

The reason for the Jones Act’s longevity, says Colin Grabow, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, is that while it tends to benefit only a few people and businesses, the act goes unnoticed because there are many payers sharing the increased costs.

The Jones Act is one in a string of protectionist laws—dating back to the Tariff Act of 1789—designed to bolster US marine industries. The Jones Act’s existence was meant to ensure a ready supply of ships and mariners in case of war. Its authors reasoned that protection from foreign competition would foster that.

“Your average American has no idea that the Jones Act even exists,” Grabow says. “It’s not life-changing for very many people,” he adds. But “all Americans are hurt by the Jones Act.” In this case, that’s by slowing down the United States’ ability to hit its own wind power targets.

Grabow says those most vocal about the law—the people who build, operate, or serve on compliant ships—usually want to keep it in place.

Of course, there’s more going on with the country’s slow rollout of offshore wind power than just a century-old shipping law. It took a slew of factors to sink New Jersey’s planned Ocean Wind installations, says Abraham Silverman, an expert on renewable energy at Columbia University in New York.

Ultimately, says Silverman, rising interest rates, inflation, and other macroeconomic factors caught New Jersey’s projects at their most vulnerable stage, inflating the construction costs after Ørsted had already locked in its financing.

Despite the setbacks, the potential for offshore wind power generation in the United States is massive. The NREL estimates that fixed-bottom offshore wind farms in the country could theoretically generate some 1,500 gigawatts of power—more than the United States is capable of generating today.

There’s a lot the United States can do to make its expansion into offshore wind more efficient. And that’s where the focus needs to be right now, says Matthew Shields, an engineer at NREL specializing in the economics and technology of wind energy.

“Whether we build 15 or 20 or 25 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, that probably doesn’t move the needle that much from a climate perspective,” says Shields. But if building those first few turbines sets the country up to then build 100 or 200 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2050, he says, then that makes a difference. “If we have ironed out all these issues and we feel good about our sustainable development moving forward, to me, I think that’s a real win.”

But today, some of the offshore wind industry’s issues stem, inescapably, from the Jones Act. Those inefficiencies mean lost dollars and, perhaps more importantly in the rush toward carbon neutrality, lost time.

You Can’t Buy Lab-Grown Meat Even If You Wanted To

You Can’t Buy Lab-Grown Meat Even If You Wanted To

“The restaurant dinners we held at China Chilcano in Washington, DC last summer went extremely well,” wrote Eat Just’s director of global communications, Carrie Kabat, in an emailed statement to WIRED. “We plan to resume these dinners this year.”

Good Meat/Eat Just’s chicken had also previously been on sale in Singapore, but sales there have also been paused. “In Singapore, we are ramping up production and plan to begin serving shortly,” Kabat wrote.

The goal of these early cultivated meat sales was likely to generate buzz, gauge public reaction, and raise awareness of the industry, says Steve Molino, an investor at Clear Current Capital, a plant-based and cultivated meat venture capital firm, who has not invested in either Eat Just or Upside Foods. “It accomplished what it needed to accomplish and now it’s time to refocus,” Molino says, noting that the companies probably made a loss on the sale of their meat given the high costs of production.

Eat Just is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with a former partner over alleged unpaid invoices. In a November 2023 WIRED investigation, former employees alleged that the company was struggling financially and failed to pay vendors on time. “The reality for us now is we need to figure out a way to build large-scale facilities without spending north of half a billion dollars, because it’s simply not viable long-term,” Eat Just CEO Josh Tetrick told WIRED at the time. “There has to be a better way of doing it. And if we can’t figure out a different way of doing it, then what we’re doing won’t work.”

Although cultivated meat is no longer on sale in the US and Singapore, both Eat Just and Upside Foods told WIRED that they planned to relaunch sales in 2024. And last month, Israel-based Aleph Farms received regulatory approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health for its cultivated beef product: a mix of beef cells and plant protein. The company still requires an inspection of its pilot production facility in Rehovot and directions on labeling and marketing from Israeli regulators before it can sell its product in Israel.

“Post inspection of our production facility, Aleph Cuts will be introduced in targeted tasting experiences for consumers and relevant stakeholders,” says Aleph Farms CEO and cofounder Didier Toubia. “This phase of limited market activations allows us to gather feedback from consumers, refine our brand positioning collaboratively with them, and lay the foundation for a successful long-term launch.”

Sheila Voss, senior vice president of communications at the alternative protein nonprofit the Good Food Institute, says she expects the rollout of cultivated meat to continue in the US.

“As we saw in Singapore, the first country in the world to approve the sale of cultivated meat, the rollout to consumers migrated across fine dining restaurants, home delivery, and hawker stalls, highlighting the versatility of this product, and we expect similar introductory rollouts in the US,” she says. “We are still at the very early stages of cultivated meat’s entrance into the marketplace.”