Google’s 18-Month Quest To Redesign Its Terrible Emoji

  “It’s a communication issue,” says Rachel Been, Creative Director on Google’s Material Design. “If I sent my friend the dancing woman on iOS, and I’m on an Android device and I see a blob, there’s a miscommunication.” And now, thanks be to Google, that miscommunication is being fixed. “We’re doing a full redesign of […]

How real books have trumped ebooks

  Book covers looked very different a decade ago when the appearance of e-readers seemed to flummox a publishing industry reeling from the financial crisis and Amazon’s rampant colonisation of the market. Publishers responded to the threat of digitisation by making physical books that were as grey and forgettable as ebooks. It was an era […]

‘Turn it off’: how technology is killing the joy of national parks

  Andrew Studer was admiring a massive lava fire hose at Hawaii Volcanoes national park when he spotted something unusual: a small quadcopter drone flying very close to the natural wonder pouring hot molten rock. “There were other visitors sitting out relaxing in somewhat of a meditative state, just trying to enjoy this phenomenon,” said […]

Designers on acid: the tripping Californians who paved the way to our touchscreen world

  Next time you drag a document across your desktop and put it in a folder, spare a thought for acid. Organising your files might not seem like a psychedelic experience now, but in 1968, when Douglas Engelbart first demonstrated a futuristic world of windows, hypertext links and video conferencing to a rapt audience in […]

I’m an ex-Facebook exec: don’t believe what they tell you about ads

  For two years I was charged with turning Facebook data into money, by any legal means. If you browse the internet or buy items in physical stores, and then see ads related to those purchases on Facebook, blame me. I helped create the first versions of that, way back in 2012. The ethics of […]

From Coke’s flower power to Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad – how ads co-opt protest

  It’s a unique skill to have #boycottpepsi trending among both the right and the left. It managed to alienate both sides of an increasingly polarised consumer universe,” says Nicola Kemp, trends editor at advertising trade magazine Campaign, who points out that the ad was made by an inhouse team at Pepsi, which may be […]

The UK’s inflation foot soldiers: how the ONS measures the CPI

  In a shop stacked to the ceiling with toys, Brenda Cleaver is searching for a very specific car. “I am looking for a modern road vehicle, and I am checking the price. Here it is. It hasn’t changed,” she says, comparing the price sticker on the toy car with the information on her handheld […]

From ‘hands that do dishes’ to a bathtime Flake: the changing face of brands on TV

  Ads like the one for Harmony hairspray in the 1970s perpetuated the idea that a woman’s main aim was to appeal to as many men as possible, as a series of potential suitors asked: “Is she, or isn’t she?” A later campaign for the deodorant Impulse showed men who “just can’t help” handing flowers […]

Air pollution masks – fashion’s next statement?

  Yesterday saw the launch of M90, an “urban breathing mask” created by the Swedish company Airinum and sold in more than 50 countries. Face masks are already a common sight in Asian countries, although the cheap washable cotton rectangles rarely perform well in tests. Surgical masks, the type usually worn by doctors, have tended […]