Let’s face it, we’re probably all spending too much time on Instagram. Even Meta, the platform’s parent company, knows the app can be unhealthy for its users. In recent months, it has rolled out features intended to make Instagram safer for teens—or at least safe enough to keep regulators from cracking down.
Now, Instagram has announced some features that may make the site less of a time suck. The first is a feature that WIRED has advocated for: The away message. The new setting, called Quiet Mode, lets you turn off all notifications and even sends an auto reply to anyone who DMs you, telling them you’re unavailable. It’s not quite as resolute as just turning off all your notifications, but it’s a start. You can also set Quiet Mode to last a specific length of time. Upon returning to normal mode, Instagram will show a summary of what you missed. (They need to make sure you get back to scrolling at some point.) If Instagram knows the user is a teen, it will send them regular suggestions to use Quiet Mode, which will probably only annoy them.
Instagram is also getting another feature to make perusing it less irritating. You can now hide recommended posts in your Explore page, which will also help teach Instagram’s algorithm to show you less of the stuff you don’t want to see. You can also ask it not to show you posts that contain or reference certain words or topics. Any posts containing your deselected terms or topics will show up less often in search, Explore, and Reels. (Unfortunately, you still can’t just turn off Reels entirely.)
Here’s some other news from the world of consumer tech.
Google Wants to Find Your Stuff Too
Apple’s AirTags are perfectly boring stuff-finders. They’re also easily exploitable tools for stalkers. The simple location-tracking device is both effective and controversial, and Apple has sold millions of them. Obviously, Google is eager to get into that game too.
This week, the rumor mill is a-churning about Google’s potential AirTags competitor. There hasn’t been an official product announcement, but Kuba Wojciechowski, a developer and regular disher of Google secrets, has dug up some code that indicates Google could be working on such a device.
Of course, the existence of a Google tracker is just an educated guess. There are no details about when the device might be coming out, how much it will cost, or even what Google is going to call it. For now, it’s just known by the code name Grogu. (Yes, that’s Baby Yoda’s name.)
Amazon has announced that it is shuttering its charity donations program, Amazon Smile. In a press release, the company wrote that its program, which partnered with more than a million charities, was “spread too thin.”
While Amazon claims its decision to end Smile is a practical one, it might not be the only reason. Amazon has certainly felt the financial strain of the impending economic slowdown. In recent weeks, Amazon has laid off thousands of workers and cut down spending on departments like its Alexa platform and drone delivery program.