Robin: Nextbit’s First cloud-Based Smartphone

The new smartphone Nextbit kickstarted, is still in the prototype stages, but it’s set to shake up the market when it’s launched in early 2016. It has everything you want in a smartphone: cool design, great storage, affordable price, and comparable hardware. It’s so promising that Nextbit reached its $500,000 goal in less than one day.

Does Nextbit’s Newest Smartphone Compare?

For only about $350 for early backers, Nextbit’s Robin is one of the most affordable smartphones available. However, if you order after January, when the early bird special is over, it goes up to $350, which is still reasonable. The boxy design is sleek and it comes in mint green and midnight blue. The power button doubles as a fingerprint sensor.

It charges quickly, has 32 gigabytes of local storage and 100 gigs of online storage. It has a 5 megapixel front camera, great for selfies, and a 13 megapixel rear camera, perfect for everything else. Since the creators are design and cloud-minded, the hardware isn’t as awesome as the newest Android phones, but it’s not gathering dust, either.

What Makes it Different?

How many times have you had that little message appear on your phone that things aren’t going to work properly until you free up some storage? Robin can change that.

The really innovative aspect of Robin is that it’s cloud-based. With your purchase, it comes with 100 gigabytes of space on the cloud on top of the 32 gigs of space on the phone. Even more interesting, it’s cloud-first.

Robin identifies apps you haven’t used lately and automatically moves them to the cloud, freeing up space on your phone’s hard drive. If you used to play Angry Birds, you know how awesome that is: you don’t want to delete it, even though you don’t play anymore. You’ll lose your levels. but every time you go to free up space, you wonder if this is the time to give it the boot.

On Robin, you can tell the app has been moved because it turns gray. If you want to use it again, you tap it and it loads up in just a few minutes. You can track the progress the whole time. Now. Imagine you don’t want an app to be moved to the cloud? Simply pin it and it will stay where it belongs. Otherwise, you don’t lose any of your information and you can access it quickly and easily.

Photos are backed up on the cloud, too. It saves a the high-quality original on the cloud and keeps a copy on your phone, so it doesn’t take up as much space. Just like when you’re not using apps they move, Robin will move your oldest photos to the cloud, too. If you want them back, you can get them. And you can always find them on the cloud.

What Does This Actually Mean?

100 gigs is a lot of space. To put it in perspective, that’s approximately:

  • 10-15 hours of video
  • 30,000-35,000 photos
  • 10,000-20,000 songs

How much you actually get depends on quality and resolution and size and all that. Even so, that’s a lot of storage. And in our digital age, that’s important.

Since you can sync your cloud account up with your computer and other devices, it makes it easy to track, share, and download files whenever you need them. And your apps will always be there, waiting.

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone (and maybe even if you’re not), check out Robin. Designed with consumers in mind, this is one device that’s worth a second look.

Does Amazon Violate its Employees’ Civil Liberties? The ACLU Certainly Thinks So

Amazon employees have civil liberties just like the rest of us do. Now they may have help from an unlikely ally: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Last August, the New York Times published a scathing report on Amazon’s sadistic employment practices. The report titled Inside Amazon, Wrestling Big Idea in a Bruising Workplace described a company where employees are forced to work unreasonably long hours, handle an overbearing workload, and are discouraged from taking time off, even in the event of a personal crisis like a miscarriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union Defends the Rights of American Workers

Amazon has a reputation for mistreating its warehouse employees. The report highlighted that the culture of abuse extends beyond the warehouse and into its corporate headquarters, affecting every white collar worker at the company. One Amazon human resources employee called the policy “purposeful Darwinism.” Perhaps most demeaning of all, employees are subjected to a constant barrage of Orwellian corporate buzzwords like “customer obsession,” “thinking big,” and “turning up the dial.”

In August, ACLU’s Executive Director Anthony Romero referenced the New York Times report in an ad in the Seattle Times and several websites, including Google. Romero wrote “Amazon employees who believe they were unlawfully penalized because of their decision to have children, or because they were caring for a sick relative or recovering from an illness of their own” should contact the ACLU. According to Romero, multiple current and former Amazon employees have already responded to the ads seeking help.

The ACLU, founded in 1920, is a not-for-profit organization whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.” It has nonpartisan libertarian leaning appeal across a broad spectrum of the population, boasting half a million members. For example, in the same year, the ACLU joined a lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples denied marriage equality in California and on behalf of Rush Limbaugh arguing that law enforcement infringed on his privacy by examining his medical records.

Traditionally, the ACLU only took on employment and workplace issues to the extent that they affected privacy, such as the right not to be drug-tested and the right to not be electronically-monitored by an employer. The ACLU usually struck a balance between an employee’s rights to reasonable workplace privacy and an employer’s rights to be free to conduct his or her business without undue interference. The ACLU website even states that companies have a “legitimate interest in monitoring to ensure efficiency and productivity.” Such opaque balancing acts are often necessary for non-for-profits like the ACLU to maintain ties to wealthy donors while preserving legitimacy in policy circles.

The New York Times report described a cut-throat, abusive workplace run by data-obsessed and sociopathic executives. But it also describes an employer that truly believes that this kind of culture is necessary to promote greater efficiency and productivity. Perhaps sensing that the pendulum has swung so far to the side of the employer, the ACLU is carving out a new policy plank: the right of employees to be treated like human beings instead or robots. Or perhaps the ACLU is simply grandstanding and won’t pursue this issue beyond the newspaper ad pages. Only time will reveal their real motivations.