How to bring the fun back to technology

For the last decade, the smartphone industry has been launching new models following the same formula. So how can you bring something fresh to this saturated and highly competitive market? That’s the question that the design team at tech company Nothing asked themselves when they created their second-generation flagship device, Phone (2), which debuted in mid-2023.

A central aspect of Nothing‘s ethos is collaboration. Case in point: it merges both its industrial design and operating system development teams together in one office in London’s King’s Cross. This allows them not only to work very closely but access the city’s creative community. “London has a great talent pool, not just in the area of design and technology, but in the arts and creative industries,” says Nothing’s design director Adam Bates. “London is at the cutting edge of many creative pursuits.”

One of Phone (2)’s key updates is a new Glyph interface on the back of the device which helps users access essential information at a glance without looking at the screen. “Our focus is about bringing some fun to technology,” explains Bates. “As users, the primary reason that we have phones was to be in touch with loved ones, but we’ve all been in that situation where you go to check a message on your phone and the next thing you know, you’re checking an email and different apps, so we looked into ways to filter out the rest of the information that our phones can carry”.

The glyphs create a type of language to indicate the things you don’t want to miss by combining animated light patterns and sound. For example, you can assign a unique light and sound sequence to your key contacts, see how much time is left in a timer, or that your taxi is on its way.

“Our users wanted to get involved with the glyphs, so for Phone (2) we created a glyph composer. It’s almost like a music app where you can record your Glyph pattern, synchronised with lights and sounds,” Bates explains. “Users can also download pre-made sound packs, opening the possibility for the brand to work with different artists to enrich the experience.” Music to our ears.