Hi! I’m back! I had a lovely two weeks off, thanks, but it’s nice to be back talking back to you wonderful readers.
But it turns out that I’ve left at a time when a lot has been happening, and prepping for this newsletter has been a great chance to get back up to speed with it all and read some thoroughly interesting stories.
Mostly, if you share your Netflix password with anyone, you might want to give them a call soon and ask for a regular donation…
Does your father use your Netflix account, meaning you get constant emails about a new login? Does your son still watch Netflix at college and stop you from bingeing Squid Games at the exact moment you managed to carve out 45 minutes in your busy life?
If that’s the case, get ready to be even more frustrated: it’s going to cost you more to experience that annoyance in the future, as Netflix seeks to monetize password sharing.
The reason is simple: Netflix has lost 200,000 paying subscribers since the start of the year, and that decline is going to increase rapidly, according to estimates. So the platform is “taking action” to stop things like excessive password sharing, charging users for the privilege of sharing (that charge is currently $2.99 for a trial in places including Chile and Peru).
I was going to go into a rant about how this isn’t the cause of the issue, that it’s the price hikes, the increased competition, the lack of quality content… but then I read Axel Metz’s piece, and he’s done it all far more eloquently than I ever could, and he’s spoken to experts about it to. You should probably just read that…
One of the quirks of being a phones journalist over the years has been the moment when a brand launches a new color variant of a recently-launched phone; it often provides a moment of simple joy in contrast to the hours spent talking about specs and materials.
The iPhone 12 in purple made people happy. The HTC U12 in Flame Red was one of the most beautiful phones I ever saw. So when Samsung said the S22 Ultra was coming in red, our Phones Editor Tom Bedford predicted that it would be beautiful, and opined as such.
How wrong he was. It turns out that Samsung thinks ‘red’ really means ‘a sort of burned coral with a reddish hue’, and many readers have got in contact with us to say how disappointed they are.
Why not just make a lovely red phone Samsung? That’s what people want, clearly, so stop playing around with confected colors and make a proper red variant.
I’ve been pondering which earbuds to get next, as my trusty and super-cheap Enacfire buds from Amazon are starting to irritate me just a little too much.
I could be swayed by Bang and Olufsen’s new buds, the Beoplay EX (opens in new tab), as they look a little AirPods Pro-like in their design, but not quite as Apple-y (I’m still burned from the abuse I got on Twitter when I showed off the original AirPods for the first time).
The thing that will ultimately sway me is not the audio quality, which will likely be excellent, but more whether they’ll be any good for sports. I’m currently re-reviewing the Jabra Elite Active 75t, which are much cheaper than the AirPods, so I’m looking forward to getting my ears around the Beoplay EX.
And they’d better be good – $399 is a lot to pay for a pair of earbuds.
Our team was all over the Meta (formerly Oculus) Quest launch this week, with a whole raft of games making their debut at the event.
While sadly – and annoyingly – we didn’t see a new headset get announced (it’s long overdue) the games that appeared look pretty good, and show that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is still investing heavily in this area.
The Ghostbusters game in particular looks pretty stellar – it’s almost making me want to go out and buy a dedicated headset, until I remember that I get to play on my PS4 for about 20 minutes every month, so it probably wouldn’t be worth it.
But for those of you who do have the time, these games are well worth checking out – and we’ve got all the trailers lined up nicely for you too.
I’ve known deep down that Garmin was about to launch a new running watch in the shape of the Forerunner 955, and this leak makes it almost certain. Cat Ellis has done a great job of writing up said leak, with loads of information about what Garmin is planning, and a mystery device in there too.
However, this line has upset me: “With improvements in battery tech, more efficient components, and solar charging, the Forerunner 955 could give performance more similar to the 47mm Garmin Fenix 7 Solar, which runs for up to 22 days in smartwatch mode, and 73 hours in GPS mode.”
The issue, dear reader, is that I’ve just bought the Fenix 7 Solar (and it’s brilliant – it has an actual torch on it and I love it) because I thought “yes, it’s expensive, but I’ll use it everyday. Sure, it’s a bit bulky but that’ll be fine’”.
So the notion that all the good stuff on this watch will be coming to a slimmer, cheaper, more running-focused watch doesn’t make me happy. I’m just hoping the Forerunner 955 doesn’t have a torch – then all will be well.
I’ll be honest – I’ve included this story mostly because I wanted to celebrate the fact our software writer Daryl Baxter got married this week, and he wrote a tremendously sweet piece about the five apps he used to plan the wedding.
I won’t lie: as someone who’s also planning a wedding, my stomach turns at the thought of sharing a to-do list app with my partner.
I can see myself doing more stuff in the app than actual stuff, such as speaking to the venue and begging them to send over the menu choices and telling me where to send the deposit to and making a choice on where the tables will be stored and what if people want to just come for the evening and where is the marquee now and… okay, I need to breathe.
But I did find some nice ideas in this piece around budgeting and planning – so if you’ve got impending nuptials, give it a click.
This is yet another moment where science blows my mind. How, in 2022, can we only just be discovering a part of our lungs that we didn’t know existed?
Okay, calling it a new part of the body in the headline above is a bit of a stretch – it’s not like they found a spare finger in the lungs or anything – but reading deeper, I’m just amazed at the human body’s ability to regenerate itself.
Essentially, scientists have discovered that we have respiratory airway secretory (RAS) cells, which are like stem cells in that they’re ‘blank’. They can then spring into life and be used to repair damaged cells, and understanding them better could help with the development of treatments for smoking- and pollution-related diseases.
Check out the full article over on LiveScience – it’s a fascinating read – and marvel anew at the way our bodies work.
This is from the editor
It’s so nice to take some time off and see what comes out of the team when I’m away. I read Matt Hanson’s round up last week and really enjoyed it – I think we need to hear more from him in the future, so we may put him on the roster more regularly.
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And if you want to let me know your thoughts on this week’s missive, or want to share your experiences with tech, or just want to express how much you’ve missed me (or didn’t want me back) then you can email me, remembering to include ‘NEWSLETTER’ in the subject line – I do read every email, and I’ll share the best ones here.
Have a great weekend! My top tip for this week is to go outside and take one photo of something brilliant – it’s a great way to develop an appreciation of wherever you are or whoever you’re with.