Netflix Two Thumbs Up is just the start of personalization changes

Most of us bingeing Bridgerton, Inventing Anna, or Is it Cake? on Netflix didn't just like these series, we loved them. Sadly, we could express only mild enthusiasm with a thumbs up. That changed Monday with Netflix's introduction of two thumbs up to signify you “Love this!”

Netflix teased the new feature a few weeks back, but now it's live globally on the web, iOS, Android, and on your streaming devices. Plus we finally have more information about how Netflix is using “Love this!”, how that rating's algorithmic impact might differ from a mere single thumbs-up, and what the future might hold.

In a blog post on the change, Netflix Director of Product Innovation Christine Doig-Cardet explained why the streaming behemoth added another rating tier:

“Our current Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down buttons are a good way for you to tell us how you feel about a series or film, and in return, you get a profile that’s better personalized to your taste. However, we’ve learned over time that these feelings can go beyond a simple like or dislike.  Providing an additional way to tell us when you’re really into something means a profile with recommendations that better reflect what you enjoy.”

A single thumbs-up rating will still help Netflix tailor recommendations but a double thumbs-up will help Netflix refine the recommendations even further. “For example,” wrote Doig-Cardet, “if you loved Bridgerton, you might see even more shows or films starring the cast, or from Shondaland.”

“This feature,” a Netflix spokesperson told TechRadar, “I would liken it to turning up the volume on your dial for a song you really love.”

The “Love this!” rating is not suddenly the predominant viewing preference indicator. It's simply another signal among many to tell Netflix what you really love so they can show you what you really want, noted the spokesperson. So you won't just see the best shows on Netflix but the best for you.

Among the signals Netflix still looks at is how you interact with shows you're watching or not watching. When you use “Play Something,” for instance, hitting “Next” as soon as a show starts to play lets Netflix know that you really don't like that content.

The new rating isn't hard to find. Open any Netflix show and you'll see the original thumbs-up rating option. On the desktop, we could hover over that icon to see thumbs down (“Not for me”), thumbs up (“I like this”), and the new two thumbs up (“Love this!”). 

The rating options are available on all shows and can be changed at any time, which might encourage you to go back and rerate Squid Game.

Netflix Love This

(Image credit: Future)

Won't save a show

No matter how much you love a show, even using the new two-thumbs-up won't save your favorite Netflix shows. 

“No. Ultimately, as you know, our content team is amazing,” Netflix told us. “Much of that decision-making is rooted in art and science and instinct and it will remain that way.”

But there is a chance of tangential impact if Netflix goes ahead with another idea, which is to use the double thumbs up or “Love this!” rating to drive an entire row of “Most Loved Stuff This week.”  After all, if you see what everyone else is really loving, then you might decide to watch that over something people simply “like.” 

If part of Netflix's decision-making is rooted in science and a piece of that science is viewers…well, then it does seem possible that Loving content might someday lead to saving it.

What's next

Netflix's “Love this!' rating option is just the beginning of what could be a year of personalization changes.

“We’re really excited about this,” noted the Netflix spokesperson. It's the “first update in five years to the thumb rating system, [and] the first out the gate this year for us.”

Which means there's more to come. Netflix's goal is to give members more control over their Netflix experience.

“We really want to introduce more personalization features this year,” said the Netflix spokesperson, “You’ll see a lot more from us this year in this space.”

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Netflix Two Thumbs Up is just the start of personalization changes

Most of us bingeing Bridgerton, Inventing Anna, or Is it Cake? on Netflix didn't just like these series, we loved them. Sadly, we could express only mild enthusiasm with a thumbs up. That changed Monday with Netflix's introduction of two thumbs up to signify you “Love this!”

Netflix teased the new feature a few weeks back, but now it's live globally on the web, iOS, Android, and on your streaming devices. Plus we finally have more information about how Netflix is using “Love this!”, how that rating's algorithmic impact might differ from a mere single thumbs-up, and what the future might hold.

In a blog post on the change, Netflix Director of Product Innovation Christine Doig-Cardet explained why the streaming behemoth added another rating tier:

“Our current Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down buttons are a good way for you to tell us how you feel about a series or film, and in return, you get a profile that’s better personalized to your taste. However, we’ve learned over time that these feelings can go beyond a simple like or dislike.  Providing an additional way to tell us when you’re really into something means a profile with recommendations that better reflect what you enjoy.”

A single thumbs-up rating will still help Netflix tailor recommendations but a double thumbs-up will help Netflix refine the recommendations even further. “For example,” wrote Doig-Cardet, “if you loved Bridgerton, you might see even more shows or films starring the cast, or from Shondaland.”

“This feature,” a Netflix spokesperson told TechRadar, “I would liken it to turning up the volume on your dial for a song you really love.”

The “Love this!” rating is not suddenly the predominant viewing preference indicator. It's simply another signal among many to tell Netflix what you really love so they can show you what you really want, noted the spokesperson. So you won't just see the best shows on Netflix but the best for you.

Among the signals Netflix still looks at is how you interact with shows you're watching or not watching. When you use “Play Something,” for instance, hitting “Next” as soon as a show starts to play lets Netflix know that you really don't like that content.

The new rating isn't hard to find. Open any Netflix show and you'll see the original thumbs-up rating option. On the desktop, we could hover over that icon to see thumbs down (“Not for me”), thumbs up (“I like this”), and the new two thumbs up (“Love this!”). 

The rating options are available on all shows and can be changed at any time, which might encourage you to go back and rerate Squid Game.

Netflix Love This

(Image credit: Future)

Won't save a show

No matter how much you love a show, even using the new two-thumbs-up won't save your favorite Netflix shows. 

“No. Ultimately, as you know, our content team is amazing,” Netflix told us. “Much of that decision-making is rooted in art and science and instinct and it will remain that way.”

But there is a chance of tangential impact if Netflix goes ahead with another idea, which is to use the double thumbs up or “Love this!” rating to drive an entire row of “Most Loved Stuff This week.”  After all, if you see what everyone else is really loving, then you might decide to watch that over something people simply “like.” 

If part of Netflix's decision-making is rooted in science and a piece of that science is viewers…well, then it does seem possible that Loving content might someday lead to saving it.

What's next

Netflix's “Love this!' rating option is just the beginning of what could be a year of personalization changes.

“We’re really excited about this,” noted the Netflix spokesperson. It's the “first update in five years to the thumb rating system, [and] the first out the gate this year for us.”

Which means there's more to come. Netflix's goal is to give members more control over their Netflix experience.

“We really want to introduce more personalization features this year,” said the Netflix spokesperson, “You’ll see a lot more from us this year in this space.”

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Microsoft quietly reverses one of the most outrageous Windows 11 changes

Microsoft has quietly walked back a change pushed out with Windows 11 that caused anger and frustration among a large section of users.

With the latest Windows 11 update, which is currently in the process of rolling out, changing the operating system’s default web browser is as simple as a single button press.

The new system is a far cry from the previous arrangement, which required users to manually register their browser preference for each and every file extension (.HTML, .HTM, .PDF so forth).

Windows 11 and Microsoft Edge

Since Windows 11 went live last year, Microsoft has taken a large amount of flak for its attempts to weaponize the new OS in an effort to turn Microsoft Edge into a genuine competitor in the browser market.

In addition to deliberately making it harder to change the default web browser in Windows 11, Microsoft also took steps to funnel all links housed within its own products (e.g. the Start Menu) into Edge, no matter which browser was recorded as the preferred option.

Given the size of the Windows install base, you’d think efforts of this kind would have a dramatic effect on the Microsoft Edge market share. But in reality, the browser has still struggled to make up ground on Chrome or Safari, which hold a combined 82% of the market, the latest data suggests.

To Microsoft’s credit, however, the company appears to have taken on board the howls of anger from the community. With the latest Windows 11 update, switching the default browser is a single-click process, performed from within the default apps menu under Settings.

Instead of strong-arming Windows users into embracing Edge, Microsoft will instead rely on a steady stream of feature updates to entice people organically. In recent months, for example, the browser has received upgrades that allow users to debug performance issues, shield against novel cyberattacks and switch freely between multiple profiles.

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Windows 11 leak suggests Microsoft is making some big changes

Windows 11 looks set to get some exciting new features in upcoming updates, with a leak emerging that apparently shows off Microsoft’s plans.

As Neowin reports, the leak comes courtesy of Albacore, a Twitter account that's well known for leaking Windows features. In a series of Tweets we were given a glimpse of what are claimed to be some of changes Microsoft is making to Windows 11.

The first is a new ‘Stickers’ feature for Windows 11. Users will be able to edit stickers and add them to the desktop. These stickers can be placed over your desktop wallpaper, and will apparently remain there if you change wallpapers – though Albacore suggests this feature won’t work if you use a slideshow as your background, or if you have multiple monitors.

It’s also not currently clear if these ‘Stickers’ will be purely decorative, or if they could offer some sort of functionality, such as displaying the date and time.

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More changes

Changes are also said to be coming to how notifications are shown in Windows 11. This appears to be an area where Microsoft struggles, as notifications in both Windows 10 and Windows 11 haven’t worked as well as many had hoped, with the notifications either being too distracting, or not distracting enough (and easily missed).

According to Albacore, there will be a new ‘Set priority notifications’ setting, which should hopefully give users more control over what notifications they get. Focus Assist, which is a quick setting for turning off or minimizing notifications, is also getting a new name – it’ll just be known as ‘Focus’.

There will also be new options for the ‘Focus’ setting, allowing you to hide badges on taskbar apps (and stop them flashing) and mute notifications. The aim of this mode is to minimize distractions so you can keep focused on the task at hand.

A new ‘Sustainability’ page is also being added to the Settings app. This will allow you to manage the power settings of your device so that it runs more efficiently, and there's also a link to information about how to safely recycle your device.

The page also has leaf-shape icons, and these look like the'll be used to give your device a rating for how energy-efficient it is.

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It also looks like some form of ‘tablet mode’ will come to Windows 11 that automatically hides the Taskbar when you use your device as a tablet (for example when using a 2-in-1 laptop in its tablet configuration).

It’s not clear when these new features will appear in Windows 11, if indeed they appear at all, but as some have been spotted in early builds it's possible that we could see them in Windows 11’s upcoming major update, known as Sun Valley 2, which is likely to come out in the second half of 2022.


Analysis: tweaks are welcome – but don’t forget the bigger stuff

Assuming this leak proves to be the real deal, these new features would broadly be welcome. While we’re not too sure how useful the Stickers feature will be, giving users more control over notifications, and information on how they can make their device run more efficiently, would certainly be great additions to Windows 11.

However, while it’s nice to get new features and performance tweaks, we don’t want Microsoft to take its eye off the bigger picture. There are still a few things it needs to iron out in Windows 11, including some vital missing features – such as the facility to drag and drop files onto apps pinned to the Taskbar – and we’d like Microsoft to prioritize addressing these issues, rather than worrying about cosmetic changes.

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Windows 11 gets smart interface changes and new voices

Windows 11 has a new preview out in the Dev Channel which comes with some smart tweaks for the interface, and some better, more natural, voices for Narrator.

Narrator – the built-in tool which reads out the contents of the screen for you, such as a web page, for example – now has two new natural voices in English US (female), which are called ‘Jenny’ and ‘Aria’. Users can select whichever they prefer, and once the voices are downloaded and installed, they work without an internet connection.

Microsoft has also introduced some new keyboard shortcuts for Narrator in order to more easily facilitate switching between different voices (and more besides).

The new preview build 22543 further applies some small, but nifty, tweaks to the desktop interface, including for resizing snapped windows. When you’re doing this, the snapped windows (aside from the main one) are blurred out and overlaid with their relevant app icon. It’s a pretty cool effect that makes it slightly easier to see exactly how much space you’re granting these snapped windows.

Furthermore, the media control fly-out panel on the lock screen has now been changed to match the controls in Quick Settings. This particular tweak is only rolling out to a limited number of testers at the moment, and feedback will be evaluated before a wider rollout commences. In other words, don’t be surprised if you aren’t getting this yet.

As ever, there are a bunch of fixes for Windows 11 delivered in this preview, and that includes the solution to a crashing issue with File Explorer that happens when dragging a file out of a ZIP. All the work done is summed up in Microsoft’s blog post on the new build (along with the inevitable known issues with an early preview – expect some unknown ones, too).


Analysis: Pacey progress with accessibility features

Continued progress on the accessibility front is good to see, in terms of the more natural-sounding voices for Narrator, which have already been welcomed by testers who use the feature. Presumably we will see more options for different voices rolling out before long.

Accessibility is something Microsoft has rightly been prioritizing in Windows, with the most recent major move being the introduction of full voice control capabilities (built using Nuance’s Dragon speech recognition tech), and a virtual keyboard you can type with using your voice. Work on accessibility has been going on for years, of course, and bringing in very useful features like eye tracking which debuted almost five years ago with Windows 10.

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