Meta says fewer Quest 3s are gathering dust – is VR’s biggest issue a thing of the past?

During this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC 2024) Meta has revealed that the Meta Quest 3 has higher retention rates than any of its previous VR headsets – suggesting one of VR’s biggest problems might be a thing of the past.

VR gadgets have become incredibly popular in recent years – just look at the sales success of the Oculus Quest 2, and the massive hype around the Apple Vision Pro – but there’s been a quiet killer for them all: retention. According to an internal report shared by The Verge in March 2023, Meta was concerned about the relatively low engagement of Quest 2 users and it was apparently stressed to staff by  Mark Rabkin, Meta’s vice president of VR, that the company needs to “be better at growth and retention.”

That emphasis seems to have paid off, with it now being said by Chris Pruett, Meta's Director of Content Ecosystem, that the Quest 3 has a higher retention rate than any previous Meta / Oculus headset.

Why are people using their Meta Quest 3 more? 

Meta hasn’t given any direct explanation of why its headsets are proving better at retaining owners’ attention than its predecessors, but we have more than a few theories.

Meta Quest 3 missing its faceplate showing its insides

The Quest 3’s better specs and software is a big win (Image credit: iFixit)

The first, and perhaps most important, is the Quest 3's simplicity. If it’s charged up you can just slip it on and start playing a VR game instantly – unlike older PCVR models. This reason is likely also why the original Oculus Quest had the highest retention of any Oculus headset ever according to John Carmack in 2019 (Via UploadVR)

Another likely reason the Quest 3 has been able to take things up a notch in terms of retention is software. The Quest store has been up and running for roughly five years, and in that time developers have created a superb VR catalog of cross-platform and exclusive software.

The Quest 3 has also raised the bar with good specs, and solid mixed reality passthrough, adding even more opportunities for app creators to develop meaningful software that owners want to use regularly. 

This, and the headset’s less bulky and comfier-to-wear design, are, as we see it, the two biggest reasons why we’ve started using the device more regularly than the Quest 2.

Lastly, there’s a belief that the Quest 3’s higher cost could be helping its retention levels. At $ 299 / £299 / AU$ 479 the Quest 2 was almost a tech impulse buy – especially considering it also came out not long before the pandemic, a period when people typically had more disposable income. 

Whereas at $ 499.99 / £479.99 / AU$ 799.99 – and launching at a time when disposable income is typically a lot lower – the Quest 3 is much more of a considered purchase. So if you aren’t planning to use the new Meta device fairly often, you’re more likely to talk yourself out of buying it.

A Meta Quest 3 owner playing tennis in VR while in their dorm room with their desk behind them.

(Image credit: Meta)

Why does higher retention matter? 

Beyond making it easier to get a VR squad together to play a multiplayer game, why does a higher retention rate matter to you or us?

From a hardware perspective, it suggests that the Quest 3 is doing something right – whether it's the mixed reality focus, its newfound balance of specs and cost, or a mixture of factors. This could clue us into what future devices might look like; specifically that they could try to follow the Quest 3’s lead by leaning further into mixed reality, or the mainline Quest headset maintaining a similar price point (in exchange for better specs) – which could pave the way for the rumored cheaper Meta Quest 3 Lite.

It may also encourage more VR software development, as it shows developers that there is a reliable market for meaningful VR software. So if you have a Quest headset already, you might see more and better apps launch in the future.

Given Meta made the announcement at GDC 2024, it's likely hoping that this latter point proves true. However, given the speed of hardware and software development, we'll likely have a little while to wait and see what the Quest 3’s newfound popularity means in practical terms.

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Google Drive has a fix for its missing files issue – here’s what to do

Some Google Drive users have recently been reporting that the service has been deleting months’ worth of files from their computers. If you’ve found yourself in that predicament, help could be at hand, as Google has just shared a few tips that might help get your files back.

It’s possible that even after trying Google’s methods, your files can’t be returned, so it isn't a guaranteed remedy. But Google says its fixes are for “desktop users on version 84 who experienced issues accessing local files that had yet to be synced to Drive,” so the solutions seem to be fairly limited in scope.

Judging by posts online, many users have lost files from months ago, which is potentially at odds with Google’s note that the fix is for files that hadn’t been synced to Drive. I myself have lost files due to this bug and regularly sync my Google Drive app. Still, it’s worth trying Google’s ideas if you are affected.

The first method requires you to download the latest version of Google Drive. Once that’s been installed, you’ll need to run Google’s recovery tool. To do so, open Drive for desktop and select the app’s icon in your system tray (Windows) or menu bar (macOS). Hold the Shift key and select the Settings (cog) button, then choose “Recover from backups.”

A laptop screen on a pink background showing the Google Drive recover from backup menu option

(Image credit: Future)

That’ll kick off the recovery process. You’ll get a message reading “Recovery has started” if there are files to recover, or “No backups found” if not. If there is a backup, you’ll see “Recovery is complete” and a new folder with your unsynced files will appear on your desktop.

You might also see a “Not enough disk space” message once the tool finishes. In this case, you can free up disk space and try again, or attempt the next method to recover the files to a different drive.

Choose a different drive

A laptop screen on an orange background showing the Google Drive desktop app

(Image credit: Future)

Running the recovery process on a different drive with more free space requires using the command line, which is a little more advanced. To do this, you’ll again need to download the latest version of Drive for desktop. After that, close the app and open a command prompt (Windows) or Terminal (macOS).

On Windows, run the following command, including the quotation marks:  “C:\Program Files\Google\Drive File Stream\launch.bat” –recover_from_account_backups

On macOS, you’ll need to enter this, including the speech marks: “/Applications/Google Drive” –recover_from_account_backups

You can use '–recover_output_path' in command line to specify where recovered files should be saved. The tool will run in the background in Windows and in the foreground in macOS. When complete, a folder called Google Drive Recovery will appear in your selected output location (the desktop by default) containing your recovered files.

Recover from a backup

Google Drive

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There’s one other method to try if neither of the last two work for you, and this could help if you previously disconnected your account or removed the Google Drive cache from your machine. 

However, the technique requires you to have either a Windows backup or a Time Machine backup in macOS. For the full instructions on this last solution, check out the 'Advanced troubleshooting options for data recovery' section in the Google Drive help page.

If after all  of that you still can’t get your files back, you’ll need to let Google know by submitting feedback through the Google Drive app. Use the hashtag #DFD84 and tick the checkbox to include diagnostic logs.

A real pain


(Image credit: Getty Images)

This whole sorry saga has been a real pain for some Google Drive users – after all, the whole point of using the app is to keep your files safely synced, not to have them deleted.

I know this issue all too well, as I’ve lost files because of it. One minute they’re in their folder on my computer, the next they’ve been deleted. Sometimes I’ve been able to find them in my computer’s trash, and other times they’re in the trash online in Google Drive, but some files have simply disappeared without a trace.

With any luck, Google’s proposed fixes are able to put a stop to this problem, or at least help users get back files they thought had been deleted. But while this Drive update might help to restore your files after the fact, we don’t know if it will fix your documents being deleted in the first place. We’ll be looking out for a more permanent fix in the coming weeks.

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Your biggest copy and paste issue could finally be fixed

A new free macOS app looks to finally solve one of the most frustrating issues plaguing users today when it comes to having to copy and paste text.

We've all been there – you've copied some text from a web page or word document, but when pasting it into a new location, the original formatting has caused it to suffer problems that range from a minor inconvenience to throwing off the layout of the whole document.

Now, Pure Paste looks to provide an end to this most annoying headache by pasting plain text by default, hopefully spelling an end to formatting issues across all your files.

Pure Paste

Available now from the App Store for free, Pure Paste looks to remove all formatting from any copied text, which now transfers to its new pasted location without any unwanted issues.

The app runs in the background, sitting in the macOS menu bar, and looks to replace the current (and rather over-complicated) method of pressing Command+Shift+Option+V for format-free pasting on a Mac.

On its App Store page, developer Sindre Sorhus noted that Pure Paste clears all formatting, including fonts, colors, bold, links, tables and more, with users also able to choose to manually clear formatting whenever needed instead of automatically via the menubar icon or a keyboard shortcut.

The app only focuses on text, staying clear of unrelated content such as files and images, and also ignores content copied from password managers. And whilst it does access your clipboard, Sorhus noted that it doesn't store any data, or even connect to the internet at all.

Despite being one of the most popular shortcuts for users everywhere, copy and paste still receives regular upgrades attempting to make the service better.

Most recently, Microsoft and Google were revealed to be developing a new set of Chromium APIs that will extend the functionality of the copy-and-paste feature across their respective web browsers.

Microsoft also boasts the Cloud Clipboard utility, which allows users to copy-and-paste items across multiple devices, including smartphones via the Microsoft-owned SwiftKey Keyboard for Android tool.

Via The Verge

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Developers want to know from Apple if an iCloud issue will finally be fixed

If you use an Apple device, there’s a good chance that you use iCloud, its service of syncing your content across multiple devices, alongside streaming files and your tasks in certain apps that also use the service.

However, you may have experienced some issues where your content on one device, isn’t showing on another. This has begun to be known as the 503 error – where iCloud syncing isn’t working properly.

This would have been fine for users and developers if this had been an issue for a few days or a week, but it’s seemingly been since last summer that issues relating to iCloud have remained.

It’s now at the point where developers are venting their frustrations as to whether this issue will be resolved for their apps, and for users.

We speak to developers about their 503 experiences

A Twitter thread on January 25 by Becky Handsmeyer, developer of YarnBuddy and Scribblet, wanted to see if there was another way of reporting the issue to Apple. Soon after, other developers replied to her through a thread.

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We reached out to Handsmeyer to explain the issue further. “My headache with this started with a 2-star review 21 days ago where a user complained of crashes and broken syncing. Since then I’ve gotten 6 more complaints of broken syncing, some through reviews but mostly via email.” 

Handsmeyer continued “No amount of troubleshooting seems to help (reinstalling, making sure iCloud Drive is enabled, etc). I’ve seen multiple developers complaining about iCloud issues and 503 errors including James Thomson, Paul Haddad, and the developer of Streaks. One person said they had used a DTS session and Apple acknowledged the issue but have no timeline for a fix.”

Other developers such as GoodNotes recently published an article regarding the issue, due to users experiencing 503 issues. The article mentions “This issue is not apparent to us and we've escalated the case to Apple Technical Support team for investigation. It seems it's happening to other apps as well.”

But there’s no end in sight for a fix as yet, and users are becoming more frustrated that their content is not syncing properly.

James Thomson, the developer of PCalc, explained to us that it looks as though the issue may be related to the latest updates of iOS 15, macOS 12 Monterey, and others.

“I started seeing some iCloud syncing issues with PCalc with the OS betas during the late summer. It was taking several minutes to sync over settings, rather than the usual seconds, and people assumed the syncing wasn’t actually working.” Thomson explains. “That persisted into the releases, and eventually, I turned things off by default because it was causing problems where people were losing some of the changes they were making due to the long delays. Hopefully, it’s something Apple can fix soon, and I can turn it back on again then.”

Analysis: What’s taking so long?

Looking through the Twitter thread of other experiences from developers, you can place the issue back to when Apple’s software updates were heading toward their final release, just before the iPhone 13 series were announced at September’s event.

When major software releases are pushed out, you can assume services that are hidden to users, are also updated, so that they can work with the new features that have been announced and implemented.

But considering that this is four months since the release of iOS 15 and the other software updates, with no context for developers as to what the issue actually is, and when it will be fixed, is bringing unnecessary frustrations to Apple.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment as to whether the 503 issue is in the process of being fixed.

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Google is facing a major video conferencing issue

Google will no longer be merging its two video conferencing software products as the company has decided to prioritize Google Meet for enterprise users over Google Duo for consumers.

As reported by 9To5Google which first broke the news of a merger of the two products last year, the software giant initially set out to have a single video calling service aimed at both personal and business users. Following this decision, Google created a “unified team” to work on both its consumer and enterprise-focused video conferencing services.

The undertaking was originally billed as a merger with the code name “Duet” which 9To5Google points out is a portmanteau of Duo and Meet (Du + et). Although the combined team worked for most of last year under the impression that Duo and Meet would merge, Google's interest in building a dedicated video calling service for consumers waned.

Instead, the company shifted its focus to have Google Meet be primarily an enterprise product. This is because there was no longer a desire to build a video calling app that works equally well for consumers as it does for enterprise users.

Prioritizing Meet over Duo

Over the course of this year, Google's combined Meet/Duo team spent a majority of its time working on Meet and its enterprise features while Duo saw minimal development.

When 9To5Google reached out to the software giant regarding its upcoming plans, a company spokesperson said that there was “no change in our plans to continue investing in our consumer users”. Google also highlighted the new features added to Duo this year which include expanded tablet and foldable device support, HD screen sharing, new video effects, Google TV support,  improvements to quality and reliability and more.

The biggest change to Duo this year though was a refreshed UI that replaced the old homescreen, that showed a live feed from a smartphone's front-facing camera, with a new simplified list of a user's call history and a “New call” button. However, a similar redesign was rolled out to Meet in October of 2020 which helps make the case that Meet and not Duo was the company's main priority.

While Google says that it has a “rich roadmap next year for both consumers and business users”, the company didn't expand on whether Meet or Duo will be the service receiving new features and upgrades next year.

We've also rounded up the best video conferencing software and the best online collaboration tools

Via 9To5Google

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Finding remote working tools isn’t the issue – it’s how we use them

Long before the ongoing pandemic shut down the world’s offices, millions of workers became conditioned to remote work—probably without meaning to—because their physical workplaces were rife with digital tools. But many practiced a form of remote work that doesn’t suit the current environment.

I mean, haven’t you received instant messages from people who could literally spin their chair 180 degrees to say the same thing? Have you not spent 45 minutes reading and responding to an email chain that a five-minute conversation down the hallway could have addressed?

In a physical workplace that is digitised to the teeth, we can get away with using tools inefficiently. Knowing that we can spin the chair or walk down the hall gives us permission to do so. Fire out that email as fast as possible, and if it doesn’t make sense, well, talk it out.

Not anymore. Now, we have to use our digital tools to their fullest potential. Our communications, processes, and handoffs must be impeccable. Today, the biggest difference is not the technology we use, but how we use it.

I would argue that even if you’re using platforms specialised to your department, there are some patterns and common needs in a remote work environment. Maybe you have all these boxes checked, but hopefully, I’ll point out a blind spot, and you can do something about it.

How do you initiate work?

If you’re working in a home office—perhaps while your kids reenact scenes from Lord of the Flies—your output is probably creativity, information, and ideas. And the more abstract and complex your product is, the more it’ll benefit from project management platforms. Coders (and marketers) gravitate to systems like Asana, Basecamp, Trello, Jira, and Workfront.

Particularly in a remote work setting, we need to be articulate about what we’re doing. What is it? Who’s it for? Why are we doing it? When’s it due? Time in a pandemic is a trickster. Project management will give some order to the groundhog days.

If you can't spin your chair, how do you talk?

In business, there are different versions of conversations. There are “check-ins,” often done by email, which tend to be light in substance but heavy in exclamation marks. There are, “what-do-you-really-need-from-me?” conversations, where someone sends an email, and you send one back asking the person what they actually asked. And there are many others, mostly done through email. That is why in remote work, you need a channel that isn’t email.

The top options tend to be Slack, Hangouts Chat, and Salesforce Chatter. They let you spin the chair around. Email is a medium of conversation, but it doesn’t facilitate talking. You need a way to talk.

How do we get things we need?

Have you ever counted the number of the emails you receive that entail person A, a coworker, asking person B, you, for something persons C, D, or E might have, maybe, delivered to you sometime last month?

In a physical setting, we can triangulate the location of any file, folder, or image. But in a remote setting, we need ways for people to share files and search for them without taking up someone else’s capacity. Whether your team uses Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, a digital asset management system (DAM) etc., you need a place where people can scoop their own ice cream instead of lining up and waiting for a coworker to do it.

Are we making a difference?

Without the in-person stand-ups, shout-outs, and comradery, it’s harder to feel impactful. Regardless of what department you work in, a system to measure your impact is priceless.

In marketing, we look to social and content analytics not just for validation, but to learn from our decisions and do better next time. In sales, our colleagues are motivated to hit their numbers and track how much business they’ve brought in. Many IT people find satisfaction in resolving tickets faster and eliminating recurring problems. Give yourself the pleasure of knowing you made a difference and the awareness to rise to a higher potential.

Some perspective

I wish I could end with a bold claim, like working remotely will be the best thing that ever happened to us! The reality is, we don’t know yet.

However, evicted from our usual routines, there is a chance to see anew the way we worked before the crisis, and the way we work within it. It’s the kind of perspective we normally get by traveling to a distant country or meeting someone from an unfamiliar background.  

So, meet your new remote life. It’s weird. It’s boring, at times. But it’s going to make you rethink what remote work is, and what you and your team need to be successful in any conditions.

Brooke Emley is Head of Implementation at Widen

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TechLife’s April 2020 issue is out now!

This issue of TechLife is packed with essential advice that will find you living a healthier, smarter life. We've got gadgets, tech, and know-how to get you fitter and healthier for 2020!

We also review HP's Elite Dragonfly two-in-one laptop, take a close look at Google's Stadia game-streaming service, and round up Australia's best dashcams to keep you safer on the road.

  • Detox your Mac
  • Enjoying running with Nike's Run Club app
  • Best free email clients
  • And lots more!

Grab your copy from newsagents, selected supermarkets or digitally via the Zinio app or Apple Newsstand from Monday, March 9, 2020.

Readers can also find our selection of exclusive software downloads here.

Subscribe to the print edition and save!

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