Netflix has a plan to fix its Meta Quest 3 app… abandon it and use the browser

It’s no secret that the Netflix app on the Meta Quest 3 is absolute trash. It hardly works with low-res videos and has poor optimization; there’s no reason to install it even if you have an active Netflix subscription. But Meta and Netflix have just announced a plan to change the Netflix VR experience – abandon the app and try a new approach.

That is to say that “in the coming days” – per the Quest Blog, where it also announced its Meta Connect 2024 dates – you’ll be able to launch Netflix in the Quest 3 web browser to enjoy shows and films “in high resolution.” Presumably, this means at least full HD, but we won’t count our chickens until they hatch, and we’ve found out from trying the service how crisp the images are.

The post says you’ll be able to enjoy the show on a flat 2D screen or in a theater view that includes a curved screen – much like using other browser-based VR experiences.

A much needed video upgrade 

I never really thought about VR video streaming on Quest until the Apple Vision Pro was released and proved how bad a job the Horizon OS was doing in this department.

The Disney app running on the Apple Vision Pro

Apple’s Vision Pro is much better for VR video (Image credit: Apple)

The Quest 3 has few of the best streaming services as dedicated apps, and those it does have – like Netflix – aren’t worth installing. The Vision Pro, on the other hand, is packed with great video streaming services, including a Disney Plus app that streams 3D videos directly to the headset.

This Netflix update isn’t quite at the same level, but it is a solid start and is hopefully a sign future updates for other video platforms are coming soon. I had hoped such an update would arrive in preparation for an LG OLED-equipped Meta Quest Pro 2; however, while the software might still arrive, LG's recent comments have me worried its Meta Quest Pro 2 collaboration might not be going ahead.

We'll have to wait and see what happens on the hardware front, but for now we can just enjoy that the Quest 3 finally has a worthwhile Netflix experience.

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This new app brings Netflix and Prime Video in 4K with Dolby Atmos to Apple’s Vision Pro

One of the most popular uses for Apple's Vision Pro headset is to enjoy movies and TV shows on its enormous virtual screen, but not all streamers are on board. Netflix in particular caused some disappointment when it said it had no plans to make a native Vision Pro app for its service. 

Not to worry. Independent developer Christian Privitelli has stepped in to deliver what some streamers won't. His app, Supercut, lets you stream Netflix and Prime Video, and is designed specifically for Apple's virtual viewer.

The app works much like Apple's own TV Plus app, but instead of Apple content it offers Netflix and Prime Video without the letterboxing you get when viewing shows and movies from the headset's web browser. It's not packed with gimmicks and doesn't have the pleasant virtual theater of the Disney Plus app, but it's cheap and effective, and that's good enough for me.

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What Redditors are saying about Supercut for Vision Pro

If you want to know the ups and downs of any AV app, Reddit's always a good place to look – and the reaction to Supercut in r/visionpro has been positive, no doubt partly because Privitelli, the developer, has been cheerfully chatting with the other redditors in the subreddit and talking about what the app can do, can't do and what he hopes to do next. Future versions are likely to include some virtual viewing environments too.

At just $ 4.99 for the app – roughly 1/700th of the cost of your Vision Pro – it's extremely affordable, and that means you'll happily forgive its shortcomings – such as the fairly basic Prime Video implementation. It delivers 4K, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision if your Netflix subscription includes them, and it supports multiple profiles for easy account switching. It'll also tell you what resolution you're getting and whether Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision are happening.

Supercut is available now in the App Store. 

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Netflix says the Apple Vision Pro is way too niche for it to make an app for the headset

Apple describes the Vision Pro as a “spatial computing” device, but right now it's arguably as much a pair of cinema goggles that can play 3D movies. That billing has been undermined by the absence of a few apps from streaming's big players – and Netflix has just explained why it's steering clear of the headset, for now.

In an interview with Stratechery (via The Verge), Netflix's co-CEO Greg Peters revealed why Netflix hasn't made a native app (or even made its iPad app available) for the Vision Pro. In a completely fair yet somehow slightly withering observation, he states that the Vision Pro “is so subscale that it's not particularly relevant to most of our members”.

Peters adds that Netflix has to make sure “that we’re not investing in places that are not really yielding a return”, but that “we’re always in discussions with Apple to try and figure that out”. In other words, Netflix isn't ruling out making an app for the Vision Pro in the future, but only when Apple's headset becomes a lot more mainstream.

That could be some way off. Early estimates suggest the Vision Pro's first weekend sales were around 180,000 units, with demand likely to taper off significantly. When you consider that Netflix now has 260 million subscribers worldwide – helpfully bolstered by the success of its ad-supported tier – you can see why it might be taking a watch-and-wait approach.

Yet Netflix's conservative approach to the Vision Pro also reflects some historically frosty relations with Apple. Netflix hasn't let you sign up to its app through Apple TV for many years to avoid Apple taking a cut of the revenue. And Netflix also still hasn't fully integrated with the TV app on Apple's streaming box, which lets you see content from all of your streaming services in a single carousel.

Whether it'll be a similar story for Netflix on the Apple Vision Pro remains to be seen, but for now, the mixed-reality headset will be missing the world's biggest TV streaming app, alongside Spotify and YouTube. 

A sensible move or a snub?

The Disney app running on the Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Right now, the Vision Pro is arguably a very expensive developer kit that's also available to buy in limited quantities – so Netflix's stance is completely understandable.

Greg Peters does add that Netflix and Apple are in regular contact, stating that “we’re always in discussions with Apple” and that “we’ll see where things go with Vision Pro”. 

That's far from a closed door – and yet Netflix hasn't even allowed its iPad app to run on Apple's headset. You can watch Netflix on a web browser on the Vision Pro, but that's hardly a premium experience.

Daring Fireball's Jon Gruber even recently suggested that a Netflix iPad app for Vision Pro did exist, but that the streaming giant had a change of heart – and that the decision was made out of “pure corporate spite”, rather than anything technical.

Whatever the reality behind Netflix not even offering its iPad app on the Vision Pro, Apple certainly has its work cut out to convince some of the world's biggest apps to join its $ 3,499 “spatial computing” party. It's rubbing many developers the wrong way with its potential approach to sideloading on the iPhone, and we'll likely need to wait until at least the Vision Pro 2 before it gets close to being mainstream.

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Apple Vision Pro won’t have Netflix, Spotify, or YouTube at launch – is the headset already doomed as a media player?

Although excitement is building for the release of the Apple Vision Pro mixed-reality headset (pre-orders are now live), potential users will have to do without not just YouTube or Spotify, but Netflix as well. While Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus (obviously) are guaranteed to be available right out of the box, we do have to question if you’ll be able to take advantage of the headset's cinematic qualities without these three media giants.

While some streaming competitors are rushing to embrace the Apple Vision Pro (including Peacock, ESPN, and Paramount Plus), Netflix and YouTube seem to be playing the waiting game, and when the headset launches Apple Vision Pro users will have to access their respective services through the Safari browser (which has it's own Vision Pro version) rather than via dedicated apps. According to a report from Bloomberg, Netflix is the latest to confirm that it won’t be offering a visionOS app.

YouTube in particular is quite the omission considering that it is probably the best place to find immersive content, especially videos tailored to the VR experience capabilities of the Vision Pro. The videos available on the platform may not be as refined and curated as the content you can find on Netflix or Disney Plus, but it’s a media platform used by many people almost daily and leaves the headset feeling somewhat empty without it – more so now that Netflix is joining in abstaining from visionOS.

All work and no play? 

It’s a troubling start for Apple’s big foray into mixed reality. After all, if you’re sitting down to use a headset that cost you $ 3,499 but you have to pull up Safari and start typing away on your connected MacBook just to watch a video or an episode of your favourite Netflix show, is it really worth the money? Using Safari is a clunky workaround at best.

There are almost certainly multiple factors at play behind the scenes here. Netflix and Apple do have a rather strained relationship at the best of times. Netflix has historically had issues with Apple’s App Store revenue sharing, with this contention definitely not helped by the arrival of Apple TV. Another likely reason we aren’t seeing Netflix jump at the opportunity to produce a visionOS app is simply that it has little faith in Apple’s headset. 

In fact, you could argue that the streaming service has so little faith in the Vision Pro that it’s not even willing to modify a version of the Netflix iPadOS app to work on the new platform (not unlike how Instagram on iPadOS is just a scaled-up version of the iOS app). Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify are likely waiting to see how the headset is received before they any dedicate time and money to developing apps for it.  As someone who’s been skeptical of the headset since it was announced, I can’t help but feel more than a little vindicated by this – it’s not just me observing from the sidelines with very little confidence in Apple’s big plans. 

I mean, the Nintendo Switch came out in 2017 and that has a dedicated YouTube app (the Nintendo 3DS had one as well!) so if a nearly seven-year-old console can have a dedicated app for the world’s biggest video-streaming platform but this futuristic headset can’t, that really doesn’t look good for Apple. 

Ultimately, we can only speculate as to why exactly these big media companies are so hesitant, but one reason may be the way the headset has been marketed. Apple has from the jump advertised the Vision Pro as this incredibly immersive media experience device that will put you right in the middle of the action, but the fact that it’s called a Vision Pro – and the sky-high price tag – does give off the impression it's more for enterprise users. Could this case of confused identity be the reason behind this very visible display of hesitancy? 

As of yet, there’s no sign of when, if ever, we could expect a dedicated visionOS app to come from Netflix, YouTube, or Spotify. It’s likely we’ll have to wait and see how well the Vision Pro sells when it launches to have an idea of whether or not we actually will get these apps – if it does prove successful, they won’t have a choice but to commit.

If this hasn’t completely dampened your excitement for the Apple Vision Pro, there’s still quite a lot to look forward to regardless. While it’s mostly still on the more business-focused side of things, we now have a clear list of apps confirmed for the Vision Pro – including Slack, Display Plus, Zoom, Microsoft 365, Safari, and many more to come. And after all, if it truly is meant to be an enterprise device, would it even need a Netflix app?

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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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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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Too Hot To Handle on Netflix is the new Love Is Blind if you like steamy dating shows

Too Hot to Handle on Netflix is the spiritual successor to Love is Blind, and the new steamy dating show is now streaming on the service, just in time for the weekend.

The Netflix series casts a number of gregarious, good-looking singles, sends them to an island resort, and asks them to cohabitate for a few weeks. 

The catch here, because these shows always need a catch to stay relevant, is that they can’t… canoodle. If they can abstain for physical intimacy for the length of the contest, they’ll win $ 100,000 – but hey, either way it’s a win-win amiright?

The series has eight 40-minute episodes that all dropped today… which will likely be gobbled up and all over social media by the time Sunday rolls around.

Does Netflix have the hots for trashy TV? 

So what's the deal with all these new dating shows on Netflix? While traditional cable has always relied on one or two of these types of shows to woo viewers during primetime, Netflix traditionally has strayed away from going there. 

But that seemingly changed with The Circle, a game show about catfishing your opponents through a pseudo social network, and also Love is Blind, which tasked contestants to go on a number of blind dates without seeing one another before picking a partner whom they’d marry at the end of the show. 

Honestly, you can't fault Netflix for falling into the same trap that other networks fall into – these shows are relatively cheap to make (there's no special effects or big-name actors) and they draw a lot of attention.

While this one probably won't hook me personally, it's nice to see Netflix keeping others entertained during a particularly un-fun time. 

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Disney, Apple and Amazon join Netflix and YouTube in reducing streaming quality

Desperate times call for desperate measures – and Disney, Apple and Amazon have now joined Netflix and YouTube in reducing the video quality of their streaming services across Europe.

The idea is to reduce the strain on internet networks across the continent, and it's something the European Union authorities have specifically requested in order to keep the digital traffic flowing.

Disney Plus is opening its doors in most of Europe this coming Tuesday, March 24, though the launch in France has been pushed back to April 7. According to an official statement, bandwidth use will be cut by a quarter.

Amazon has taken a similar approach with its Prime Video service over the last few days, promising to "reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience" in the European countries where it operates.

Putting the brakes on

While Apple hasn't made any official announcement yet, 9to5Mac has spotted a reduction in video quality in Europe in recent days – quite an aggressive reduction in fact, though it may even out over time.

Netflix and YouTube were the first streaming services to fall in line with the EU directive, though it now appears that everyone with a video platform is going to be taking steps to tackle the huge increase in people stuck at home.

While network operators have said they are confident that there's enough spare capacity in the system to cope with everyone becoming habitual binge watchers, it would appear that no one wants to take any chances.

As yet there's no sign of similar movies in the US or elsewhere.  At the same time, tech companies are busy pushing out trustworthy coronavirus information through apps and sites that are easy to access.

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