A new Gmail feature could soon make it way easier to manage your subscriptions

Google is reportedly working on a new way to help users bring order to their messy Gmail accounts on mobile. Initially discovered by industry expert AssembleDebug, a “Manage Subscriptions” section will be added to the app’s sidebar menu, housing all of the newsletters and promotions you receive. Tapping the option takes you to a “Subscriptions'” page displaying all of the mailing lists you are currently subscribed to. Tech news site PiunikaWeb states the window shows you messages based on criteria you specify.

It’s unknown exactly what that criteria may entail, however AssembleDebug found strings of code for the feature, providing insight into how it could work. There seems to filters that let you highlight certain mailing lists according to how many messages they send out “per quarter.” You can single out groups sending “less than 10,” “between 10 to 20,” or more than 20 emails within a time period. Alongside the entries will be the logo of the mailing list with an unsubscribe button.

So, maybe every three months or so, you’ll be able to check out who mails out the most newsletters. At least, that’s the idea. Without an official word, it’s hard to say for sure although we may not have to wait for long to learn more.

Just around the corner

Several users over on Reddit claim to have run into Manage Subscription on their Gmail accounts on mobile. Multiple people state they encountered a blue window announcing the section, but when they went over to check it out, the page was totally blank. Nothing happened. Another poster said clicking on the message only took them to a screen with an endlessly loading page. 

PiunikaWeb theorizes that perhaps Google “accidentally enabled” the feature on their servers, but didn’t properly release the patch. It may be in this weird limbo where people can see the section, though it doesn’t do anything. We didn’t encounter it on our Gmail accounts. So it is possible its sudden appearance on a handful of account really was an accident. 

What it does show is the update could be almost ready for a launch. It may just need a bit more time in the oven. Manage Subscription will be a welcome inclusion to all of the other recent Gmail updates like the more prominent unsubscribe button, if and when it does roll out. Speaking from personal experience, it’ll be extremely helpful in organizing the chaos known as the Primary tab.

While we have you, check out TechRadar's list of the best Android phones for 2024.

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Windows 11 24H2 update is rumored to be ready to go – but nobody will get any of its major new features anytime soon

Windows 11’s next big update just moved a step closer to fruition, perhaps, given a rumor that Microsoft has just pushed out a new preview update that represents the 24H2 release.

The 24H2 update is due later this year, most likely in September, but the twist is it’s expected to initially arrive – in a slightly different form for certain devices (we’ll come back to exactly what we mean here) – around the middle of 2024.

The preview version of Windows 11 we’re talking about is build 26100 and we’re told by reliable leaker Zac Bowden (of Windows Central) that this is the RTM build for the 24H2 update (which Bowden predicted would arrive in April).

RTM means 'release to manufacturing' and it translates, as the name suggests, to mean this is effectively a finished product – with caveats that we’ll come back to shortly – that Microsoft is sending out to PC manufacturers to put on their devices (and test before that hardware hits the shelves).

Some PC makers may have received this RTM build already, or they are about to. In short, this is a positive sign that Windows 11 24H2 is progressing on track with its purported release schedule as aired via the grapevine.


Analysis: A new two-tier update process from Microsoft

The mentioned caveat-laden twist is that this initial hardware in question is AI PCs with Snapdragon X Elite chips, which are based on ARM architecture (quite different to AMD or Intel x86 CPUs). Because these Snapdragon chips are different to the general norm they need the new Germanium platform that Windows 11 24H2 is built on to work, so Microsoft is technically deploying the new version of the OS with these AI PCs which are expected to debut in June.

However, that particular Windows 11 24H2 build won’t have any of the new features touted for the next big upgrade. It’s just going to be much the same as what we have now with Windows 11, just with that new underpinning Germanium platform for ARM-based chips.

Microsoft will finalize the fully fleshed out 24H2 update, with all its new features added on top, in July; or that’s the predicted timeframe by Bowden. And then after final testing, the full 24H2 update will roll out to everyone on Windows 11 in September. Including those Snapdragon X Elite PCs, of course, who won’t get all the new features until everyone else is receiving them.

Hopefully we’ve made that clear enough. But it’s true that this is all rather more complex and convoluted than the usual straightforward deployment of a Windows annual feature update.

The long and short of it is that things appear to be on track, but nobody will get the full Windows 11 24H2 update until September 2024 (or around then). And while new AI PC buyers this summer will get a Snapdragon-powered laptop with 24H2 on board, this will be just the skeleton of that version, as it were, and all the meat (new features) won’t be added until everyone else receives the update in September(ish).

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Chrome’s new Declutter tool may soon help manage your 100 plus open tabs

Recent evidence suggests Chrome on Android may receive a new Tab Declutter tool to help people manage so many open tabs. Hints of this feature were discovered in lines of code on Google’s Chromium platform by 9To5Google. It’s unknown exactly how Tab Declutter will work, although there is enough information to paint a picture.

According to the report, tabs that have been unused for a long period of time “will automatically” be put away in an archive. You can then go over to the archive editor, look at what’s there, and decide for yourself whether you want to delete a tab or restore it. 

Not only could Tab Declutter help people manage a messy browser, but it might also boost Chrome’s performance. All those open tabs can eat away at a device's RAM, slowing things down to a crawl.

This isn’t the first time Google has worked on improving tab management for its browser. Back in January, the company implemented an organizer tool harnessing the power of AI to instantly group tabs together based on a certain topic.  

These efforts even go as far back as 2020, when the tech giant began developing a feature that would recommend closing certain tabs if they’ve been left alone for an extended period of time. It was similar to the new Declutter tool, though much less aggressive, since it wouldn’t archive anything. Ultimately, nothing came of it, however it seems Google is looking back at this old idea.  

Speculating on all the open tabs

As 9To5Google points out, this has the potential to “become one of the most annoying features” the company has ever made. Imagine Chrome disappearing tabs you wanted to look at without letting you know. It could get frustrating pretty fast. 

Additionally, would it be possible to set a time limit for when an unused page is allowed to be put away? Will there be an exception list telling Chrome to leave certain websites alone? We'll have the answer if and when this feature eventually goes live.

We have no word on when Tab Declutter will launch. It’s unknown if Chrome on iOS is scheduled to receive a similar upgrade as the Chromium edition. It's possible Android devices will get first dibs, then iPhones, or the iPhone may be left out in some regions that don't get a Chromium-based browser. 

9To5Google speculates the update will launch in early May as part of Chrome 125. This seems a little early if it’s still in the middle of development. Late summer to early autumn is more plausible, but we could be totally wrong. We’ll just have to wait.

Until we get more news, check out TechRadar's roundup of the best Chromebooks for 2024.

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Meta’s Smart Glasses will get a sci-fi upgrade soon, but they’re still not smart enough

There's a certain allure to smart glasses that bulky mixed-reality headsets lack. Meta's Ray-Ban Smart Glasses (formerly Stories), for instance, are a perfect illustration of how you can build smarts into a wearable without making the wearer look ridiculous. The question is, can you still end up being ridiculous while wearing them?

Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses' big upcoming Meta AI update will let you talk to your stylish frames, querying them about the food you're consuming, the buildings you're facing, and the animals you encounter. The update is set to transform the wearable from just another pair of voice-enabled glasses into an always-on-your-face assistant.

The update isn't public and will only apply to Ray-Ban Smart Glasses and not the Ray-Ban Meta Stories predecessors that do not feature Qualcomm's new AR1 Gen 1 chip. This week, however, Meta gave a couple of tech reporters at The New York Times early access to the Meta AI integration and they came away somewhat impressed.

I must admit, I found the walkthrough more intriguing than I expected.

Even though they didn't tear the glasses apart, or get into the nitty gritty tech details I crave, the real-world experience depicts Meta AI as a fascinating and possibly useful work in progress.

Answers and questions

In the story, the authors use the Ray Ban smart glasses to ask Meta AI to identify a variety of animals, objects, and landmarks with varying success. In the confines of their homes, they spoke full voice and asked Meta AI. “What am I looking at?” They also enabled transcription so we could see what they asked and the responses Meta AI provided.

It was, in their experience, quite good at identifying their dogs' breed. However, when they took the smart glasses to the zoo, Meta AI struggled to identify far-away animals. In fact, Meta AI got a lot wrong. To be fair, this is beta and I wouldn't expect the large language model (Llama 2) to get everything right. At least it's not hallucinating (“that's a unicorn!”), just getting it wrong.

The story features a lot of photos taken with the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses, along with the queries and Meta AI's responses. Of course, that's not really what was happening. As the authors note, they were speaking to Meta AI wherever they went and then heard the responses spoken back to them. This is all well and good when you're at home, but just weird when you're alone at a zoo talking to yourself.

The creep factor

This, for me, remains the fundamental flaw in many of these wearables. Whether you wear Ray-Ban Smart Glasses or Amazon Echo Frames, you'll still look as if you're talking to yourself. For a decent experience, you may engage in a lengthy “conversation” with Meta AI to get the information you need. Again, if you're doing this at home, letting Meta AI help you through a detailed recipe, that's fine. Using Meta AI as a tour guide when you're in the middle of, say, your local Whole Foods might label you as a bit of an oddball.

We do talk to our best phones and even our best smartwatches, but I think that when people see you holding your phone or smartwatch near your face, they understand what's going on.

The New York Times' authors noted how they found themselves whispering to their smart glasses, but they still got looks.

I don't know a way around this issue and wonder if this will be the primary reason people swear off what is arguably a very good-looking pair of glasses (or sunglasses) even if they could offer the passive smart technology we need.

So, I'm of two minds. I don't want to be seen as a weirdo talking to my glasses, but I can appreciate having intelligence there and ready to go; no need to pull my phone out, raise my wrist, or even tap a smart lapel pin. I just say, “Hey Meta” and the smart glasses wake up, ready to help.

Perhaps the tipping point here will be when Meta can integrate very subtle AR screens into the frames that add some much-needed visual guidance. Plus, the access to visuals might cut down on the conversation, and I would appreciate that.

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Say cheese! You’ll soon be able to turn your Android phone into a wireless PC webcam in Windows 11

If you’re a Windows 11 user on a PC, you’ll soon be able to use your Android smartphone (or tablet) as a webcam. This feature is currently being made available to Windows Insiders, Microsoft’s official community for professionals and Windows enthusiasts who would like early access to new Windows versions and features to test and offer feedback ahead of a wider rollout. 

In an official Windows Insider Blog post, Microsoft explains that it’s begun a gradual rollout of the feature that enables users who have a suitable Android device, such as a tablet or phone, to act as a webcam while using any application that involves video webcam functions on their PCs. If you’d like to try this new feature or get access to whatever else Microsoft has up its sleeve that it would like users to test, it’s free to sign up for the Windows Insider Program – you just have to make sure you have a suitable PC that can run Windows 10 or Windows 11. 

Once you install the latest preview build, you’ll also have to ensure that the mobile device you want to use as a webcam is running Android 9.0 or later. You also have to install the Link to Windows app on your mobile device. 

This is really good news for users who don’t have a dedicated webcam or are unhappy with the quality of the built-in webcam of their laptop. Many modern smartphones come with cameras that can offer better quality than a lot of webcams – and this feature allows them to be used wirelessly, which makes them far more convenient as well. On top of being able to function as your webcam, you can also switch between the front and back cameras of your phone, pause your webcam stream, and activate your mobile device’s available camera effects.

Group of cheerful friends teenagers spending fun time together outdoors, looking at phone

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Dean Drobot)

How to set up your Android phone as your webcam

Once you’ve made sure you have all the necessary specifications, updates, and apps, you’ll need to set the feature up on the device you’d like to stream to. You can do this by navigating to the following settings in Windows 11:

Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mobile devices

Select “Manage devices” and turn on the setting that allows the Android mobile device that you’d like to use as a webcam to be accessed by your PC. This will then prompt your PC to receive a Cross Device Experience Host update via the Microsoft Store which you should allow, as this is necessary to facilitate the feature. 

It will likely prove to be very useful, offering users more versatility and options for appearing in video calls. With many of us now working from home, either full-time or as part of a hybrid working week, picking the best webcam for your needs is now more important than ever. This upcoming feature could make that search even easier if all you need is a modern Android smartphone.

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Windows Copilot will soon allow you to edit photos, shop instantly, and more

Ever since its reveal and launch, Microsoft Copilot has been getting a steady stream of features and an upcoming update will add even more. The latest update, detailed in the official Windows blog, will arrive in late March 2024 and will introduce tons of new skills and tools. 

For instance, you'll be able to type commands to activate certain PC features. Simply type something like “enable battery saver” or “turn off battery saver” and Copilot will take the appropriate action and confirm its completion.

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screenshot of Windows Copilot features

(Image credit: Microsoft)
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screenshot of Windows Copilot features

(Image credit: Microsoft)
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screenshot of Windows Copilot features

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There’s also a new Generative Erase feature in the Photos app that allows you to select and remove unwanted objects or imperfections from your images. Copilot will also receive new accessibility features including Voice Shortcuts, which lets you create custom commands using just a single phrase. You can also now use voice commands on a multi-display setup to better navigate between displays or move files and apps.

New plugins are also coming to Copilot, allowing easy access to various applications in an instant. Shopify, Klarna and Kayak will be added in March, adding to the Copilot features offered via OpenTable and Instacart.

Windows Copliot is finally getting there…

Some previous updates to Windows Copilot have given the tool some serious utility. For instance, you can now use it to generate and edit AI images using text-to-image prompts, powered by Dall-E. An update to this tool, Designer, takes it even further by letting you make tweaks to generated content like highlighting certain aspects, blurring the background, or adding a unique filter.

There was also another very useful plugin added to Copilot recently, Power Automate. It lets users automate repetitive and tedious tasks like creating and manipulating entries in Excel, managing PDFs, and other file management.

Slowly Windows Copilot is getting more and more useful, with tons of new features and improvements that make it worth having around. Maybe it will even make Windows 11 a worthwhile upgrade for those who still haven’t taken the plunge yet and are still looking at Windows 10.

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Microsoft Paint could get Midjourney-like powers soon thanks to a surprise AI upgrade

Microsoft has been paying quite a lot of attention to its once-forgotten Paint app recently, which had gone years without any meaningful updates or new features. Now, it seems like the app is getting yet another upgrade – a Midjourney-like ability to generate AI art in real-time. 

So, what does that mean? If you’re unfamiliar with the popular image generator Midjourney, it’s an AI-powered tool that allows you to type in a text prompt to generate an image in a style of your choosing – be it paintwork, photorealism, or even pixel art.

The rumor comes from the credible Windows leaker PhantomOfEarth on X (formerly Twitter), who made a post stating that “The upcoming AI feature for paint may be something known as ‘LiveCanvas’”. While the leaker isn’t entirely sure what exactly the feature will be, it does sound very familiar to Leonardo.Ai’s Real-Time Canvas.

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Real-Time Canvas allows you to draw in one window and watch in a second window as generative AI brings your art to life – like a sort of artistic auto-fill. This would fit perfectly in Microsoft Paint – users would be able to sketch out their ideas or create art and use the generative AI technology to add to it. Microsoft already has some basic (and, if I’m being honest, kind of average) AI-powered image generation within Paint, so it would make sense to add a more interactive feature like this rather than simply a repeat of something they already have. 

We’re quite excited to see how this tool could help budding artists looking to experiment with generative AI, since it’ll be available free in Windows. With the ability to draw in one window and edit in another, you can create the barebones of your outwork and add finer details with the AI. It's approaching a more 'moral' application of generative AI – one that doesn't simply cut out the human creator entirely.

We don’t know much about expected release dates or even have a rough idea of what the feature would look like outside of PhantomOfEarth’s post – and, as always, we should take leaks like this with a side of salt. Likely, the feature will eventually make its way to the Windows Insider Program, which allows Windows enthusiasts and developers to sign up and get an early look at upcoming releases and new features that may be on the way. So, we’ll have to wait and see if it comes to fruition – and get doodling. 

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Nvidia’s GeForce Now’s free tier will soon show you up to two minutes of ads while you wait to play – proving nowhere is safe from commercials

Nvidia’s free tier of GeForce Now, its cloud gaming service, will soon run up to two minutes of ads before you play, according to Nvidia spokesperson Stephanie Ngo.

GeForce Now is a service offered by Nvidia that allows you to connect to digital PC game stores and stream games you already own across a multitude of different devices – including Macs, Windows laptops, iPhones and iPads, Android phones, and more.

It offers three membership tiers, with the free membership offering a queue system with an hour-long gaming session length that will then bring you back to the start of the queue once your time is up. It’s in this waiting time that the ads will be shown, so while it could be a little annoying, your actual gameplay time won’t be interrupted. 

The ads will help pay for the free tier service and keep it free, with Ngo adding that the change is also expected to reduce wait times for free users in the long run – though it’s not entirely clear at this point how that’s going to work. Perhaps Nvidia is expecting the arrival of ads to push users to pay for the premium tiers or simply drive some users away from the platform entirely – either would, in theory, help reduce queues for the free tier.  GeForce Now users should expect an email on 27 Feb to let them know about the changes. 

 Major inconvenience or just … meh?  

I’m not a user of Nvidia’s game-streaming service myself, but I reached out to GeForce Now Members within the TechRadar team and learned that wait times currently fluctuate between five to fifteen minutes – and scrolling through the GeForce Now subreddit proves that wait times can go on even longer. 

Most people who use the free tier of GeForce Now go in aware that they will be spending a not-insignificant amount of time in a queue, so in reality, two minutes of ads when you know you’re likely going to be waiting for longer anyway isn’t much of an inconvenience – it might even help kill some time. Many users are likely to simply do something else while queuing for their free hour timeslot anyway, so why shouldn’t Nvidia get some extra ad revenue from it?

That being said, it is a gloomy example of the inescapable modern torture of being advertised at non-stop. Almost every facet of the internet is packed with ads at this point (this article included – sorry about that, but we’ve got to eat!) and while a lot of platforms offer ad-free paid tiers, it seems like that isn’t enough anymore. 

Amazon Prime has received a lot of (well-deserved) flak for slapping ads onto paid memberships, and Netflix’s ad-supported free tier wasn’t very well-received either. While Nvidia’s latest move seems fairly innocuous right now, who’s to say the ‘up to two minutes’ won’t extend further in the future, until you’re sat watching a full ten minutes of commercials to play an hour-long session of your current favorite game? Do you just give in and buy a paid membership? I just might, personally – but I wouldn’t be happy about it.

Via The Verge 

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The Meta Quest 3’s popularity is proof a cheap Vision Pro can’t come soon enough

The Oculus Quest 2 has been the most popular VR headset in the world for the past couple of years – dominating sales and usage charts with its blend of solid performance, amazing software library and, most importantly, affordability. 

Now its successor – the Meta Quest 3 – is following in its footsteps. 

Just four months after launch it’s the third most popular headset used on Steam (and will likely be the second most popular in the next Steam Hardware Survey). What’s more, while we estimate the Quest 3’s not selling quite as well as the Quest 2 was at the four-month mark, it still looks to be a hit (plus, lower sales figures are expected considering it’s almost double the launch price of the Quest 2).

Despite its higher cost, $ 499.99 / £479.99 / AU$ 799.99 is still relatively affordable in the VR space, and its early success continues the ongoing trend in VR that accessibility is the make or break factor in a VR gadget’s popularity.  

Oculus Quest 2 floating next to its handsets

The cheap Oculus Quest 2 made VR mainstream (Image credit: Facebook)

There’s something to be said for high-end hardware such as the Apple Vision Pro bringing the wow factor back to VR (how can you not be impressed by its crisp OLED displays and inventive eye-and-hand-tracking system), but I’ll admit I was worried that its launch – and announcement of other high-end, and high-priced, headsets – would see VR return to its early, less affordable days.

Now I’m more confident than ever that we’ll see Apple’s rumored cheaper Vision Pro follow-up and other budget-friendly hardware sooner rather than later.

Rising up the charts 

According to the Steam Hardware Survey, which tracks the popularity of hardware for participating Steam users, 14.05% of all Steam VR players used a Quest 3 last month. That’s a 4.78% rise in its popularity over the previous month’s results and means it’s within spitting distance of the number two spot, which is currently held by the Valve Index – 15% of users prefer it over other VR headsets, even three-and-a-half years after its launch.

It has a ways to go before it reaches the top spot, however, with the Oculus Quest 2 preferred by 40.64% of Steam VR players. The Quest 3’s predecessor has held this top spot for a couple of years now, and it’s unlikely to lose to the Quest 3 or another headset for a while. Even though the Quest 3 is doing well for itself, it’s not selling quite as fast as the Quest 2.

(Image credit: Future)

Using Steam Hardware Survey data for January 2024 (four months after its launch) and data from January 2021 (four months after the Quest 2’s launch) – as well as average Steam player counts for these months based on SteamDB data – it appears that the Quest 3 has sold about 87% as many units as the Quest 2 did at the same point in its life.

Considering the Quest 3 is priced at $ 499.99 / £479.99 / AU$ 799.99, a fair bit more than the $ 299 / £299 / AU$ 479 the Quest 2 cost at launch, to even come close to matching the sales speed of its predecessor is impressive. And the Quest 2 did sell very well out of the gate.

We don’t have exact Quest 2 sales data from its early days – Meta only highlights when the device passes certain major milestones – but we do know that after five months, its total sales were higher than the total sales of all other Oculus VR headsets combined, some of which had been out for over five years. Meta’s gone on to sell roughly 20 million Quest 2s, according to a March 2023 leak. That's about as fast as the Xbox Series X is believed to have sold, which launched around the same time.

This 87% of Quest 2 sales figure can be taken with a pinch of salt – you can find out how I got to this number at the bottom of this piece; it required pulling data from a few sources and making some reasonable assumptions – but that number and the Quest 2 and 3’s popularity on Steam shows that affordability is still the most powerful driving force in the VR space. So, I hope other headset makers are paying attention.

Lance Ulanoff wearing Apple Vision Pro

The Apple Vision had me a little concerned (Image credit: Future)

A scary expensive VR future

The Apple Vision Pro is far from unpopular. Reports suggest that between 160,000 and 200,000 preorders were placed on the headset ahead of its release on February 2, 2024 (some of those orders have been put on eBay with ridiculously high markups and others have been returned by some disappointed Vision Pro customers).

The early popularity makes sense. Whatever Mark Zuckerberg says about the superiority of the Quest 3, the Apple Vision Pro is the best of the best VR headsets from a technical perspective. There’s some debate on the comfort and immersive software side of things, but eye-tracking, ridiculously crisp OLED displays, and a beautiful design do make up for that.

Unfortunately, thanks to these high-end specs and some ridiculous design choices – like the outer OLED display for EyeSight (which lets an onlooker see the wearer’s eyes while they're wearing the device) – the headset is pretty pricey coming in at $ 3,499 for the 256GB model (it’s not yet available outside the US).

Seeing this, and the instant renewed attention Apple has drawn to the VR space – with high-end rivals like the Samsung XR headset now on the way – I’ll admit I was a little concerned we might see a return to VR’s early, less accessible days. In those days, you’d spend around $ 1,000 / £1,000 / AU$ 1,500 on a headset and the same again (or more) on a VR-ready PC.

Valve Index being worn by a person

The Valve Index is impressive, but it’s damn expensive (Image credit: Future)

Apple has a way of driving the tech conversation and development in the direction it chooses. Be it turning more niche tech into a mainstream affair like it did for smartwatches with the Apple Watch or renaming well-established terms by sheer force of will (VR computing and 3D video are now exclusively called spatial computing and spatial video after Apple started using those phrases).

While, yes, there’s something to be said for the wow factor of top-of-the-line tech, I hoped we wouldn’t be swamped with the stuff while more budget-friendly options get forgotten about because this is the way Apple has moved the industry with its Vision Pro.

The numbers in the Steam Hardware Survey have assuaged those fears. It shows that meaningful budget hardware – like the Quest 2 and 3, which, despite being newer, have less impressive displays and specs than many older, pricier models – is still too popular to be going anywhere anytime soon.

If anything, I’m more confident than ever that Apple, Samsung, and the like need to get their own affordable VR headsets out the door soon. Especially the non-Apple companies that can’t rely on a legion of rabid fans ready to eat up everything they release. 

If they don’t launch budget-friendly – but still worthwhile – VR headsets, then Meta could once again be left as the only real contender in this sector of VR. Sure, I like the Meta headsets I’ve used, but nothing helps spur on better tech and/or prices than proper competition. And this is something Meta is proving it doesn’t really have right now.

Girl wearing Meta Quest 3 headset interacting with a jungle playset

(Image credit: Meta)

Where did my data come from?

It’s important to know where data has come from and what assumptions have been made by people handling that data, but, equally, not everyone finds this interesting, and it can get quite long and distracting. So, I’ve put this section at the bottom for those interested in seeing my work on the 87% sales figure comparison between the Oculus Quest 2 and Meta Quest 3 four months after their respective launches.

As I mentioned above, most of the data for this piece has been gathered from the Steam Hardware Survey. I had to rely on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to see some historical Steam Hardware Survey data because the results page only shows the most recent month’s figures.

When looking at the relative popularity of headsets in any given month, I could just read off the figures in the survey results. However, to compare the Quest 2 and Quest 3’s four-month sales to each other, I had to use player counts from SteamDB and make a few assumptions.

The first assumption is that the Steam Hardware Survey’s data is consistent for all users. Because Steam users have to opt-in to the survey, when it says that 2.24% of Steam users used a VR headset in January 2024, what it really means is that 2.24% of Steam Hardware Survey participants used a VR headset that month. There’s no reason to believe the survey’s sample isn’t representative of the whole of Steam’s user base, and this is an assumption that’s generally taken for granted when looking at Hardware Survey data. But if I’m going to break down where my numbers come from, I might as well do it thoroughly.

Secondly, I had to assume that Steam users only used one VR headset each month and that they didn’t share their headsets with other Steam users. These assumptions allow me to say that if the Meta Quest 3 was used for 14.05% of Steam VR sessions, then 14.05% of Steam users with a VR headset (which is 2.24% of Steam’s total users) owned a Quest 3 in January 2024. Not making these assumptions leads to an undercount and overcount, respectively, so they kinda cancel each other out. Also, without this assumption, I couldn’t continue beyond this step as I’d lack the data I need.

The Oculus Quest 2 headset sat on top of its box and next to its controllers

Who needs more than one VR headset anyway? (Image credit: Shutterstock / agencies)

Valve doesn’t publish Steam’s total user numbers, and the last time it published monthly active user data was in 2021 – and that was an average for the whole year rather than for each month. It also doesn’t say how many people take part in the Hardware Survey. All it does publish is how many people are using Steam right now. This information is gathered by SteamDB so that I and other people can see Steam’s Daily Active User (DAU) average for January 2021 and January 2024 (as well as other months, but I only care about these two).

My penultimate assumption was that the proportion of DAUs compared to the total number of Steam users in January 2021 is the same as the proportion of DAUs compared to the total number of Steam users in January 2024. The exact proportion of DAUs to the total doesn’t matter (it could be 1% or 100%). By assuming it stays consistent between these two months, I can take the DAU figures I have – 25,295,361 in January 2024 and 24,674,583 in January 2021 – multiply them by the percentage of Steam users with a Quest 3 and Quest 2 during these months, respectively – 0.31% and 0.37% – then finally compare the numbers to one another.

The result is that the number of Steam users with a Quest 3 in January 2024 is 87.05% of the number of Steam users with a Quest 2 in January 2021.

My final assumption was that Quest headset owners haven’t become more or less likely to connect their devices to a PC to play Steam VR. So if it's 87% as popular on Steam four months after their respective launches, the Quest 3 has sold 87% as well as the Quest 2 did after their first four months on sale.

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