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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Windows 11 update adds folders to the Start menu

Windows 11 is getting some big changes to its core interface, including folders for the Start menu (at long last).

Microsoft has announced that folders are going to grace the Start menu as of now, with an update rolling out for Windows 11 happening right off the bat (though as ever, that rollout will reach some PCs before others).

We’ve already seen how this feature works, at least in testing, as Start menu folders debuted in a preview build of Windows 11 back in February.

These app folders pretty much do what you’d expect, and mean that you’ll be able to create folders within the Start menu via an easy process. All that’s required is dragging and dropping one app icon onto another, then a folder will be created, complete with mini app icons displayed in the folder graphic to indicate what’s inside. You can also name these folders to help with organizing and seeing what’s what at a glance.

Start menu showing pinned apps organized into folders

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Other nifty features being introduced for Windows 11 with this incoming update include tabs in File Explorer, which facilitate your desktop folder windows having multiple tabs like a web browser, allowing you to keep many folders open within one window.


Analysis: A bit of a head-scratcher, but welcome nonetheless

It’s great to see folders arrive for the Start menu in Windows 11, as they are a useful tool for obvious organizational reasons, helping to keep the menu streamlined.

Indeed, the absence of this pretty basic feature in the Start menu was one of the head-scratchers about Windows 11’s interface, given that this ability was present in Windows 10 (and versions way before that, for that matter, as a fairly fundamental piece of the UI customization jigsaw). Why wasn’t it brought over with the initial launch of Windows 11, and why has it taken so long for the functionality to arrive in Microsoft’s newest OS? Well, whatever the case, it’s here now.

Indeed, it’s here right now, which is another talking point here. We’d expect these kind of interface changes, ones that are fairly big adjustments, to be bundled up in the big annual update for Windows 11 (due in the second half of the year). Mainly because it gives Microsoft lots of shiny new things to point out, in a ‘look at all this load of fresh stuff that’s arrived for our OS’ kind of way.

Still, Microsoft has been moving towards deploying new features outside of the major Windows updates, and we’ve seen, for example, monthly Windows 11 updates bring forth the likes of Android app support (in testing) plus refreshed Notepad and Media Player apps.

More flexibility in feature delivery is doubtless needed now Microsoft’s cadence has dropped from two upgrades per year to a single annual affair – and we’re certainly not complaining about getting important capabilities and introductions for Windows 11 sooner rather than later. But if big chunks of functionality are arriving before Sun Valley 2, it makes you wonder if the impact that the latter makes in terms of changes will be lessened when it turns up later in 2022.

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Windows 11 update adds folders to the Start menu

Windows 11 is getting some big changes to its core interface, including folders for the Start menu (at long last).

Microsoft has announced that folders are going to grace the Start menu as of now, with an update rolling out for Windows 11 happening right off the bat (though as ever, that rollout will reach some PCs before others).

We’ve already seen how this feature works, at least in testing, as Start menu folders debuted in a preview build of Windows 11 back in February.

These app folders pretty much do what you’d expect, and mean that you’ll be able to create folders within the Start menu via an easy process. All that’s required is dragging and dropping one app icon onto another, then a folder will be created, complete with mini app icons displayed in the folder graphic to indicate what’s inside. You can also name these folders to help with organizing and seeing what’s what at a glance.

Start menu showing pinned apps organized into folders

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Other nifty features being introduced for Windows 11 with this incoming update include tabs in File Explorer, which facilitate your desktop folder windows having multiple tabs like a web browser, allowing you to keep many folders open within one window.


Analysis: A bit of a head-scratcher, but welcome nonetheless

It’s great to see folders arrive for the Start menu in Windows 11, as they are a useful tool for obvious organizational reasons, helping to keep the menu streamlined.

Indeed, the absence of this pretty basic feature in the Start menu was one of the head-scratchers about Windows 11’s interface, given that this ability was present in Windows 10 (and versions way before that, for that matter, as a fairly fundamental piece of the UI customization jigsaw). Why wasn’t it brought over with the initial launch of Windows 11, and why has it taken so long for the functionality to arrive in Microsoft’s newest OS? Well, whatever the case, it’s here now.

Indeed, it’s here right now, which is another talking point here. We’d expect these kind of interface changes, ones that are fairly big adjustments, to be bundled up in the big annual update for Windows 11 (due in the second half of the year). Mainly because it gives Microsoft lots of shiny new things to point out, in a ‘look at all this load of fresh stuff that’s arrived for our OS’ kind of way.

Still, Microsoft has been moving towards deploying new features outside of the major Windows updates, and we’ve seen, for example, monthly Windows 11 updates bring forth the likes of Android app support (in testing) plus refreshed Notepad and Media Player apps.

More flexibility in feature delivery is doubtless needed now Microsoft’s cadence has dropped from two upgrades per year to a single annual affair – and we’re certainly not complaining about getting important capabilities and introductions for Windows 11 sooner rather than later. But if big chunks of functionality are arriving before Sun Valley 2, it makes you wonder if the impact that the latter makes in terms of changes will be lessened when it turns up later in 2022.

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Chrome OS 100 update arrives with a start menu to rival Windows 11

Google's ChromeOS for Chromebooks was also updated to version 100, alongside its web browser, showcasing a new app launcher and other features.

In a blogpost, the company spoke of the app launcher being the headline feature here, with it moving from the center to the left of the screen, similar to Windows 11's start menu.

Searching for a term also looks cleaner here, with results being shown in a list, with the choice to look at images or news on the query. But there's also other features, such as being able to edit words with your voice and using the webcam to create gifs of yourself.

These are promising features as we approach Google IO in May, and make us wonder if we'll see some surprises at the event for Chrome OS.


Analysis: Strength to strength for Chrome OS

Chrome OS 100 gif feature

(Image credit: Google)

Around 2010, 'netbook' was a term that was associated with smaller-sized laptops that had a terrible battery life and slow speeds, with their only advantage being that they were available for a low price. 

Tablets like the iPad would push these out of the way, but Google saw another route in this area with its Chromebooks, which only run on ChromeOS and offered a majority of Android apps.

These Chromebooks have only gotten better in recent years, especially for those who only do work on Google's apps. In certain places of work, employees are given Chromebooks as their sole machine, mainly due to their solid battery life and being able to easily access their work email, spreadsheets and documents through G Suite.

With Chrome OS reaching version 100 and Android 13 fast approaching, we can't help but wonder if there's going to be some announcements made at Google IO in May. Whether that's in gaming or a dedicated Pixel tablet that runs on Chrome OS instead of Android, it looks to be an encouraging time if you're all in on the Google ecosystem.

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Chrome OS 100 update arrives with a start menu to rival Windows 11

Google's ChromeOS for Chromebooks was also updated to version 100, alongside its web browser, showcasing a new app launcher and other features.

In a blogpost, the company spoke of the app launcher being the headline feature here, with it moving from the center to the left of the screen, similar to Windows 11's start menu.

Searching for a term also looks cleaner here, with results being shown in a list, with the choice to look at images or news on the query. But there's also other features, such as being able to edit words with your voice and using the webcam to create gifs of yourself.

These are promising features as we approach Google IO in May, and make us wonder if we'll see some surprises at the event for Chrome OS.


Analysis: Strength to strength for Chrome OS

Chrome OS 100 gif feature

(Image credit: Google)

Around 2010, 'netbook' was a term that was associated with smaller-sized laptops that had a terrible battery life and slow speeds, with their only advantage being that they were available for a low price. 

Tablets like the iPad would push these out of the way, but Google saw another route in this area with its Chromebooks, which only run on ChromeOS and offered a majority of Android apps.

These Chromebooks have only gotten better in recent years, especially for those who only do work on Google's apps. In certain places of work, employees are given Chromebooks as their sole machine, mainly due to their solid battery life and being able to easily access their work email, spreadsheets and documents through G Suite.

With Chrome OS reaching version 100 and Android 13 fast approaching, we can't help but wonder if there's going to be some announcements made at Google IO in May. Whether that's in gaming or a dedicated Pixel tablet that runs on Chrome OS instead of Android, it looks to be an encouraging time if you're all in on the Google ecosystem.

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It’s now quicker than ever to start a Microsoft Teams call

There could soon be no escape from a quick Microsoft Teams catch-up after the company released a new update that makes setting up a call easier than ever.

The video conferencing service will soon let users cast directly from their desktop to Microsoft Teams Rooms hardware, meaning there's no need for a formal meeting any more.

Instead, users can employ the new Teams casting feature to wirelessly connect to a Teams Room, no matter where in the world they are.

Microsoft Teams casting

In its entry in the Microsoft 365 roadmap, the company says it sees the upgrade as ideal for quick ad-hoc sessions that don't require setting up a formal meeting.

The feature will work across Windows and Mac versions of the Teams desktop client, with users able to broadcast their screen and cast content stored locally on their computer or accessible via Office 365.

The feature is still listed as “in development”, but Microsoft has listed a general availability date of March 2022, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. The tool will be made generally available to desktop users everywhere upon release.

The news is the latest example of Microsoft Teams working in harmony with other services and products in a bid for improved efficiency.

Recently, Microsoft revealed that users will soon be able to add apps built for Microsoft Teams across Office.com and the Office app for Windows, meaning there's now no need to switch between platforms in order to use specific apps.

The company is also working on a new feature that will let users run apps built for Microsoft Teams within its Outlook email service.

The move should make online collaboration and communication a much more seamless and smoother experience, meaning users shouldn't need to constantly switch between Teams and Outlook to stay on top of their work.

Microsoft Teams continues to go from strength to strength, with the latest figures from the company showing that the service now boasts over 270 million monthly active users.

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Windows 11 Start menu is disappearing for some people in new update

Windows 11's February feature update is causing issues for some users, where the Start menu disappears as soon as you hover over to it, thanks to a conflict with widgets trying to appear at the same time.

The update brought a preview option for Android apps on the Microsoft Store, alongside dark mode in Notepad, the return of Windows Media Player, and more.

But there's a growing number of users who are reporting issues with the Start menu, where it looks to be conflicting with the widgets in the Taskbar.

In our tests, we also found the same issue, while pressing the Windows key to keep the menu from disappearing, instead of using the mouse to click on the Start menu icon, seemed to fix the problem.


Analysis: a glaring bug that should have been fixed before release

It's certainly a frustrating bug, and it raises the question of why wasn't this fixed before the February update landed? The Taskbar and the Start menu have both seen polarizing changes since Windows 11 was announced in June 2021.

This bug won't help matters for – to have the Start menu disappear, especially when you want to quickly launch an app or a document, is going to frustrate many people.

But Microsoft is aware of the bug, according to Windows Latest, so we may not have to wait long for the next fix to arrive. But, in a time when a big change to a feature that's been in Windows for almost thirty years is rendered useless because of a bug, it isn't going to be a good advert for Windows 11.

So the company has to act fast here and make sure that something like this doesn't appear in the release update for all users in the future. But if you're also experiencing the same or other issues, let Microsoft know in the Feedback Hub.

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Bad news – you’ll have to start paying for Google Workspace this year

Google is looking to move users of its office software products over to paid subscriptions, meaning your business will soon have to pay for the likes of Gmail, Docs, and Sheets or lose access.

From May 1 2022, G Suite legacy free edition users will need to switch to a paid Google Workspace subscription in order to keep using the software.

Google says that the G Suite legacy free edition itself will no longer be available from July 1, 2022, with any users found not to have started paying after 60 days being locked out.

Google Workspace subscription

“To maintain your services and accounts…upgrade by May 1, 2022,” a help page on the Google Support site noted. “Upgrading to Google Workspace takes just a few steps with no disruption to your users. After you upgrade you can use your new subscription at no cost until at least July 1, 2022.”

In a seperate email to admins seen by TechRadar Pro, the company said from May 1, it plans to automatically upgrade free users to “an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription” based on its analysis of the customer's usage and the features it thinks you'll need.

Google Workplace plans start at $ 6/user/month for its Business Starter option, with Business Standard ($ 12/user/month), and Business Plus $ 18 /user/month also on offer, providing an increasing level of services with the amount paid.

Google is offering a discount for 12 months, and won't start charging subscription fees until July 1, 2022. The company is also offering businesses who don't want to pay or upgrade the chance to export their data at no extra cost.

Google rebranded G Suite as Workspace back in October 2020 in a bid to bring more structure to its myriad of apps and services.

Initially described as “the future of work”, the new platform looked to improve the interoperability of its various productivity services, blurring the lines between each product for a more fluid feel.

The change also coincided with a major shift in the way staff work and collaborate with each other due to the new hybrid working way of life helped by the pandemic.

“This is the end of the ‘office’ as we know it. From here on out, teams need to thrive without meeting in person, protect their time to focus on the most impactful work, and build human connection in new ways,” Google said at the time.

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Python custodians apologize for “cursed” start to the year

Developers from Python have published three new versions of the programming language, and apologized for the process not going as smoothly as planned.

In the release announcement, CPython core developer Łukasz Langa said that all versions were “cursed in some way”, and that developing them was a “bumpy ride”. 

However, the Python Software Foundation (PSF) is happy with the end result, and claims to be on route to making Python twice as fast as it used to be.

Speeding things up

There are now three versions of Python now available – 3.9.x – the “legacy series”, 3.10.x, the latest series of Python 3, and 3.11.x, the version that hints to the future. 

“The releases you're looking at were all cursed in some way. What a way to start 2022! Besides the certificate hold up, Python 3.10.2 is an expedited release (you'll want to upgrade, read below!), Python 3.11.0a4 had almost 20 (sic, twenty!) release blockers before being finally green, and Python 3.9.10 was made from a new M1 Mac on macOS Monterey which made the usually boring process quite a ride,” Langa explained.

The new versions are being shipped out without Windows installers, as there was an issue with renewing certificates. But with the earlier releases having a major memory leak issue, the devs are recommending the new versions, anyway.

“We've held the releases all week while the situation is getting resolved but the urgency of 3.10.2 in particular made us release without the Windows installers after all,” Langa further said. 

The problem with the certificates is expected to be solved in the coming days. 

While the current main version (3.10) solves memory leak issues and other problems, the upcoming 3.11.x versions are inching the product closer to creator Guido van Rossum’s plan, that was laid out at the PyCon 2021 conference.

Van Rossum’s idea is to make Python 3.11 twice as fast as 3.10. Right now, it’s about 19% faster, ZDNet reports. 

Via: ZDNet

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