Got a Meta Quest 3? There are 12 new reasons to get a Quest Plus subscription

Meta Quest 3 and Oculus Quest 2 owners with a Meta Quest Plus subscription are about to get a lot more bang for their buck as the program is getting a Netflix-style catalogue of rotating software.

Previously, Quest Plus owners got two free games a month that they could keep and use for as long as they were subscribed – the software for March 2024 is shooter Contractors and immersive puzzler Shadow Point. Now, on top of those two free VR apps they’ll also get access to a rotating library of other free titles they can enjoy while they’re available at no extra cost.

The current selection of 12 joining the service in March 2024 includes some excellent sports apps in The Climb and Sports Scramble, as well as some of my favorite VR games with Walkabout Mini Golf and Until You Fall.

The first 12 Meta Quest Plus catalogue titles including Demeo, Fruit Ninja, Walkabout Mini Golf and A Township Tale

The first 12 Meta Quest Plus catalogue titles (Image credit: Meta)

If the deal wasn’t sweet enough for you already there’s an extra offer available for people who buy an annual Meta Quest Plus subscription before May 31, 2024 – this includes people who buy new subscriptions, but also existing users who upgrade from a monthly Quest Plus plan.

That’s because you’ll not only get the best-value Meta Quest Plus subscription – paying just $ 59.99 / £59.99 a year instead of the $ 95.88 / £95.88 it’d cost by paying $ 7.99 / £7.99 monthly – but you'll also get $ 25 / £25 store credit to buy any Quest game or app you want.

Unlike the Meta Quest Plus software, you won’t lose access to it when you unsubscribe.

It’s unclear how long apps will be available in the rotating catalogue – if they’ll all change monthly, or if it depends on the specific title title. We also don't know if you'll get a discount on the software if you choose to buy it before it leaves (which is a benefit offered by other similar services). 

At the very least, this catalogue will offer you an extended demo for any games and apps you’re interested in – informing you if it’s worth buying once it’s gone, or not. You might even manage to finish a whole single-player adventure before spending a dime (ignoring the subscription cost).

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Microsoft reveals new Copilot Pro subscription service that turbo-charges the AI assistant in Windows 11 for $20 a month

Microsoft is taking Windows Copilot to the next level with Windows Copilot Pro and bringing Microsoft 365 Copilot to businesses of all sizes. 

Windows Copilot and 365 Copilot are Microsoft’s newest AI digital assistants to help users with all kinds of tasks and projects that we were introduced to last year, and they’re getting a major boost with higher-tier AI functionality. 

Microsoft is officially debuting Copilot Pro, available for individual users to subscribe to for $ 20 per month (per user) starting today January 16. 

This version of Copilot will allow individuals to upgrade their productivity and user experience with the best Copilot has to offer in terms of AI features, capability, performance speed and being able to access Copilot at peak times. 

This will also grant users with a Personal or Home subscription access to Copilot Pro in Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, OneNote, and available for PowerPoint on PC, Mac and iPad. This is similar to the existing Microsoft 365 Copilot made for enterprise customers, which requires an enterprise subscription, but now these Copilot AI capabilities will be available to Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers as well. 

The crème de la Copilot on offer

If you choose to sign up for Copilot Pro, it will grant you priority access to the latest OpenAI models, like the state-of-the-art GPT-4 Turbo from OpenAI, and enable you to build and tailor your own Copilot GPT bot to a topic of your choosing. 

Copilot Pro will give users greater agency in how and what they Copilot Pro by allowing them to toggle between models and try out different options to optimize their experience. 

Users will be able to build and mold these personalized Copilot GPTs in a brand new Copilot GPT Builder (similar to the commercial version launched last year) by answering some straightforward prompts, and Microsoft assures us it’s coming soon. 

You can also look forward to an upgrade to the AI image generation from Microsoft with Image Creator from Designer (formerly known as Bing Image Creator). With Copilot Pro, you’ll get one hundred boosts (accelerated image generation processes), greater image detail and quality, and the landscape image format.

Along with the introduction of Copilot Pro for individual use, Copilot for Microsoft 365 will be available to more types of commercial customers, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses. From now on, there’s no employee minimum, lower prerequisites, and more availability of Copilot subscriptions through Microsoft partners.

New upgrades to Copilot and a new Copilot app

Copilot imagery from Microsoft

(Image credit: Microsoft)

For those users that want to continue experimenting with Copilot for free, there’s something to watch out for as well. The free version of Copilot is getting Copilot GPTs that allow you to customize and tailor a Copilot that you can discuss a particular topic of your choosing. Today you should be able to see some of the topics already available, such as fitness, travel, cooking and more.

Along with these developments, Copilot is getting an iOS app and an Android app, and Copilot is coming to the Microsoft 365 mobile app. With these new apps, you’ll be able to have a single AI run across your devices, able to analyze information from your web usage, your PC use, and the apps you use to make its help more context-specific.  

The Copilot app is equipped with the same powerful tools that the PC version benefits from, such as GPT-4, Dall-E 3’s image creation capabilities, and the ability to input your own images into Copilot and have it respond to them

Copilot will be added to the Microsoft 365 app on both iOS and Android devices over the course of the next month for users who have a Microsoft account, and these users will be able to export the content that they generate as a Word or PDF document. Microsoft’s vision for this is that you’ll be able to summon Copilot almost instantly, as soon as you need it, and no matter what device you're currently using.

Microsoft is just getting started

It also looks like there are plenty more Copilot Pro features in the pipeline – similar to how we’ve seen multiple improvements to the standard version of Copilot in Windows 11. Divya Kumar relayed this while speaking to The Verge, referring to Microsoft’s recent release schedule as a “rolling thunder.” 

With Copilot Pro, Microsoft is aiming to catch the attention of “power users like creators, researchers, programmers and others” that might be interested in the latest innovations that it, with its collaborator OpenAI, has to offer. 

Microsoft has recently overtaken Apple as the most valuable company in the world, and it’s not showing signs of losing steam. Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and Consumer Chief Marketing Officer, claims that Copilot empowers “every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” If there’s a reason that you might want or even need assistance or advice digitally, it’s clear how eager Microsoft is to be there to meet it.

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Apple’s test of a new iOS subscription payment system is a huge step back

Apple is testing out a new subscription payment system for iOS devices that would let developers automatically charge a higher subscription-renewal price rather than ask for explicit acceptance, so long as the user is notified ahead of the renewal price increase and given the chance to cancel their subscription.

While this is a fairly common practice with subscription services, this isn't the way this is supposed to work on iOS. From Apple's developer documentation:

When you increase the price of a subscription, Apple informs affected subscribers via email and push notification and asks them to agree to the new price. On iOS 13.4 and iPadOS 13.4 and later, affected subscribers are also notified through a price consent sheet that automatically displays in your app… If they don’t agree, their subscription expires at the end of their current billing cycle.

The new payment system was first flagged by developer Max Seelemann on Twitter and later confirmed by TechCrunch.

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The issue appears to be limited to the Disney+ app for now and only seems to affect a limited number of users as part of a pilot test of a new iOS payment system.

Apple told TechRadar that the company is “piloting a new commerce feature we plan to launch very soon. The pilot includes developers across various app categories, organization sizes, and regions to help test an upcoming enhancement that we believe will be great for both developers and users, and we’ll have more details to share in the coming weeks.”

It's not clear whether this system, if implemented, would be open to all developers on the iOS platform, or whether only a selection of developers would be granted the ability to auto-charge for a price increase.

Analysis: while it could be worse, this is still a terrible idea

One of the worst things about subscription-based models is that they require a lot of management and juggling on the part of the user. Who among us hasn't completely forgotten that some subscription charge was due on a certain date and only realized it once we suddenly had a lot less money in the bank than we thought we had?

This is especially problematic when you're dealing with an annual subscription, which is a large chunk of money and is much more likely to be forgotten by the user (making it more unlikely that it will be cancelled ahead of the renewal charge). Subscription services are a very appealing model for businesses for that reason, and a major headache for users.

Apple's current system is about as good as you can expect, all things considered. It can't save you from forgetting about a looming renewal and over-drafting your bank account as a result, but at least it requires you to explicitly accept a higher price after an 'introductory' rate expires and automatically cancels the subscription if you don't do anything. 

We would much rather see Apple stick with that system than let a company automatically bill users a higher rate if they don't take action on it. On the plus side, it appears that the renewal-price increase notification is very obvious and there is at least a link for users to review the subscription and cancel it if they so choose.  

There's no getting around the fact, though, that this could open the door for ne'er-do-well developers to take advantage of users by starting off at a very low price and then jacking it up considerably for the renewal. While most users would immediately move to cancel if they saw that kind of scammy behavior, even with the new notification system, there's going to be some small subset of users who misread, misunderstand, or just miss the notification and find themselves getting hit with a higher-than-expected charge out of the blue.

Given that potential nightmare scenario, it's likely that only certain large developers would be allowed to automatically charge you an increased price in this way, which raises a different problem. This would give bigger players in the industry special treatment that puts smaller, legitimate developers at a disadvantage, with no obvious benefit to the user.

Given Apple's generally good track record on user protections, this feels like a big step back and is disappointing to see. If the big fish in the App Store pond do get special privileges, we should stop pretending that Apple's platform is as fair as the company claims it is. 

Since this appears to be a small pilot test, we hope Apple comes to see how valuable its current subscription payment model is for its users and doesn't break what is already working well. 

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Your Microsoft Office subscription price might be about to see a major hike

Microsoft is preparing changes to how it charges its cloud-based productivity suite Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) that could leave many customers facing higher software bills. 

CNBC reports that the “New Commerce Experience for Office” offering, set to be introduced in January 2022 will result in prices for the productivity suite spiking 20% for customers who pay on a monthly basis. 

Furthermore, Microsoft seems to be eliminating the option to scale the subscription back. If customers decide, halfway through the subscription, to stop using the service, they will still need to pay for the remainder of the term.

Unhappy customers

CNBC claimed the news has been distributed through third parties and via several Microsoft employees who did not want to be named. 

Microsoft’s official statement is that the company “provides flexible purchasing options to meet our customers’ diverse needs, and we don’t publicly disclose information around our premium and pricing approach for partners.”

Discussing the matter with the publication, one Microsoft partner said its customers had already raised concerns about the changes. Intivix co-founder Rob Schenk said he’s been notifying clients about the 20% increase for month-to-month arrangements, and the responses have been “mixed”, with some clients saying they “don’t like it at all”.

Some people have also taken to Reddit and to, to voice their dissatisfaction with the changes and to try and urge Microsoft into abandoning the idea.

Initially, the company planned on implementing the New Commerce Experience in October this year, but pushed it to January. From March 2022, all new orders will have to go through New Commerce Experience, with renewals having until July.

For the first half of the year, Microsoft will charge the same price for both monthly and yearly offers – with those who opt for an annual subscription apparently spared the price hike.

Having multiple payment options, as well as the ability to scale up and down easily, proved to be essential for the survival of many businesses during the pandemic. 

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