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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ChatGPT has now fixed a ‘major outage’ – and reopened its Plus subscriptions

ChatGPT is back online after suffering a “major” outage, according to the OpenAI status log (as spotted by Bloomberg). It’s far from the first time the chatbot has gone down in recent months, and it comes amid increased competition from Google’s brand-new Gemini artificial intelligence (AI) tool.

OpenAI, ChatGPT’s developer, posted the note on its website stating that the company’s chatbot was down for just under 40 minutes yesterday, between 5:32pm and 6:10pm PST. Outage indicator website Downdetector logged almost 3,000 reports that ChatGPT had crashed, coinciding with OpenAI’s report.

Looking back through OpenAI’s incident report page, it’s far from the only time that ChatGPT has gone down recently. November was a particularly error-prone month, with another “major” outage on November 8, while a whole host of OpenAI services were inaccessible on November 11.

The latest crash comes at a potentially challenging time for OpenAI, as Google has just launched its Gemini large language model (LLM) that will power a range of AI services for the search giant. Yet Gemini hasn’t got off to the best start, as complaints have mounted over its abilities and Google’s decision to fake a “hands-on” video of the tool.

ChatGPT Plus resumes subscriptions

A laptop screen showing the landing page for ChatGPT Plus

(Image credit: OpenAI)

Just as ChatGPT was coming back online, OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman shared some more positive news on X (formerly Twitter), noting that the company had re-enabled ChatGPT Plus subscriptions. “Thanks for your patience while we found more GPUs,” Altman added dryly.

ChatGPT Plus is OpenAI’s subscription service. For $ 20 / £16 a month, users gain access to a more advanced LLM (powered by GPT-4 rather than GPT-3.5, which runs the regular version of ChatGPT), faster response times and “priority access to new features and improvements.”

ChatGPT Plus had become so overrun in recent months that OpenAI was forced to pause subscriptions. According to Altman, a surge in use after OpenAI’s DevDay developer conference “exceeded our capacity and we want to make sure everyone has a great experience.”

With the rise of Google Gemini, you might be taking this moment to consider whether ChatGPT Plus is worth it. Google says Gemini can beat GPT-4 in a majority of tests, yet that’s with its high-end Ultra model, which isn’t available yet. So for now, ChatGPT Plus is still probably the best AI chatbot you can get – at least until Gemini Ultra launches.

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ChatGPT has become so popular it’s had to pause Plus subscriptions

If you were about to start delving into the world of AI chatbots, then we have some bad news: signups for ChatGPT Plus have been paused as demand has spread beyond the capacity of OpenAI, the organization behind the chatbot/language model. 

For the uninitiated, ChatGPT Plus provides priority access to ChatGPT and faster response times for the artificial intelligence-powered language model, as well as priority access to new features and improvements all for some $ 20 a month. 

But with new subscriptions now paused, you won't be able to get access to the likes of the GPT-Turbo – a supercharged version of the ChatGPT AI model – and custom GPTs that can be tailored to particular tasks. 

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The base ChatGPT is still available for free and people can still sign up and use it, it’s just the premium tier is basically out of reach for new subscribers for the time being. So that means you can still use ChatGPT to come up with answers to all manner of queries, or finesse your CV, or even give you dating advice. Just don’t expect it to be super fast or especially accurate – while ChatGPT can be a powerful tool, it’s not quite up to the same level of intelligence as a garden-variety human.

As for the surge in subscribers for ChatGPT Plus, that may have come from OpenAI’s recent developer conference DevDay, which was held on November 6. This may have seen a spate of developers get a dose of inspiration and move to sign up for ChatGPT Plus.

“The surge in usage post-DevDay has exceeded our capacity and we want to make sure everyone has a great experience,” said Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI.

So the flipside of this subscription pause could deliver a better overall service once OpenAI catches up.

Rise of the chatbots 

So what can we infer from this surge? Well, it would be a good indication of the continued appetite to embrace ChatGPT and other AI tools and chatbots. 

And as a result, we could see more apps and services come with ChatGPT-powered features, likely chatbots to provide a quick way to answer user queries or provide the core experience of a smart service. 

Then again with the likes of Samsung and Apple tipped to make greater use of AI in its future smartphones, we could see all manner of AI-related tech in near-future products. Time will, as ever, tell. 

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Instagram and Facebook get ad-free subscriptions in the EU, but they’re pricey

Starting in November, Meta will offer Facebook and Instagram users in the EU, EEA, (European Economic Area,) and Switzerland the opportunity to remove all advertisements from the platforms via a new subscription plan.

There will be two different prices available at launch depending on where you purchase a plan. People will be charged €9.99 a month on desktop, while on mobile, the price tag is bumped up to €12.99 a month. The higher cost on smartphones supposedly takes into account all “the fees that Apple and Google charge” developers through their respective app stores, according to the announcement. The company goes on to say it will not collect or use information from a subscribed account for targeted ads. There is one small catch: users must be at least 18 years old. Otherwise, they can't pay for a plan.

One subscription will cover all linked profiles in a person’s Account Center until March 1, 2024. After that date, Meta will begin charging “for each additional account”. Desktop plans will see a €6 increase whereas mobile plans will jump up €8. If you do the math, you're looking at an annual cost of roughly €240 a year for an ad-free experience on a single profile.

Astronomically high price tag

The pricing deeply concerns us, because if we did our math correctly, the final cost will be astronomically high. Think about it.

Let's say you have a Facebook and Instagram account and you want an ad-free experience on both desktop and mobile. To our understanding, you'll need to buy four separate subscriptions to cover all your bases on the two devices. A subscription after March 1 is about €20. So yearly, a European user may have to pay nearly €1,000 to remove all ads across desktop and mobile – assuming they only have one of each. Remember: costs increase for every extra profile. Keep in mind these numbers aren’t exact. We are rounding up, but we’re not too far off from the actual prices.

We reached out to Meta for clarification on the pricing. The announcement's wording was a little confusing. We also asked if there are plans to extend the subscription service to other countries, namely the US and UK. This story will be updated at a later time.

Forced to comply

The company explains it's launching the service as a way “to comply with evolving European regulations”. For the past couple of years, Meta has faced a lot of scrutiny from the EU over how the conglomerate handles user data. It’s gotten to the point where the Union passed the Digital Services Act “outlawing certain manipulative advertising practices” as well as slapping Meta with a $ 1.3 billion fine

Apparently, government regulators have ordered the company to give people a way to opt out of being bombarded with online ads. Meta claims the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) recognizes the subscription model as a “valid form of consent”. It is good to see the company provide a way to skip the ads permanently.
Unfortunately, it's making the whole process painful to people’s wallets.

If you are looking for a free way to surf the internet unperturbed, check out TechRadar’s list of the best ad blockers for 2023

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