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Winners and Losers: Game Pass becomes unstoppable while Facebook ruins Oculus VR

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If you feel like the week passed you by in a blur, then these are top two tech stories you need to know about, as detailed in Trusted Reviews’ Winners and Losers.

Oh E3 – you never fail to surprise me. Going into this year’s mega event, I was most eager to see what Nintendo had up its sleeve, and to Nintendo’s credit, the last thing I ever expected to see was a reveal for Metroid Dread – a game that’s been 15 years in the making. What surprised me even more was how impressive Microsoft’s conference turned out to be, offering an almost unstoppable barrage of top tier titles that Xbox gamers can look forward to.

While there’s certainly a case to be made that Sony being a no-show at this year’s E3 was a massive letdown, the company narrowly skirts its way outside of the ‘Loser’ spot this week due to the fact that we know several must-have exclusives including God of War 2 and Horizon: Forbidden West are on the way. Instead, this week’s dishonourable mention has been easily swiped by Facebook, after the social media giant announced its latest plans to suck all the fun out of the Oculus VR platform.

Xbox Game Pass

Just as all roads lead to Rome, all video game discussions amongst the Trusted Reviews team typically return to Game Pass. In the four years that the service has been online, Game Pass has managed to completely reimagine gaming in the modern age, and it’s a service that has so far set the bar against which competitors such as PlayStation Now and Google Stadia have been held to. To say that Game Pass offers impressive value for money would be an understatement, but after this year’s E3, it’s clear that we haven’t seen anything yet.

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As the presentation went on, each new reveal was accompanied by the proud statement: ‘Available Day One on Game Pass’. To see this for some of the indie games that were shown would have been enough, but to have that statement go hand-in-hand with major triple-A titles like Forza Horizon 5, Psychonauts 2, Starfield, Back 4 Blood and Age of Empires IV – it’s almost too much to handle.

The addition of Starfield alone will be enough to get legions of fans to sign up to Game Pass, particularly as we now know that the eagerly anticipated Bethesda RPG will be an Xbox exclusive (sorry Sony fans).

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At this point in time it’s worth reminding folks that a subscription to Game Pass Ultimate will net you Xbox games, PC titles, access to cloud gaming and EA Play, as well as the ability to earn real life prizes simply by playing your favourite games. Given that a year’s subscription costs about the same amount as two PS5 games, Sony has to present a genuine alternative or risk losing out completely.

Oculus Quest 2

Remember when Oculus VR used to be fun? I’ll never forget trying out an Oculus Rift for the first time, but it seems as though the VR pioneer has been on a downward slope since being bought out by Facebook several years ago.

As of October of last year, it is now impossible to use an Oculus VR headset without also having a Facebook account. That also means that if you ever fancy unplugging yourself from the matrix and deleting your Facebook account for good, then you might as well sell your VR headset too as it’ll be useless to you.

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Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, Facebook has now announced that it will begin placing advertisements into various sections of the Oculus UI, meaning that if you ever saw VR as an escape from our ad-ridden reality then the illusion is about to come crashing down.

At this point, it’s not too hard to imagine a future update where Oculus users are required to pledge their unyielding loyalty to Mark Zuckerberg before playing a round of Beat Saber. If ever there was an opportunity for a non-Facebook owned VR alternative to crop up, this would be it.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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