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November 3, 2021
👃 Good morning! Keep scrolling/smelling for a gross flower.
Netflix Games
netflix games

Netflix has opened up its games to all Android app users, and it’s not exactly revolutionary, but it’s a classic Netflix approach.

Here’s what’s happening:

  • After a series of tests in Poland, then Spain and Italy, the Netflix app will now direct users of the Android app to also download and play some games.
  • That’s a global release, though you’ll need to update your Netflix app.
  • iOS will get the games eventually, with Apple’s more restrictive environment posing some challenges.
  • Just a note: I don’t yet see the games in my Netflix app, and double-checking the fine print it says the rollout starts at 10AM PT today; so about six hours after this newsletter is published.

The games

  • Netflix has five games to download: two titles based on its hit TV show Stranger Things, Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3, and arcade games Shooting Hoops, Card Blast, and Teeter Up.
  • You can also just search the Google Play Store for the games, too, though availability is only there for Netflix subscribers.
  • There are no ads or additional purchases.

This is it?

  • Well, probably not, right? 
  • Netflix’s own blog post was titled “Let the games begin” so yeah, maybe this isn’t it for Netflix and its ambitions in the world of gaming.
  • Popping out a few mobile games is as good a way as any to get started.
  • Remember that Netflix did buy the Oxenfree studio, so there’s something more significant in the works.
  • Back on the Q3 earnings call, Netflix COO and Chief Product Officer Gregory Peters said: “Mostly what we’ve done to date is about essentially making sure that all of our systems are working as we expect. So it’s really about proving to ourselves that we can do the delivery in a way that we want,” and “the same thing that’s made our service very powerful for recommending movies and TV shows, connecting great content creators to this audience — that’s the capability that we need to build on the game side now, as well.

🎮 Netflix now comes with games for paying subscribers: Netflix games finally launch for Android app users, five available for now, globally. iOS games on the way, too. (Android Authority).

🤔 Android 12 devices can’t use Chromecast volume controls due to a ‘legal issue’ (Android Authority).

👉 Samsung Internet Browser copies a hated feature from Safari, with a bottom-bar (Android Authority).

🔬 Deep dive on Pixel 6’s Tensor SoC, its architecture, and how it compares to rival chips (AnandTech).

Niantic is shutting down Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, after a bit over two years of operation. Which makes sense because it was pretty terrible, really brutally forcing inactive periods that could only be avoided through in-app purchases. Niantic wants people to go into Pikmin Bloom or the upcoming Transformers: Heavy Metal, or, of course, the very active Pokémon Go (Niantic).

📄 Microsoft is launching its Notion clone, called Loop, which is also billed as what Google launched and killed off years ago, Google Wave (TechCrunch).

📹 Also, Microsoft Teams enters the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings (The Verge).

⛔ Facebook didn’t say why, but it will stop using facial recognition, and delete data on over 1 billion people (Ars Technica).

🔫 Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV delayed again, now with no release date in sight (The Verge).

💱 Australia’s largest bank, Commonwealth Bank, will become the country’s first to offer customers crypto services, including trading 10 cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, etc (Reuters).

🤳 Zoom is testing running ads for free users (TechCrunch).

🏠 Zillow to shutter its semi-automated home buying business and lay off 2,000 employees as its big real estate bet falters, will now need to sell 7,000 homes (GeekWire).

🔋 Cars are going electric. What happens to the used batteries? (Wired).

🚀 The United Nations could finally create new rules for space (Wired).

🌌 Tom Hanks’ reaction to Jeff Bezos’ space offer is pretty good: “It costs like $28 million or something like that. And I’m doing good Jimmy — I’m doing good — but I ain’t paying $28 million.” (Mashable)

🏃‍♂️ It turns out exercise isn’t as likely to ruin your knees as you think (Gizmodo).

🥵 “ELI5: How do we generate so much heat just by being alive?” (r/nostupidquestions).

Wednesday Weirdness
corpse flower
San Diego Botanical Garden

San Diegans are in for a treat: at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas, a giant Corpse Flower has bloomed for just the second time in 18 years. And as reported on from the field by NBC7: “It’s big. It’s weird. And it stinks. Bad.

  • The “rock star” of the world of horticulture, the plant, also called the titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum, has been given a nickname: Jack Smellington.
  • There’s a nice timelapse here.
  • Quotes: “Amorphophallus titanum — If you took a bunch of used baby diapers, put them in a black garbage bag with a little bit of rotten meat and some fish, and then just left it on the side of the road in Borrego for about 24 hours.”
  • “The rare blossom only lasts two days. Thankfully, the San Diego Botanic Garden has two corpse flowers. The second is expected to bloom itself in the next three to five weeks.”
  • You can watch a video of the team pollinating the female flowers with pollen from a recent bloom, which is cool.

Smelling fresh,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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