By Sarah Perez for TechCrunch
Netflix is officially launching a feature that will make it easier to find something to watch when you’re stuck browsing and unable to make a decision. The service is introducing a tool called “Play Something” to users worldwide — the final iteration that “shuffle” feature you may have already seen during Netflix’s tests over the past year. When selected, Netflix will play another show or movie it thinks you’ll like, based on your interests and prior viewing behaviour.
In other words, it won’t play random content, but will instead bring up either a movie or show you’re already watching, a series or movie on your list, an unfinished series or movie you may want to revisit, or a brand new series or film that Netflix’s personalisation algorithms suggest.
The feature has been in testing under various names and styles for some time. A year ago, the feature was called Shuffle Play, for example. During its Q4 earnings, Netflix said the shuffle feature would roll out to its worldwide users sometime in the first half of 2021, describing it as a way for users to “instantly watch a title chosen just for them.”
For today’s launch, not much has changed beyond the feature’s name and style.
The new option can be found on Netflix’s TV app underneath your profile name, on the navigation menu to the left of your screen and on the tenth row on your Netflix homepage — a location that hopes to find users after they’ve been scrolling for some time without landing on anything they want to watch.
Netflix users with screen-readers can use Text-to-Speech (TTS) to use Play Something, the company notes.
While Netflix is always testing features that make it easier for users to jump from browsing to watching, this feature in particular comes at a time when Netflix is seeing slower subscriber growth — something it’s blaming on the lighter content slate due to COVID. But the reality is that Netflix is no longer the only streamer in town. And some of the content it has shipped has been weak, as evident in the growing list of cancellations. It has also lost top titles like “The Office” to rivals as rights’ holders have pulled their content back to their own new services.
For those reasons, too, Netflix needs a way to addict its current user base to what’s available in its existing catalogue before they churn out.
The new Play Something feature is available today on Netflix on TVs, and will soon begin testing on mobile devices, starting with Android.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has fired 10 ministers from his cabinet, moved some to other portfolios and appointed David Mabuza as his deputy.
Ramaphosa announced the changes in a late-night address at the Union Buildings on Monday night.
It was bound to be a tough balancing act for President Ramaphosa, as he moved to strengthen his team in government, appease his supporters who backed him in the race for ANC president and give just enough to those seen as Jacob Zuma’s allies, who he may need as his party looks to retain control of government in next year’s national elections.
He also had to ensure the new cabinet is one which speaks to the ANC’s theme of unity, while ensuring those so-called “Gupta ministers” implicated in state capture are ousted.
Ramaphosa indicated he would retain existing ministries and departments until a review of the configuration, size and number of national government departments is completed.
The president has explained why he made the changes.
“These changes are intended to ensure that national government is better equipped to continue implementing the mandate of this administration and specifically the tasks identified in the State of the National Address.
“In making these changes, I’ve been very conscious of the need to balance continuity and stability for the need for renewal, economic recovery and accelerated growth in our country.”
Ramaphosa has moved Nomvula Mokonyane to the Department of Communications, Jeff Radebe to Energy, Naledi Pandor to Higher Education, Malusi Gigaba back to Home Affairs, Lindiwe Sisulu to International Relations.
Gwede Mantashe has been brought in as the minister of Mineral Resources, Bheki as minister of Police, Blade Nzimande is brought back as Transport minister and the minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation is Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
The much-criticised Bathabile Dlamini remains in the corridors of power, moving to The Presidency, where she will work under Ramaphosa’s eye. Dlamini is moved to the portfolio of women, in a straight swap with Susan Shabangu, who will now head up the Social Development department.
Derek Hanekom, who was ousted by Jacob Zuma after he emerged as one of the former president’s fiercest critics, goes back to Tourism, while Zweli Mkhize goes to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
David “DD” Mabuza, also known as “The cat” – a reference to his numerous political lives – comes to the deputy presidency with a cupboard full of skeletons.
As a young activist in his home province of Mpumalanga, he was once accused of being an apartheid spy, a claim which has been revived by his mentor-turned-nemesis Mathews Phosa.
Mabuza was fired as Education MEC by Phosa in the 1990s for infamously inflating matric results in Mpumalanga.
As premier in that province he was engulfed in tender scandals and linked to a land claims scam.
His name has also been associated with a string of political assassinations in Mpumalanga, although he has never been criminally charged.
DD Mabuza’s greatest hurdle will be his own crisis of credibility as he assumes the position of deputy president.
So, who got the chop?
Des van Rooyen
By Clement Manyathela for EWN