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Winners and Losers: Fitbit gets Googley, as Disney begins password crackdown

OPiNION: September is usually a busy month in the world of tech, and 2023 has been no different. 

Meta stole headlines with the launch of the Meta Quest 3 and Ray-Ban Meta Glasses, with a new vision of the future for virtual and augmented reality. Meanwhile, Jim Ryan stepped down from PlayStation, Panos Panay ditched Microsoft for Amazon, and Xiaomi released yet another smartphone in the Xiaomi 13T Pro.

The Trusted Reviews 2023 Awards also took place this week, as our team of experts picked out the absolute best products across several categories. 

But for this column, we have selected the biggest winners and losers of the week in the tech world, and you can find out our picks below:

Fitbit Google Wallet

Winner: Fitbit/Google

We have a joint winner this week, and that’s because Fitbit and Google have finally combined their best qualities to launch a hugely promising wearable. Google completed its acquisition of Fitbit back in 2021, but it’s understandably taken time for the two companies to start singing from the same hymn sheet.

The new Fitbit Charge 6 is the very first wearable from Fitbit to take full advantage of the Google connection, featuring a number of handy Google apps such as YouTube Music, Google Maps and the Google Wallet.

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Fitbit already made great heart rate readers, but it has apparently been improved upon even further for the Charge 6 with 60% more accuracy thanks to a Pixel Watch machine learning algorithm. You also get all of the excellent Fitbit fitness features too, including 20 new workout modes. 

And for the cherry on top, Fitbit is lowering the launch price compared to its predecessor. The Fitbit Charge 5 was originally priced at $179.95 / £169.99, while the new Fitbit Charge 6 is available for just $159.95 / £139.95. 

We will have to wait until we can test the Fitbit Charge 6 to determine whether it lives up to the promising feature set, but at the very least, it’s great to see Google and Fitbit finally collaborating to deliver a fitness tracker with high aspirations for both software and hardware. 

Disney Plus logo

Loser: Disney+

TV shows are now spread across so many different streaming services that it’s difficult to watch the latest and greatest without forking up a scary amount of cash. This is why many people have resorted to sharing accounts with friends and family.

However, Disney Plus has confirmed that it will start restricting password sharing in Canada as soon as November 1 2024, with the crackdown likely to expand to other countries in the following months. This means Disney Plus subscribers will not be able to share their subscription with anyone outside of their household. You’ll still be able to stream Disney Plus on portables outside of your home, but they must be registered to your primary personal residence. 

This won’t be a rule that can be easily bypassed either, as Disney will be able to determine whether your IP address matches the primary address. So if it detects that someone is accessing the account from another household, they’ll block entry and be prompted to sign up to their own account instead. 

Netflix enforced its own password crackdown earlier this year, and so far it looks like it’s been a huge success, as Antenna reports that Netflix benefitted from 2.6 million new accounts in July 2023. There’s no doubt that Disney has been inspired by this success story.

But this is bad news for TV streamers. Not only are subscription services becoming more expensive, but the industry is also becoming more fragmented. And now services such as Netflix and Disney Plus are removing the ability to share passwords, there are likely to be long-term consequences for the streaming landscape. It’s not possible for everyone to sign up for every single subscription service, so sacrifices will have to be made in the future.

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