Why The Shortcut is having its best month ever
Sunday special: all of the tech headlines in one place, but first some positive news from a media company you've helped us build
🐦 Ask Matt Swider on Twitter, Instagram or Threads for hand-picked deals from Walmart / Best Buy / B&H Photo / Amazon / GameStop / Xbox Game Pass / PlayStation Plus / 🔥Microsoft Office Windows $29.97 / 🔥 MS Office Mac $29.97 / 🌟 50% off Walmart+ / 📦 $5 free for Amazon Prime Day
👏 The Shortcut’s big milestones
I left a stable Editor-in-Chief role at a major tech publication to start The Shortcut and try something different with friends. That was a big risk when media groups continue to “hire” AI “writers” you can’t trust. But I knew that I could help consumers with personalized tech advice beyond PS5 restocks.
Well, we just hit some major milestones! ⤵️
🔍 Google News just lit up The Shortcut and we’re now being seen by more people than ever. This is a huge win for a new domain because, as of 2020, Google’s approval process has been controlled by a tough-as-nails algorithm and only tens of Substack publications have ever made it in. It’s very rare for any new domain. It took 18 months and 1 week of non-stop posting of daily quality content; there’s an entire team to thank for making this happen. Every publication I’ve written for has derived a majority of its traffic from Google News – so The Shortcut is now in the mix. Follow us on Google News by tapping the star icon to help us be seen even more.
🥽 Our Apple Vision Pro content was seen 1.1 million times during its first 24 hours. Why? I think many of you are interested in AR/VR tech and were let down by the PSVR 2 headset in February (we covered it a lot, but I never recommended it). It had a lot of promise, but Sony hasn’t swung for the fences. And what do you know: I get messages all of the time from fence-sitters on this very topic, asking me if they should buy the PSVR 2. Right now, my answer is “No.” It’s super cool tech, but it has flaws and a lack of triple-A content in the pipeline. So we’ve been researching the best alternatives worth your money. Maybe Apple or Meta will have better answers.
💼 New hire: Kevin Lee. We just hired Kevin from IGN to be The Shortcut’s Creative Director. We worked closely at TechRadar before his IGN days, and now he’s in charge of making photos and videos on The Shortcut, Instagram and YouTube come alive.
🥇 One year in: Adam Vjestica. Our first full-time employee is celebrating one year. I had hired Adam in 2020 at TechRadar and I hired him again in 2022 at The Shortcut. He’s been instrumental in developing our Shortcut Skinny review format and crafting the newsletter you see below. Human staff of The Shortcut > any AI bot writers of other media groups right now.
👷♂️ We’re redesigning The Shortcut. More to come on this, but our biggest project to date is expanding beyond Substack to inform our audience. Nirave Gondhia and Krista Sparks are spearheading what it’ll look like. This is completely funded by paid subscribers. Thank you!
Let’s get on with this week’s newsletter ⤵️
📆 Our calendar
🎮 Today: Save $5 ahead of Amazon Prime Day
🆓 Today: $50 Samsung gift card offer with email sign up
🔥 Today: Walmart+ is 50% off (deals below)
🌟 July 10, Mon: These Walmart+ Week deals go live
📦 July 11, Tues: Amazon Prime Day 2023 begins
📱 July 11, Tues: Nothing Phone 2 launch event
🥤 July 11, Tues: Free 7/11 Slurpee day
🧨 July 12, Wed: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 releases
🕹️ July 13, Thurs: Steam Deck sale ends – save up to $130
🤪 July 17, Mon: World Emoji Day (Matt will be attending)
🛍️ July 18, Tues: Amazon starts Google Pixel Fold sales (pre-orders open)
👩🚀 July 21, Fri: Nintendo’s Pikmin 4 release date – preorder here
🇰🇷 July 26, Wed: Samsung Galaxy Unpacked in Korea (Fold 5 & Flip 5)
Today’s tech 👍 winners & 👎 losers
👍 💰 Winner: Claim this deal by July 10 to start saving before Amazon Prime Day
Amazon Prime Day 2023 takes place on July 11 to July 12 (this upcoming week), and you can get a head start on all the savings with this fantastic offer from Amazon. Simply purchase a $50 Amazon Gift Card and you’ll get $5 in credit. The offer ends on July 10 (tomorrow night), but you can use your credit until August 25.
We’ll be rounding up the best deals from Amazon Prime Day next week, so make sure you check back to see what’s on offer. If you’re not already a Prime Day member, you can sign up using the button below. You also get Prime free for 30 days if you’re new.
👎 🕵️♂️ Loser: Make sure you know what you’re getting before you sign up for Threads
Meta’s long-rumored Twitter rival launched on July 6 and has already hit 70 million users. But should you sign up right away? You should seriously read the fine print. Did you know that you’ll be surrounding almost every piece of personal information you have to Meta? And that if you want to delete your Threads profile, it also deletes your Instagram account!? Get up to speed with Threads before you take the plunge.
👍 🌟 Winner: Amazon Prime Day has a rival, and its version of Prime is 50% today
Signing up for Walmart+ costs half as much today as it normally does, and that’s due to the fact that Walmart is about to unleash Prime Day-rivaling deals exclusive to its paid members. It’s called “Walmart+ Week” and there will be plenty of gaming and tech deals. We just saw one of the best Xbox Series X headsets on sale for 20% off, and we expect this discount and more will be back on Monday at 12pm ET.
👎📱 Loser: You shouldn’t buy this phone, as much as we want to like it
I’m taking mine back and foldable phones expert Nirave Gondhia is struggling to love his. Yes, the Pixel Fold cameras are very good (especially among foldables that struggle to fit in tier-1 cameras), but Google has a major design fail on its hands and asking for $1,800. Consumers deserve better – my Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review last year was very positive and we’ll see what the Z Fold 5 brings this month.
👍 🎶 Winner: Say goodbye to Bluetooth audio latency when gaming and watching YouTube
With everything going wireless these days, particularly headphones, Bluetooth audio latency has become more of a concern. Whether you’re watching YouTube videos that are slightly out of sync or experiencing laggy sound when gaming, it can make some Bluetooth headphones unusable.
Luckily Qualcomm is on a mission to change things with high-quality, low-latency audio through Snapdragon Sound. Qualcomm has introduced a new Snapdragon Sound S3 Gen 2 chipset (currently in the form of a USB-C dongle) that can make any laptop, PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, or any USB-C-equipped device Snapdragon Sound-compatible. If you’re having Bluetooth audio woes, it’s well worth a look.
👍📕 Winner: Like a closed book, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 may give us the gapless design we’ve been asking for in our reviews. Samsung, you flat-ter us
The countdown is officially on for July 26, when Samsung Unpacked to expected to reveal the Galaxy Z Fold 5, Galaxy Flip 5 and maybe a tablet and a smartwatch, too. Max Buondonno covered the latest Z Fold 5 leak for us, as photos suggest we’re getting the exact change I asked for in my Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review – less of a gap when the foldable phone is closed in half like a book. I feel flat-tered.
👍 🤏 Winner: The PS5 Slim is tipped to launch this year with a more svelte design and cheaper price tag
A PS5 Slim console feels inevitable at this point, especially when you look back at the history of PlayStation consoles. Sony has slimmed down its hardware every generation and knocked the asking price down in the process.
A PlayStation 5 Slim is tipped to launch this year for $399, but what do we know so far? We’ve rounded up all the information and made some educated guesses about what we can expect if and when a sleeker PS5 redesign eventually comes along.
👎 🙈 Loser: Twitter reached a new low when it introduced rate limits, but what’s the current situation?
Twitter didn’t do itself any favors ahead of Threads launch, as users were hit with a rate limit restriction that only let people view a certain amount of tweets before they were essentially locked out of the platform. Thankfully, the rate limit has been increased significantly and seems like a temporary measure, but if you’re still encountering issues read on for tips to get around the limitation.
👍 💰 Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5 returns to Xbox Game Pass, and you can play the Xbox One or Xbox Series X remastered version
GTA 5 is one of the best-selling games of all time, and even though practically everyone under the sun has probably played it by now, it’s still a big coup for Microsoft that Rockstar’s open-world title is now on Xbox Game Pass.
You can play the remastered version of Grand Theft Auto 5 for Xbox Series X that was released in March last year or the Xbox One version if you haven’t upgraded to Microsoft’s latest consoles. Check out the other titles coming to Game Pass in July below.
🔒 Paid subscribers: Get the most of your PS5 DualSense Edge controller in Hogwarts Legacy with these settings
Hogwarts Legacy is one of the biggest games of the year, and if you own Sony’s PS5 DualSense Edge controller you may be wondering what the best settings are. With our tips, you can wield your wand more effectively in combat and iron out some of the game’s clunky controls. We’ll have more DualSense Edge settings guides in the future so stay tuned for more and don’t forget to subscribe. Oh, and check out our PS5 DualSense Edge controller review if you still haven’t picked one up.
👎 📉 Loser: Apple has reportedly scaled back its production target for the Apple Vision Pro
Apple has adjusted its production target for its Apple Vision Pro, according to several new reports. Apple will produce 400,000 units of its mixed reality headset, which is due next year, instead of one million. It’s unclear why Apple has made this change, but with the Apple Vision Pro price being $3,499, it’s probably a more realistic target.
We’re still interested in testing out the Apple Vision Pro, and as we did with the PSVR 2, we’ll reserve judgment until we get significant hands-on time with it.
There’s a lot more content on The Shortcut every day for FREE and PAID subscribers. Thank you for your feedback in the email replies ❤️