Microsoft Teams will finally be a lot easier to use on iPad and iPhone

Apple users are set to get a welcome productivity boost when it comes to using Microsoft Teams on their mobile or tablet device.

The video conferencing platform has revealed it is working on bringing Picture in Picture mode to iPhone and iPad users, letting them view multiple windows at once on their device.

This could mean users are able to carry out a video call on their device whilst consulting a useful document or presentation at the same time, without the need to switch between apps and potentially drop their call.

Microsoft Teams Picture in Picture for iOS

In the official Microsoft 365 roadmap entry for the update, the company notes that, “the new Picture in Picture mode lets you see your meeting in an adjustable window while using other apps on your mobile device.”

The feature is still listed as being “in development”, but has an expected availability date of December 2022, meaning users shouldn't have too long to wait. When released, it will be available to all iOS users of Microsoft Teams across the globe.

The launch is the latest in a series of productivity-themed releases from Microsoft Teams as it continues to try and boost the usability and efficiency of its platform.

This includes a number of under-the-hood speed-related upgrades aimed at improving the user experience when navigating around Microsoft Teams, namely an upgraded framework which is now able to render HTML trees faster, run JavaScript and serialize arrays more efficiently. 

The company claims that these changes should contribute to a 30% speed increase when switching between Microsoft Teams chats or channels.

In other multi-tasking news, the company also recently announced that in-app games are coming to Microsoft Teams

However, far from just being a distraction, Microsoft claims that interaction through play is designed to tackle some of the greatest challenges of the hybrid workplace, including “struggling to build trust, create connections, and improve team morale.”

It also recently revealed that transcription for 1:1 calls and group calls is now available on the Microsoft Teams app for Android, giving users the chance to review exactly what was said, or if any details were missed. 

Users will also be able to start transcription for meetings on Microsoft Teams for iOS and Android, as well as being able to view the meeting transcripts after their calls have finished.

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Instagram will finally help creators understand why they’re failing

Instagram is updating its Account Status feature to better inform business and creator accounts why some of their posts get suppressed as it aims for more transparency with users.

These accounts will now know which of their posts is “eligible to be recommended” by Instagram’s algorithm to non-followers on other sections of the platform. This includes places like the Explore page, Reels, and In-Feed recommendations. On the flip side, Instagram will also inform accounts why their content isn’t being recommended by explaining how, for instance, it violates Community Guidelines, according to the announcement. This information can also be found on Instagram’s Creators page; it’s just more front and center than before.

And once informed, creators are given an opportunity to either edit or delete the offending post or appeal if they think Instagram was a little overzealous in flagging that content. The review team will take a close look at the said post before getting back with a new decision. If that sounds familiar, that’s because regular accounts have been able to appeal flagged content since the launch of Account Status back in October 2021. 

For a future update, there are hints at expanding Account Status to other features like the Search function plus educating creators on how to better reach non-followers. 

It’s unknown when the Account Status update will release and to where. The implication is the new features are currently rolling out. We asked Instagram if it could clarify the launch window and if it can tell us more about future Account Status additions. We’ll update this story if we hear back.

Clarifying the algorithm

In the announcement, Instagram states it understands how frustrating it can be for accounts to understand why they’re not getting the engagement they once had. That's really the goal of this update: to clear up confusion. Social media algorithms are a frequent source of frustration for many content creators. How these algorithms work is a closely guarded secret. If you spend enough time on YouTube, for example, you’ll eventually run into a creator complaining about how difficult it is to understand what gets recommended or suppressed.

There have been third-party moves this past year to rectify this problem. The most notable one was when the European Union passed the Digital Service Act, which will force tech giants like Meta to reveal how their recommendation algorithms work. However, that law won’t go into effect until 2024, so first-party tools will remain limited.

But there are third-party tools out there. Check out TechRadar's recently updated best social media management tools of 2022. They’re a good way to time posting content so you can maintain high audience engagement. 

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Chats in Google Messages are about to get even more secure

Google has announced that it's bringing end-to-end encryption to group chats in the Google Messages app. The security upgrade is heading to beta users first before being rolled out more widely.

End-to-end encryption means no one, not even Google, can read the content of messages. It's already supported in the Google Messages app for one-to-one chats, but now (via The Verge) it's going to be added to group conversations as well.

“End-to-end encryption is starting to roll out for group chats and will be available to some users in the open beta program over the coming weeks,” Google says. “This shouldn’t even be a thought – just an expectation and something anyone texting should not have to worry about.”

From SMS to RCS

In the same announcement blog post, Google revealed that the ability to quickly react to a message with any emoji is coming to Google Messages soon as well. At the moment, only a selection of emojis can be used as reactions.

Alongside a mention of these new features, Google also continued to push hard for RCS (Rich Communication Services) to become the new standard for everyone – the technology, an upgrade on SMS, is now widely available but has yet to be adopted by Apple on its iPhones.

Google's post also acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the SMS, a milestone which emphasizes how old the technology is as well as how overdue we now are for a standard that can fully replace it.


Analysis: SMS should really be history

The arrival of SMS three decades ago helped to transform the way that we communicate with each other – even if the messages were limited in terms of characters, and many phones could only store a limited number of texts at any one time.

Now, apps like WhatsApp and Slack have taken us far, far beyond those limitations. Messages can be much longer and include photos, videos or audio, and we can even tell when recipients have opened up the messages we send them.

It's benefits like these that make RCS a worthwhile upgrade, improving the security of messages and making features such as group chats much better. Google didn't create the standard, but it is heavily promoting it.

However, whenever an iPhone user texts an Android user, SMS is still the protocol used. Google wants that to change, but it's unlikely that Apple ever will – Apple knows that iMessage is one of the key reasons that people stick with iPhones.

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New, optional Home Screen redesign tool discovered in second iOS 16.2 beta

Evidence found within the second iOS 16.2 beta points to Apple working on further streamlining the user interface (UI) on iPhones and iPads via a new mode.

Called Custom Accessibility Mode, it was first discovered by 9to5 Mac. The second iOS 16.2 beta is currently available for download through the Apple Developer Program, but you can’t use the new mode at this time as it’s unavailable to users. This could mean the feature is far away from release or it’s something Apple is merely trying out. Either way, it’s a sign the company remains committed to working on accessibility features for its user base.

Simplified UI

The purpose of Custom Accessibility Mode, according to the report, is to make the iPhones and iPads more “user-friendly” for people who find their interfaces too complex. The mode could allow people to change the layout of the UI to either a Grid or List-style formation. Text and app icons can be made much larger on the Home Screen, plus it appears you can enable quick access to certain SOS features, like the Emergency Services Button. 

A password can be set up to stop other people who use the same device from changing the settings, according to 9to5 Mac. And tapping the side or Home button three times can enable and disable Custom Accessibility Mode.

Looking at the images of the mode in action, it drastically simplifies the design of apps and the Home Screen to focus on making things large. The lock screen turns into one big button with “Hold Down to Enter” in the center. Apps have massive icons that take up most of the screen and the bottom dock is gone. 

The official release notes don't detail the other features, only focusing on the fixes in the beta. For a preview of the other features, you have to go to Twitter where people are leaking them. A new Health widget will remind users to take their medication. New animations in the Music app resize the song image to indicate if it’s playing or paused.

In a recent Power On newsletter, Apple insider Mark Gurman said to expect the official release of iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 sometime in mid-December. There, users can their hands on the long-awaited Freeform app as well as the next rendition of Stage Manager. Gurman also hints at the release date of iOS 16.3 being within the first quarter of 2023. 

Accessibility is key

As mentioned earlier, Apple has been working on iPhone accessibility features for a while now. May 2021 saw the introduction of SignTime, a service allowing the hearing impaired to communicate using sign language through a web browser, and new background sounds for neurodiverse users. And earlier this year, we saw the first appearance of Door Detection to help low-vision users locate the entrance of a building.

But there’s one feature we’re eagerly waiting for: Emergency SOS via Satellite, a tool to get people in contact with emergency services if outside of cellular and Wi-Fi range. A recent Apple Support post indicates Emergency SOS is launching very soon. Be sure to read our coverage to learn more

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Apple explains what ‘Clean Charging’ is for iOS 16.1 – but it’s US only for now

iOS 16.1 is now available for iPhone 8 and newer handsets, and it comes with an interesting carbon-saving feature that helps bolster Apple's eco-friendly credentials – and the company has now explained how it works.

In a support document, Apple states that when this feature is enabled, your iPhone gains an overview of the carbon emissions being used in your area, and iOS 16.1 will charge your device during times when cleaner energy production is being used.

It's an interesting feature, and it makes us wonder how this could expand to Apple's other devices.

A reduced carbon footprint for your MacBook Pro?

Macbook Pro 14-inch

(Image credit: TechRadar)

iPhones are one of the most repeatedly charged devices that many of us rely on every day, but most of us don't think about where the electricity we use to charge our iPhones comes from.

At the moment, this feature is only available to people in the US, though we hope it gets a global rollout soon. If you're in the US and you don't see Clean Energy Charging in your battery settings, you need to have Location Services enabled, alongside System Customization and Significant Locations. These can all be found within in Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services.

It's too early to tell if the Clean Energy Charging feature will make a big difference in carbon emissions, but if it does, could we see it come to other Apple products, such as Macs and MacBooks?  With rumors that new M2 MacBook Pros could be arriving soon, it could be perfect timing for this feature to pop up in a future macOS Ventura update.

Apple recently published a press release, calling on its supply chain to fully decarbonize by 2030 and use fully-renewable sources, so it's clear that the company is getting serious about minimising the environmental impact of its products.

We're expecting the company to go harder in its renewable-energy efforts in the near future, further showing the industry how it can thrive in a clean-energy world while we enjoy sending memes to friends over iMessage.

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Zoom is shutting down one of its most popular apps

One of the most widely-used Zoom apps is closing as the company looks to modernize some of its offerings for users around the world.

The video conferencing giant has announced it is shutting its app for Chromebooks, the low-cost machines running Google's ChromeOS that have become incredibly popular among schools and universities.

Users shouldn't fear the loss of Zoom forever though, as the company says it is only making the change in order to build something better.

Zoom on Chromebook

“This app will no longer be officially supported after August 2022. Please use the new Zoom for Chrome PWA to join meetings on ChromeOS,” said a notice in the Zoom app for Chromebooks that has recently begun appearing.

The app is set to close by August 2022, meaning users have a few more weeks of the original offering, which was released during Zoom's heyday in the early weeks and months of the pandemic.

9to5Google, which first spotted the alert, notes that the Zoom app for Chromebooks is pretty basic, only offering standard access to video calls and meetings without any of the added functionality that has been added to other versions of Zoom over the years.

Google had announced back in August 2020 that it would be phasing out Chrome apps on all platforms, with support on Windows, Mac and Linux ending in June 2021. This was later extended to all Chrome apps on ChromeOS for June 2022, with the company no longer accepting new apps, and existing apps no longer being listed or made available to download on the Chrome Web Store.

Zoom had shown off a Progressive Web App (PWA) for Chromebooks in 2021, offering much of the standard functionality familiar to users on other platforms, as well as up to date UI and apps.

The news comes shortly after Zoom recorded a huge rise in enterprise customers to go alongside its consumer base as hybrid working remains popular.

In its most recent financial results, the company said that the number of customers contributing more than $ 100,000 was up 46% year-over-year, as it now has around 198,900 enterprise customers, up 24% from the same quarter in its last fiscal year.

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9 hidden iOS tricks that every iPhone user should know

Apple’s iOS has come a long way from its iPhoneOS starting point, and all of the best iPhones have built on the operating system’s initial promise. Steve Jobs demonstrated the power of the iPhone in 2007 with a huge on-stage Starbucks order, and the platform has grown year after year with each update adding new features.

Multitasking, the notification and Control Center, and even the App Store, were all added to the iPhone after its first iteration, and that rapid pace of innovation can make it hard to keep up with new features.

With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of useful features you may have missed. Some are accessibility options, some need to be enabled, and others are just waiting to be used. All of them, though, will make your iPhone experience better.

1. Use a cursor to select text

iOS tips and tricks

(Image credit: Apple / TechRadar)

Texting is a way of life, but it’s still surprisingly cumbersome even at the best of times. If you’ve ever had an errant word added by autocorrect but not spotted it until you’ve written a few dozen words more, this tip is for you.

Sure, you can hold your finger to the text to jump to it, but this can occasionally lead to highlighting an entire word or sentence. For more granular control, we’d recommend the following:

  • Hold your finger or thumb at the bottom of your screen, underneath the keyboard.
  • This will grey out the keyboard, and turn it into a trackpad until you raise your finger or thumb.

Hey presto, easy text selection!

2. Create text snippets

iOS tips and tricks

(Image credit: Apple / TechRadar)

Text snippets are popular for macOS power users, but you can achieve the same result with your iPhone. Better yet, it doesn’t require any third-party software.

Text snippets are ideal shortcuts for copying in certain phrases you’ve pre-registered. If you’re dealing with a client via iMessage, for example, you may want to send a standardized response. With text replacement, you can create a block of text to be posted whenever you type a phrase.

  • Open Settings, then head to General, then Keyboard.
  • Pick Text Replacement and you’ll be able to create new replacements, and the words required to trigger them.

In our example, you can see that typing 'omw' brings up 'On my way!', but there are plenty of places where this would be useful. You can also set emoji to appear when you type, which feels pleasantly nostalgic in a way you just don’t get from the emoji picker.

3. Enable the scientific calculator

iOS tips and tricks

(Image credit: Apple / TechRadar)

The iPad may not feature a calculator, but the iPhone does. The trouble is, it can feel a tad limiting outside of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – at least until you find a new perspective.

Turning your iPhone to the side with the calculator app open will enable the scientific calculator. This adds brackets, square roots, cos/sin/tan options, and the ever-handy π command, among plenty of others.

4. Enable an additional ‘button’

iOS tips and tricks

(Image credit: Apple / TechRadar)

While intended as an accessibility feature, the iPhone’s ‘back tap’ button is handy for power users looking for additional input for their device.

  • Go to Settings, then Accessibility, then Touch.
  • Select Back Tap and you’ll be presented with plenty of options.

You can use this in a number of ways, such as triggering the App Switcher, snapping a quick screenshot, or opening Spotlight search from anywhere on your device. There are also double and triple tap options, meaning you can set multiple functions for it.

5. Use your camera’s 'Burst Mode'

iOS tips and tricks

(Image credit: Apple / TechRadar)

Your iPhone’s camera is plenty powerful enough, but there’s one trick you may have missed: Burst Mode. Burst mode, as the name suggests, takes a series of rapid-fire images in one press which means your iPhone can capture a series of action shots.

It’s ideal for pets and excitable toddlers, letting you go back and look at your pictures after the event and pick out the best ones. It’s easy to access, too. Just slide the Shutter button (the one you use to take photos) to the left when you’re in the Camera app.

You can also head into Settings, then Camera, and toggle Use Volume Up for Burst to allow your volume rocker to trigger Burst mode – just hold it when you’re taking an image.

6. Scan documents using the camera

Your iPhone’s camera can double as a very respectable document scanner, and while Live Text means you can extract text from images, it’s entirely possible to digitize an entire document. Because it’s buried in the Notes app, though, you may not have spotted how to do it.

  • Open Notes, then tap the camera icon, then Scan Documents.
  • Highlight your document and it should automatically save. You can also manually take a scan with the shutter button.

Once the scan is saved, you can sign it, too, or just share it via any email or messaging app. It’s not got the same level of quality as a bespoke scanner, but it’s not far off, and will certainly do in a pinch.

Not convinced? Be sure to check our list of the best document scanning apps.

7. Use your camera flash as a notification

iOS tips and tricks

(Image credit: Apple / TechRadar)

One final camera trick, which is a little different. As an accessibility feature, you can trigger your iPhone’s camera flash to go off when you receive a notification, providing a more visual way of knowing someone is calling or messaging.

  • Head into Settings, then Accessibility.
  • In the Audio/Visual section there’s an option for ‘LED Flash for Alerts’.

You can also trigger it to only work when your phone is on silent, which is ideal if you’d prefer your phone not to vibrate on a desk.

8. Master Control Center

iOS tips and tricks

(Image credit: Apple / TechRadar)

Introduced as part of iOS 7 all the way back in 2013, Control Center has moved from the bottom of the screen to the top as the years have gone by, and it has a lot more utility than you may be aware of.

While Apple doesn’t offer Force Touch these days, you can long-press on Control Center icons to get additional options.

Through this, you can enable Spatial Audio with compatible earphones, pick a Focus mode, get a better look at what’s playing on your audio app, or even go two layers deep – the quadrant with Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile signal can be expanded to allow you to easily select a Wi-Fi access point, for example.

9. Recognize any song with Shazam in the Control Center

iOS tips and tricks

(Image credit: Apple / TechRadar)

Remember Shazam? The music recognition service was purchased by Apple in 2018 and remains a great way to identify whatever song is playing – whether you’re in a store, at a party, or just missed the name on the radio.

While Shazam has an app, you can also add it to your iPhone’s Control Center for easy access.

  • Open Settings, then enter Control Center and tap the Plus button next to Music Recognition to add it.

Now, whenever you hear a great song playing, you can pull down from Control Center and hit the Shazam icon to find out what’s playing. If you’re on Apple Music, it’ll even give you the option to add the track to your library.

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Microsoft’s greed is killing Windows 11 for me

Nothing in life really comes for free, and Windows 11 is a great example of that. While Microsoft’s latest operating system is offered as a free upgrade for many users (previous moves from older versions of Windows to newer ones would require you to pay for the privilege), behind the scenes, there are plenty of ways you end up ‘paying’ to use Windows 11.

This includes sharing increasing amounts of data with Microsoft – something that the company was forced to make clear during the setup process. Microsoft is also using Windows 11 to push you towards its own services. For example, you’re now asked to have a Microsoft account, which usually involves signing up for a Microsoft-owned email account. You’re also encouraged to use Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, rather than alternatives like Google Drive or iCloud.

And this is all before you even use Windows 11 for the first time. Once you actually boot into the operating system, things get worse. Microsoft’s Edge browser is installed by default, and while it’s come a long way since it first debuted in 2015 with Windows 10, many people (myself included) prefer to use other web browsers.

However, searching for and installing a different browser in Windows 11 using Edge results in numerous popups and messages from Microsoft pleading with you to give Edge a try. It’s annoying, and a little bit cringey, to be honest.

Still, you can at least ignore those, install your web browser of choice, and make it the default – which Microsoft has at least made easier to do after pressure from users.

While annoying, it was something I didn’t mind putting up with to use Windows 11, which is ‘free’, after all. However, Microsoft has been getting increasingly desperate – and even greedy – when it comes to trying to force its services on me, and it’s making me start to dislike the operating system.

Helping itself before it helps you

A particularly egregious example of this happened the other day. I’m one of those cool kids who still prefers to use a desktop PC, and I noticed that all of a sudden, my computer was losing internet access every 20 seconds or so.

Now, as a tech journalist, this led to me overthinking the problem. My PC is connected to my modem via an Ethernet cable and powerline adapters, so my first step was to restart and reconnect the adapters, which had caused a similar issue in the past.

When the problem persisted, I looked to disable then re-enable my network adapter in Windows 11. In previous versions of Windows, this was a pretty straightforward process, but Microsoft has now buried the option under several different settings screens – another annoying feature of Windows 11.

I then decided to try the built-in network troubleshooting tool. Again, in previous versions of Windows, this was easy to find, and as part of the troubleshooting process the operating system would disable then enable the network adapter, which has fixed similar issues in the past.

Using the Settings app, I found what I thought was something similar called ‘Troubleshooting network connection issues’. However, on clicking it, I discovered what was possibly the nadir of Microsoft’s greed when it comes to forcing its products and services on Windows 11 users.

Instead of launching the troubleshooting application like I’d hoped, Edge opened – despite not being my default web browser. This has been an annoyance of mine for a while now, as even if you set a different web browser as your default, Microsoft will regularly ignore that and use Edge instead.

Edge then loaded up Bing – Microsoft’s pretty much unloved search engine – and searched for ‘Troubleshooting network connection issues’, which brought up a Microsoft webpage.

Now, there’s a pretty glaring issue with forcing people to search the internet for solutions to their network connection issues, and that became apparent when I tried to click the link. Rather than showing the page, Edge told me I was offline, as it coincided with a time when my PC had lost connection.

Most people who are suffering from network connection issues cannot access the internet because of those very connection issues they are trying to fix, so making them have to go online to search for an answer is pretty ridiculous.

Because my network issues were intermittent, I was able to wait until my internet connection came back, then refresh the page to see what Microsoft suggested. If my network connection issues were severe enough to prevent me from connecting to the internet at all, I’d have never got to see the page.

As it turns out, that wouldn’t have been an issue, really, as the webpage was pretty useless, offering just vague suggestions that mainly centered around Wi-Fi connection problems – so nothing that applied to my situation.

In the end, I figured it out myself: I got down on my hands and knees and checked behind my PC. The Ethernet cable had been pulled out slightly. Pushing it back in solved the problem.

However, this little escapade didn’t just prove that I am an overthinking idiot, but also that it feels like Microsoft cares more about helping its services and products then it does its users. The only reason for getting people to go to a Bing search via Edge for network connection troubleshooting is to make people use those products. It doesn’t help fix any issue that the user may have with their network connection.

It left me feeling annoyed by Microsoft, and far less fond of Windows 11 and the general direction the operating system is going in. Microsoft’s desire to get more people to use its services is understandable, and in some ways is the price we pay to get Windows 11 for free, but the heavy-handed way it’s going about doing this smacks of greed and a disregard for its users’ needs.

This has got to change, otherwise even when free, Windows 11 will not be worth it.

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Microsoft’s greed is killing Windows 11 for me

Nothing in life really comes for free, and Windows 11 is a great example of that. While Microsoft’s latest operating system is offered as a free upgrade for many users (previous moves from older versions of Windows to newer ones would require you to pay for the privilege), behind the scenes, there are plenty of ways you end up ‘paying’ to use Windows 11.

This includes sharing increasing amounts of data with Microsoft – something that the company was forced to make clear during the setup process. Microsoft is also using Windows 11 to push you towards its own services. For example, you’re now asked to have a Microsoft account, which usually involves signing up for a Microsoft-owned email account. You’re also encouraged to use Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, rather than alternatives like Google Drive or iCloud.

And this is all before you even use Windows 11 for the first time. Once you actually boot into the operating system, things get worse. Microsoft’s Edge browser is installed by default, and while it’s come a long way since it first debuted in 2015 with Windows 10, many people (myself included) prefer to use other web browsers.

However, searching for and installing a different browser in Windows 11 using Edge results in numerous popups and messages from Microsoft pleading with you to give Edge a try. It’s annoying, and a little bit cringey, to be honest.

Still, you can at least ignore those, install your web browser of choice, and make it the default – which Microsoft has at least made easier to do after pressure from users.

While annoying, it was something I didn’t mind putting up with to use Windows 11, which is ‘free’, after all. However, Microsoft has been getting increasingly desperate – and even greedy – when it comes to trying to force its services on me, and it’s making me start to dislike the operating system.

Helping itself before it helps you

A particularly egregious example of this happened the other day. I’m one of those cool kids who still prefers to use a desktop PC, and I noticed that all of a sudden, my computer was losing internet access every 20 seconds or so.

Now, as a tech journalist, this led to me overthinking the problem. My PC is connected to my modem via an Ethernet cable and powerline adapters, so my first step was to restart and reconnect the adapters, which had caused a similar issue in the past.

When the problem persisted, I looked to disable then re-enable my network adapter in Windows 11. In previous versions of Windows, this was a pretty straightforward process, but Microsoft has now buried the option under several different settings screens – another annoying feature of Windows 11.

I then decided to try the built-in network troubleshooting tool. Again, in previous versions of Windows, this was easy to find, and as part of the troubleshooting process the operating system would disable then enable the network adapter, which has fixed similar issues in the past.

Using the Settings app, I found what I thought was something similar called ‘Troubleshooting network connection issues’. However, on clicking it, I discovered what was possibly the nadir of Microsoft’s greed when it comes to forcing its products and services on Windows 11 users.

Instead of launching the troubleshooting application like I’d hoped, Edge opened – despite not being my default web browser. This has been an annoyance of mine for a while now, as even if you set a different web browser as your default, Microsoft will regularly ignore that and use Edge instead.

Edge then loaded up Bing – Microsoft’s pretty much unloved search engine – and searched for ‘Troubleshooting network connection issues’, which brought up a Microsoft webpage.

Now, there’s a pretty glaring issue with forcing people to search the internet for solutions to their network connection issues, and that became apparent when I tried to click the link. Rather than showing the page, Edge told me I was offline, as it coincided with a time when my PC had lost connection.

Most people who are suffering from network connection issues cannot access the internet because of those very connection issues they are trying to fix, so making them have to go online to search for an answer is pretty ridiculous.

Because my network issues were intermittent, I was able to wait until my internet connection came back, then refresh the page to see what Microsoft suggested. If my network connection issues were severe enough to prevent me from connecting to the internet at all, I’d have never got to see the page.

As it turns out, that wouldn’t have been an issue, really, as the webpage was pretty useless, offering just vague suggestions that mainly centered around Wi-Fi connection problems – so nothing that applied to my situation.

In the end, I figured it out myself: I got down on my hands and knees and checked behind my PC. The Ethernet cable had been pulled out slightly. Pushing it back in solved the problem.

However, this little escapade didn’t just prove that I am an overthinking idiot, but also that it feels like Microsoft cares more about helping its services and products then it does its users. The only reason for getting people to go to a Bing search via Edge for network connection troubleshooting is to make people use those products. It doesn’t help fix any issue that the user may have with their network connection.

It left me feeling annoyed by Microsoft, and far less fond of Windows 11 and the general direction the operating system is going in. Microsoft’s desire to get more people to use its services is understandable, and in some ways is the price we pay to get Windows 11 for free, but the heavy-handed way it’s going about doing this smacks of greed and a disregard for its users’ needs.

This has got to change, otherwise even when free, Windows 11 will not be worth it.

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Brave, DuckDuckGo just gave you another way to flip Google the middle finger

Brave has announced that its web browser will now allow users to bypass AMP pages hosted by Google, which it claims are harmful to both privacy and the state of the web.

The new De-AMP feature will instead funnel web users to content hosted directly on the publisher’s website, minimizing the opportunity for additional tracking and meddling to take place.

Not to be outdone, rival privacy software company DuckDuckGo rushed to Twitter to reveal that its apps and extensions now offer similar functionality, but the specifics of the implementation are not yet clear.

Google’s AMP troubles

Rolled out in 2015, AMP (short for accelerated mobile pages) is a system whereby stripped-back versions of trending web pages are preloaded and served up via Google servers.

When AMP was first announced, Google said it beleived the system would help ensure rich web content such as video and animation would load rapidly and behave consistently across all platforms, thereby improving the web experience.

However, the scheme has come under criticism from publishers and privacy advocates alike, who say AMP gives Google yet more signals to gobble up in support of its digital advertising business, creates confusion as to the source of information and forces publishers to build their websites to Google’s desired spec.

“AMP harms users’ privacy, security and internet experience, and just as bad, AMP helps Google further monopolize and control the direction of the web,” wrote Brave, in a blog post.

And in a Twitter thread, DuckDuckGo presented a similar justification for its decision to move against the initiative.

“AMP technology is bad for privacy because it enables Google to track users even more,” said the firm. “And Google uses AMP to further entrench its monopoly, forcing the technology on publishers by prioritizing AMP links in search and favoring Google ads on AMP pages.”

Since the launch of AMP, a number of publishers (including Future plc., parent to TechRadar Pro) have abandoned the system. And now, browser vendors like Brave and DuckDuckGo are coming out with their own tools to help web users bypass AMP altogether.

“Where possible, De-AMP will rewrite links and URLs to prevent users from visiting AMP pages altogether,” explained Brave. “And in cases where that is not possible, Brave will watch as pages are being fetched and redirect users away from AMP pages before the page is even rendered, preventing AMP/Google code from being loaded and executed.”

Brave’s De-AMP feature is now available in both Nightly and Beta versions of its browser and will be enabled by default in the next full public release. TechRadar Pro is awaiting further specifics about DuckDuckGo’s efforts.

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