macOS Sequoia has yet another cool feature to look forward to, this time adding a way to customize your AirPods Audio experience

It seems like every day, there is a new macOS Sequoia feature to look forward to, or some kind of improvement in Apple’s incoming OS, with a freshly spotted one opening up the doors to improved accessibility on the audio front.

MacRumors has been busy playing with the macOS 15 developer beta and discovered this new functionality in System Settings. Under Headphone Accommodations (in Accessibility > Audio), you can tweak the sound for your AirPods and some Beats headphones. 

The settings therein let you amplify softer sounds – to make them more easily heard – and change the audio output frequencies to make your music, phone calls, and more clearer sounding (or at least that’s the idea). From what we can tell, the new settings you run with will carry over when using your AirPods on devices other than your Mac. 

This could be a really useful feature for those who are hard of hearing to some degree, and it’s an ability that has been on iOS devices for some time. So, while it’s undoubtedly a very commendable step forward for accessibility with macOS, some folks out there are wondering why it took so long to bring this functionality across to the Mac.

Still, we’re glad to see it’s arriving, and in the run-up to the release of macOS Sequoia, we’re seeing a lot of new and interesting features and tweaks pop up that seem to be popular. 

A recent example is the fix for the annoying storage issue Mac users have to deal with when it comes to downloading apps, as well as the more anticipated changes like iPhone mirroring and a plethora of AI features powered by Apple Intelligence.

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OpenAI’s Sora just made another brain-melting music video and we’re starting to see a theme

OpenAI's text-to-video tool has been a busy bee recently, helping to make a short film about a man with a balloon for a head and giving us a glimpse of the future of TED Talks – and now it's rustled up its first official music video for the synth-pop artist Washed Out (below).

This isn't the first music video we've seen from Sora – earlier this month we saw this one for independent musician August Kamp – but it is the first official commissioned example from an established music video director and artist.

That director is Paul Trillo, an artist who's previously made videos for the likes of The Shins and shared this new one on X (formerly Twitter). He said the video, which flies through a tunnel-like collage of high school scenes, was “an idea I had almost 10 years ago and then abandoned”, but that he was “finally able to bring it to life” with Sora.

It isn't clear exactly why Sora was an essential component for executing a fairly simple concept, but it helped make the process much simpler and quicker. Trillo points to one of his earlier music videos, The Great Divide for The Shins, which uses a similar effect but was “entirely 3D animated”.

As for how this new Washed Out video was made, it required less non-Sora help than the Shy Kids' Air Head video, which involved some lengthy post-production to create the necessary camera effects and consistency. For this one, Trillo said he used text-to-video prompts in Sora, then cut the resulting 55 clips together in Premiere Pro with only “very minor touch-ups”.

The result is a video that, like Sora's TED Talks creation (which was also created by Trillo), hints at the tool's strengths and weaknesses. While it does show that digital special effects are going to be democratized for visual projects with tight budgets, it also reveals Sora's issues with coherency across frames (as characters morph and change) and its persistent sense of uncanny valley.

Like the TED Talks video, a common technique to get around these limitations is the dreamy fly-through technique, which ensures that characters are only on-screen fleetingly and that any weird morphing is a part of the look rather than a jarring mistake. While it works for this video, it could quickly become a trope if it's over-used.

A music video tradition

Two people sitting on the top deck of a bus

(Image credit: OpenAI / Washed Out)

Music videos have long been pioneers of new digital technology – the Dire Straits video for Money For Nothing in 1985, for example, gave us an early taste of 3D animation, while Michael Jackson's Black Or White showed off the digital morphing trick that quickly became ubiquitous in the early 90s (see Terminator 2: Judgement Day). 

While music videos lack the cultural influence they once did, it looks like they'll again be a playground for AI-powered effects like the ones in this Washed Out creation. That makes sense because Sora, which OpenAI expects to release to the public “later this year”, is still well short of being good enough to be used in full-blown movies.

We can expect to see these kinds of effects everywhere by the end of the year, from adverts to TikTok promos. But like those landmark effects in earlier music videos, they will also likely date pretty quickly and become visual cliches that go out of fashion.

If Sora can develop at the same rate as OpenAI's flagship tool, ChatGPT, it could evolve into something more reliable, flexible, and mainstream – with Adobe recently hinting that the tool could soon be a plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro. Until then, expect to see a lot more psychedelic Sora videos that look like a mashup of your dreams (or nightmares) from last night.

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Microsoft strips Windows 11’s Control Panel of another tool – is the writing on the wall?

The sun continues to set on the iconic Windows Control Panel, as another key part, the Fonts page, makes its way to the Settings app instead. The Control Panel isn’t on the way out just yet, but it's directing users to the Settings app for an increasing number of functions. And now, reports suggest that later this year, if you try to open the Fonts page from the Control Panel you’ll be automatically redirected to the Settings app. 

The Fonts page can currently be found in the following location:

Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization  > Fonts

This is the latest development in an ongoing migration process that Windows Latest has been documenting for several years, which has seen features transition from the Control Panel to the Settings app. Windows Latest reports that Microsoft doesn’t currently seem to have plans to completely remove Control Panel from regular Windows 11 versions. 

Windows Control Panel

(Image credit: Future)

The next version of font management in Windows 11

Over in the Settings app, there will be a modern font management interface and it will work similarly to its Control Panel predecessor. At the moment, the legacy version of the Fonts page still exits and can be found in Control Panel, and it can be located using Windows Search. 

Here, you can browse the fonts available on your system and use the legacy font management page. 

That said, Microsoft wants to guide users to the Settings app for font management and Windows Latest writes that Fonts will be completely removed from the Control Panel in a future Windows update. Instead, users will be redirected to Settings > Personalization > Fonts, which is where the new Fonts page resides.

This will be a noticeable change, but it shouldn’t be too disruptive as it apparently has all of the functionality and features of the legacy page. Also, the future update probably won’t remove the legacy Control Panel Fonts page right away, and users will still be able to find it in C:\Windows\Fonts within File Explorer

If you’re particularly annoyed by the change and want to stick to the classic interface, you can create a shortcut link in your Settings page which will open the above location in File Explorer as well. 

Again, Microsoft is pretty insistent that it would like users to get used to performing font management through Settings, and when Windows Latest opened the Fonts page in File Explorer, it got this message: 

“This page is being decoupled from Fonts Control Panel. For more font settings, go to the Fonts page in the Settings app.”

A lot of users are used to Control Panel, which has been a part of Windows since the very first version in 1985, so Windows Latest thinks it’s here to stay. What will change is that with every new feature that’s migrated to the Settings app from Control Panel, users will be redirected to the new analogous page in Settings. 

I think this is a wise decision from Microsoft as it makes sense to have a single place where you can manage all of your computer’s settings, especially as new generations of people are introduced to the operating system. It’s preserving the interface and (it seems like) full functionality of Control Panel, while attaching it to the new architecture that’s being built in a way that isn’t especially disruptive or difficult for existing users.


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Microsoft could add yet another advert into Windows 11 – and users are running out of patience

Microsoft could test its customers' tolerance for ads in Windows 11 once again, as Windows Insiders have spotted yet another advert in an early version of the operating system that's currently being tested. This means the feature is still technically in progress with Microsoft monitoring its reception, and it could decide to roll the new ads out to all users in a future Windows update.

Windows 11 Insider Build 22635.3500, which features the advert, was released in the Beta Channel of the Windows Insider Program, and comes shortly after Microsoft started testing ads in the Start Menu of Windows 11 as well. The new ad appears in the Settings app and suggests users sign up for Xbox Game Pass

The update also includes other new features that will probably be more popular with users such as a new account manager in the Start menu and introducing support for Gmail in Windows Share (which lets Windows devices easily share files and folders with other devices over a network that they’re a part of). However, these new features were overshadowed by the deployment of the ad in Settings. 

Microsoft has put out a Windows Insider Blog post detailing the changes and features that make up the new build, and it mentions the ad’s inclusion, which it calls a ‘recommendation,’ on the Settings home page. It suggests that the Game Pass recommendation card will only be shown to users who actively play games on their PCs. It also adds that this advert will only show in the Settings homepage if you’re running the Home and Pro editions of Windows 11 and you’re signed into your Microsoft account on your device. 

Microsoft's continuing dedication to 'recommendations'

This development isn’t completely out of the blue as Microsoft has been experimenting with where it can get away with sticking ads for a while now. Alongside testing ads on the Settings page, it’s also trying out placing adverts in the Start menu’s ‘Recommended’ section. Microsoft is really trying to blur the line between what’s an ad and what it claims are just friendly ‘recommendations’, with pinned apps that look like ads for its other products appearing in a clean install of Windows 11. 

Some people say that even if these sorts of ads appear, they might be acceptable as it’s often advertising products and services, like OneDrive, that could enhance the Windows 11 user experience. Some users are okay with this as long as the adverts show Microsoft’s products that could improve using their Windows 11 device. 

However, many other people aren’t so hot on the idea, even if the products are Microsoft’s own, and are especially opposed to adverts for third-party apps. It can feel like the space that’s supposed to be your own personal or work digital space is turned into something resembling a billboard, as Windows Central describes it. To some, it’s particularly egregious when showing third-party app ads that may not add to the core Windows 11 experience, which feels like a cash grab by Microsoft. 

Those who are annoyed by these ads are probably feeling even more antagonistic because the ads are integrated into key parts of the operating system (OS) that you have to navigate to operate your device, so if you want to use the OS, you don’t have a choice but to see the adverts that appear in these key locations. Also, the Settings home page is kind of a strange place for an advert for Game Pass – generally, the two aren’t directly tied together.

Unfortunately, Microsoft seems set on this strategy, and according to Windows Central’s Senior Editor Zac Bowden, if you’re a Windows 11 user who’s not keen on the persistent flow of new AI features or more ads, you’re “in for a terrible next four months.” Many people are calling the approach straight-up aggressive, and I can’t disagree. We’re already bombarded by advertisements almost everywhere we turn, and it’s frustrating that our devices, which are necessary for many people for work and leisure, are increasingly becoming one more ad-saturated place we can’t entirely escape. 


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Windows 11 on ARM gets a major browser – another hint of Microsoft’s big plans for AI PCs

Vivaldi has produced a native version of its popular browser for Arm-based PCs, those who run Windows 11 on Arm will doubtless be pleased to hear.

As is usual for a first step, the initial incarnation of Vivaldi for Arm silicon is in preview, and there are some caveats attached.

More so than usual, because while we can expect a fair bit of flakiness with any pre-release software, in this case, Vivaldi for Arm is an early test version. As Windows Central reports, the developer tells us: “These builds are not yet part of our automated test system and have only been lightly tested on one piece of hardware. Serious issues may exist and should be expected.”

In short, anyone running the Chromium-based browser on an Arm PC at this point is likely to have a wonky experience. But the point is Vivaldi is incoming for Windows on Arm, and shouldn’t be too far off.

That’s good news for its wider availability, bearing in mind that Vivaldi is ranked as one of our best web browsers. It was chosen due to its excellent customization options, being ideal for those who love tinkering with and personalizing their browser.

Analysis: Preparing the ground

It seems that Microsoft is very much preparing the ground for Windows on Arm, to become a real force in the near future. We’ve seen a great deal of hype being built around the incoming Snapdragon X Elite chip (and rumored Plus variants), and for good reason – it’s a CPU that can seemingly make Windows running on Arm a truly viable proposition.

To the point where we’ve already experienced Qualcomm’s reference laptops running Baldur’s Gate 3 at a stable 30 fps with reasonable graphics settings – and remember, this is a game running under emulation (it’s not coded for Arm CPUs).

Neither is the Vivaldi browser currently coded for Arm chips, but this is what the incoming new version of the browser is all about. It’s another hint that Microsoft is getting behind developers to nudge them (and maybe incentivize them somehow) to make native Arm clients, which will run faster than emulation (of course, as they remove the processing overhead involved in emulating an app).

With Vivaldi having deployed an early preview now, we can guess that the final version might be ready for the release of Snapdragon X Elite laptops in June – or certainly a working beta will be. This is when Microsoft’s Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 will be emerging – the consumer versions, that is, which may be ARM-only devices from what we’re hearing on the rumor mill (there may not be any alternatives with Intel CPUs, in other words).

Moreover, other leaks suggest that Windows 11’s big incoming feature, AI Explorer – which is going to be key for AI PCs – might be for Windows on Arm only, at least to begin with. All of this just shows how much Microsoft is getting behind the Arm spin on its desktop OS, so we may see more high-profile pieces of software getting ports going forward, too. Perhaps it's finally time for Windows on Arm to shine?

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Microsoft targets another corner of Windows 11 with – you guessed it – adverts, and we’re getting a bit fed up with this

Microsoft is testing adding a fresh batch of ads to the Windows 11 interface, this time in the Start menu.

Recent digging in preview builds had suggested this move was in the cards, and now those cards have been dealt to testers in the Windows 11 preview Beta channel with a new build (version 22635).

The ads are being placed in the ‘Recommended’ panel of the Start menu, and consist of highlighted apps from the Microsoft Store that you might want to try.

These promoted pieces of software appear with a brief description in the Recommended section, alongside the other content such as your commonly-used (already installed) apps.

As Microsoft makes clear in the blog post introducing the build, this is only rolling out in the Beta channel, and just in the US. Also, you can turn off the app promotions if you wish.

Testers who want to do so need to open the Settings app, head to Personalization > Start, and switch off the slider for ‘Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more.’

Analysis: Just trying stuff out…

As mentioned, this idea was already flagged up as hidden in test builds, but now it’s a reality – at least for a limited set of testers in the US. In fact, Microsoft clarifies that it is “beginning to roll this out to a small set of Insiders [testers]” so it sounds like the firm is really being tentative. On top of that, Microsoft writes: “We regularly try out new experiences and concepts that may never get released with Windows Insiders to get feedback.”

In other words – don’t panic – we’re just trying out this concept a little bit. It probably won’t ever happen – move along, there’s nothing to see here. Anyway, you get the idea: Microsoft is very aware it needs to tread carefully here, and rightly so.

Advertising like this, wrapped up as suggestions or recommendations, is becoming all too common a theme with Windows 11. Prompting of one kind or another has been floating around in the recent past, whether it’s to encourage folks to sign up for a Microsoft Account, or to use OneDrive as part of a backup strategy, or slipping ads into Outlook is another recent example. Or indeed recommendations for websites to visit, in much the same vein as these app recommendations in this Beta build.

In this case, the idea appears to be driving traffic towards the Microsoft Store – which Microsoft has been making a lot of efforts with lately to improve performance (and the store has come on leaps and bounds in that regard, to be fair).

We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but sadly, we’re going to, as we’re of the firm belief that you can monetize a free product with advertising – no one can argue with that – but when a product is already paid for, shoving in ads on top – particularly with an OS, where you’re cluttering the interface – is just not on.

Microsoft may argue that these recommendations could prove useful, especially if they’re targeted for the user – though there could be privacy issues therein if that’s the way this ends up working – but still, we don’t think it’s right to be inserting these bits of adverts into the UI, no doubt turned on by default. Yes, you can turn them off – thankfully – but you shouldn’t have to in a paid OS.

It’s up to testers to feed back on this one, and let Microsoft know how they feel.

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The Meta Quest 3 Lite gets another image leak – and a new name

Nothing is official yet, but it seems increasingly likely that a cheaper version of the Meta Quest 3 is on the way. Now we have a freshly leaked image of the headset – which apparently isn't called the Meta Quest 3 Lite.

That's the name we've used for previous leaks, but as per a now-deleted Reddit post reposted to social media by @Lunayian (via Android Central), this upcoming device is actually going to be called the Meta Quest 3s.

Adding a lower-case letter to the name of a more affordable product has been done before, and doesn't come with the connotations of sub-standard quality that you might get with 'Lite', so we're inclined to believe the leak could be accurate.

This information apparently comes from slides taken from an internal Meta presentation, and one of them shows the Meta Quest 3 and the Meta Quest 3s side by side – which might soon be the choice for buyers heading to the Meta online store.

Headset design

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As for the design of the headset, it has a slightly unusual camera configuration on the front – this was missing in an earlier image leak, and given the importance of passthrough tech for mixed reality applications, there are probably going to be cameras somewhere.

The design looks a little thicker, probably due to the cheaper components inside, and is reminiscent of both the Oculus Go and the Oculus Quest 2. Specs-wise, the resolution is listed as 1832 x 1920 pixels, compared to 2064 x 2208 pixels on the Meta Quest 3.

As usual, it's difficult to verify the authenticity of these images, especially as the original Reddit post has been deleted and came from a source we haven't heard from before. This might be the cheaper Meta Quest 3 – or it might not be.

It would certainly make sense for Meta to want to put out a cheaper model to appeal to a broader range of consumers, and it's apparently something Apple is thinking about for its Vision Pro too. Watch this space.

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Copilot AI’s mission to infiltrate the Windows 11 desktop appears to have advanced another step

Copilot is creeping into another corner of the Windows 11 interface, it seems, with the AI assistant seen in the context menu of File Explorer.

This is still in test builds of Windows 11, mind, and not officially either. Windows Latest flagged up the change, which was first noticed by PhantomOfEarth, a well-known leaker on X (formerly Twitter) who previously picked up on clues that File Explorer integration was inbound for Copilot back in January 2024.

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Now we can see how the context menu option will work, enabling you to right click on a file, and choose to send it to Copilot – open the AI’s panel with the file active, as if you’d dragged it in there – or to elect to ‘summarize’ the file. The latter choice being the standard option for Copilot to summarize a document or PDF for example.

Even though we’ve caught a glimpse of the menu now, it still doesn’t work (which is why it isn’t officially running in Windows 11 previews – yet). As Windows Latest makes clear, if you click to summarize, a summary isn’t provided.

Other options may be added down the line, too. In fact, it’s very likely we’ll see a ‘rewrite’ choice for example, allowing for rewriting a document, another task Copilot is currently capable of.

Analysis: Copilot’s future flight path

We can expect to see Copilot’s tendrils snaking into all parts of the Windows 11 interface eventually, which may not be to everyone’s tastes.

Those who don’t want to use the AI, or even see it in Windows at all, can ignore it, or turn off the functionality for the time being (one way or another) – but there will come a point where Copilot will be the beating heart of Microsoft’s OS, and you’ll have to use AI, like it or not. Although the functionality provided will probably be pretty advanced and undeniably useful (or indeed indispensable) at that stage.

This particular move is not a big intrusion into the desktop, though. We’re talking about an extra line in the right-click menu, and perhaps Microsoft will be incorporating an option to turn it off as well. In the same way you can remove the Copilot icon from the taskbar if you wish – maybe there’ll be a way to switch all the AI’s functions off with an easy flick of a toggle. (Or an instruction, perhaps: “Copilot, remove yourself from all parts of my Windows 11 interface” – we wouldn’t bank on it, mind).

As long as users have a choice, that’s a good thing, but as we’ve already said, in the future we feel there likely won’t be a choice as such because Copilot will pretty much become Windows, or the central pillar of the OS. Windows 2030 might just be called Copilot 2030.

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Another big reason to install iOS 17.4 right now – it fixes two major security threats

Apple has just launched iOS 17.4, and right now everyone’s attention is focused on how it lets you run third-party app stores on your iPhone – although only if you're in the European Union. But there’s another important reason you should upgrade: it fixes two extremely serious security flaws.

In a new security post (via BleepingComputer), Apple says that iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4 resolve two zero-day bugs in the iOS kernel and Apple’s RTKit that might allow an attacker to bypass your device’s kernel memory protections. That could potentially give malicious actors very high-level access to your device, so it’s imperative that you patch your iPhone as soon as possible by opening the Settings app, going to General > Software Update and following the on-screen instructions.

These issues are not just hypothetical; Apple says it is “aware of a report that this issue may have been exploited” in both cases, and if a zero-day flaw has been actively exploited it means hackers have been able to take advantage of these issues without anyone knowing. With that in mind, there’s every reason to update your device now that Apple has issued a set of fixes.

Apple says the bugs affect a wide range of devices: the iPhone XS and later, iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2nd generation and later, iPad Pro 10.5-inch, iPad Pro 11-inch 1st generation and later, iPad Air 3rd generation and later, iPad 6th generation and later, and iPad mini 5th generation and later. In other words, a lot of people are potentially impacted.

Actively exploited

holding an iphone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Zero-day flaws like these are usually exploited in targeted attacks, often by sophisticated state-sponsored groups. Apple didn’t share any details of how or when these vulnerabilities were put to nefarious use, nor whether they were discovered by Apple’s own security teams or by external researchers.

Apple devices are known for their strong defenses, but are increasingly falling under hackers’ crosshairs. Recent research suggests that there were 20 active zero-day flaws targeting Apple products in 2023 – double the number of the previous year. According to BleepingComputer, three zero-day attacks on Apple devices have been patched so far in 2024.

This kind of exploit demonstrates why it’s so important to keep all of your devices updated with the latest patches, especially if they include security fixes. Leaving yourself vulnerable is a dangerous gamble when there are extremely sophisticated hacking groups out there in the wild. With that in mind, make sure you download the latest iOS 17.4 update as soon as you can.

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Microsoft’s Sticky Notes teases upcoming upgrade: will it impress users with sparkly new features or another sticky situation for Microsoft?

The Sticky Notes app for Windows is about to get possibly its most significant update yet. The default Windows app functions similarly to how most people use post-its in real life – you can quickly jot down notes and make them visible on your desktop. It’s been four years since we’ve seen any major updates to Sticky Notes, and Microsoft is promising that it’s got big things in mind for the handy app. 

The update was announced by the official Microsoft Sticky Notes account on X (formerly Twitter), the first post from the account since April 2020. The post generated buzz from users who quickly got to speculating about what Microsoft might be cooking, with many users being quick to express concern that the new Sticky Notes will be a web-based app.

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Windows fans launch into speculation 

Some users guessed that the app was getting an AI-powered injection similar to those seen in apps like Notepad and Paint, and in line with Microsoft’s great AI-aided tool push. In fact, our own Muskaan Saxena wrote about her hopes for an AI-powered Sticky Notes app earlier this year. It looks like neither this nor the notion of a web-based version is the case, however, with the @stickynotes profile replying to its first announcement post that the Sticky Notes app will not be a web app (for now, at least).  

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It then followed with a number of playful posts teasing users about the upcoming upgrade, including one that looks like a screen grab of the app that reads: 

“Lots of rumors swirling about our update. Can you guess what it is?

Wrong answers only. 

We’ll go first… 

Sticky Notes AI upgrade.” 

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Right now, Sticky Notes seems to enjoy a good reputation among users and Windows fans – even if it does have a relatively basic feature set. Neowin says the app has “reliability and simplicity,” and Microsoft would do well to prioritize and preserve these aspects of the app.  

Microsoft logo

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft's recent track record

Microsoft recently launched the new web-based Outlook app, replacing existing desktop apps like Mail, with a less-than-enthusiastic reception. Users have expressed their disappointment with the new Outlook app's feature-related shortcomings and its functioning as a powerful data harvester for Microsoft, as reported by Proton AG (a company offering online services with an emphasis on privacy). This recent Outlook-related news has users skeptical about future developments that come from Microsoft.

Fans and watchers of the Sticky Notes app are evidently open to seeing what Microsoft has in store, while not hiding their strong potential concerns, and Microsoft might just pull something truly impressive out of the bag. Some users have raised the question of whether Sticky Notes actually needs new and fancy features, but perhaps it’ll be easy enough to just not use whatever they don’t need.

Personally, I agree that an app like Sticky Notes might be best fit for purpose when kept simpler, and even if Microsoft adds features, there’s probably plenty of scope for development without needing to invoke AI. We’ll have to see just how exciting this upgrade is when it actually arrives, but till then, we’ll just have to wait and hope Microsoft hears the very much available user feedback.


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