Windows 11’s Recall feature could pack a handy time-saving web search ability that might be less controversial (for a change)

Windows 11’s Recall feature has been causing controversy recently, so much so that Microsoft has actually halted the feature in its tracks (for now) – but a new discovery won’t fan any of those particular flames. In fact, it could well prove useful for those who eventually take the plunge with the now-delayed AI-powered functionality.

As discovered in the new preview build 26236 for Windows 11 (in the Canary channel) by regular leaker @PhantomofEarth on X, the new addition to Recall – which is still hidden in testing – is a ‘Search the web’ option.

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To recap, Recall is an AI feature specifically designed for Copilot+ PCs which regularly takes screenshots of the activity on your PC, files them in a library, and makes this searchable via Microsoft’s Copilot AI in Windows.

The new ‘Search the web’ facility allows the user to right-click on any text detected in a screenshot taken by Recall, and it’ll fire up a search on that selected text (in the user’s default search engine, presumably – though we don’t get to see the feature in action).

The ‘Search the web’ option is present in Recall’s right-click menu (in a snapshot) alongside the ‘Copy’ and ‘Open with’ options.

New AI settings in Windows 11

X user @alex290292 commented on @PhantomofEarth’s post with another interesting observation that there are also new AI-related settings in this Windows 11 preview build.

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These are in the Settings app, under ‘Privacy & Security’ where there’s a ‘Generative AI’ panel that allows for the fine-tuning of which apps are allowed to use generative AI capabilities. Apparently, you’ll also be able to review the last seven days of activity to see which apps requested to use generative AI.

To be able to see all of this for yourself, you’ll have to install the preview build and use a Windows configuration tool (ViVeTool) to enable ‘hidden’ Windows 11 features – not something we’d recommend for anyone but a keen enthusiast who’s comfortable with tinkering around in test builds.

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YouTube could soon make it impossible to use ad blockers on its videos – here’s how

YouTube’s crusade against ad blockers has seen the platform try out multiple strategies, from auto-skipping entire videos to crippling third-party apps. Now they're trying something new, though. 

The company is now experimenting with what could be its most insidious tactic yet – server-side ad injection. This news comes from the developer behind SponsorBlock, a prominent ad blocker for YouTube, who sounded the alarm on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter).

Server-side ad injection (also called server-side ad insertion) is where websites directly integrate advertisements into video content on the server, hence the name. YouTube's current method is more akin to client-side ad insertion, or CSAI, which places advertisements on videos while on web browsers. 

Ad blockers operate by stopping CSAI ads, but they don’t work against SSAI (server-side ad injection) techniques. That’s because, under SSAI, advertisements are considered to be “indistinguishable from the video,” according to 9To5Google.

If YouTube decides to implement SSAI on a wide scale, it would essentially break ad blockers as they’d be unable to stop commercials. A small group of users on the YouTube subreddit have reported encountering the tech, with one of the top comments noting they’re seeing ads even though they use uBlock Origin on Firefox. Nothing they do to fix the problems seems to work. 

Possible workaround

Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding the situation, hope is not lost. The SponsorBlock developer made an FAQ addressing SSAI on GitHub, explaining this is not the end of the extension. 

They state that if YouTube decides to implement the injection, it would have to send data to the video player informing it how long an advertisement will last. It’s possible for ad blockers to obtain the data and utilize it to stop the commercial. 

But, giving an ad blocker the ability to do so will be difficult. It may be a while until these extensions can successfully stop SSAI. The developer states that “SponsorBlock will not work for people” while the experiment is underway.

New restrictions

In addition to SSAI, a group of developers found a potentially new restriction on YouTube, where the platform will tell you to log into your account before you can watch content. 

The website apparently wants to make sure “you’re not a bot.” Android Authority, in its report, believes YouTube might soon “limit logged-out video access in the future.” If this is ever introduced, it would severely limit how YouTube videos are shared. 

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Software developers are, however, a wily bunch. The team behind content downloader Cobalt has found a way to circumvent the restriction. But YouTube could roll out stronger limitations on content sharing and an even stronger crackdown on ad blockers.

Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best free YouTube download app for 2024.

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Apple Passwords app works with Chrome and Edge – and that could tempt Lastpass fans to switch

Alongside a roar of applause for the Calculator app for iPad at Apple’s WWDC 2024 keynote, the crowd seemed pretty happy with the debut of Passwords as well. It’s an aptly named app that takes the popular password manager feature of iCloud Keychain and gives it a home outside of Settings. 

Passwords is a dedicated app for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Vision Pro that safely stores logins and passwords in an encrypted spot that needs to be authenticated with Face ID, Touch ID, or a password to open. It’s still free to use, and considering it’s a dedicated app, it’s now a true competitor for Lastpass and 1Password.

While some have thought that you might be locked into using it only with Safari – after all, it’s made by Apple, and Safari is Apple’s browser – we have good news. 

A browser extension saves the day

Apple Passwords App Slide, WWDC 2024 Keynote

(Image credit: Future/Jacob Krol)

Apple Passwords will work with third-party browsers – Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge – via a browser extension. It’s actually the iCloud Extension, which also currently lets iCloud Keychain users have the autofill experience. This way, even if your browser of preference isn’t Safari, you’ll still be able to use the autofill functionality of Apple Passwords.

In a demo, I got to see the application's interface in action; much like other password managers, you can see a full list alphabetically of all your logins or see it broken up categorically. Once more, Passwords is also home to Wi-Fi networks, which is super handy, and the application supports Passkeys and 2FA codes. For the latter, you can even import a library of 2FA codes from a different service like Google Authenticator.

You can also create a shared group, which could be handy for sharing, let’s say, streaming service logins with the family. Rather than having to be around to copy and paste individually, you can share your collection of logins. It all seems pretty handy, but to make accessing stored passwords even easier, Apple also made a Menu Bar experience for passwords.

Essentially, this lets the app icon – a single key positioned vertically – live at the top of your Mac. When you need an account login or password in a jiffy, click it and authenticate it. You can either scroll or search for a specific login to quickly copy and paste it. Pretty neat. Pulling a login from here or using the autofill functionality happened promptly.

Much like the current experience with iCloud Keychain or another password manager, it will warn you of passwords that have been reused, compromised, or even leaked and suggest changing them.

Maybe best of all is that your logins will sync across your Apple devices via the Passwords app for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and visionOS, but can also be accessed on Windows via the web. Oh, and of course, when Passwords launches later in 2024, it’ll be free; you’ll just need an Apple Account.

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Windows 11’s File Explorer could hook up directly with your smartphone to make file transfers from Android easier than ever

Microsoft has been hard at work further integrating Android devices into Windows 11, recently allowing users to draft in their phones as makeshift webcams. Riding the same wave of inter-device connectivity, a new feature is apparently in the works that will allow you to see and use your smartphone directly in Windows 11’s File Explorer – just like it was an external drive. 

According to reputable leaker @PhantomOfEarth on X, the groundwork is present in Windows 11 for the ‘Cross Device Experience Host’ to be able to link File Explorer on the desktop to your smartphone. This will allow File Explorer direct access to the files on your smartphone, or the ability to shift files the other way, from your PC to phone.

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If you cast your mind back to the beginning of the year, you may remember that the Cross Device Experience Host is replacing the Phone Link feature, so if you’re wondering why this may sound like more of a Phone Link feature, there’s your answer.

Once you turn on the feature – note that it’s still hidden in test versions of Windows 11 – @PhantomOfEarth observes that you’ll be asked to grant file access permissions, after which you’ll be good to go.

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Exciting times

Sadly, there isn’t anything else revealed about the feature, and we don’t even know the basics of how it’ll actually work. We’re assuming it’ll use Wi-Fi, maybe, to connect your phone and PC, so that your smartphone is always there in File Explorer whenever you sit at your computer with it (with both on the same Wi-Fi network). That’s pure speculation, mind.

We expect to see this functionality make an appearance in the Windows Insider Program, where devs and enthusiasts test out potential new features in preview builds of Windows 11. Until we have official word from Microsoft to confirm the feature is happening, though, we won’t know for sure – so don’t get your hopes up too high. 

That being said, it’s still a pretty cool ability to look forward to!  Not only could you move documents, photos, or other files between your PC and phone a lot more quickly and conveniently, but as noted, it seems like once you’ve set permissions your device should automatically register in File Explorer.

This is definitely a feature I would have enjoyed when I was a student and had to search and scramble between my phone and my laptop to make sure I had all the relevant research in one organized place. While I won’t allow myself to get too excited yet, I will wait patiently and hope to see the feature on my PC before too long. 

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Android’s Find My Device trackers are missing one big AirTags feature, but that could soon change

Google's upgraded Find My Device network is slowly rolling out globally to help Android fans find their lost belongings. And it seems that Google is already planning to add a key feature that the network lacks compared to Apple's AirTags – support for UWB (ultra-wideband) tech.

UWB is one of the main technologies that powers Apple AirTags' Precision Finding feature (below). That feature gives you directions, down to a few feet, to where your lost keys are. But Google's Find My Device network doesn't currently support the tech – even though many of the best Android phones now support ultra-wideband. 

While that oversight means that the first wave of Find My Device trackers lacks the feature, Google appears to have plans to fill the gap. As spotted by Android Authority, some code references in the latest version of the Find My Device app suggest that Google is working on adding UWB to its new network.

That doesn't necessarily mean that Google is planning to bring the feature to Find My Device soon, but it is a promising sign. And it might not be the only new feature in the pipeline for the network – another code reference points to AR (augmented reality) features via the ARCore software development kit (SDK).

In theory, that could tie in nicely with the UWB support, with a camera UI visually showing you how to track down your lost valuables. That would be a very Google integration with echoes of Google Lens, but for now, its Find My Device network lags behind its Apple rival in one small but useful area.

A nudge in the right direction

An iPhone showing the Precision Finding feature of Apple AirTags

(Image credit: Apple)

The lack of UWB support on Google's Find My Device network certainly isn't a deal-breaker for the early trackers that are available now from the likes of Chipolo and Pebblebee.

Like Apple's Find My network, Google's new network anonymously leverages millions of phones worldwide to help you locate lost items. You can attach the trackers, which come in tag and card form, to valuables and tap to 'play sounds' in the app to trigger a sound or get the tracker to emit an LED flash.

Both things help compensate for the lack of a visual Precision Finding feature like the one you get with AirTags. But those visual cues can still be very handy if you can't quite tell where the sound is coming from, and Apple's integration also gives you increasingly powerful vibrations alongside the UWB-powered directions.

Then again, UWB is only really helpful at very short range, so it only really becomes a benefit when you're in the same room as your lost item. So while it's certainly a nice-to-have that will hopefully come to the Find My Device, Google's rebooted network and the new trackers that support it are still a big upgrade from what was available before on Android.

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ChatGPT shows off impressive voice mode in new demo – and it could be a taste of the new Siri

ChatGPT's highly anticipated new Voice mode has just starred again in new demo that shows off its acting skills – and the video could be a taste of what we can expect from the reported new deal between Apple and OpenAI.

The ChatGPT app already has a Voice mode, but OpenAI showed off a much more impressive version during the launch of its new GPT-4o model in May. Unfortunately, that was then overshadowed by OpenAI's very public spat with Scarlett Johansson over the similarity of ChatGPT's Sky voice to her own in the movie Her. But OpenAI is hyping up the new mode again in the clip below.

The video shows someone writing a story and getting ChatGPT to effectively do improv drama, providing voices for a “majestic lion” and a mouse. Beyond the expressiveness of the voices, what's notable is how easy it is to interrupt the ChatGPT voice for a better conversational flow, and also the lack of latency.     

OpenAI says the new mode will “be rolling out in the coming weeks” and that's a pretty big deal. Not least because, as Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has again reported, Apple is expected to announce a new partnership with OpenAI at WWDC 2024 on June 10.   

Exactly how OpenAI's tech is going to be baked into iOS 18 remains to be seen, but Gurman's report states that Apple will be “infusing its Siri digital assistant with AI”. That means some of its off-device powers could tap into ChatGPT – and if it's anything like OpenAI's new demo, that would be a huge step forward from today's Siri.

Voice assistants finally grow up?

Siri's reported AI overhaul will likely be one of the bigger stories of WWDC 2024. According to Dag Kittlaus, who co-founded and ran Siri before Apple acquired it in 2010, the deal with OpenAI will likely be a “short- to medium-term relationship” while Apple plays catch up. But it's still a major surprise.

It's possible that Siri's AI improvements will be restricted to more minor, on-device functions, with Apple instead using its OpenAI partnership solely for text-based queries. After all, from iOS 15 onwards, Apple switched Siri's audio processing to being on-device by default, which meant you could use it without an internet connection.

But Bloomberg's Gurman claims that Apple has “forged a partnership to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT into the iPhone’s operating system”. If so, it's possible that one unlikely move could be followed by another, with Siri leaning on ChatGPT for off-device queries and a more conversational flow. It's already been possible to use ChatGPT with Siri for a while now using Apple's Shortcuts.

It wouldn't be the first time that Apple has integrated third-party software into iOS. Back on the original iPhone, Apple made a pre-installed YouTube app which was later removed once Google had made its own version. Gurman's sources noted that by outsourcing an AI chatbot, “Apple can distance itself from the technology itself, including its occasional inaccuracies and hallucinations.”

We're certainly looking forward to seeing how Apple weaves OpenAI's tech into iOS –and potentially Siri – at WWDC 2024.

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Nvidia’s new G-Assist AI could just be the best party member for hardcore PC gamers

What started as an April Fool’s prank from 2017 might actually become real tech. During Computex 2024, Nvidia revealed a tech demo for Project G-Assist, an AI assistant that can enhance how people play video games. 

The old joke was that the AI could play games for you with the push of a button. This new version isn’t as capable as its fantasy counterpart, but can still help you with your playthrough. According to the announcement post, G-Assist can answer questions about how to complete quests, find items, or help with how to beat tough bosses. 

To activate the AI, you'll simply press a hotkey or utter a wake phase. A window will appear on the screen. From there, you can type in a text prompt or speak it via microphone.

Nvidia states that G-Assist is contextually aware. Through visual models, it can provide recommendations on what a player should do next just by looking at the screen. It may suggest crafting a certain gear for your character or avoiding an on-screen enemy. The information it’ll provide depends on what you’re playing. For role-playing games, it can tell you about the lore of the surrounding world. If you’re playing a first-person shooter, G-Assist will recommend the best loadouts.

Nvidia G-Assist on PC

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Granted, all the AI's tidbits can be admittedly found through a simple Google search. It’s not like G-Assist has access to a secret treasure trove of knowledge. The main draw here is you don’t have to leave your game. A ton of important data is all a button press away. 

The source of a game’s information has us curious. Nvidia says each output will provide “context-sensitive links,” directing you to extra resources online, such as official community wikis. Whether or not that’ll include unofficial sources, like YouTube videos, remains to be seen.

Computer tune up

Besides the playthrough helper, the assistant also has a feature we think hardcore gamers will appreciate called Performance Tuning. Activating this allows the AI to “evaluate your system’s configuration… and instantly tune it for an optimal experience.” It could, for example, decide to undervolt a graphics card to increase power efficiency, enable a “safe GPU overclock,” and turn on Nvidia Reflex to reduce latency, among other things.

Nvidia G-Assist - Performance Tuning feature

(Image credit: Nvidia)

G-Assist even tracks your computer’s performance as you play, letting you know about key statistics, from a game's current frame rate to latency spikes. The corner window displays a graphical readout of a certain stat within a certain time frame. It depends on what you ask the assistant.

What’s more, the AI suggests actions you can take to improve a computer's overall performance or explain certain features. For instance, DLAA (deep-learning anti-aliasing) and DLSS (deep-learning super sampling) are a pair of graphical software that Nvidia made to improve a video game's visual fidelity. The average person may have a difficult time understanding the differences between them and what exactly they do. G-Assist can help down break tricky concepts to better educate people.

The AI is shaping itself up to be yet another killer app from Nvidia. It’s definitely something we want to try out ourselves on our favorite titles. At time of this writing, G-Assist is being exhibited at Computex. It’s unknown if and when it’ll launch or if there will be beta at some point.

TechRadar did reach out to Nvidia asking if it plans to release a public beta and if it’ll expand to non-gaming apps soon. We’ll update this story if we hear back.

Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best gaming PCs for 2024 if you're in the market.

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Meta’s own store has leaked the Meta Quest 3S – which could be the cheap VR headset you’ve been waiting for

We might know the name of Meta’s next VR headset, as its own store has leaked the existence of the Meta Quest 3S.

Rumors have been swirling for some time that Meta is working on a cheaper version of the Meta Quest 3 – which has been called both the Meta Quets 3S and Meta Quest 3 Lite by people claiming to be in the know. The most recent leak revealed that it’s essentially the Quest 3’s brain (the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset) inside the Quest 2’s bulkier body.

It seemed likely Meta might want to launch a cheaper VR headset, as the Quest 3 is a lot pricier than the old Oculus Quest 2. We think it’s worth the added cost, but it comes in at $ 499 / £479 / AU$ 799 instead of the $ 299 / £299 / AU$ 479 the 2 was at launch (and the $ 199.99 / £199.99 / AU$ 359.99 it is currently) which is a fairly hefty price increase.

Now Meta has all but confirmed the Meta Quest 3S is on the way by listing it as one of its headsets in the Quest Store.

The Alo Moves Quest Store page with the Meta Quest 3S name listed

(Image credit: Future / Meta / Alo Moves)

First spotted by UploadVR (and we’ve verified it), if you head to the Alo Moves XR page you’ll see that the app “Supports Meta Quest 3S, Meta Quest 3, Meta Quest Pro and Meta Quest 2.” Upload VR says it also appears on several other store pages – suggesting it’s not simply an error on the Alo Moves developer’s part – but we’ve not been able to spot it on any of the ones we’ve looked through. 

It’s possible many of these pages have already spotted and fixed the mistake, and we expect the Alo Moves reference to the 3S will disappear soon too.

Either way, this is as close to an official confirmation as we’ll get until Meta makes a proper announcement – something we had expected would happen soon as part of this year’s Meta Quest Gaming Showcase, a gaming-focused event that usually lands in June or July.

That official announcement is still going to be important as while this leak does seemingly confirm a Meta Quest 3S is on its way, it doesn’t tell us any details about what we can expect from the device. Yes, leaks have strongly hinted at a more affordable XR device but we won’t know for sure until we hear the details from Meta directly.

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Is this the return of Google Glass? Magic Leap and Google team up could be bad news for Meta and Apple

We already knew Google was making at least a tentative return to the world of extended reality (XR, a catchall for VR, AR, and MR) with the announcement it’s helping to make the Samsung XR headset. But it could also be looking for another try and with one of its most high-profile flops: Google Glass.

This speculation follows an announcement from Magic Leap that it is partnering with Google to “bring Magic Leap Augmented Reality (AR) expertise and optics leadership together with Google’s technology platforms and collaborate on Extended Reality (XR) solutions and experiences.”

This is hardly a Google Glass confirmation, but it follows a few rumors that Google wants to have another crack at AR specs – including what might have been an accidental leak from its own Google I/O presentation. It also comes after Meta teased its AR glasses project, and with Apple testing the waters with the Vision Pro it would seem the entire industry is chasing an AR trend.

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Even though this partnership is seemingly set in stone we shouldn’t get our hopes up that Google Glass 2 is coming soon. LG and Meta announced plans to partner on XR technology, only for rumors to come out weeks later that they had already parted ways – rumors LG refused to dismiss.

Much like Meta and LG reportedly butted heads in several ways, Google and Magic Leap could also disagree on how best to create an AR device which could lead to their relationship breaking down. 

What could a ‘Google Glass 2’ look like? 

Assuming this partnership does bear fruit, what do we expect to see from Google Glass 2 – or whatever Google wants to call it?

Well design-wise we imagine it’ll look a lot more like a typical pair of specs. While Google Glass’ space-age design might have charmed some, it’s not at all subtle. The obvious camera freaked people out, and it painted a target on wearers as they were clearly wearing expensive tech that would-be thieves could rip from them. And when the battery dies, they’re useless.

Modern smart and AR glasses have some signs they’re more than meets the eye – like thicker arms, and a light that makes it clear when the camera is in use – but in general you wouldn’t know the specs were anything but regular shades unless you’re well-versed in tech. With prescription or shaded lenses, they’re also something you can wear all the time even when they run out of charge.

Orange RayBan Meta Smart Glasses in front of a wall of colorful lenses including green, blue, yellow and pink

The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses (Image credit: Meta)

As for its features, obviously, AR aspects would be included. To us, this means a HUD with an overlay showing you things like directions pointing you towards your destination, and apps that have you interact with virtual objects as if they’re in the real world.

But the other big feature will most likely be AI. We’ve already seen how the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses can leverage cameras and its AI to help you identify objects, find recipes, translate signs, and generally answer questions you might have by simply talking to your specs. Google also has a generative AI – Gemini – and while its recent attempts at AI search haven’t been the best, we’d be shocked if this tech wasn’t incorporated into Google Glass 2.

We’ll have to wait and see what Google’s next AR device has in store for us if and when it launches. You can be sure we’ll be ready to give you the lowdown as soon as we have it.

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