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.

See more

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.

See more

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.


TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Can your PC or Mac run on-device AI? This handy new Opera tool lets you find out

Opera wants to make it easy for everyday users to find out whether their PC or Mac can run AI locally, and to that end, has incorporated a tool into its browser.

When we talk about running AI locally, we mean on the device itself, using your system and its resources for the entire AI workload being done – in contrast to having your PC tap the cloud to get the computing power to achieve the task at hand.

Running AI locally can be a demanding affair – particularly if you don’t have a modern CPU with a built-in NPU to accelerate AI workloads happening on your device – and so it’s pretty handy to have a benchmarking tool that tells you how capable your hardware is in terms of completing these on-device AI tasks effectively.

There is a catch though, namely that the ‘Is your computer AI ready?’ test is only available in the developer version of the Opera browser right now. So, if you want to give it a spin, you’ll need to download that developer (test) spin on the browser.

Once that’s done, you can get Opera to download an LLM (large language model) with which to run tests, and it checks the performance of your PC in various ways (tokens per second, first token latency, model load time and more).

If all that sounds like gobbledegook, it doesn’t really matter, as after running all these tests – which might take anything from just a few minutes to more like 20 – the tool will deliver a simple and clear assessment of whether your machine is ready for AI or not.

There’s an added nuance, mind: if you get the ‘ready for AI’ result then local performance is good, and ‘not AI ready’ is self-explanatory – you can forget running local AI tasks – but there’s a middle result of ‘AI functional.’ This means your device is capable of running AI tasks locally, but it might be rather slow, depending on what you’re doing.

Opera AI Benchmark Result

(Image credit: Opera)

There’s more depth to these results for experts, that you can explore if you wish, but it’s great to get an at-a-glance estimation of your PC’s on-device AI chops. It’s also possible to download different (increasingly large) AI models to test with, too, with heftier versions catering for cutting-edge PCs with the latest hardware and NPUs.

Analysis: Why local AI processing is important

It’s great to have an easily accessible test that anyone can use to get a good idea of their PC’s processing chops for local AI work. Doing AI tasks locally, kept within the confines of the device, is obviously important for privacy – as you’re not sending any data off your machine into the cloud.

Furthermore, some AI features will use local processing partly, or indeed exclusively, and we’ve already seen the latter: Windows 11’s new cornerstone AI functionality for Copilot+ PCs, Recall, is a case in point, as it works totally on-device for security and privacy reasons. (Even so, it’s been causing a storm of controversy since it was announced by Microsoft, but that’s another story).

So, to be able to easily discern your PC’s AI grunt is a useful capability to have, though right now, downloading the Opera developer version is probably not a hassle you’ll want to go through. Still, the feature will be inbound for the full version of Opera soon enough we’d guess, so you likely won’t have to wait long for it to arrive.

Opera is certainly getting serious about climbing the rankings of the best web browsers by leveraging AI, with one of the latest moves being drafting in Google Gemini to help supercharge its Aria AI assistant.


TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Google Pay gets 3 handy new features that could save you time and money

Google Pay is receiving three new features that collectively aim to make online shopping easier and more transparent. At first, it may seem strange how the tech giant is updating Google Pay when the app is scheduled to go offline on June 4 in the United States. 

However, it turns out the patch is rolling out to the Google Pay payment system rather than to the app itself. The Google Pay app is still set to be discontinued in about two weeks from the time of this writing. You’ll see the following changes appear on desktop and mobile.

According to their announcement post, the company states “American Express and Capital One cardholders” will now see the benefits they can receive when checking out on Chrome desktop in the “autofill drop-down” menu. Google gives the example of someone buying a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Your American Express Gold Card may offer three times the travel points, while a Capital One Quicksilver Card will give you “1.5 percent cash back on [your] purchase.” There are plans to add “more cards in the future” as well.

Google Pay Card Benefits in Autofill

(Image credit: Google)

Next, the buy now, pay later (BNPL) payment option is expanding to more “merchant sites and Android apps across the US.” Google appears to be working with two BNPL services, Affirm and Zip, to make the expansion possible. Exactly which websites and apps are unknown, and Google didn't provide any additional details in the post, although we did ask.

Autofill update

The first two features are exclusive to people in the United States; however, the Autofill update is seeing an international release. Moving forward, shoppers on either Chrome or Android can use biometrics or their screen lock PIN to verify card details. With this, you'll no longer have to enter your security code manually.

Google Pay - Autofill update

(Image credit: Google)

Autofill will normally work without a hitch, but Google states if it detects suspicious transactions, it’ll prevent payments from going through. Also, users can “set up device unlock” to have Google Pay ask you to unlock your smartphone to reveal “full card details.” It ensures your card isn’t used by other people who might have access to your device.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives. The Google Pay update is currently rolling out. While we have you, be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best Android phones for 2024.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Microsoft Paint update could make it even more Photoshop-like with handy new tools

Microsoft Paint received a plethora of new features late last year, introducing layers, a dark mode, and AI-powered image generation. These new updates brought Microsoft Paint up to speed with the rest of Windows 11's modern layout (maybe a different word? Trying to say vibe)  after years of virtually no meaningful upgrades, and it looks like Microsoft still has plans to add even more features to the humble art tool. 

X user @PhantomOfEarth made a post highlighting potential changes spotted in the Canary Development channel, and we could see these new features implemented in Microsoft Paint very soon. The Canary Dev channel is part of the Microsoft Insider Program, which allows Windows enthusiasts and developers to sign up and get an early look at upcoming releases and new features that may be on the way. 

See more

 We do have to take the features we see in such developer channels with a pinch of salt, as it’s common to see a cool upgrade or new software appear in the channel but never actually make it out of the development stage. That being said, PhantonOfEarth originally spotted the big changes set for Windows 11 Paint last year in the same Dev channel, so there’s a good chance that the brush size slider and layer panel update that is now present in the Canary build will actually come to fruition in a public update soon.   

Show my girl Paint some love

It’s great to see Microsoft continue to show some love for the iconic Paint app, as it had been somewhat forgotten about for quite some time. It seems like the company has finally taken note of the app's charm, as many of us can certainly admit to holding a soft spot for Paint and would hate to see it abandoned. I have many memories of using Paint; as a child in IT class learning to use a computer for the first time, or firing it up to do some casual scribbles while waiting for my family’s slow Wi-Fi to connect. 

These proposed features won’t make Paint the next Photoshop (at least for now), but they do bring the app closer to being a simple, free art tool that most everyday people will have access to. Cast your mind back to the middle of last year, when Photoshop introduced image generation capabilities – if you wanted to use them, you’d have to have paid for Adobe Firefly access or a Photoshop license. Now, if you’re looking to do something quick and simple with AI image-gen, you can do it in Paint. 

Better brush size control and layers may not seem like the most important or exciting new features, especially compared to last year's overhaul of Windows Paint, but it is proof that the team at Microsoft is still thinking about Paint. In fact, the addition of a proper layers panel will do a lot to justify the program’s worth to digital artists. It could also be the beginning of a new direction for Paint if more people flock back to the revamped app. I hope that Microsoft continues to improve it – just so long as it remains a free feature of Windows.

You might also like…

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Strava gets a handy direct messaging feature to make organizing rides easier

Strava already has a lot of social features built in, so you can share your cycles, runs and walks with friends and family, but it's now adding a major new feature to make contacting fellow users even easier: direct messaging.

As per the official blog post (via Velo), the Strava apps for Android and iOS are being updated now with messaging capabilities. Both one-to-one and group chats are supported, as well as options to share activities and routes in conversations, and you don't need to pay for a subscription to use the feature. 

When it comes to group chats, you're able to set specific names for them, and message reactions, GIFs, and replies to individual messages are all supported. What doesn't seem to be live yet, according to 9to5Mac, is photo sharing – but that's due in early 2024.

Perhaps the easiest way to start messaging someone you're connected to on Strava is to head to their profile and then tap the new Message button. You can also find your conversation list by tapping the speech bubble on the Home or Groups tabs.

Safety and privacy

Strava says that it's adding direct messages after so long because “athletes perform better together”, while the press release talks about messaging “enabling seamless coordination, connectivity, and celebration of accomplishments and progress”.

In other words, you can cheer your friends on, brag about your accomplishments, and meet up for activities more easily without having to resort to another messaging app. That said, if you've already got a group chat established somewhere else, this new feature might not have enough about it to tempt you to switch over.

There is a safety and privacy aspect to this, too: you need to have entered your date of birth in the app to use messaging, so Strava can monitor for “suspicious, underage, or unsafe activity” through the new chatting mechanism.

And you can limit who is able to message you, if you're worried about people sliding into your DMs. Via messaging settings (the cog icon on the conversation list), you can choose from Following (people who follow you), Mutuals (people who follow you that you also follow back), and No one (no one can message you first, but you can still start chats).

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Stopped using ChatGPT? These six handy new features might tempt you back

ChatGPT's AI smarts might be improving rapidly, but the chatbot's basic user interface can still baffle beginners. Well, that's about to improve with six ChatGPT tweaks that should give its usability a welcome boost.

OpenAI says the tweaks to ChatGPT's user experience will be rolling out “over the next week”, with four of the improvements available to all users and two of them targeted at ChatGPT Plus subscribers (which costs $ 20 / £16 / AU$ 28 per month).

Starting with those improvements for all users, OpenAI says you'll now get “prompt examples” at the beginning of a new chat because a “blank page can be intimidating”. ChatGPT already shows a few example prompts on its homepage (below), but we should soon see these appear in new chats, too.

Secondly, ChatGPT will also give you “suggested replies”. Currently, when the chatbot has answered your question, you're simply left with the 'Send a message' box. If you're a seasoned ChatGPT user, you'll have gradually learned how to improve your ChatGPT prompts and responses, but this should speed up the process for beginners.  

A third small improvement you'll see soon is that you'll stay logged into ChatGPT for much longer. OpenAI says “you'll no longer be logged out every two weeks”, and when you do log in you'll be “greeted with a much more welcoming page”. It isn't clear how long log-ins will now last, but we're interested to see how big an improvement that landing page is.

A bigger fourth change, though, is the introduction of keyboard shortcuts (below). While there are only six of these (see below), some of them could certainly be handy timesavers – for example, there are shortcuts to 'copy last response' (⌘/Ctrl + Shift + C) and 'toggle sidebar' (⌘/Ctrl + Shift + C). There's also an extra one to bring up the full list (⌘/Ctrl + /).

A laptop screen on a blue background showing the ChatGPT keyboard shortcuts

(Image credit: Future)

What about those two improvements for ChatGPT Plus subscribers? The biggest one is the ability to upload multiple files for ChatGPT to analyze. You'll soon be able to ask the chatbot to analyze data and serve up insights across multiple files. This will be available in the Code Interpreter Beta, a new tool that lets you convert files, make charts, perform data analysis, trim videos and more.

Lastly, ChatGPT Plus subscribers will finally find that the chatbot reverts to its GPT-4 model by default. Currently, there's a toggle at the top of the ChatGPT screen that lets you switch from the older GPT-3.5 model to GPT-4 (which is only available to Plus subscribers), but this will now remain switched to the latter if you're subscriber. 

Collectively, these six changes certainly aren't as dramatic as the move to GPT-4 in March, which delivered a massive upgrade – for example, OpenAI stated that GPT-4 is “40% more likely to provide factual content” than GPT-3.5. But they should make it more approachable for beginners, who. may have left the chatbot behind after the initial hype.

Analysis: ChatGPT hits an inevitable plateau

A laptop screen on a blue background showing the ChatGPT homepage

The move to GPT-4 (above), which is only available to Plus subscribers, was the last major change to ChatGPT. (Image credit: Future)

ChatGPT's explosive early hype saw it become the fastest-growing consumer app of all time – according to a UBS study, it hit 100 million monthly active users in January, just two months after it launched. 

But that hype is now on the wane, with Similarweb reporting that ChatGPT traffic was down 10% in June – so it needs some new tools and features to keep people returning.

These six improvements won't see the chatbot hit the headlines again, but they will bring much-needed improvements to ChatGPT's usability and accessibility. Other recent boosts like the arrival of ChatGPT on Android will also help get casual users tinkering again, as ChatGPT alternatives like Google Bard continue to improve.

While the early AI chatbot hype has certainly fizzled out, thanks to reports that the ChatGPT will always be prone to making stuff up and some frustrations that it's increasingly producing 'dumber' answers, these AI helpers can certainly still be useful tools when used in the right way.

If you're looking for some inspiration to get you re-engaged, check out our guides to some great real-world ChatGPT examples, some extra suggestions of what ChatGPT can do, and our pick of the best ChatGPT extensions for Chrome.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Bing AI gets some handy new features in Microsoft Edge browser

Microsoft has bolstered the capabilities of its Bing AI in the Edge browser’s side panel with a couple of welcome new features.

As flagged up by Leopeva64, a regular source of Edge leaks and developments on Twitter, there’s now an export button built into the Bing Chat pane in Microsoft’s browser.

See more

Click it and you get the choice of exporting whatever content you’re currently looking at in the chatbot to a Word document, PDF, or text file.

A second change for Edge spotted by Leopeva64 is that the Bing Chat side panel has a new section entitled ‘Mentioned’ which picks out highlights of things that are, well, mentioned by the chatbot.

See more

As you can see in the example provided in Leopeva64’s tweet, selected movies are shown as images (movie posters, in this case) that you can click on to learn more about the film (with the AI pulling info from Wikipedia in this case).

Analysis: Next up – the huge change for browsers

Clearly, it’s good to have the export feature in the Edge side panel. If you’ve found something particularly interesting, it’s great to have the ability to export it as some kind of document file with a couple of clicks.

Microsoft actually announced that this feature was inbound at the start of May (in one of those many Bing blog posts which are crafted on a weekly basis), so it has taken a little while for it to go live.

The new ‘Mentioned’ box has arrived more out of the blue, but again, it’s a useful addition to have and provides a jumping-off point for deeper exploration into related materials from any particular query.

Bing is steadily being built out in all kinds of directions, then, but in terms of the browser experience, the biggest change is going to be the introduction of the chatbot to browsers outside of Edge. That should be happening soon enough, going by chatter from sources at Microsoft, so you’ll be able to use the Bing AI in Chrome, for example, without having to resort to an unofficial (and clunky) extension.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More