Google rolls out huge security update to Pixel phones, squashing 50 vulnerabilities

June 2024 has been a big month for Pixel smartphones. Not only did Gemini Nano roll out to the Pixel 8a, but Google also released a huge security update to multiple models. 

It addresses 50 vulnerabilities, ranging in severity from moderate to critical. One of the more insidious flaws is CVE-2024-32896, which Tom’s Guide states “is an elevation of privilege (EoP) vulnerability.” 

An EoP refers to a bug or design flaw that a bad actor can exploit to gain unfettered access to a smartphone’s resources. It’s a level of access that not even a Pixel owner normally has. Even though it’s not as severe as the others, CVE-2024-32896 did warrant an extra warning from Google on the patch’s Pixel Update Bulletin page, stating it “may be under limited, targeted exploitation.” 

In other words, it's likely bad actors are going to be targeting the flaw to infiltrate a Pixel phone, so it’s important that you install the patch.

Installing the fix

The rest of the patch affects other important components on the devices, such as the Pixel Firmware fingerprint sensor. It even fixes a handful of Qualcomm and Qualcomm closed-source components.

Google’s patch is ready to download for all supporting Pixel phones, and you can find the full list of models on the tech giant’s Help website here. They include but are not limited to the Pixel Fold, Pixel 7 series, and the Pixel 8 line.

To download the update, go to the Settings menu on your Pixel phone. Go to Security & Privacy, then to System & Updates. Scroll down to the Security Update and hit Install. Give your device enough time to install the patch and then restart your smartphone.

Existing on Android

It’s important to mention that the EoP vulnerability seems to exist on third-party Android hardware; however, a fix won’t come out for a while. As news site Bleeping Computer explains, the operating systems for Pixel and Android smartphones receive security updates at different times. The reason for this separate rollout is that third-party devices have their own “exclusive features and capabilities.” One comes out faster than the other.

Developers for GrapheneOS, a unique version of Android that is more focused on security, initially found the flaw in April. In a recent post on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter), the team believes non-Pixel phones probably won’t receive the patch until the launch of Android 15. If you don’t get the new operating system, the EoP bug probably won't get removed. The GrapheneOS devs claim the June update “has not been backported.”

Be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best Android antivirus apps for 2024 if you want even more protection. 

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Your old photos are getting a 3D makeover thanks to this huge Vision Pro update

With the unveiling of visionOS 2.0 for the Vision Pro at WWDC 24, Apple introduced many new features but left my wish to open up environments ungranted. Even so, aside from new display options for Mac Virtual Display and more control gestures, there is one feature that stands out from the rest.

When I reviewed the Vision Pro, I noted how emotional an experience it could be, especially viewing photos back on it. Looking at photos of loved ones who have since passed or even reliving moments that I frequently call up on my iPhone or iPad, there was something more about life-size or larger-than-life representations of the content. When shot properly, the most compelling spatial videos and photos give off a real feeling of intimacy and engagement.

The catch is that, currently, the only photos and videos that can be viewed in this way are videos that have been shot in Apple's spatial image format, and that's something you can only do on the 15 Pro or 15 Pro Max

However, in the case of photos, that's set to change with visionOS 2.

Make any photo more immersive

Apple Vision Pro – spatial photos visionos 2.0

(Image credit: Apple)

Photos that you view on the Vision Pro running the second generation of VisionOS will be able to be displayed as spatial photos thanks to the power of machine learning. This will add a left and right side to the 2D image to create the impression of depth and let the image effectively 'pop.' I cannot wait to give this a go, and I think it’ll give folks a more impactful experience with Apple's 'spatial computer.'

I also really like Apple’s approach here, as it won’t automatically present every photo as a spatial image – that could lead to some strange-looking shots, and there will also be photos that you’d rather leave in their original 2D form.

According to the visionOS 2.0 portion of Apple's keynote, the process is as simple as swiping through pictures within Photos and tapping a button to watch as machine learning kicks in, analyzes your photo, and adds depth elements. The resulting images really pop, and when viewed on a screen that could be as large as you want on the Vision Pro, the effect is striking.

I’ve already enjoyed looking at standard photos of key memories of my life with friends and family who are still here and some who have passed. Viewing it back on that grand stage is emotional, makes you think, and can be powerful. I’m hopeful that this option of engaging this 3D effect will make that impact even stronger.

It has the potential to greatly expand how much a Vision Pro owner actually uses the Photos app, considering that it’s a great way to view images on a large scale, be it a standard shot, ultra-wide, portrait, or even a panorama.

Mac Virtual Display expands, and improved gestures

Apple Vision Pro, Mac Virtual Display VisionOs 2.0

(Image credit: Apple)

While 'spatial photos' was the new feature that most caught my eye, it’s joined by two other new features in visionOS 2.0. For starters, Mac Virtual Display is set to get a big enhancement – you’ll be able to make the screen sizes much larger, almost like a curved display that wraps around, and one that will benefit from improved resolutions. That means more applications will run even better here.

Additionally, you can do more with hand gestures. Rather than hitting the Digital Crown to pull up the home screen, you can make a gesture similar to double-tapping to pull up that interface, while another gesture will let you easily access Control Center.

New ways of interaction are either overlaid in your reality, in an immersive one for Apple, or on Tatooine if you’re in Disney Plus.

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A huge Meta AI update finally arrives on Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses… for some

After months of waiting the moment is here: Meta AI features have arrived on the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses for everyone – well, everyone in the US and Canada, for now.

The exclusivity to those regions is not the only caveat unfortunately. Another big one is that while the Meta AI tools are no longer locked behind an exclusive beta, Meta notes in its blog post announcement that they are still beta features – suggesting that you’ll likely run into several problems with regard to reliability and accuracy.

But while the update isn’t quite as complete as we’d have liked, it’s still a major leap forward for Meta’s smart glasses – finally having them deliver on the impressive AI promises Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg made when they were revealed back at Meta Connect 2023 in September last year.

What can Meta AI do?

A video call shot on the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses

(Image credit: Ray-Ban / Meta)

The main Meta AI feature you’ll want to take advantage of is ‘Look and Ask.’ To activate it simply start a phrase with “Hey Meta, look and …” then ask the glasses a question about something you can see. 

You could try “… tell me about this animal,” or “…tell me about this building,” or even “…tell me what I can make for dinner with these ingredients.”

The glasses will then use your command alongside an image captured by the camera to search for an answer in its database – which include data the Meta AI has been trained on, and information it has gathered from Google and Bing.

As with all AI responses, we’d recommend taking what the Meta AI says with a pinch of salt. AI assistants are prone to hallucinating – which in the AI context you can read simply as “getting stuff completely wrong” – and this Meta model is no different. It will get stuff right too, but don’t take its advice as gospel.

Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses covered in water droplets

(Image credit: Meta)

Beyond Look and Ask you can use the Meta AI assistant like the Google or Siri assistant on your phone. This means starting video calls (above), sending texts and images, or playing music all with just voice commands.

Just be prepared to get some attention as you walk around talking to your smart glasses – we got some odd looks when we were testing a different pair of specs the other day.

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Windows 11 24H2 update rumored to arrive in September, ushering in huge changes for the OS

Microsoft’s major update for 2024 will be Windows 11 24H2, we’ve again heard, but it’ll be a big old drop of multiple features – plus foundational changes – that’s expected to arrive in September.

That’s the latest from Microsoft rumor-monger Zac Bowden of Windows Central fame, a generally reliable source for all things Windows.

Bowden has previously asserted that Microsoft is going to keep Windows 11 and push out a 24H2 upgrade later this year – rather than launching Windows 12, or whatever an all-new version of the OS might be called – so this concept is nothing new.

Also fully expected is that the update will be heavily focused on next-gen AI experiences (for those AI PCs Microsoft keeps banging on about), and we’re told by Bowden that the 2024 Update will be a much larger affair than 23H2 (which was pretty minor, so again, that’s no surprise).

However, according to Bowden, 24H2 will represent a seriously big change in direction, and will be built on a new version of the Windows platform that’ll usher in various performance and security updates alongside a raft of new features.

What new features? Well, given the mentioned weight on the AI side of the equation, obviously there’ll be upgrades for Copilot. We’re told the desktop assistant will enhance the Windows interface and find ways to boost productivity in terms of apps, search, and more besides.

Bowden doesn’t go into any real specifics that haven’t been mentioned before, but in short, Copilot will help you do more stuff in a swifter and more convenient manner in Windows, as well as all the existing Bing Chat-style chops the AI has.

The leaker does expand on one point, though: that Microsoft is planning a Copilot timeline/history feature that’ll allows users to locate any file, image, app, basically anything that has been previously opened on their PC, using the AI. A history-based super-search, in other words, that’ll likely allow you to do things like request ‘that file where I wrote about Nvidia’s new RTX Super graphics cards’ or similar more natural language-based requests than traditional search. (We’ve heard rumors along these lines before).

We’ve already seen other incoming features in test builds of Windows 11 such as the new ‘energy saver’ capability and AI-powered Snap Layouts to pick out a couple of examples.

All the stuff you see in testing in early channels is likely to be for 24H2, and there are other additions coming, too. For example, Phone Link improvements are inbound, including being able to use your smartphone as a makeshift webcam for the PC (pretty nifty).

Windows 11 desktop on an all-in-one PC

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: Possible twists in the tale

Some still believe that this will be Windows 12, or some incarnation of next-gen Windows (Windows AI?) rather than just a 24H2 update for Windows 11. That’d make sense in some ways, given that this is Windows built on an entirely new platform (called Germanium) and it’s a big thing coming alongside those AI PCs we keep hearing about.

Bowden thinks a full name change is unlikely, though, and still maintains this will be the 24H2 update even though it ushers in extensive changes.

One reason Microsoft may not want Windows 12 is that it would fragment the user base into Windows 10, 11, and 12, which could be confusing for users, and a pain for Microsoft to handle in terms of development and patching. Remember, Windows 10 isn’t dead anymore, and Microsoft recently reversed the decision to freeze new features coming to the older OS, and is now piping fresh functionality across – including, most importantly, Copilot.

All of this is just speculation, mind, and even Microsoft itself may not have made the final decision as to whether this will be another update for Windows 11, or an all-new next-gen Windows.

Bowden lays out the development timeframe and as mentioned, the projected release for the theoretical 24H2 update is currently September (though it could be later in the year).

There’s a slight twist, though, in that the platform it’s built on, Germanium, will apparently be ready in April, after which work on finalizing the Windows 11 2024 Update will begin. It’s possible that new AI PCs with 24H2 on board could appear as soon as July, but the upgrade won’t come to existing Windows 11 installations until September at the earliest.

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Huge visual enhancements could be coming to your favorite Oculus Quest 2 software

Your favorite VR games and apps’ visuals could soon be sharper than ever as Meta is unlocking a new resolution-boosting tool for developers.

Developed in collaboration with Qualcomm – the manufacturer of the Snapdragon chips used by Meta’s headsets – Quest Super Resolution upscaling tool promises to boost image quality and deliver a smoother experience. So expect the best VR games and apps to have sharper images, and be running at higher framerates on your Oculus Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro than they did before the upgrade.

The Quest Super Resolution upgrade follows a major boost to the CPU and GPU performance of Meta’s headsets that came last month in June 2023. Both the Quest 2 and Quest Pro’s CPUs saw a 26% speed boost last month, while the Quest 2 and Quest Pro’s GPUs got a performance boost of 19% and 11% respectively.

Meta was able to achieve these upgrades via a software patch rather than releasing new hardware because it has allowed the existing components to run at higher clock speeds. To avoid the systems getting too hot while you’re wearing them, the Quest headsets’ components were underclocked – read: their maximum performance is held back compared to what it should be able to do running normally. June’s update removed some of these limitations, with Meta likely deciding it was being a bit too conservative with its underclocked approach.

Thanks to Quest Super Resolution, developers have a new way to utilize the Quest system’s improved GPU capabilities. But we’ll have to wait for them to implement Super Resolution into their software before we see any improvements in the VR software we love.

How does Meta Quest Super Resolution work? 

Meta’s blog post gets a little jargon-heavy in its “What is Meta Quest Super Resolution?” section – calling it a “single-pass spatial upscaling and sharpening technique.” What you need to know is that upscaling is a way to get better visual quality out of your hardware without sacrificing performance.

Quest Super Resolution in action (Image credit: Meta)

In general, upscaling works by having a GPU render an image at a lower resolution (say, 1080p or full-HD) and then using tricks to scale it up to a higher one (like 4K, or even 8K). While an upscaled image typically won’t look as crisp as one rendered at the target resolution, it’s a lot less taxing for a GPU to create an upscaled image – as such it can usually run upscaled software at a higher framerate.

Higher smoother framerates are a must-have for VR apps. If the visuals are choppy, or run below a minimum of 90fps, that’s when wearing a headset can make you feel motion sick.

Meta Quest Super Resolution's upscaling algorithm has a few special tricks up its sleeves, too. The highest setting can apparently greatly reduce artifacts caused by upscaled objects blurring into one another at their edges. You can see this in the image above, the Super Resolution image looks the most crisp, with well-defined edges to the objects in the complex scene.

Want to learn more about upscaling? Check out our Nvidia DLSS vs AMD FSR piece to learn about how these two technologies stack up against one another.

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Steam gets a huge free update on PC, and it’s good news for Steam Deck too

Valve has announced a major update to its Steam application that brings a “fresh” new look, better notifications, a new in-game overlay and new Notes feature.

Announced on Twitter (see below), and with a blog post, this is one of the biggest updates to Steam we’ve seen for a long time – and due to the popularity of Valve’s Steam platform, these changes will likely impact almost all PC gamers.

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The most noticeable change is the major redesign of the Steam interface, which Valve describes as “targeted visual and usability improvements across Steam.” While the app remains recognizable, the new look feels more modern, with Settings and Screenshot Manager getting particular attention.

Screenshots of the new Steam user interface

(Image credit: Valve)

Better notifications

If you use Steam – and if you play many of the best PC games it’s likely that you do, then you’ll probably have noticed notifications popping up in the corner of your screen while playing. While these can sometimes be useful, more often than not they're useless alerts about someone adding you to their ‘Friends list’, potentially distracting you at a key moment in the game.

So the fact that Valve has improved notifications to be “more useful to you” is certainly welcome – as is Valve’s acknowledgement that Steam notifications haven’t been great. With the new update, the 'bell' icon at the top of the screen will only light up green when there’s “truly something new for you,” and the notification pop-out window will be limited to new notifications (older ones can be viewed by clicking the 'View all' option).

Screenshots of the new Steam user interface

(Image credit: Valve)

Steam now also provides new notification settings that let you fine-tune which notifications pop up, and where they'll appear. Hopefully this will put a stop to immersion-breaking pop-ups showing up while you're playing games.

New and improved in-game overlay

The in-game overlay, which appears when you press Shift+Tab while playing a game, has got a new look as well, with a new toolbar along the bottom that contains buttons for things such as chat, achievements, guides and a web browser, so they can all be quickly accessed. It’s similar to the Game Bar in Windows 11 (which you can open by pressing the Windows key +G on your keyboard.

You can also customize which elements appear in the in-game overlay, and these settings will carry over regardless of which game you play.

You can now pin windows from the overlay to appear on-screen while you’re playing. This could be really handy for putting up guides to help you through a tricky part of a game, or – as Valve suggests – you could use it to multitask, such as playing a video or podcast while you game.

The in-game overlay also comes with two brand-new features. The first is the Game Overview panel, which gives you a load of easily-glanceable information about the game you're playing, including achievements, progress, news and more.

Screenshots of the new Steam user interface

(Image credit: Valve)

Valve has also added a new Notes feature, which allows you to type out quick notes and thoughts, or paste images, while playing. This could prove really helpful for keeping track of puzzles within a game, or for creating a ‘to-do’ list to ensure you get the most out of the game.

These notes are synced, so you can see them on any PC you use Steam on – and that includes the Steam Deck, which is a nice touch.

Steam Deck improvements

While the main focus of this update is on improving the PC experience of Steam, Valve has also done some background work on improving the user experience on its handheld console, the Steam Deck.

Code is now more commonly shared between the Steam desktop client, Big Picture mode and the Steam Deck, and Valve promises that this will mean that any changes and updates made to the desktop client will now appear on the Steam Deck more quickly.

It should work the other way around as well, and Valve has noted that the controller configurator feature of the Steam Deck, which is one of the best tools included with the handheld, can now also be used by the desktop version of Steam (via the in-game overlay), making it easier to configure gamepads connected to your PC.

Background work introducing hardware acceleration to Mac and Linux versions of Steam has also been included, so gamers on those platforms should get an experience that’s more in-line with the Windows version, which again is welcome.

So far the changes appear to have been warmly received by Steam users, and the update should be rolling out right now. For more info, check out Valve’s video highlighting the changes below:

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Windows 11 just got a huge new feature for the stylus, finally catching up with Apple’s iPad

Windows 11 has implemented a major change for those who use a stylus, allowing for writing directly in the operating system’s interface and menus – though this is still in testing right now.

The move comes in preview build 23481 in the Dev Channel, where Windows Ink has been bolstered to allow for writing with a pen directly into, say, the search box in Windows 11.

The eventual goal, Microsoft notes in its blog post introducing the preview build, is to make it so you can write anywhere in Windows 11 with your pen. A further change has been applied to increase the accuracy of handwriting recognition, and also to bring in a ‘scratch out’ gesture to allow you to quickly edit (delete) text.

The catch is that so far this feature only supports English (US), but Microsoft assures us more languages are in the pipeline.

On top of this, build 23481 tweaks File Explorer to remove a bunch of outdated folder options. This is part of cleaning up this section of the interface ahead of a major revamp which is inbound for File Explorer, as you may have seen.

Finally, Microsoft has introduced a new Focus Session widget which allows users to quickly trigger (or halt) a session from the widget panel. And naturally, there’s the usual raft of minor tweaks, fixes, and known issues with this preview build as detailed in the full blog post.

Analysis: Playing catchup with Apple

The ability to write directly in the interface throughout Windows 11 is obviously going to be a major boon, but it’s a feature that is very much playing catchup with Apple. You may recall that Apple brought in its similar Scribble functionality with the Apple Pencil in iPadOS 14, which was released three years ago – so Microsoft has been slow to come to parity in this respect.

Not every Windows 11 tester will see the new Windows Ink capability either, as it’s a limited rollout to begin with, as Microsoft gauges early feedback. There are a number of known issues with the feature right now. (If you want to turn it on, you’ll find it in Settings > Bluetooth and devices > Pen and Windows Ink, where there’s a ‘Shell Handwriting’ option – though not for everyone yet, as noted).

Speaking of phased feature rollouts, preview build 23481 witnesses the completion of a few of these. That includes ‘never combined’ mode for the taskbar, and the ability to tear out (or merge) File Explorer tabs, both of which are now available to all Windows Insiders in the Dev channel.

For us it’s great to see ‘never combined’ making good progress in testing, so surely that’ll be in the mix for the release version of Windows 11 later this year (and there’s every chance the same will be true for the new Windows Ink feature).

Via XDA Developers

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Google Photos for web gets huge update, but is still missing one big feature

The web version of Google Photos just got a major upgrade that brings a slew of editing features like Color Pop, Portrait Blur and Sky suggestions. But it’s not perfect. 

Google Photos has been a great cloud photo storage platform for some time, making it easy to share your snaps between devices, and on mobile it’s also a solid photo editor. It’s not on par with services like Photoshop, but you can pull off some great looking adjustments – we particularly like Color Pop which makes the image black and white except for objects you select, and Background Blur which artificially blurs the background of pictures.

While this update finally gives the web client these tools and others found on the version on your Google Pixel 7, there are unfortunately two catches to the new and improved Google Photos web version.

Firstly, you’ll need to be subscribed to Google One – Google’s paid subscription service – to be able to take advantage of these new features. The cheapest Google One tier is Basic; it costs $ 1.99 / £1.59 / AU$ 2.49 per month and gives you access to these Photos tools as well as 100GB of storage, the use of the Google One VPN and a handful of extra benefits.

The other catch is the new Google Photos web tools lack the best feature found on the Google Pixel version of the app: Magic Eraser. This AI-powered tool allows you to clean up your photos; the app removes the objects you’ve highlighted and then cleverly fills in the blank space with a background using context from the image. It’s not perfect, but nine times out of 10 you wouldn’t know the image was altered unless someone told you.

Opinion: Magic Eraser is like a photo cheat code

A phone screen showing a photo of a child on a beach being edited by Google's Magic Eraser feature

(Image credit: Google)

Magic Eraser isn’t a Google Photos editing tool you should always rely on. Our Cameras Editor Timothy Coleman recently argued that cleaning your messy photos with Magic Eraser is a bad thing. It removes authenticity from your snaps, and often options like Background Blur can create a much tidier looking image.

But there are plenty of times when a minor fix from Magic Eraser can help remove a distraction that blemishes a shot you love. When I took a holiday with my parents in December 2021, I snapped a picture of them next to a huge Christmas tree, but they’d left their brightly colored bags in the shot. Thanks to Magic Eraser I could clean up the offending items, and get a result we were much happier with.

Given my success with the tool, I’m disappointed to see it’s not coming to Google’s Photos web app yet. This is hardly a surprise though; Magic Eraser is one of the best features on Pixel phones and by making it available to any Google One subscriber, Pixel handsets would lose one of their unique appeals. 

Hopefully this Pixel exclusivity won’t last forever. But even if it does, with a bevvy of AI image tools on the rise alongside the best AI art generators, you might find a Google Photos rival can offer a good alternative to Magic Eraser.

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ChatGPT Plus will get a huge update this week – here’s why it’s a big deal

ChatGPT Plus subscribers will soon be getting early access to experimental new features for the popular chatbot. Web integration and plugins are rolling out in beta next week, which could prove to be two interesting updates to the chatbot.

If you're subscribed to ChatGPT Plus, a new beta panel will appear in your settings next week. Once the panel has popped up, you’ll be able to try the two new features – though of course, most users are likely to gravitate to the AI’s more important and likely more interesting web browsing capabilities. 

ChatGPT Screenshot

(Image credit: ChatGPT)

According to OpenAI’s official blog post on the beta features, the new internet-connected version of ChatGPT will know when and how to browse the internet to answer questions about recent events or topics. This means you could ask ChatGPT about something going on in the news, about whether or not you should take a scarf on your afternoon dog walk, or dig up trivia for more recent films and TV shows.

Why does this matter? 

This new beta puts ChatGPT in a similar sphere to Microsoft’s Bing Chat, without explicitly turning it into a search engine. The big takeaway is that ChatGPT will basically be able to identify when it lacks information to answer a query and needs to search the internet for a relevant source.

This should make asking for citations a lot easier and – hopefully – a lot more accurate. Alternatively, the chatbot will simply be able to direct you to a webpage that might help. This means that ChatGPT (or at least, the beta version available to Plus subscribers) will no longer be reliant on the limited dataset it was trained on.

However, the issue that comes with chatbots having the ability to scour the web at will is that they often don’t have an appropriate frame of reference or the physical real-world mobility to reliably pick out misinformation. ChatGPT could cross-reference what it finds and try to ‘verify’ the authority of the source, but it can’t truly confirm the information is true in the real world.

Say you want to know about something that is currently ongoing in the real world, like the real-time weather in your area. An AI can't properly go outside to verify these things are true. With ChatGPT now able to search the web of its own accord,  I hope that it will effectively prioritize reputable sites and sources – and avoid digging into incorrect information.

The good news is that OpenAI is taking a relatively conservative approach here. It’s a smart idea to have this feature tested on a smaller scale, with only plus subscribers having initial access and the beta feature being opt-in only.

It’s a safer way to start rolling out features like this without forcing it on the entire user base – a lesson that Microsoft could possibly learn from OpenAI, rather than shoving Bing AI into everything on Windows. With this change, we could see a smarter ChatGPT with more real-life applications, rather than just a text-content-vomiting machine. 

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The Apple Watch could see huge changes with watchOS 10

If you want an upgraded Apple Watch experience you might not have to buy a new Apple Watch to get it, as it sounds like the next major operating system update – likely to be dubbed watchOS 10 – will include substantial changes for existing models like the Apple Watch 8.

That’s according to Mark Gurman, in his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg (via 9to5Mac). Specifically, Gurman says “I believe the new watchOS should be a fairly extensive upgrade – with notable changes to the user interface – unlike iOS 17.”

Gurman doesn’t get more specific than that, but we might not have to wait long to find out more about this “extensive upgrade”, as watchOS 10 will almost certainly be announced at Apple’s WWDC 2023 conference on June 5.

We’ll probably also see the first developer beta launch there, followed not too long after by public betas, though the finished software probably won’t be available until around September, when it's expected to be released alongside the Apple Watch 9.

Big software updates and small hardware ones

However, the Apple Watch 9 itself might not prove that tempting, with Gurman adding that “it’s important for watchOS to have a big year given that the Apple Watch hardware updates will be anything but major.”

This claim echoes the few Apple Watch 9 rumors we’ve heard so far, which suggest it will be a lot like the Apple Watch 8. Other leaks suggest we might not see an Apple Watch Ultra 2 or the Apple Watch SE 3 until 2024, so that could be a huge year for Apple Watch hardware, with the Apple Watch 10 (or Apple Watch X as it might be called) also rumored to be getting big upgrades.

But this year? It seems Apple’s focus will very much be on software updates rather than hardware ones. So if you already have an Apple Watch 8 or an older model, you might find that you get most of this year's upgrades by downloading them to your current Watch, rather than having to splash out on a new device.

Of course, we’d take Gurman’s claims with a pinch of salt, but he has a pretty good track record, so there’s a strong chance he’s right. In which case, our guide to the best Apple Watches might not see much change this year, but the wearable you already have might soon feel new and exciting again.

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