Spotify for Windows 11’s annoying new update shoves one of the app’s most important features to the side

Spotify recently released the new “Jam” feature for its Windows 11 and 10 app, which allows users to listen to the same playlist or album at the same time on different devices. So you and a friend or coworker can enjoy the same tunes while you work, study, or just jam out (hence the name). However, with this new feature, the queue list has been booted to a small space on the right side of the app's UI. 

Please, please change it back. This is the opposite of an improvement.

foryoublue94 via Spotify Forum

This change has proven to be rather unfavorable among Spotify users, who’ve taken to Reddit to voice their complaints. The official blog post that announces the arrival of Jam dubs this change as the “new Queue experience”, explaining that the right sidebar now allows you to browse content in the app and keep an eye on what's currently playing. 

The official post has several disgruntled comments from users dismayed by the change, with one user saying “Why on earth has Queue and Recently Played been moved and is now cramped into the small right-hand column? This is just horrible, and a pain to look at. It makes zero sense from a usability standpoint.

Thanks, I hate it 

You may be thinking something along the lines of what an odd little change for people to be riled up about! Pre-update, you could have your library on the left, your queue in the center, and your Now Playing view on the right. In other words, you could boot up the app and have everything you need all in one place. Now, you can only have one or two of these views open at once because of the new layout. 

If you’re someone who’s a fan of the Jam feature and plans to use it quite often with your mates, you’re probably not as upset as other users. But, as a person who will probably never use the Jam feature, I feel robbed of a pretty decent app layout with nothing in return. Now, I am no longer able to see how long the current song is or the album name in the queue.

It seems like Spotify users live in fear of every new update that is implemented. A common notion that’s shared on Spotify Reddit and in the blog post comments is ‘another Spotify update, another change no one asked for.’ I use Spotify every day, and I can’t remember a single update implemented to the app on mobile and desktop that didn’t make me mad. Hopefully, we can convince Spotify to change everything back to how it was – or we'll just end up waiting until another update comes around and knocks everything out of place again. 

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New Windows 11 update makes a small but important tweak to Copilot and fixes some nasty bugs

Windows 11 just got a new cumulative update that applies a bunch of security fixes, and makes a small number of changes to the OS, although they include some important tweaks.

The most interesting change here is that Microsoft has decided to give the Copilot button a new home on the taskbar.

As previously seen in testing with Windows 11, the icon to invoke the AI assistant is now on the far right of the taskbar, in the system tray area.

Patch KB5034765, which is for both Windows 11 23H2 and 22H2 versions, also applies an important fix for Explorer.exe which is affecting some PCs. This bug can happen when restarting a PC that has a game controller attached, and means that Explorer.exe stops responding – basically, the desktop (File Explorer) locks up, which is obviously bad news.

Microsoft also let us know that a bug that meant announcements from Narrator (the screen reading tool) were coming through too slowly has been remedied (when using natural voices with Narrator, that is).


Analysis: Don’t expect Copilot relocation right away

As mentioned, there’s the usual raft of security patches with this new update, which are important to apply to keep your Windows 11 PC fully secure.

The big change is the shift for the Copilot button, with it being ushered along the taskbar to the system tray area as mentioned. Why do this? The reasoning is that the Copilot panel is over on the right, so having its button just below where the UI appears makes sense, which is fair enough.

Remember that those who don’t want a Copilot button can drop it from the taskbar, anyway (and folks who want to go further than that and strip out the AI entirely from Windows 11 can do so – kind of, though we wouldn’t recommend it).

Note that not everyone will get this repositioning of Copilot straight away, as Microsoft notes that Windows 11 PCs will get this tweak at different times. In other words, this is another gradual rollout, so it may be some time yet before Copilot shuffles over onto the right of your taskbar – but rest assured, it’ll happen.

While we’re always somewhat cautious around any new update, at least for the first couple of days after it debuts, thus far it seems there are no known issues being reported with KB5034765 (on the likes of Reddit). So far, so good, then, and hopefully the mentioned bug fixes don’t come with any unintended side effects elsewhere in the OS.

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Google Maps just got an important update for EV drivers

Google Maps has just become a little more helpful for electric vehicle drivers who are in desperate need of a charging station.

Now, when you’re using Google Maps in Android Auto to navigate, if your app settings have your car set as an EV, it will no longer recommend gas stations at the top of the Categories menu. Instead, you’ll see charging points in pole position – a much more useful option for drivers of vehicles that don’t need gas.

The Categories menu provides you with a shortcut to search for all nearby locations that fit into a specific category such as restaurants, groceries, coffee or gas stations, and charging points to name a few. Tap on one of the categories and the app will pin and recommend several locations that fit the description of what you’re looking for.

While EV drivers tend to plan trips around charging station locations, there will be times when you’re caught out and unexpectedly need to recharge your vehicle. If you aren’t familiar with the area you’re driving in, finding a charging point can be a challenge. With this Categories menu change, it’s now a lot easier to use Google Maps and find the juice you need.

Beyond telling Google that you have an EV, you can also inform it of the type of charger it takes and the charge speed you desire – information that will further refine the list of charging options it recommends.

For now, the change appears to be exclusive to the Android Auto version of Google Maps. You can still search for nearby charging points in the regular Maps app, but the shortcut is harder to find no matter how you set your vehicle preferences.

More EV-friendly features required

woman traveling by electric car having stop at charging station standing plugging cable

Google Maps is good, but EVs typically have better in-built navigation (Image credit: Shutterstock / Viktoriia Hnatiuk)

This update follows a Google Maps change from last September that allows the app to tailor its personalized route recommendations to help EV drivers travel more efficiently. Much like how the feature works for other vehicle drivers, Google Maps looks over the data it has and recommends the route it believes will be most efficient – marking it with a green leaf symbol.

Typically the most efficient route is also the fastest but when it isn’t, the time difference between the two is often minimal – and choosing the more efficient (albeit slower) route means you’ll use less fuel or charge to get from A to B and hopefully save money in the long run.

Google Maps still has a ways to go, however. The biggest challenge it has is overcoming the in-vehicle navigation that comes with many EVs. This built-in system has the advantage of knowing the car’s status and can often automatically update your route based on how much charge your car has left – a feature Google Maps cannot currently match.

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Gmail is adding more AI to help you find important emails faster

AI seems to be everywhere at the moment, and Google is building the tech into its products faster than most. Gmail is the latest Google app to get an injection of artificial intelligence, to improve search results on mobile.

“When searching in Gmail, machine learning models will use the search term, most recent emails and other relevant factors to show you the results that best match your search query,” Google explains in a blog post (via Android Central).

“These results will now appear at the top of the list in a dedicated section, followed by all results sorted by recency,” the post continues. In other words, AI will (in theory) pick out the best matches for your search, and put them at the top of the list.

Years of AI

This is coming to the Gmail apps for Android and iOS, and should be rolling out for everyone now. As yet, there's no word on whether or not the same feature will be making an appearance in the desktop web interface for Gmail.

AI has been built into Gmail for years of course, with features like Smart Reply composing short automated replies for you. In recent months, Google has been pushing more advanced, generative AI as a way of composing your emails.

More AI features are heading to search on the web too, while development on the ChatGPT rival Google Bard continues at a steady pace. We can expect plenty more announcements like this one in the months and years ahead.


Analysis: AI needs to be useful

Google and other tech companies seem to have no qualms about pushing out AI features as quickly as they possibly can at the moment, which is what tends to happen in a competitive, emerging field when several players are trying to get out in front.

However, we'd query just how useful all of this AI is going to end up being. Sure, having the option to generate text messages in the style of Shakespeare is quite fun – but wouldn't most people prefer to use their own words from their own heads when keeping up conversations with friends and family?

Even something like Gmail search isn't a complete win for AI. What are the “relevant factors” that the app is using to pick the top results? Are they reliable? Sometimes it feels like the old manual methods of labels and stars are the best ways to keep on top of thousands of emails taking up room in Gmail.

In an age where we're relying on algorithms for everything from choosing our movie recommendations to writing our books, there's still a lot to be said for human creativity and curation, which might be slower but can be a whole lot more useful and engaging.

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It looks like Android 13 might include an important Apple AirTag safety feature

Google might be working on its own Bluetooth tracker detection software for Android smartphones, according to the latest reports.

Bluetooth trackers like the Tile Mate and Apple AirTag have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, by using Bluetooth connections, and an army of phones hooked up to the Tile or Apple’s Find My network, these tags can help users find lost objects at home and out in the wider world.

Unfortunately, plenty of bad actors use these same devices to stalk unsuspecting individuals.

Tile and Apple have introduced various safety measures to reduce the risk their devices pose, but there are still issues with the current system. The main problem is that, for Android phone users, the free Tile and Apple Tracer Detect apps don’t offer automatic detection – you have to manually initiate searches on each individual app.

Now it looks like Google is taking matters into its own hands according to a 9To5Google report. The site details lines of code it found in a Google APK that was recently uploaded to the Play Store that references tag detection for devices named Tile tag and ATag (likely referencing AirTags).

The code is still fairly bare-bones right now, but it strongly suggests that Google is working on in-built tracker detection for Android. 

It’s not clear if this detection can be set to run automatically – though this should absolutely be an option – but this feature would at least give Android device users a pre-installed one-stop-shop to check if they're being stalked by unknown trackers.

We don't know when this feature will be available, but it could drop fairly soon. There’s a chance that this tracker detection will be available later this year when Android 13 launches, and it might even launch as part of the next Android 13 beta. We’ll have to wait and see what Google announces. 

Even though there are early signs that the feature is being developed, there’s no guarantee that it will ever see the light of day.

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It looks like Android 13 might include an important Apple AirTag safety feature

Google might be working on its own Bluetooth tracker detection software for Android smartphones, according to the latest reports.

Bluetooth trackers like the Tile Mate and Apple AirTag have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, by using Bluetooth connections, and an army of phones hooked up to the Tile or Apple’s Find My network, these tags can help users find lost objects at home and out in the wider world.

Unfortunately, plenty of bad actors use these same devices to stalk unsuspecting individuals.

Tile and Apple have introduced various safety measures to reduce the risk their devices pose, but there are still issues with the current system. The main problem is that, for Android phone users, the free Tile and Apple Tracer Detect apps don’t offer automatic detection – you have to manually initiate searches on each individual app.

Now it looks like Google is taking matters into its own hands according to a 9To5Google report. The site details lines of code it found in a Google APK that was recently uploaded to the Play Store that references tag detection for devices named Tile tag and ATag (likely referencing AirTags).

The code is still fairly bare-bones right now, but it strongly suggests that Google is working on in-built tracker detection for Android. 

It’s not clear if this detection can be set to run automatically – though this should absolutely be an option – but this feature would at least give Android device users a pre-installed one-stop-shop to check if they're being stalked by unknown trackers.

We don't know when this feature will be available, but it could drop fairly soon. There’s a chance that this tracker detection will be available later this year when Android 13 launches, and it might even launch as part of the next Android 13 beta. We’ll have to wait and see what Google announces. 

Even though there are early signs that the feature is being developed, there’s no guarantee that it will ever see the light of day.

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“It’s important to give people choice”: Instagram explains why it brought back chronological feeds

Instagram has finally confirmed that the option to use a chronological feed is rolling out to all users on iOS and Android from today, March 23.

The rolling feed of images and video had changed in 2016 to one that was instead judged by algorithms. Instagram thought that users would prefer to be shown what they might like, rather than showing the latest images, with no ability to switch between modes.

However, users have been clamoring to scroll through a feed from newest to oldest, and Instagram has finally relented. Eventually, you will be given two options on your feed – Following and Favorites, which can then be set to show your posts chronologically.

TechRadar spoke to the company to find out why this change has occurred now, and whether this applies to Instagram's other features.

A logical choice, at last

This is an update that won't require you to go to the App Store or Google Play Store to update – it should appear on your feed soon.

It's a welcome change, and many had been wishing for the company to revert back to a chronological feed since it changed back in 2016. So much so, Instagram commented on this at the end of 2021 through a series of tweets.

See more

In the meantime, we asked an Instagram spokesperson as to why it decided to make the change. “For some time now, we’ve been working on different ways to give people more control over their experience. This is one of the many things we’re doing to give people more choice,” the spokesperson explains. “We moved away from a full chronological feed because we learned that many people were missing posts. That said, we think it’s important to give people choice – so we’re providing them with more options in Feed to tailor their experience.”

There is a small caveat to the return of the chronological feed; you can't currently set it as the default option, compared to what you can do with Twitter's two feeds. We asked if this was something that the company would consider in the future. “We’re giving new options within your Feed to give people more control and choice,” Instagram's spokesperson clarifies. “The Home Feed will remain a mix of content that you see today, including ranked content from people you follow, recommended content you may like, and more.”

Instagram Desktop creation on the web

(Image credit: Instagram)

Six years is a long time in technology, especially when it comes to social media. Since then, we've seen Instagram Stories and Reels arrive, alongside being able to access the platform on the web. We asked whether the chronological feed would also apply here as well, with some bad news, confirming just two platforms again to us. “This feature is currently only available on iOS and Android.”

Finally, with Reels attempting to take on TikTok in its rolling video, we wondered whether this would also reap the benefit of an organized feed. “Currently, Favourites only applies to posts that appear in Feed.”

For now at least, the first steps of a chronological feed have arrived. And while you can't make it the default view for your feed, alongside being able to apply it to your Reels or hashtag feeds, it's a start.

But with more users accessing the platform through iPads and web browsers on their Windows PCs, it's now a matter of when, not if, the chronological feed will also appear there as well.

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“It’s important to give people choice”: Instagram explains why it brought back chronological feeds

Instagram has finally confirmed that the option to use a chronological feed is rolling out to all users on iOS and Android from today, March 23.

The rolling feed of images and video had changed in 2016 to one that was instead judged by algorithms. Instagram thought that users would prefer to be shown what they might like, rather than showing the latest images, with no ability to switch between modes.

However, users have been clamoring to scroll through a feed from newest to oldest, and Instagram has finally relented. Eventually, you will be given two options on your feed – Following and Favorites, which can then be set to show your posts chronologically.

TechRadar spoke to the company to find out why this change has occurred now, and whether this applies to Instagram's other features.

A logical choice, at last

This is an update that won't require you to go to the App Store or Google Play Store to update – it should appear on your feed soon.

It's a welcome change, and many had been wishing for the company to revert back to a chronological feed since it changed back in 2016. So much so, Instagram commented on this at the end of 2021 through a series of tweets.

See more

In the meantime, we asked an Instagram spokesperson as to why it decided to make the change. “For some time now, we’ve been working on different ways to give people more control over their experience. This is one of the many things we’re doing to give people more choice,” the spokesperson explains. “We moved away from a full chronological feed because we learned that many people were missing posts. That said, we think it’s important to give people choice – so we’re providing them with more options in Feed to tailor their experience.”

There is a small caveat to the return of the chronological feed; you can't currently set it as the default option, compared to what you can do with Twitter's two feeds. We asked if this was something that the company would consider in the future. “We’re giving new options within your Feed to give people more control and choice,” Instagram's spokesperson clarifies. “The Home Feed will remain a mix of content that you see today, including ranked content from people you follow, recommended content you may like, and more.”

Instagram Desktop creation on the web

(Image credit: Instagram)

Six years is a long time in technology, especially when it comes to social media. Since then, we've seen Instagram Stories and Reels arrive, alongside being able to access the platform on the web. We asked whether the chronological feed would also apply here as well, with some bad news, confirming just two platforms again to us. “This feature is currently only available on iOS and Android.”

Finally, with Reels attempting to take on TikTok in its rolling video, we wondered whether this would also reap the benefit of an organized feed. “Currently, Favourites only applies to posts that appear in Feed.”

For now at least, the first steps of a chronological feed have arrived. And while you can't make it the default view for your feed, alongside being able to apply it to your Reels or hashtag feeds, it's a start.

But with more users accessing the platform through iPads and web browsers on their Windows PCs, it's now a matter of when, not if, the chronological feed will also appear there as well.

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Google takes aim at Microsoft 365 with small but important update

Google is taking the fight to Microsoft with an update for Workspace that introduces new synergies between its productivity and collaboration apps.

As detailed in a new blog post, Google Workspace users will soon be able to launch into various applications easily from within messaging platform Chat.

“While you’re having a conversation in Google Chat, you can now more easily take actions in other Google Workspace products. The options vary by context, and can include Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Photos and Calendar,” explained Google.

“This will make it easier to take action across Google Workspace and enable a faster and more seamless workflow.”

The update will begin to take effect for Android and desktop users over the next couple of weeks, but won’t land on iOS until the new year.

Google Workspace update

Since the birth of G Suite in 2006, Google has competed directly with Microsoft in the office software space, going up against the famous Microsoft 365 suite, which houses the likes of Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.

One of the defining features of Microsoft’s offering is tight integration between apps and services, extending all the way out to the Windows operating system on which most business devices run. And although Google stole the march on Microsoft when it came to the cloud-based model, individual G Suite apps have historically felt much more isolated.

When Google rebranded its productivity suite as Workspace last year, however, the company announced it would make a concerted effort to create a more “deeply integrated user experience”, by improving the level of interoperability between its various productivity apps.

The latest Workspace update takes steps towards achieving this goal, but is just one of a number of improvements Google has made in recent months where interoperability is concerned.

In June, for example, the company announced an integration between Chat and Calendar, which helps users connect quickly with co-workers ahead of or after an upcoming meeting. This was later followed by a separate integration that allows users to share documents and messages with meeting attendees from within the calendar marker.

At its annual Cloud Next event, meanwhile, Google announced it will invest heavily in the Workspace Marketplace, the third-party app library that services its product suite. The goal is to create ways to expand the functionality of its services and cut the number of apps workers are required to juggle at once.

While these updates might appear insignificant in isolation, each contributes to the goal of stitching together Google Workspace in a way that will make the user experience feel less disjointed and more coherent.

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Microsoft 365 is seriously late to the party with this important hybrid working feature

Avoiding embarrassing meeting snafus could soon be a lot easier thanks to a long-awaited new update from Microsoft 365.

The software suite has revealed that users will finally be able to specify where and how they will be attending meetings using its Outlook email service.

Going forward, Outlook users will now be able to specify whether they will attend a meeting in-person or online.

Outlook RSVP

Microsoft says this feature will be useful not just for the workers, but also for those planning meetings, who can best prepare by booking a room with video conferencing resources or bringing an external speaker.

The update was first revealed back in September 2021 as part of a larger hybrid working push by Microsoft, but the company has now said the tool is finally set to begin rolling out soon. It is marked as general availability, meaning all Outlook and Exchange users should be able to access it upon release.

The update comes a number of weeks after Google announced an identical feature for Gmail, as Google Calendar users are now able to specify whether they will be attending a meeting either virtually or in-person in their email RSVP.

The function had initially been added to Google Calendar back in July 2021 during the initial hybrid working peak, with Google noting this would, “help meeting attendees know what to expect when joining a meeting, and prepare accordingly.”

Ironically given today's news, Google's RSVP options are not shared with contacts on other platforms, such as Microsoft Outlook.

Google Calendar also recently launched a “Focus time” feature that allows users to block out periods of time where they can avoid meetings and get their heads down for actual work.

Setting such a marker in your Google Calendar will also allow users to automatically decline meetings, meaning no last-minute rush to finish off work.

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