Microsoft introduces Copilot AI to Windows 10 – but there are reasons you might not get it

Windows 10 has now got the Copilot AI with the latest patch for the release version of the OS – or at least some users have.

The cumulative update for December, which just arrived (patch KB5033372), debuts Copilot (in preview) on the desktop, as well as applying the usual security fixes, and a few extra features besides.

Copilot’s icon is positioned on the taskbar, at the far right in the system tray. However, if you don’t see the AI assistant on your taskbar after installing KB5033372, that could be due to a slight complication for Windows 10 users regarding the interface, which we’ll come back to shortly.

Or it might be simply because this is a limited rollout of the AI to begin with. As Microsoft notes: “[Copilot] is available to a small audience initially and deploys more broadly in the months that follow.”

If you do see the Copilot icon, and don’t want the AI on your desktop, the good news is that you can right-click to disable it, as Windows Latest reports.

The December update for Windows 10 also gives the News & Interests panel more screen real-estate, and it introduces another feature from Windows 11 aside from Copilot.

That’s the ‘Get the latest updates as soon as they are available’ option, which as the name suggests, is a way to offer up your PC to get updates as soon as possible – with the catch that you may experience wonkiness as an early adopter. But more choice is always good in our book.

Analysis: Sidestepping Copilot

Copilot is the major move here, of course, but what about that mentioned interface issue? Well, there’s a problem for those who’ve moved their taskbar away from the bottom of the screen, and to the side, in Windows 10. Admittedly, that’s a niche set of users who are seriously into their desktop customization, but still, there are people who will likely be annoyed by this.

Microsoft informs us: “Copilot in Windows (in preview) is not currently supported when your taskbar is located vertically on the right or left of your screen.”

The obvious workaround, as Microsoft points out, is to move your taskbar back to the bottom of the screen (or the top). If you’re a hardcore customizer, though, relocating your taskbar from its preferred vertical position at the sides will probably mess with your mojo and workflow in a meaningful way.

At any rate, Microsoft tells us that it’s working on resolving this hiccup with the UI, and will keep us updated as to the progress on that fix.

The reason this isn’t a problem in Windows 11, by the way, is that you can’t move the taskbar away from the bottom of the desktop (much to the chagrin of those mentioned keen desktop tinkerers).

At the moment, Copilot is only on a limited rollout anyway, and it could take months to arrive on any given Windows 10 PC – but at least the process has now kicked off.

You’re not missing that much, mind, given the AI’s current condition, where it’s basically just a glorified version of the Bing chatbot (now renamed Copilot itself). It can manipulate some Windows settings, but not many to begin with – that functionality will be ramped up as the months pass, though.

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WhatsApp beta introduces AI assistant to chats – here’s how it works

As part of a recent beta, WhatsApp is giving select mobile users access to Meta’s new AI-powered chat rooms.

If you don’t remember, Meta announced during its Connect 2023 event that it was working on an “in-app assistant” for several of its platforms. The tech functions similarly to Bing Chat as you can ask it questions or engage “in some light conversation” with it. What’s more, the company revealed you can also give the AI a unique personality with each one based on a famous celebrity. For example, the Dungeon Master persona will guide you through a choose-your-own-adventure game and will have a video feed of rapper Snoop Dogg. It won't, however, imitate his speech patterns or mannerisms. It's solely the AI that Meta developed.

We don’t know when this WhatsApp feature will officially launch. WABetaInfo reports, however, that both iOS and Android users can try out a beta version of the tech. The former was recently released while the latter has been available since November 17. On top of introducing the in-app assistant, the update places the AI-powered conversations right on the Chats tab for quick access.

How to use WhatsApp's new AI assistant

Android owners who are interested must first join the Google Play Beta Program and install the WhatsApp Beta app on their devices. For iPhone users, we would normally direct people to join the TestFlight Beta Program. Unfortunately, the WhatsApp Beta on iOS is closed. It hasn’t had an open slot for the past two and a half years, at the time of this writing. 

Worry not because we have access to the AI assistant on Android and we’ll show you what it’s like. Upon launching WhatsApp, tap the green Chat icon in the lower right corner, then select New AI chat.

WhatsApp create an AI assistant

(Image credit: Future)

On the following page, you will see every single persona currently available. We’ll select the base Meta AI for now. There, it’ll suggest some topics of discussion to start things off like what are the most popular shows on Netflix? The assistant will respond by giving recommendations while also linking to its source. You can see in the image below it got the information from TechRadar’s list of the best Netflix shows. From here, you can continue the conversation however you like.

WhatsApp AI Assistant making recommendations

(Image credit: Future)

How to try out WhatsApp's AI personas

If you want a specific personality, you can choose from a variety across different categories like Sports, Pop culture, and Advice. In this example, we’ll choose the Dungeon Master mentioned earlier. It’ll provide content suggestions at the start such as creating a playable character in the story. Each persona comes with a celebrity or actor emoting in real-time. You can move the feed around to the four corners of the screen, but you can’t get rid of it. It’s a permanent fixture.

WhatsApp's Dungeon Master AI

(Image credit: Future)

Once you’re done, you can find the AI conversations in the main Chat tab on your WhatsApp account on mobile. Or you can even continue conversing with the personas on WhatsApp for desktop. Each one can be found in the left-hand menu with the rest of your chat rooms. 

WhatsApp AI assistant on desktop

(Image credit: Future)

Keep in mind you cannot create an assistant on a desktop. The update is strictly for mobile only although it does invertedly reveal this feature will be available outside of smartphones in some form. It’s unknown at this time if this patch is widely available. WABetaInfo does claim Meta has plans to expand the AI personas “to a wider audience in the future”, but doesn’t provide any further details.

Be sure to join TechRadar's own WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, reviews, and opinions on tech straight to your phone.

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Google Bard can now speak loud and clear as update introduces speech feature

Google Bard is saying its first words thanks to a recent update that gives the AI the ability to read out generated responses in over 40 different languages. The newfound language support includes Arabic, Chinese, German, and Spanish.

According to Google, being able to hear text out loud can be helpful in learning the correct pronunciation of words. Activating Bard’s speech tool is pretty simple. All you have to do after entering a prompt is select the sound icon in the upper right-hand corner of a response. In addition to the voice, Google is expanding Bard’s availability to more global regions, most notably Brazil and Europe. It's important to point out the European Union initially forced the tech giant to postpone the chatbot’s launch “over privacy concerns”. But it looks like everything has been squared away with the EU.

Also, users can now adjust the “tone and style of Bard’s responses [across] five different options: simple, long, short, professional, or casual.” Google says this can be helpful in creating marketplace listings for businesses that want to maintain a certain voice. It’s reminiscent of the tone parameters on Microsoft’s SwiftKey app. However, unlike SwiftKey, it doesn’t appear Bard will make any cringe dad jokes if you ask it (shame). 

Productivity boost

There is more to the update than just the language features. Google is also introducing some productivity tools. First, users can now finally pin Bard conversations in case they ever want to revisit them at a later time. If the AI gives you some helpful information, you can share the response with friends via shareable links. The chatbot creates a hyperlink that you can send over a messaging app or you can directly post the URL to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

Google is aware that people use “Bard for coding tasks.” To help these programmers, the company is adding a direct to “export Python code to [the] Replit” platform. Lastly, the chatbot is gaining the “capabilities of Google Lens” meaning you’ll be able to “upload images with prompts” to the AI. Bard will then analyze the photograph before providing the information you seek. This last feature can be found behind the Plus symbol next to the Prompt bar.

The addition of Google Lens to Bard is pretty exciting as the chatbot can now serve as a reverse image search engine of sorts.

Availability

Most of the update is currently online in the 40 different languages mentioned earlier but with a couple of exceptions. The five tones and Google Lens support can only be found in the English version of Bard. There are plans, however, to “expand to new languages soon.”

Although Google Bard managed to finally debut in the European Union, Canada remains absent from the list of countries supporting the chatbot. VPNs fortunately allow Canadians to bypass the block. If this affects you, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best VPN service for Canada in 2023.

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WhatsApp beta on Android introduces screen-sharing – here’s how to enable it

Like Apple’s FaceTime, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams before it, WhatsApp may soon allow its users to share their screen with others during a video call.

This info comes from WABetaInfo who discovered the upcoming feature after digging through the files of the latest Android beta. According to a recent report, a new icon is set to appear at the bottom of a video call in the call control view. Tapping it will “share your screen” with the other person and “everything displayed… will be recorded”. Of course, you can end the transmission at any time by revoking permission.

There are some requirements that must be met first before anyone can try out screen-sharing. WABetaInfo states the “feature may be unavailable on old versions of Android”, plus the recipient cannot have “an outdated version of WhatsApp.” It’s also possible screen-sharing will not work in large group calls. It’s hard to say for sure what exactly are the limitations for this update since it hasn’t even been officially released. Recall that this is only a beta so there’s still some work left to be done.

If you want to try out screen-sharing yourself, you’ll need to first join the Google Play Beta Program and then install the beta from the platform. Screen-sharing is only available to a few testers at this point, but it will be rolling out to more people “over the coming days.”

WhatsApp's screen sharing on Android

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

iOS changes

It’s unknown if this feature will make its way to iPhones, especially since FaceTime with screen-sharing already exists (although it is possible). What is arriving to WhatsApp on iOS is Companion Mode, which will allow people to link their account on up to “four devices simultaneously” while “maintaining the same level of privacy”. Meta hasn't made a formal announcement of the new mode, but WABetaInfo does say the patch is officially available from the App Store. 

Connecting phones seems pretty simple from the looks of it. All you have to do is scan a QR Code on one iPhone with WhatsApp open on the other iOS device you want to link. “Chat history will safely be synchronized across” all connected smartphones. Similar to screen-sharing on Android, Companion Mode may not be available upon download; however, the changelog on the App Store listing states the update will release “over the coming weeks.” Be sure to keep an eye out for the patch once it reaches you.

All throughout May, Meta has been pumping out WhatsApp updates like they’re going out of style. It’s been a pretty active month for the platform. Be sure to check out TechRadar’s coverage of these other changes like message editing and the new Chat Lock

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Microsoft Teams update introduces a useful new way to control your calls

Dealing with dodgy audio levels on a Microsoft Teams call could soon be a thing of the past following a new update to the platform.

The company has revealed that users of its video conferencing service will soon be able to control aspects of calls using a Bluetooth device.

The change means users will soon be able to use a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone to answer or end a Microsoft Teams call, giving users much more flexibility, such as answering a call on the move, or at their desk.

Microsoft Teams Bluetooth

The news will allow Microsoft Teams users to use the buttons on a connected Bluetooth device to control their call, largely by answering, ending, or putting the call on hold.

Thes devices won't even require a USB dongle when connected to a Windows PC running Teams desktop client, and Microsoft says that for many headsets and speakerphones, this will work without requiring any user action to enable other than pairing the device with the PC.

It's likely that only certain devices will be able to use the feature to begin with, and Microsoft notes that users should stay tuned to its certification page for additional information about devices tested to meet all certification criteria with native Bluetooth connections soon.

The official Microsoft 365 roadmap notes that the feature is currently still in development, but is set to start rolling out to users in March 2022. When live, the feature will be available to all Microsoft Teams desktop users only, with no news of a mobile launch just yet.

The update could be good news for companies looking to upgrade their online collaboration hardware, and follows the recent launch of a new initiative designed to attract even more customers to Teams.

Microsoft recently announced a new device trade-in scheme whereby businesses can claim cash back on old video conferencing hardware and desk phones when they make the switch to Microsoft Teams. The scheme will be facilitated by a partnership with Network-Value, a company that specializes in global device trade-in and responsible equipment disposal.

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WhatsApp introduces new privacy settings to keep you safe

WhatsApp is giving its legions of users greater control over who can see data about them. As part of a move to protect people from unauthorized third-party apps, new privacy controls are rolling out.

If you've noticed that you have been unable to see the online status of businesses or contacts you are trying to connect with, these changes help to explain just why this is.

If you have never chatted with a particular account, you will not be able to see either their online status, or details of when they were last seen. The same is true of other people's – and apps' – ability to see information about you.

WhatsApp says of the changes that “to improve the privacy and security of our users, we're making it harder for people you don't know and haven't chatted with from seeing your last seen and online presence on WhatsApp.”

To allay fear about the implications of the change, WhatsApp adds: “This will not change anything between you and your friends, family, and businesses who you know or have previously messaged”.

Keep it private

On the face of things, this feels like quite a small change, but it's just one of a growing number of privacy and security tools available to WhatsApp users.

It also helps to close a fairly significant security loophole that was being used by some third-party tools. There are a number of apps available for download that can be used to track people's online status – or at least they could be used fore this purpose before WhatsApp introduced the changes.

For anyone who is concern about their privacy, but particularly anyone who has been a victim of cyberstalk, these changes are great news that will be warmly welcomed.

Via WABetaInfo

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