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Apple’s iOS has come a long way from its iPhoneOS starting point, and all of the best iPhones have built on the operating system’s initial promise. Steve Jobs demonstrated the power of the iPhone in 2007 with a huge on-stage Starbucks order, and the platform has grown year after year with each update adding new features.
Multitasking, the notification and Control Center, and even the App Store, were all added to the iPhone after its first iteration, and that rapid pace of innovation can make it hard to keep up with new features.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of useful features you may have missed. Some are accessibility options, some need to be enabled, and others are just waiting to be used. All of them, though, will make your iPhone experience better.
1. Use a cursor to select text
Texting is a way of life, but it’s still surprisingly cumbersome even at the best of times. If you’ve ever had an errant word added by autocorrect but not spotted it until you’ve written a few dozen words more, this tip is for you.
Sure, you can hold your finger to the text to jump to it, but this can occasionally lead to highlighting an entire word or sentence. For more granular control, we’d recommend the following:
- Hold your finger or thumb at the bottom of your screen, underneath the keyboard.
- This will grey out the keyboard, and turn it into a trackpad until you raise your finger or thumb.
Hey presto, easy text selection!
2. Create text snippets
Text snippets are popular for macOS power users, but you can achieve the same result with your iPhone. Better yet, it doesn’t require any third-party software.
Text snippets are ideal shortcuts for copying in certain phrases you’ve pre-registered. If you’re dealing with a client via iMessage, for example, you may want to send a standardized response. With text replacement, you can create a block of text to be posted whenever you type a phrase.
- Open Settings, then head to General, then Keyboard.
- Pick Text Replacement and you’ll be able to create new replacements, and the words required to trigger them.
In our example, you can see that typing 'omw' brings up 'On my way!', but there are plenty of places where this would be useful. You can also set emoji to appear when you type, which feels pleasantly nostalgic in a way you just don’t get from the emoji picker.
3. Enable the scientific calculator
The iPad may not feature a calculator, but the iPhone does. The trouble is, it can feel a tad limiting outside of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – at least until you find a new perspective.
Turning your iPhone to the side with the calculator app open will enable the scientific calculator. This adds brackets, square roots, cos/sin/tan options, and the ever-handy π command, among plenty of others.
4. Enable an additional ‘button’
While intended as an accessibility feature, the iPhone’s ‘back tap’ button is handy for power users looking for additional input for their device.
- Go to Settings, then Accessibility, then Touch.
- Select Back Tap and you’ll be presented with plenty of options.
You can use this in a number of ways, such as triggering the App Switcher, snapping a quick screenshot, or opening Spotlight search from anywhere on your device. There are also double and triple tap options, meaning you can set multiple functions for it.
5. Use your camera’s 'Burst Mode'
Your iPhone’s camera is plenty powerful enough, but there’s one trick you may have missed: Burst Mode. Burst mode, as the name suggests, takes a series of rapid-fire images in one press which means your iPhone can capture a series of action shots.
It’s ideal for pets and excitable toddlers, letting you go back and look at your pictures after the event and pick out the best ones. It’s easy to access, too. Just slide the Shutter button (the one you use to take photos) to the left when you’re in the Camera app.
You can also head into Settings, then Camera, and toggle Use Volume Up for Burst to allow your volume rocker to trigger Burst mode – just hold it when you’re taking an image.
6. Scan documents using the camera
Your iPhone’s camera can double as a very respectable document scanner, and while Live Text means you can extract text from images, it’s entirely possible to digitize an entire document. Because it’s buried in the Notes app, though, you may not have spotted how to do it.
- Open Notes, then tap the camera icon, then Scan Documents.
- Highlight your document and it should automatically save. You can also manually take a scan with the shutter button.
Once the scan is saved, you can sign it, too, or just share it via any email or messaging app. It’s not got the same level of quality as a bespoke scanner, but it’s not far off, and will certainly do in a pinch.
Not convinced? Be sure to check our list of the best document scanning apps.
7. Use your camera flash as a notification
One final camera trick, which is a little different. As an accessibility feature, you can trigger your iPhone’s camera flash to go off when you receive a notification, providing a more visual way of knowing someone is calling or messaging.
- Head into Settings, then Accessibility.
- In the Audio/Visual section there’s an option for ‘LED Flash for Alerts’.
You can also trigger it to only work when your phone is on silent, which is ideal if you’d prefer your phone not to vibrate on a desk.
8. Master Control Center
Introduced as part of iOS 7 all the way back in 2013, Control Center has moved from the bottom of the screen to the top as the years have gone by, and it has a lot more utility than you may be aware of.
While Apple doesn’t offer Force Touch these days, you can long-press on Control Center icons to get additional options.
Through this, you can enable Spatial Audio with compatible earphones, pick a Focus mode, get a better look at what’s playing on your audio app, or even go two layers deep – the quadrant with Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile signal can be expanded to allow you to easily select a Wi-Fi access point, for example.
9. Recognize any song with Shazam in the Control Center
Remember Shazam? The music recognition service was purchased by Apple in 2018 and remains a great way to identify whatever song is playing – whether you’re in a store, at a party, or just missed the name on the radio.
While Shazam has an app, you can also add it to your iPhone’s Control Center for easy access.
- Open Settings, then enter Control Center and tap the Plus button next to Music Recognition to add it.
Now, whenever you hear a great song playing, you can pull down from Control Center and hit the Shazam icon to find out what’s playing. If you’re on Apple Music, it’ll even give you the option to add the track to your library.
- Get more out of iOS with some of the best free iPhone apps
After the truly tiny update that was iOS 15.3, we're now learning about iOS 15.4, and thankfully this already looks to be a much, much bigger update for Apple's operating system.
The first four betas are out now for developers, and with them comes news of several big included features, such as the long-awaited Universal Control, Face ID functionality with a mask, and more.
With rumors of a March event by Apple, it was finally confirmed, with a March 8 date with the title 'Peak Performance', perhaps hinting to new Macs, but it wouldn't be a stretch to consider 15.4 releasing on the same day as the event.
Below we've detailed everything we know about iOS 15.4, including when it's likely to launch, and we'll be updating this article when we hear more, so check back soon.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The latest iOS release
- When is it out? The beta is out now, we expect the finished version on March 8
- How much will it cost? It’s free
iOS 15.4 release date and compatibility
iOS 15.4 is already available, but only in beta form, and only for developers. While you don't technically have to be a developer to grab this version, we'd recommend at least waiting for the public beta, and if you want it to be bug-free then you should wait for the finished release.
We're generally seeing roughly a four to six-week gap between new iOS versions, which means that given iOS 15.3 landed on January 26, we'll probably see the finished version of iOS 15.4 sometime around the confirmed March 8 event.
As for compatibility, it's exactly the same as every other version of iOS 15, meaning that if you're on iOS 15 or above you'll be able to get iOS 15.4 as well. Specifically, that's all handsets from the iPhone 6S onwards, including the iPhone SE (2020) and the original iPhone SE, plus the iPod touch (7th gen).
iOS 15.4 features
Thanks to the betas we know many of the features that will probably arrive in iOS 15.4. However, it's possible that there might be other features too, or that some of these won't ultimately make the cut.
Face ID with a mask
Well this is new 🤔 (iOS 15.4 Beta 1) pic.twitter.com/MSe7hmPGlRJanuary 27, 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic presented a problem for iPhones, as with the whole world suddenly wearing masks, Face ID wasn't always viable. Apple addressed this problem a while back by allowing your iPhone to unlock if you were wearing an Apple Watch, but with iOS 15.4 it seems to have properly fixed the issue.
The iOS 15.4 beta allows you to set Face ID to work even when you're wearing a mask, by having it just scan the visible parts of your face, such as your eyes. The second beta has also improved this feature slightly, by instructing users how to position their eyes when unlocking the phone.
Apple warns that this is less accurate, and we'd assume also less secure, but it's a way to properly use Face ID with a mask on. It's also optional, so if you'd rather keep doing things the current way, you can disable this feature.
Universal Control is technically more of an iPadOS 15.4 feature than an iPhone one, as it allows users to connect an iPad to a Mac and use a single mouse and keyboard across both devices, with the iPad’s display being like an extension of the Mac’s.
This feature has been a long time coming, as we first heard about it back at WWDC 2021, but it's finally arrived in the iPadOS 15.4 beta.
If, somehow, you feel that there just aren't enough emoji yet, then iOS 15.4 could help, as the beta includes 37 new ones, along with 75 skin tone variations for better inclusivity.
New emoji, some of which you can see above, include a biting lip, a melting face, heart hands, and many more.
Anti-stalking measures for AirTag
Apple has a whole range of measures planned to prevent unwanted AirTag tracking, and the first of those have arrived in an iOS 15.4 beta. These include a warning when setting up AirTag that using one to track someone unknowingly is illegal, and that AirTag is designed to be detectable and for law enforcement to be able to link it to the owner.
It also includes clearer identification of devices, so you shouldn't get any ‘Unknown Accessory Alerts’.
A new Siri voice
One of the iOS 15.4 betas includes a new voice for Siri. This is a fifth option under the 'American' category. So it's an English language voice, and specifically in a US accent. This is a female voice, and you can hear a sample of it below.
iOS 15.4 Beta 4 changes 🧵: Apple adds a 5th American Siri voice with filename ‘Quinn’ pic.twitter.com/HFQZV1oF0IFebruary 22, 2022
Tap to Pay
Apple recently announced plans for a Tap to Pay feature, which would turn your iPhone into a contactless payments terminal, and the second iOS 15.4 beta adds frameworks for developers to enable this service in their apps.
Notes in iCloud Keychain
If you use iCloud Keychain then you'll now be able to add notes alongside any password. This is a fairly standard feature of password managers, so it's been a long time coming and is good to see.
Apple Card widget
If you use Apple Card, then with iOS 15.4 you'll be able to add a widget for it to the Today view. This will display your balance, your available funds, and your daily spending across various categories.
Digital IDs in the Wallet app
Before we move on to smaller features, here's a big feature that there’s not actually any sign of in iOS 15.4 yet, but which might be included, since we know it’s being worked on.
This feature would allow US users to add their driver’s license or state ID to the Wallet app, and it would then be accepted at TSA checkpoints in select airports, with retailers, events and venues eventually expected to add support for these digital IDs too.
However, even once this feature is added, the roll out looks likely to be slow. It’s going to land on a state-by-state basis in the US (with Arizona, Georgia, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah looking to be first in line), and there’s no word on exactly if or when the feature will expand to other countries.
Beyond the features above, all sorts of smaller tweaks and improvements have also been found in iOS 15.4.
These include the ability to turn off notifications for Personal Automations in Shortcuts if you don't want to be alerted about them, set up custom email domains directly from iCloud Mail on the iPhone (if you have an iCloud Plus subscription), activate SharePlay from the Share Sheet, and customize the left and right corner swipe gestures in the Notes app.
You can also choose whether to show still frames or poster art in the Up Next section of the TV app, use your iPhone to sign in to passkey-compatible websites and apps on your iPad or Mac, and make use of what Apple describes as 'new DualSense adaptive trigger firmware features' when you've paired Sony's latest controller with your phone.
Plus, those in the EU can now add their Covid vaccine cards to the Wallet app, and there's also evidence in the iOS 15.4 beta that Apple is working on a 'Cosmetic Scan' feature, which would be used to check your iPhone for damage when trading it in.
New versions of iOS almost always come with bug fixes, and iOS 15.4 is no exception. One such fix is that third-party apps will now display animations at 120Hz when using the iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max, which in some cases they weren't doing previously.
The second iOS 15.4 beta also fixes a bug that caused Siri to record and store interactions from a 'small portion' of iPhone users, even if they opted out.
We'd expect other bugs have been fixed too, but we're not sure which ones.
- Take a look at all the best free iPhone apps
Google has given users their first proper view of the new-look Gmail as the company looks to bring a host of its top products into one place.
The company recently revealed that Gmail was set for a major makeover that would provide users with a one-stop shop for all their communication needs – whether via email, video conferencing, or instant messaging – without them having to open up extra tabs or windows.
The rollout of the new Gmail appears to have already begun, with the company saying that users with personal Google accounts and those on Rapid Release domains are able to access it now.
This new-look Gmail brings the likes of Google Chat, Spaces and Meet into a new, integrated view, the company revealed in a guide on its Gmail Help blog.
As well as this integrated view, the new Gmail will allow users to view specific app menus in a collapsible panel, and get alerts for new Chat and Space messages through notification bubbles.
Going forward, all Google apps in Gmail will be situated in a single menu on the left of the screen. Users can switch between them by clicking on an app's menu, or point to an icon to see a preview, with the new collapsible panel able to be hidden or displayed with a click at any time.
Google also notes that individual and group chat messages can be accessed from the Chat tab, including opening into a small pop-up window at the bottom of your screen.
Finally, notifications will now appear on the bottom left corner as a bubble whenever you get a new chat or space message, with a preview displaying when you point at the bubble. Clicking on the bubble will allow users to open the message and reply directly from the chat or spaces tab, or open up a small pop-up window for a more concrete view.
Or if you'd rather just forget this method of communicating, notification bubbles can be turned off with a few clicks.
Google says it is now preparing a wider rollout over the next few weeks, with Scheduled Release domains next to begin receiving the new look on February 28.
Once launched, users will be able to enable the new view by navigating to Settings > Quick Settings > Try out the new Gmail view, then in the new window, clicking Reload.
- These are the best online collaboration tools around today
If you use an Apple device, there’s a good chance that you use iCloud, its service of syncing your content across multiple devices, alongside streaming files and your tasks in certain apps that also use the service.
However, you may have experienced some issues where your content on one device, isn’t showing on another. This has begun to be known as the 503 error – where iCloud syncing isn’t working properly.
This would have been fine for users and developers if this had been an issue for a few days or a week, but it’s seemingly been since last summer that issues relating to iCloud have remained.
It’s now at the point where developers are venting their frustrations as to whether this issue will be resolved for their apps, and for users.
We speak to developers about their 503 experiences
A Twitter thread on January 25 by Becky Handsmeyer, developer of YarnBuddy and Scribblet, wanted to see if there was another way of reporting the issue to Apple. Soon after, other developers replied to her through a thread.
Ok, there’s clearly an issue going on with iCloud sync right now affecting a lot of users across many different apps. What’s the best way to report this? Radar? I haven’t made any changes to my app since October and users have just recently started reporting sync failures.January 24, 2022
We reached out to Handsmeyer to explain the issue further. “My headache with this started with a 2-star review 21 days ago where a user complained of crashes and broken syncing. Since then I’ve gotten 6 more complaints of broken syncing, some through reviews but mostly via email.”
Handsmeyer continued “No amount of troubleshooting seems to help (reinstalling, making sure iCloud Drive is enabled, etc). I’ve seen multiple developers complaining about iCloud issues and 503 errors including James Thomson, Paul Haddad, and the developer of Streaks. One person said they had used a DTS session and Apple acknowledged the issue but have no timeline for a fix.”
Other developers such as GoodNotes recently published an article regarding the issue, due to users experiencing 503 issues. The article mentions “This issue is not apparent to us and we've escalated the case to Apple Technical Support team for investigation. It seems it's happening to other apps as well.”
But there’s no end in sight for a fix as yet, and users are becoming more frustrated that their content is not syncing properly.
“I started seeing some iCloud syncing issues with PCalc with the OS betas during the late summer. It was taking several minutes to sync over settings, rather than the usual seconds, and people assumed the syncing wasn’t actually working.” Thomson explains. “That persisted into the releases, and eventually, I turned things off by default because it was causing problems where people were losing some of the changes they were making due to the long delays. Hopefully, it’s something Apple can fix soon, and I can turn it back on again then.”
Analysis: What’s taking so long?
Looking through the Twitter thread of other experiences from developers, you can place the issue back to when Apple’s software updates were heading toward their final release, just before the iPhone 13 series were announced at September’s event.
When major software releases are pushed out, you can assume services that are hidden to users, are also updated, so that they can work with the new features that have been announced and implemented.
But considering that this is four months since the release of iOS 15 and the other software updates, with no context for developers as to what the issue actually is, and when it will be fixed, is bringing unnecessary frustrations to Apple.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment as to whether the 503 issue is in the process of being fixed.
- Three devs gave their thoughts on WWDC 2021
WhatsApp is great at letting you know when you have received a new message, but also gives you the option of quietening notifications for those times when you don’t want to be disturbed. Now there is a new preview version of the app available that introduces an important upgrade to notifications that make them even more useful.
While a recent update added profile photos so you can easily see who has messages you, this new update takes things a step further. The change concerns notifications, and it means that you can more easily tell who has replied to you, or mentioned you, in a group message.
If another member of a group chat replies to a message you have posted, or if they @ mentions you, the notification you see now includes the profiles picture of the person in question. Again, this is a relatively minor change, but it is a tweak that can make a world of different to usability.
While you need to update to the latest preview build of WhatsApp in TestFlight in order to access all of the latest features as options, making the upgrade is not necessarily a guarantee that you will be able to see these new notifications images.
This latest change is just the latest update to notifications, and it comes hot on the heels of the addition of profile photos to notifications in iOS. But this most recent update is about more than just changes to notifications.
As WABetaInfo notes, with this beta version, WhatsApp has also changes the way app version numbers are formatted. While the previous version of WhatsApp for iOS was 18.104.22.168, the latest is now listed as 22.1.71 – quite a jump. However, if you check within the settings of the app, it is shown to be 22.214.171.124, and it's not clear when – or, indeed, if – the two will be brought in line with each other.
- Here’s how to use WhatsApp
As the year begins to end and people focus on taking a well-earned break over the Christmas holidays, it's a good time to take stock of life, work, and love. We're only focused on the second of those three today and specifically email usage.
TechRadar Pro has commissioned an exclusive poll of 500 respondents from OnePulse showing which email services people use and some details about how.
Surprise, surprise Gmail comes out on top.
A lot of people absolutely hate email, and with good reason. Clients, especially default clients like Apple Mail, are often slow and geared towards casual users, not power users at work.
To email or not to email
So, let's break down the results.
According to our survey, the dominant email service is Gmail – and it's not even close. A full 59% of respondents use Google's email offerings, followed by Outlook (19.7%), Yahoo (13%), iCloud (2.9%), and others (5%).
But what about power users? Well, they're in the minority too. Most people (75.6%) have between one and 10,000 emails in their inbox, followed by 16.75% who have between 10,001 and 100,000, and then a rarified 7.59% have over 100,001 or more.
The story is similar for email storage: just over half (50.2%) either don't know or don't care how full their inbox is. The rest have up to 5GB filled (32.8%) or over 5GB (17%).
Windows 11 is now out and it’s available as a free upgrade for those still on Windows 10. But, before you go grabbing that download, find out all the important information about this brand new OS. We’ve covered all the important questions, such as the operating system’s best features, how to download, and its price and release date.
If you want to make the leap already, here’s how to download and install Windows 11. Since it is pretty new, there are some kinks that still need to work out, so take a look at how to fix common Windows 11 problems if you come across any issues.
Make sure to also take a look at our Windows 11 review, where we cover all the improvements the new OS has made, from offering an updated, attractive design, to new ways to grab apps as well as better security features.
While there is still some room for improvement, Windows 11 is turning out to be a very promising update. And, if you’re currently using Windows 10, it’s free to upgrade to 11, as long as your computer meets certain strict minimum system requirements required for the sake of the operating system’s security.
Just bear in mind that there's still some confusion as to what these system requirements are due to a component called TPM (Trusted Platform Module). Right now, it looks like Microsoft isn't going to budge on its requirement that your device is equipped with a TPM 2.0 in order to run a fully supported version of the new OS.
Now that Windows 11 has been released, let’s take a look at what the new operating system has on offer, from its updated features to the benefits it has for users over Windows 10.
Windows 11: Cut to the chase
- What is it? Windows 11 is the successor to Windows 10
- When is it out? October 5
- How much does it cost? Free (if you already have Windows 10)
Windows 11 release date
Microsoft will be rolling out the update to eligible devices over the coming months, with users being notified when the update is available for them.
However, you can also download Windows 11 right now from the Windows 11 download page.
Many laptop and PC makers have also confirmed that many of their new products will come with Windows 11 preinstalled. This includes Microsoft's new Surface Pro 8, Surface Go 3 and Surface Laptop Studio devices, which were launched to coincide with Windows 11's release date.
As perfect as 11.11 *would* be, we just couldn’t wait any longer to make #Windows11 available. Get it October 5th, and read all about it now.August 31, 2021
There is also going to be a yearly update of the new operating system, similar to Apple's efforts with macOS.
While Microsoft released a tool that allowed you to see if your desktop PC or laptop will be able to run Windows 11, it was confirmed to be buggy, giving erroneous results for machines that would have no problem in running the update.
However, another tool has been released which gives you much clearer detail for how eligible for PC is.
Windows 11 system requirements
There's been a lot of discussion as to which devices are eligible for Windows 11. Regardless of the TPM requirement, others are simply wondering if they need to look to upgrade their PC or laptop soon.
Microsoft has published the requirements for the update which you view below:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with at least two cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or SoC
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 64GB
- System Firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
- TPM: Trusted Platform Module 2.0
- Graphics Card: DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
- Display: 720p, 8-bit per color channel, at least 9-inch diagonal
- Internet Connection and Microsoft Account: Windows 11 Home requires an active internet connection and a Microsoft Account to complete initial, first-use setup of the operating system, or when switching a device out of Windows 11 Home in S-mode.
How to download Windows 11
We have a handy guide on how to download Windows 11, which gives you all the information you need now that the final version has been released.
It's a relatively simple process, as long as your PC meets Windows 11's minimum system requirements.
There's also an option to downgrade to Windows 10 if you are experiencing issues with Windows 11. This is available in the current Insider builds, but you can only do it within 10 days of upgrading your machine, otherwise a clean install has to be done in order to go to Windows 10.
How to download Windows 11 ISO for a clean install
If you'd like to perform a fresh install of Windows 11, rather than upgrading from Windows 10 (or earlier), then you'll need to download the Windows 11 ISO file.
Doing a clean install takes a bit more time, and you'll need to reinstall all of your apps and restore your files if you've backed them up (which you should do before you start), but there are many benefits of doing a clean install of Windows 11.
For a start, you'll get a much better performing PC, and if you were encountering any issues with Windows 10, a clean install can help fix some of these. Over the years your PC's hard drive may become filled with unwanted apps and files, so a clean install can get rid of all of that.
If that's the way you want to install the operating system, then check out our guide on how to download the Windows 11 ISO for more advice.
How to upgrade to Windows 11 without TPM 2.0
Some people have found that they are unable to install Windows 11 due to the requirement for PCs to have TPM 2.0 support.
This is a relatively little known security feature, but it's caused some people a fair bit of frustration as they've found they've been unable to install Windows 11.
We do have a guide to enable TPM 2.0 if needed, but you may be out of luck if your PC doesn't support it.
However, there is a way to upgrade to Windows 11 without TPM 2.0, but this should only be done by people who are really desperate to run Windows 11 despite not meeting the system requirements.
How to downgrade from Windows 11 to Windows 10
There may be an occasion however, where you may need to revert back to Windows 10. This could be due to an app not being compatible as yet, or Windows 11 doesn't take kindly to a component in your PC.
Fortunately we have a guide ready that can take you through this, step by step.
Windows 11 price
Windows 11 is a free update for existing Windows users – you'll need to be online to download, install and activate Home versions, and you'll need to have a Microsoft account when installing it on or upgrading your PC or tablet.
Windows 11 will also come pre-installed for free on new PCs and laptops as well, though you should check before you buy to make sure. In some cases, new laptops and PCs may still be sold with Windows 10, and you'll have to upgrade for free yourself.
Windows 11 product keys for fresh installs will likely go on sale in 2022, but we don't know how much it'll cost.
It could cost as much as Windows 10 licences originally sold for: Windows 10 Home cost £119.99/$ 139 and Windows 10 Pro sold for £219.99/$ 199.99, so we could see similar prices for Windows 11.
So far Microsoft has released the hardware requirements for Windows 11, but there's confusion over TPM (Trusted Platform Module) and whether the company are pushing hard over the minimum threshold for which devices are eligible to be updated to the new version.
Should you upgrade to Windows 11?
Now that Windows 11 is out, and it's a free upgrade, many people will be keen to download it and try it out. But should you upgrade to Windows 11?
In our opinion, for many people it'll be worth not upgrading to Windows 11 just yet. This is because it's still early days, and there are several problems that need fixing first. For example, some people are reporting that Windows 11 is slowing down their internet connections.
Microsoft is aware of most of these issues and is working on fixes. That means by holding off from installing Windows 11 for a while, you'll give Microsoft a chance to release updates to fix those problems. Then, when you do finally install Windows 11 in a few week's or month's time, things should run much smoother.
We also spoke to several industry experts, and they all agree that people – and businesses – shouldn't rush to install Windows 11 just yet.
How to run Windows 11 in macOS Monterey
You may want to have the best of both worlds sometime, especially if your day job involves running both operating systems.
Thankfully we've put together a guide to show you how to do exactly that.
Windows 11 features
There are improvements across the board in Windows 11, with Microsoft promising that updates will be 40% smaller, and touting Windows 11 as “the most secure release yet”.
The taskbar is optimized for touch as well as mouse peripherals, and is now renamed the dock.
New multitasking features are also on offer thanks to a feature called Snap Layouts, which enables you to arrange multiple windows across the screen, not just side by side, but in columns, sections and more.
Windows 11 checker
There's now a much-improved health check app found in Settings, where Windows 11 will recommend you to turn down the brightness for example, change the power saving mode of the battery and much more.
Another feature is Snap Groups, where you can go back to previously snapped windows from the dock, so for example you can go to your email app, Edge browser windows or anything else without having to snap them back to the previous view again.
There's also improved multi-monitor support, so when you reconnect an external monitor, Windows 11 remembers the previous positions of the windows that were on that monitor.
There's even an estimated installation time for Windows Update, so you can see whether you need to hold off from updating your PC until later in the day.
Teams is also integrated to the dock, so you can easily join in with meetings and family calls. This looks like the first inkling of Skype disappearing from Windows, especially with the Skype sounds being heard in the demo when a call was incoming.
The Microsoft Store is finally seeing a redesign, with better-curated content, and a better options for managing your purchased shows, such as mirroring them to your television. Apps such as Disney+, Adobe Creative Cloud, Pinterest and more are already in this redesigned store for Windows 11, ready to go.
WPA, EWP and Win32 apps are now all in the Microsoft Store, ready to go. If a developer has a commerce engine, they can keep 100% of the revenue brought from the Microsoft Store.
We suspect that the reason why Amazon are allowing their version of the store instead of Google, may be to do with the .APK filename being replaced from August.
The new store opens up possibilities for other applications to arrive in Windows 11, even Apple's iMessage, which could follow iTunes and Safari.
Windows 11 Home vs Windows 11 Pro
Depending on what you currently use your system for, you may need to consider if you will be upgrading to standard Home version of Windows 11, or if you need to bump up to Windows 11 Pro, Microsoft's enterprise version of the operating system. Regardless of what your preference may be, both have the same minimum system requirements so you'll need to meet those standards regardless of what version you side with.
There are numerous benefits to Windows 11 Pro, though mostly security related to protect businesses and organizations to keep data safe, with features like Windows Information Protection (abbreviated to WIP).
Another difference you'll see between Windows 11 Home and Pro is when you’re setting it up for the first time, as with the Home version you'll need to set it up with an internet connection and a Microsoft account.
Windows 11 doesn't have either of these restrictions, which may tempt some non-enterprise users into buying the Pro version of the operating system to avoid using a Microsoft account. Windows 11 Home PCs also can’t be joined to Active Directory, which are often used on business devices to control access to certain applications and resources.
You can find a full list of the differences between Windows 11 Home and Windows 11 Pro over on the official Microsoft comparison page.
A new look for Windows 11
Fluent Design is the new name for the look of Windows 11. Across the board everything looks more modern and fresh, with rounded windows and apps such as Snipping Tool seeing huge improvements in years.
One of the biggest changes users will notice is that the Start menu has been moved to the center of the screen – and it's now “cloud powered”, so it dynamically changes depending on the time of day, and the content you're working with.
If you're using the Insider Build, there's already ways of customizing the taskbar and the start menu, including moving the icons back to the left.
Light Mode and Dark Mode are here too, with a unified design across the operating system, with colorful wallpapers to choose from as well.
Windows Widgets are back in Windows 11, accessible via the dock, with Microsoft touting AI-powered dynamic features that enable widgets, as with the Start menu, to change depending on the apps you're using and the time of day. On the touchscreen, you can slide from the left on the desktop to have widgets appear.
There are plenty to choose from, such as the weather, Bing maps, news, and more.
These will be available for third-parties as well, so you may see as many widgets available to pick as there are on Apple's iOS and iPadOS operating systems.
Gaming on Windows 11
Gaming will be a much bigger focus in Windows 11, with the sluggish and frustrating-to-use Windows 10 Xbox app replaced by a new Game Pass app that enables you to buy, manage and remove games, making it easier for you to access and download games, from Doom Eternal to – soon – Halo Infinite.
HDR will also be supported on compatible machines, offering improved lighting and contrast for gaming and viewing media. Direct Storage is also here, with the main game assets able to be downloaded and installed, enabling you to play your games even faster than before.
Improved Wi-Fi in Windows 11
It looks like Windows 11 could come with a decent upgrade to your device's Wi-Fi capabilities, as Qualcomm announced it has worked with Microsoft, along with other laptop makers and even Valve, to bring Wi-Fi Dual Station with Qualcomm 4-stream DBS technology to compatible machines.
We explain more about how this will boost Wi-Fi in Windows 11, but it looks like it will be particularly useful for gamers, as it will use multiple Wi-Fi bands at once to help reduce latency. This could be a killer feature for Windows 11.
Windows 11 Touch improvements
Tablet mode has been one of Windows' weaker points ever since Windows 8, and the new tablet features that Microsoft showed off for Windows 11 could be key to the operating system's fortunes, especially with future Surface products in the pipeline from Microsoft – to have a new, numbered operating system for its upcoming tablets could be a big selling point for new users.
At the event, Microsoft touted bigger touch targets and easier ways to move windows around, and better rotate optimizations, for example in how windows are rearranged, so you don't lose track of the applications you were using.
Gestures used with the trackpad of the Surface models are also coming to the touchscreen, bringing in some familiarity here. Haptics is also coming to Windows 11 when you use a stylus for better feedback when drawing or sketching.
The touch keyboard has also been redesigned, with a smaller keyboard just for your thumb, and emojis ready to be used. Microsoft says dictation will also be improved, alongside voice commands, with 'delete that' options and more.
Add a personalized touch to Windows 11
Microsoft has certainly given Windows 11 a more modern look than what we saw in Windows 10, but there's always the risk that it might not be to your taste. No need to worry though, as it takes very little time and effort – and, pleasingly, no money! – to inject some personality into Windows 11, customizing the look of the operating system in various ways to make it your own.
Perhaps the easiest way to completely change the look of Windows 11 is to apply a new theme, and there are a good handful of options already available for you to try out, but if the ones that come with the OS don't suit you, you can download more from the Microsoft Store.
There are also familiar customizations such as setting a personal desktop background as either a static image or a slideshow, and you can tweak system color options – including dark mode. You can even make adjustments to the taskbar if you like, so your finalized Windows 11 doesn't need to look anything like the out-of-box version of the OS.
Are there issues with Windows 11?
No new operating system will have a completely flawless launch, so despite being in beta through the Windows Insider Program, a few issues have already popped up. Thankfully the ones discovered so far are nothing serious and some of them are only appearing for a few users so if you wanted to start downloading the OS on launch day, don't let this stop you.
The biggest problem on Microsoft’s status page for Windows 11 listing known issues is compatibility problems with Intel Killer network drivers which is causing websites and video streams to be slow and sluggish. A memory leak issue has also been reported on Reddit, with at least some folks are finding that when they close an instance of File Explorer, it isn’t releasing the RAM it used.
We have a run-through of most of the currently known issues with Windows 11 and we will be keeping this up to date as more reports come in with any new Windows 11 problems and how you can fix them, but nothing system-breaking has appeared so far.
What devices are shipping with Windows 11?
If you tuned into Microsoft's Surface event on September 22 then you might already have seen that Windows 11 will be pre-installed onto the Surface Pro 8, Surface Go 3, and the Surface Laptop Studio. This isn't surprising as all these products have been released on the same date that Windows 11 became available for public download so Microsoft will want to push its latest operating system.
If the Microsoft Surface family of products isn't your style though, other brands like Dell, Asus and HP have all released pages online that specify what devices are Windows 11 ready. Note that many won't come with the new operating system installed, but as they all meet the minimum system requirements, you can simply buy the laptop or 2-in-1 as normal and then update it yourself.
Microsoft claims Windows 11 is a “new era for the PC”
It's worth remembering that Windows 11 is the first major upgrade to the software platform since the launch of Windows 10 back in July 2015, and so marks a crucial point for Microsoft.
Heralding its new offering as “an exciting milestone in the history of Windows“, Panos Panay, Microsoft's Chief Product Officer for Windows and Devices noted that, “a new era for the PC begins today”.
In a company blog post, Panay added that “there's never been a better time to buy a PC”, and that, “whether it’s to work, create, connect, learn or play, the PC will continue to play a relevant and lasting role in our lives. No other ecosystem has the breadth and scale that the Windows ecosystem does to meet the needs of people whether they’re creators, developers, students and educators, business and gamers at every price point and in every form factor.”
Should you install Windows 11?
As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. While it may be tempting to give Windows 11 a try straight away, we recommend holding on a few days, or even weeks, before you grab the new operating system.
Why? After all, our Windows 11 review is pretty glowing, and it brings plenty of new features that many people will be keen to try out.
However, every major operating system launch comes with its fair share of issues, as we've mentioned above, so getting the very best experience might require letting other people do the early testing for you. Microsoft will be working hard to identify and fix problems as they occur, which is why it’s a good idea to hold fire for a few days or weeks. Let other people encounter those problems first, then in a few weeks, download Windows 11 safe in the knowledge that most problems will be fixed.
This is especially important if you were planning to install it onto a PC that you use daily, such as for work or study. If it’s working fine with Windows 10, it’s best to hold off for the moment. Otherwise, you may find that Windows 11 has messed a few things up, and you’re stuck with a PC that’s not working correctly.
How to spot fake Windows 11 downloads
Windows 11 is out now, and it's relatively easy to download and install it, but this does mean that you should be vigilant about where you download Windows 11 from, as there are fake downloads out there that could catch you out.
To make sure you're only installing the official release, only download Windows 11 from Microsoft itself.
You should also check out our guide on how to spot fake Windows 11 downloads for more information on keeping yourself protected.
Issues with Cloud Gaming on Windows 11
Cloud gaming platform Shadow has told its users that they shouldn’t try to install the Windows 11 upgrade for Windows 10 just yet – advice that could be well heeded by all PC gamers, who should at least have caution at the forefront of their minds.
With Windows 11 being previously available to the public as a beta via the Windows Insider Program, It's possible that bugs have been detected as Shadow asserts that it isn’t ready for cloud PC installations in an email to subscribers.
The email states: “Today, Microsoft will officially launch Windows 11. Its release will be gradual, with potential bugs and issues early on. With this in mind, we will monitor the initial performances of Windows 11 before taking any action.
“This will allow us to guarantee strong performances and an overall high quality of service when we do make the eventual transition to Windows 11. Please do not update your Shadow to Windows 11 until further notice.”
The email concludes by letting subscribers know that they’ll be told when Windows 11 is ready to go on their cloud PC installation, and in the meantime, the Shadow team will continue to run tests on the OS to ensure suitability and that the service is “fully optimized” for Windows 11.
This is only a single provider, but if you use Cloud Gaming services then you may need to ask around for other experiences using Windows 11 before you give it a try yourself.
How to manage notifications in Windows 11
You almost certainly have a selection of apps installed on your computer, and many of these use notifications to let you know about things. A news app can alert you to the latest headlines, an email app will let you know when you have new mail, and your chat app will inform you of new messages that need your attention.
Thankfully, you can set all this up in Windows 11 with relative ease, or turn them off completely if you don't like the interruption. If you're happy with the current Windows 10 experience (in which notifications are displayed in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, just above the clock in the Taskbar) then great news – you won't have to do any configuration as this is the default for Microsoft's latest OS.
Fort everything else though, there are plenty of ways for you to adjust your notifications in Windows 11 to best suit your needs.
How to manage power options in Windows 11
Microsoft has always given Windows users a good deal of control over how their computer uses power, and this is something that continues with Windows 11.
While managing power consumption may be something that you most readily associate with laptops and a desire to maximize battery life, power options can also play an important role for desktop users.
Desktop user may not have to worry about how long a battery is going to last, but Windows 11's power option remains important. Thankfully, Windows 11 has made it easier than ever to keep track of power consumption, Sleep Mode and detecting what apps are draining your device's battery life.
How to us Focus Assist in Windows 11
Do you ever get distracted when you should be doing something important? Your computer is supposed to be a tool to help you get things done. This might mean getting on with work, playing games, watching movies, writing emails, or just browsing the web, but there are all manner of distractions that can pull you away from what you're trying to do.
If you're sick of being pestered by notifications when you're trying to do something else, you could benefit from Windows 11's Focus assist feature. This is a simple but powerful function of Windows 11 that enables you to configure rules that determine when notifications about new emails, messages and so on are muted.
There are many customization options that let you do things like set a schedule, create priority lists and you can even optimize for different monitors if you use multiple displays.
How to use virtual desktops in Windows 11
Windows 11 offers excellent support for virtual desktops, which allow you to use several desktops, and switch between them easily. This allows you to keep organised by having separate desktops for work and pleasure, for example.
It's a great way to have some of the productivity benefits of multiple monitors, but with a single screen, so check out our guide on how to use virtual desktops in Windows 11 for an in-depth look into this feature.
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