Leak suggests Android and ChromeOS to receive deeper device integration

Android devices and ChromeOS may become best friends in the near future as Google is reportedly working on better integrating the two platforms.

Hints of this move were discovered by industry expert AssembleDebug on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) who recently dove into the files of Google Play Services version 24.06.12. After activating several internal flags, he discovered two new features are currently in development plus certain sections will be renamed to better fit the changes. As 9To5Google points out, Device Connections will be renamed to Devices & Sharing, and there is a new option called Cross-Device Services.

Tapping the section for the first time allows users to choose the Android phones and Chromebooks they want on their cross-device network. There doesn’t appear to be a limit to how many gadgets you can have connected at the same time. It also looks like you can send out invitations en masse to nearby hardware during this time. Once setting up is done, you’re given access to the aforementioned features. Keep in mind it’s unknown exactly how these tools work although there are short descriptions under each one offering a bit of insight.

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Call Cast lets you presumably hop between devices during calls, however it “only works with certain apps”. Internet Sharing, on the other hand, is more nebulous. Judging from the onscreen text, it’ll give users a way to share their hotspot connection as well as their Wi-Fi password to member devices in a group. It saves you the trouble of having to re-enter your password every time you want to add another phone.

Imminent roll out

That’s pretty much all we can gather from this latest info dump. Given the fact AssembleDebug was able to trigger the update and the near-finished state of the interface, we think it’s safe to say the patch is rolling out fairly soon. It’s unknown exactly when it’ll come out, but Android Police in their coverage predicts it’ll release next month for Google’s March Feature Drop alongside other updates. These include the eSIM transfer tool plus Bluetooth Quick Settings.

As with every leak, take all the details here with a grain of salt. Things could change at any time. That said, if it's released as is, it would be a great upgrade to the current mobile environment. Chromebooks already offer cross-device connectivity to Androids, but it’s limited to primarily app streaming. Improving usability like this could allow Google to finally establish a hardware ecosystem similar to Apple’s own.

While we have you check out TechRadar's roundup of the best Chromebooks for 2024

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CoPilot Pro leak suggests Microsoft will soon make you pay for its ChatGPT Plus features

Microsoft has spent billions on integrating ChatGPT into its Copilot AI assistant for Edge, Bing and Windows 11 – and a new code leak suggests it could be planning to claw back some of that investment very soon.

As spotted by Android Authority, some new Edge browser updates for Android contain several code references to a 'Copilot Pro' tier that isn't yet available. Right now, Copilot (previously called Bing Chat) is completely free and, as Tom's Guide recently noticed, even gives some access to the latest ChatGPT model, GPT-4 Turbo.

But those days could be numbered if Copilot Pro does become a reality. The code contains references to a “pay wall upsell” option, which suggests that Microsoft is planning its equivalent of ChatGPT Plus. The latter currently costs $ 20 / £16 / AU$ 28 per month.

Those strings of code discovered in Edge also give us hints of what kind of features a Copilot Pro subscription might give us. These include access to the newest AI models (in other words, ChatGPT's GPT-4 Turbo), priority server access, and “high-quality” image generation.

While it seems likely that a free Copilot tier will continue to be available, the days of Microsoft giving us quite so many free AI perks, then, could be drawing to a close.

Plus points

Copilot in Windows

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The arrival of a ChatGPT Pro subscription has always been a matter of when rather than if, when you consider how much its costs to run an AI assistant on the scale of Microsoft Copilot. In the case of ChatGPT, some estimates suggest the computer hardware costs could be as high as $ 700,000 a day.

This is why ChatGPT launched its Plus subscription in February 2023 – and, a year on, it looks like Microsoft Copilot Pro could soon be following in that paid model's footsteps. 

Unfortunately, that could mean the free version of Copilot becoming a bit dumber, as that version currently gives you access to ChatGPT's latest models and also Dall-E 3 image generation. 

Hopefully, some of Copilot's current restrictions, like being limited to 300 conversations per day, will also be eased in the Pro version. While we don't yet know when this Copilot Pro tier might launch, it looks like we could find out very soon.

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Fed up with Windows 11’s Copilot already? Then you won’t like this leak which suggests the AI could be inserted into File Explorer

Windows 11 might soon witness Copilot coming to File Explorer, or in other words, the folders on your desktop that you use to interact with files on a daily basis.

The theory is that Microsoft could be planning to bring the Copilot AI to these folders based on a line of code uncovered by a leaker on X (formerly Twitter).

PhantomOfEarth made the revelation in a tweet that noted there’s a new feature called ‘CopilotFEContextMenu’ present in test builds of Windows 11 which can be enabled using a special configuration tool. (Not that there’s any point in doing so, as the feature doesn’t do anything yet – it’s just a signal of Microsoft’s potential intentions here).

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As the name suggests, this would appear to hint at a context menu option. In other words, when you right click a file in a folder, a choice relating to Copilot will be present in the menu that pops up.

As theorized, it might be a ‘Send to Copilot’ option that passes the file to the AI, whereupon you’ll presumably get the assistant popping up offering further choices (summarizing a document, for example).


Analysis: No surprises, but maybe alarms for some

All of this is mere speculation, of course, at this point, and lines of code in the background are the very earliest of signs that something is happening around a potential feature.

However, it’d be no great surprise to see Copilot integrated into File Explorer in this way, as it makes sense to have a convenient option to invoke the AI when you want it to work with a specific file.

Certainly, Microsoft has made no secret that it’s massively focusing on pushing AI across all its products, including Windows. Only yesterday we saw that Microsoft is ushering in a new key for the keyboards of Windows PCs – a move mirroring the introduction of the Windows key itself nearly 30 years ago.

Think about it for a moment: that’s how important Copilot is, in that it gets a dedicated key in the same vein as the key named after the operating system itself.

It’d be a shock if Microsoft wasn’t planning to introduce Copilot to other parts of the Windows 11 interface, frankly, and we can certainly expect further ways of invoking the AI across the desktop in the future – alongside the ability to directly summon Copilot from the keyboard as mentioned.

The best that those who aren’t so keen on Copilot can hope for is that they get ways to turn off the AI assistant across the board in Windows 11.

Via Neowin

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Google Bard Advanced leak hints at imminent launch for ChatGPT rival

The release of Google Bard’s Advanced tier may be coming sooner than people expected, according to a recent leak, and what's more, it won’t be free.

Well, it’s not a “leak” per se; the company left a bunch of clues on its website that anybody could find if you know where to look. That’s how developer Bedros Pamboukian on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) found lines of code hinting at the imminent launch of Bard Advanced. What’s interesting is the discovery reveals the souped-up AI will be bundled with Google One, and if you buy a subscription, you can try it out as part of a three-month trial.

There is a bit of hype surrounding Bard Advanced because it will be powered by Google’s top-of-the-line Gemini Ultra model. In an announcement post from this past December, the company states Gemini Ultra has been designed to deal with “highly complex tasks and accept multimodal inputs”. This possibility is backed up by another leak from user Dylan Roussel on X claiming the chatbot will be capable of “advanced math and reasoning skills.”

It’s unknown which Google One tier people will have to buy to gain access or if there will be a new one for Bard Advanced. Neither leak reveals a price tag. But if we had to take a wild guess, you may have to opt for the $ 10 a month Premium plan. Considering the amount of interest surrounding the AI, it would make sense for Google to put up a high barrier for entry.

Potential features

Going back to the Roussel leak, it reveals a lot of other features that may or may not be coming to Google Bard. Things might change or “they may never land at all.”

First, it may be possible to create customized bots using the AI’s tool. There is very little information about them. We don’t know what they do or if they’re shareable. The only thing we do know is the bots are collectively codenamed Motoko.

Next, it appears Bard will receive a couple of extra tools. You have Gallery, a set of publicly viewable prompts on a variety of topics users can check out for brainstorming ideas. Then there’s Tasks. Roussel admits he couldn’t find many details about it, but to his understanding, it’ll be “used to manage long-running tasks such as” image generation.

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Speaking of generating images, the third feature allows users a way to create backgrounds and foregrounds for smartphones and website banners. The last one, called Power Up, is said to be able to improve text prompts. Once again, there’s little information to go on. We don’t know how the backgrounds can be made (if that’s what’s going on) or what powering up a text prompt even looks like. It's hard to say for sure.

Users probably won’t have to wait for very long to get the full picture. Given the fact these were hidden on Google’s website, the official rollout must be just around the corner.

2024 is shaping up to be a big year for artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to the likes of Google Bard and its ChatGPT. If you want to know which one we think will come out on top, check out TechRadar's ChatGPT vs Google Bard analyzation.

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Windows 12 launch date leak is an early Christmas gift for struggling laptop makers

Christmas might just have come early for laptop makers, as a new leak suggests that Windows 12 could arrive as soon as June 2024.

The news, which Tom’s Hardware originally reported on and KitGuru later added to, emerged in Taiwan’s The Commercial Times, will be good news for the PC and laptop market, which has seen a decline since the Covid-19 pandemic.

When people started working from home, many bought new PCs or laptops, along with webcams and other accessories, but this boom was not to last. With so many people using new devices, it’s understandable that they wouldn’t be in any rush to go out and buy a new one.

This has resulted in a downturn in PC and laptop sales – but the launch of a new operating system could help reinvigorate those sales.

According to the report, the June 2024 date for Windows 12 was mooted at the recent Taiwan Medical Technology Exhibition in Taipei, where Quanta Computer Chairman Barry Lam is reported to have said “next summer, when Microsoft launches a new generation of Windows operating systems, AI PCs will also be launched one after another.”

While it’s not entirely clear from the report where the June 2024 date came from, and Microsoft has not officially revealed its Windows 12 plans, there will be many in the PC industry who hope this is Microsoft's plan. We've also heard other rumors about a 2024 launch date in the past.

A new, powerful, operating system with innovative features could – if done right – encourage people to upgrade to new hardware. Whether or not Microsoft can do it right, however, is another issue.

Windows 11 woes

Windows 11 hasn’t exactly set the world alight. It’s a solid operating system, but there hasn’t been a killer app or feature that has made Windows 10 users want to switch.

Microsoft’s attempts to get people to upgrade to new laptops or PCs for Windows 11, due to its controversial insistence on TPM 2.0 compatibility, annoyed more people than it converted as well. 

So, if Windows 12 is to be the saviour of Microsoft and the wider industry, it’ll need to be a big upgrade from Windows 11, and one that makes full use of cutting-edge hardware. No pressure, then.

AI

(Image credit: Getty Images)

AI to the rescue?

Microsoft hasn’t been shy about its ambitions for artificial intelligence (AI), and while it’s been pushing AI feature in Windows 11 (and even Windows 10), it’s looking likely that Windows 12 will have even more AI integration – and it’s here that the upcoming operating system could differentiate itself from its predecessors.

Acer CEO Jason Chen, who was also at the event, talked about how AI PCs will “continuously accelerate” the industry. These ‘AI’ PCs will likely come with Windows 12 preinstalled (as Lam suggested), and will rely on advanced hardware that’s been specially made for artificial intelligence.

Microsoft’s AI additions to Windows 11, in the form of its Copilot assistant, have been warmly received by users, but they still feel a bit like a gimmick. Nothing, so far, fundamentally changes the way we use Windows 11 or our PCs, as Microsoft has promised.

However, the thought of Windows 12 being built from the ground up to make use of AI, and debuting on laptops and PC with AI-supporting hardware, is incredibly exciting. If June 2024 does indeed usher in a new era of the best laptops and PCs, there certainly will be a lot of people who’ll be tempted to upgrade – including me.

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Apple Vision Pro 2 leak reveals what’s coming next for Apple’s headset

The Apple Vision Pro hasn't yet made its way to any actual customers, but we're already starting to hear a few whispers about what might be in the pipeline for the second generation of Apple's augmented reality and virtual reality headset.

Sources speaking to MacRumors say that the Apple Vision Pro 2 is actually going to look very similar to the original headset, although there might be changes to the speaker configuration, with a flatter shape on each side.

We might also see variations in the design of the top vents, the report says, with the possibility that clusters of small holes will replace the existing strips. There's also talk of an audio accessory in the documentation, which might refer to an external speaker.

One of the key differences will be to the rear straps, MacRumors says. The 2nd-gen headset apparently has straps that are simpler in design, and “somewhat reminiscent of the flat straps commonly found on laptop bags or backpacks”.

The waiting game

It sounds as though the next model of the Apple Vision Pro is going to retain the external battery pack that the current model has, and MacRumors also says that most of the sensors and cameras will be similar as well.

A compass, ambient light sensor, magnetometer, and gyroscope are specifically mentioned, alongside support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, and ultra-low latency audio, which is all very much as you would expect.

Based on the information included in this leak, what's known as production validation testing (PVT) is scheduled for 2025, which would mean a release date of late 2025 or early 2026. Of course, all of these details and plans could change over time.

We've previously heard that Apple is working on a cheaper Vision Pro model, but it's not entirely certain if this is it. Other improvements Apple is reportedly considering are to make the next Vision Pro lighter, more compact, and more comfortable.

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Meta Quest 3 firmware leak reveals big depth mapping upgrade

All the signs are that Meta is going to fully unveil the Meta Quest 3, and give us an on sale date, at its special event on September 27. Until then, we're learning more about the device through leaks – such as the latest one that reveals its depth mapping capabilities.

In a clip dug out of the Meta Quest 3 firmware and posted to Reddit (via user Samulia and UploadVR), we see a short animation visualizing how the depth mapping is going to work. In short, it looks pretty advanced, and way ahead of the Oculus Quest 2.

We see a detailed mesh covering all of the objects in the room, and there seems to be some kind of object identification going on here as well – the couch is labeled with a couch icon, for example, so the Meta Quest 3 clearly knows what it is.

The player avatar is then shown chasing a digital character around the room, as it jumps on and behind furniture. This is an example of mixed reality occlusion, where digital elements appear to be in the same world as physical elements, and it hints at some of the experiences that will be possible on the new headset.

Meta Quest 3 room mapping visualization found in the firmware. from r/OculusQuest

A room with a view

On the current Oculus Quest 2, you're required to manually map out a free space inside a room. You can also mark out rectangular cuboids for pieces of furniture and walls, but it takes a while – and these maps aren't fully used by developers anyway.

This looks like a much more slick and comprehensive solution, and it matches up with another clip revealed in June. Meta has made noises about the Meta Quest 3 “intelligently understanding” what's inside a room, but that's all that's been made official so far.

The depth mapping and the way that mapping is used would appear to even go beyond the latest Meta Quest Pro headset. That device does have some automatic room mapping capabilities, but it doesn't have a dedicated depth sensor inside it.

Meta has another of its Connect showcases scheduled for September 27, and all should be revealed by then. While you're waiting, you can check out the latest teaser trailer for the device, and everything we know about it so far.

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Windows Copilot leak suggests deeper assimilation with Windows 11 features

Key Windows 11 features may soon be customizable as Microsoft further integrates its Windows Copilot AI assistant into the operating system.

This tidbit comes from tech news site Windows Latest, which claims to have discovered new .json (JavaScript Object Notation) files within recent preview builds of Windows 11. These files apparently hint at future upgrades for the desktop AI assistant. For example, a “TaskManagerService-ai-plugin.json” was found which is supposedly a “plugin for Task Manager integration”. If this ever comes out, it could give users the ability to “monitor or close running apps using” Copilot.

In total, six are currently tested and they affect various aspects of Windows 11.

Next, there is an “AccessbilityTools-ai-plugin.json” that gives Copilot a way to “control accessibility [tools]. This would make it “easier for those with [a] disability to navigate through the system.” Third is “ai-plugin-WindowsSettings.json” for controlling important Windows 11 settings. Which ones exactly are not stated within the report. 

Fourth is “ClockService-ai-plugin.json” to help people manage their computer’s alarm settings. Rounding out the pack are “LaunchApplication-ai-plugin.json and SmartFileActions-ai-plugin.json” for opening apps through AI commands.

Modular control hub

Windows Copilot was in limited release when it first came out back in late June 2023, and it was pretty barebones. Since then, Microsoft has been repeatedly upgrading the AI function to be more comprehensive. Earlier reports state Copilot may be able search for specific files as well as offer “store suggestions”, presumably for apps to download at the Microsoft Store.

You may read all this and think that the AI assistant may become a bloated mess, but on the contrary, it might not. Due to the fact all the .json files mentioned are plugins, Windows Copilot will most likely be a modular tool, meaning you can pick and choose particular Windows 11 features it can control. This effectively turns the AI into your personal control hub for the OS.

Upgraded AI assistants

Of course, that’s assuming the final version will release exactly as we just described. Nothing in the news story has been officially confirmed by Microsoft. Be aware there’s a chance, if small, that the company could terminate certain plugins at any time. 

So far, the updates have been first-party only. Windows Latest claims the tech giant could begin offering third-party plugin support within the coming weeks. Partnered third-party companies or developers remain unknown at the time of this writing. 

Generative AI models have opened a lot of possibilities for personal assistants. Gone are the days of asking simple questions to Siri or Cortana. Technological improvements have made it possible for AIs to help in our day-to-day tasks. Google, for example, is working on an AI writing tool for upcoming Chromebooks.

To learn more, we recommend checking out TechRadar’s list of the best AI chatbots for 2023 to see what the technology is capable of. 

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Meta Quest 3 video leak shows off thinner design and new controllers

The Meta Quest 3 (aka the Oculus Quest 3) is now official, but isn't due to go on sale until September or October time. If you're keen for an earlier look at the virtual reality headset before then, an unboxing video has made its way online.

This comes from @ZGFTECH on X/Twitter (via Android Authority), and we get a full look at the new device and the controllers that come with it. Meta has already published promo images of the headset, but it's interesting to see it in someone's hands.

As revealed by Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg, the Meta Quest 3 is some 40% thinner than the Oculus Quest 2 that came before it. From this video it looks like the Quest 2's silicone face pad and cloth strap have been carried over to the new piece of hardware.

You may recall that the Quest 2 originally shipped with foam padding, before Meta responded to complaints of skin irritation by replacing the foam with silicone. That lesson now appears to have been learned with this new device and the Meta Quest Pro.

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Take control

The controllers that come with the Meta Quest 3 look a lot like the ones supplied with the Meta Quest Pro, though these don't have built-in cameras. The ring design of the Oculus Quest 2 has been ditched, with integrated sensors and predictive AI taking over tracking duties, according to Meta.

As for the outer packaging, it's not particularly inspiring, featuring just the name of the device on the top. Presumably something a bit more eye-catching will be put together before the headset actually goes on sale.

It's not clear where the headset has been sourced from, but the device has clearly been in testing for a while. This is becoming something of a running theme too, because the Meta Quest Pro was leaked in similar fashion after being left behind in a hotel room.

We should get all the details about the Meta Quest 3, including the date when we'll actually be able to buy it, on September 27 at the Meta Connect event. TechRadar will of course bring you all the news from the show, and any further leaks that may emerge between then and now.

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Apple Vision Pro might be lacking some features at launch, says leak

Apple's Vision Pro headset hasn't even gone on sale yet, and it might not do for another year yet. But that was never going to stop Apple from working on what will follow it and now a recent report suggests that isn't just one, but two new headsets.

Unfortunately for Vision Pro hopefuls, that same report also suggests that Apple will hold back some visionOS features for when those successors are shared with the public – and worst of all, they're features that were originally penciled in for the Vision Pro's launch instead.

However, Apple appears to have chosen to delay those software features until the next found of hardware is ready, and that, among other things, could be enough to give potential buyers a reason to consider hanging fire – not that we imagine people are lining up to buy this insanely expensive device, even if it does turn out to be the best VR headset ever made.

Two is better than one

Writing in his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports that  Apple has not one, but two new versions of the Vision Pro headset in development already – one of which will be a lot cheaper. Apple only announced the Vision Pro at WWDC on June 5, but it's already moved some employees from that project and onto teams that are working on what comes next in Apple's AR/VR lineup.

We noted the two new Vision Pro models previously, but the latest report from Gurman suggests that new software features will debut with those updated models, rather than the first headset – even though that one isn't even releasing until 2024.

Gurman says that Apple is working on “The ability to show multiple Mac desktop screens when connected wirelessly to a Vision Pro,” whereas the first Vision Pro will only connect to a single desktop at launch. There's also the suggestion that Apple Fitness Plus will be integrated somehow, allowing headsets wearers to work out while in an AR/VR world.

Finally, Gurman says that Apple also wants to offer “the ability for multiple Vision Pro users in a several-person FaceTime conference to use Personas.” The Vision Pro due to go on sale in the first half of 2024 will only allow one-on-one calls with Apple's haunting 3D avatars.

It's still too early to know when Apple will announce these new headsets of course, nor do we know how much that cheaper model will cost. We can hopefully expect to learn more as the leaks roll out in the coming months.

It's a bit disappointing that Apple will apparently be holding back some features – it's particularly odd to be hearing about it now, when the first iteration of the headset is still more than six months away from release. We'd imagine there probably is enough time for Apple to implement those features, in fact, which makes the whole thing all the more disheartening.

In other words, we're probably going to hold off on dropping $ 3,499 on the Vision Pro next year – at least, unless Apple confirms these features will be backward-compatible when they finally do arrive.

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