The Apple Vision Pro comes with a Guest Mode dilemma – you can share the love but can’t keep the settings

Apple’s newly-launched Vision Pro comes with a guest mode, but it appears to be frustratingly limited. It seems that (rather reluctantly), Apple has included a “Guest User” mode to let users share their shiny new device with family and friends without having to give them access to your personal information and data. That said, if you hope it’ll be like guest modes on other devices we’ve become accustomed to, you’ll need to think again. 

While friends and family will be able to experience the magic of the Vision Pro on a user’s device, according to 9to5Mac the device won’t store any of their settings. This will no doubt be disappointing for anyone who got it hoping to be able to share it with a group – such as with the rest of their family. Also, Guest Mode will allow you to “share specific apps and experiences with family and friends,” which sounds like the ability to share may not extend to all apps.

So, guest users will only have limited settings and app capabilities, settings will not be stored from any sessions, and the Vision Pro won’t actually even save guest calibration data. If a guest wants to use a specific user’s Vision Pro other than their own, they’ll have to go through the process of calibrating eye tracking, hand scanning, and pairing ZEISS Optical Inserts every time.

An Apple Store staff member shows a customer how to use a Vision Pro headset.

(Image credit: Apple)

Possible concerns ahead for the Vision Pro

This isn’t due to a technical limitation either, Apple chose to have it be this way. If a friend or family member just wants to give it a spin and try it, this isn’t so bad. However, with a $ 3,500 price tag, some people probably bought it hoping to be able to share it with people they live with. 

This Guest Mode makes it tough to do so, and puts users and guests off of using it like this multiple times. As far as we know, that’s how things stand for now – you can have one main user account, plus the built-in Guest Mode, but there's no option to create separate accounts (guest or otherwise). 

While not totally unheard of for Apple, I can imagine this being disappointing news for some recipients of the Vision Pro. For example, the iPad doesn’t have guest-sharing specific features, but this doesn’t really hinder sharing the iPad with people, and a guest mode probably doesn’t add as much to it. To be able to use the Vision Pro at all, you have to at least calibrate it to your face and eyes, so it’s a different story. 

We await the Vision Pro’s arrival in US stores on February 2 and reviewers have already started posting their first impressions of the device. I can see this becoming a real drawback that users get vocal about  – but would it convince Apple to change the guest mode? Because this is a bold first-gen launch for Apple, users are willing to let its vision develop and give it a chance. Hopefully Apple doesn’t burn through that good will.

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The Meta Quest 3 doesn’t beat my 4K TV for Xbox gaming, but I don’t care – I love it

After Thursday’s surprise Xbox Cloud Gaming launch on the Meta Quest 3, I've spent most (read: too much) of my evenings trying the service out. And while it doesn’t hold a candle to my more traditional 4K TV and console setup from a technical perspective, its portability more than makes up for that.

For the uninitiated, Xbox Cloud Gaming is basically Netflix for video games. For a monthly fee of $ 16.99 / £12.99 / AU$ 18.95, you can stream titles from a massive catalog of content to your phone, PC, Xbox console, and now Meta Quest 3, Quest 2, and Quest Pro. The advantage, of course, is you don’t need super powerful hardware to play the latest games – they’re run on high-end machines many hundreds (maybe thousands) of miles away and just use your device as a screen and a relay for your controller inputs.

When playing in the real world, you’re limited to the size of your TV, phone screen, or computer monitor. In VR, you can enjoy playing these games on a gigantic virtual display – with the size becoming especially apparent when using the Quest 3’s mixed-reality mode. The Large and Extra-large screen options were bigger than any TV I’ve seen before – even the ridiculous displays shown off at tech trade shows – and it made me feel like I was gaming in my own private movie theater.

My view as I play Xbox games on my Quest 3 while all cozy in bed. The screen floats in front of me while I hold a white Xbox controller.

This screenshot doesn’t do the virtual screen size justice (Image credit: Future / Hamish Hector)

The trade-off is the graphics quality leaves something to be desired. Xbox Cloud Gaming can apparently stream 1080p (full-HD) at 60fps gameplay – but I’m certain the quality I experienced wasn’t this high. That's most likely due to a combination of the Quest 3’s display specs, my internet connection throttling the app’s abilities, and the gigantic virtual screen not giving visual blemishes anywhere to hide; instead blowing them up to make them more noticeable than ever.

Head in the cloud

Yet, when I lay in bed wearing my Quest 3 with the virtual display floating on the ceiling above me using mixed reality, I was still utterly lost in Starfield until the early hours of the morning. I only stopped when my headset alerted me that its charge was low and I realized it was well past 2 am.

This portability – to be able to play anywhere with a strong enough internet connection – is why cloud gaming in VR succeeds. You can play in bed, during your commute, at a coffee shop while waiting for your friends, or pretty much anywhere you can think of. Yes, you can stream Xbox titles to your phone, too, but the display is small, and the experience just isn’t as immersive as the virtual screen that wraps around you.

To this end, the VR headset is starting to borrow elements of the many AR glasses I’ve tested over the past year – the likes of the Xreal Air 2 or Rokid Max – and I’m pretty darn excited about it. These AR specs connect to a compatible phone, laptop, or games console using a USB-C adapter and virtually project the screen in front of you.

The Xreal Air 2 Pro AR smart glasses next to the Xreal Beam hub, they're both on a wooden table in front of a brick wall

The Xreal Air 2 Pro AR smart glasses and Beam (Image credit: Future)

The clear advantage of the Quest hardware is it’s more than just a wearable projector – it’s a whole spatial computer in its own right that can do incredible things without any external hardware. What’s more, while the Quest 3 is pricier on paper – by about $ 100 / £100 / AU$ 150 depending on the glasses – once you factor in the need to buy a few not-so-optional add-ons to get the most out of AR specs, the cost difference is negligible (the Quest 3 might even end up being cheaper). Not to mention that you get far more bang for your buck from a VR headset.

While going fully wireless has advantages, having tried Xbox Cloud Gaming I’m now even more desperate for Meta’s VR hardware to start supporting wired connections to a greater range of devices. I’d love to use a Steam Deck, Nintendo Switch, PS5, and other gadgets in a similarly immersive way without needing to splash out on AR specs. Hopefully, such features will be added to the Quest platform in the not-too-distant future.

Some work is needed 

Before Meta works on adding these capabilities, though, I’d like it and Microsoft to make a few updates to the Xbox Cloud Gaming app. Considering this app was announced over a year ago at Meta Connect 2022, I’m surprised it’s so basic and lacking a few features that feel like no-brainers.

The first is an easy way to position the screen. From what I can tell, the only virtual display controls within the app are the size options. If you want to move the screen to a different position – which is essential for playing lying down – you need to first press the Oculus button to open up your quick menu bar. Then, when you grab the bar to move it, the Xbox screen will move with it.

This workaround is effective but not intuitive; I stumbled into it completely by accident.

The second is an emulator so the Quest handsets can double as an Xbox controller. Admittedly, this may be tough, as the controllers are almost identical, but the Quest controllers lack the D-Pad and third menu button. Even if this emulated controller is only compatible with a small selection of titles, it would offer users a great way to test out Cloud Gaming before they invest in a wireless Xbox controller (they aren’t massively expensive, but they aren’t cheap either – they’re pricier than most VR games).

Lastly, it would be helpful if there was an in-app way to see how stable your connection is, see what resolution and framerate you’re getting, and choose if you want to optimize for graphics or performance. 

All that said, despite its deficiencies, the Xbox Cloud Gaming app is a must-try – especially for those with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription and compatible controller already. While I’ll still spend a lot of time gaming on my TV, I can honestly see this VR app becoming one of my most used in 2024. It might even convince me to start taking my Quest 3 with me everywhere so I can game on the go.

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Microsoft wants people to love Windows 11’s Outlook app again – even if they have an iPhone

Microsoft has given Windows 11’s desktop email app, Outlook, a major revamp with the addition of Apple iCloud functionality for people who use iPhones or other Apple devices, plus other features. This upgrade is available to all Windows 11 users and you can add your iCloud account to your Outlook app by doing the following: 

1. Click the cog icon in your Outlook menu, which should open your Email accounts setting. This is where you can see all of the accounts that are connected to your Outlook and manage them. 

2. Select Add account and sign into your Apple iCloud account. This should connect your iCloud account. 

The Outlook app had supported Apple’s email service in the past before Windows 11’s launch, but according to Windows Latest, Microsoft is in the process of deploying a new Outlook app in place of the old one. Apparently reception has been lukewarm from users, but Microsoft is adding lots of new features with every new version.

One of the biggest complaints users have with the renewed Outlook app has been that it launches in a web wrapper. The old app was a fully functional UWP app, with both online and offline support. However, the new app only got offline support very recently. User complaints about the new app persist, and Microsoft is continuing to develop the app to hopefully improve users’ experiences and improve their opinion of the new app.

The latest in a string of new developments

This development follows shortly after Microsoft also added compatibility with Gmail, Google Calendar, and contacts to Outlook. iCloud support is also now available to all Windows 11 users, and Microsoft is reportedly working on extending offline support for more parts of the Outlook app, including events and Calendar. 

One feature that users have to look forward to as part of Microsoft’s new Outlook is being able to RSVP to meetings. Windows Latest spotted this as an upcoming update in the Microsoft 365 roadmap, which details what Microsoft has in store for various Microsoft 365 apps. This will help users receive information about the nature of any specific meeting and better decide if they would like to attend. This development is expected to debut in March 2024.

Another feature that has been added will help users understand their meetings and schedules. Microsoft explained on its Tech Community blog that users will be able to track declined meetings better in the Outlook calendar. This will be useful  for many users, especially those who have overlapping or densely-packed meetings, and want to better understand what they are and aren’t attending.

meeting

(Image credit: Bild von Free Photos auf Pixabay)

How to turn on visibility for declined meetings

The above is now available within the most up to date version of Outlook, but is disabled by default. You can enable it through the following steps: 

1. Open the Outlook app. 

2. Go to: Settings > Calendar > Events & Invitations > Save declined events

3. Tick (Click) the Show declined events in your calendar box. 

This should turn on the feature and declined meetings should begin to be displayed in your Calendar. 

In order for a meeting to be classified as declined, you will have to have declined the meeting in all Outlook clients and Teams, with the exception of the original Windows Outlook client. 

It’s going to take a little more to win over Windows users it seems, but these seem like some solid steps. These are available to all Windows 11 users with a valid copy of Outlook as far as we know and if you don’t have these features yet, you may need to update your Outlook app. It is to be confirmed if this extends to free users who use Outlook online.

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I’d love it if Apple dropped the Vision Pro’s worst feature to make a cheaper version – it’s a win-win

Well, the Apple Vision Pro isn’t even available yet, and Apple is already looking to the future (well, the further future) to consider how to make the follow-up model even better. Or, in this case, even cheaper: according to a new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple wants its second headset to cost less.

We already knew Apple was likely considering a cheaper Vision Pro model, and this latest news gives credence to those rumors. It seems like the first-generation Vision Pro is having some teething issues too, most notably the weight – the same Gurman report discusses Apple’s efforts to reduce the weight of a second-generation headset. But there’s a far better nugget of information we should be focusing on…

Apple might get rid of that horrible external display! Yes, the EyeSight feature that I heavily criticized when the headset was first revealed might be cut from future Vision models in order to save on costs. It makes a lot of sense; adding an external screen to show the user’s eyes is a ridiculous feature that no doubt costs a lot of money, adding extra (entirely unneeded) OLED display tech to every single headset. The screen even has lenticular glass to create an illusion of depth.

The feature isn’t even that helpful; it projects the eyes of your uncanny-valley FaceTime avatar onto the exterior screen when you’re looking through the headset’s external cameras, or displays an opaque color when you’re immersed in something that blocks out your surroundings. In other words, it tells other people if a Vision Pro user can see them or not – something that could’ve probably been achieved with a single LED.

Get ready for the Apple Vision… something

Apple is reportedly targeting a $ 1,500-$ 2,000 price range for its more affordable Vision headset, which sounds a lot more accessible than the current $ 3,499 price tag. Given that some other popular VR headsets – like the new Meta Quest 3 – are a lot cheaper, many potential users are likely to give the first-gen Vision Pro a pass.

A cheaper model was likely always going to happen given the name Apple chose for its headset – Vision Pro implies the (future) existence of a standard Apple Vision headset, in keeping with Apple’s naming conventions for its other products. Just look at the iPhone 15 Pro and the MacBook Pro – hey, maybe the cheaper headset will be called the Apple Vision Air?

Apple is also reportedly developing a second high-end version of the headset (a Vision Pro Max, perhaps?), and it’s enough to make me wonder if the first-gen model will even be worth buying at all. The Vision Pro represents Apple’s first step into an entirely new market, and it wouldn’t even surprise me if it gets hit with delays – after all, it’s suspected that issues with chip manufacturer TSMC could delay M3 MacBook Air models until the middle of next year, and the Vision Pro features not just the M2 chip but also a new dedicated R1 chip for mixed-reality workloads.

In any case, I’ll be happy to see a less expensive headset from Apple. I still remember the noise the crowd made at WWDC 2023 when the price was unveiled… and let’s face it, EyeSight is a feature nobody really needs.

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Windows 10 gets some love from Microsoft with updated Photos app

Despite concentrating on its latest version of Windows, it seems Microsoft is still keen to bring new features to the ageing Windows 10, with a revamped Photos app apparently coming soon.

After bringing the Windows Backup app to Windows 10, after initially only offering it to Windows 11 users, there's been a further indication that Microsoft will continue making features and apps that were originally thought to be only for Windows 11 also available for Windows 10.

The next such app to join the Windows Backup app is the modernized Photos app, as reported by Neowin and X (formerly Twitter) user @techosausrex. The early preview version of the app is now supported in Windows 10, giving a pretty solid nod that it will be released in a future Windows 10 update.

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The new Photos app for Windows 10

It has also apparently been somewhat confirmed by Microsoft as the current version of the Windows 10 Photos app now states that “a new update for the Photos app is coming soon with exciting enhancements,” as evidenced by Neowin.

What users can expect in the new Photos app is a more sophisticated interface, improvements to photo library management, better integration with OneDrive, a refined “Memories” feature, a multi-window capability and multi-screen usability, and upgraded abilities to import from external sources.  Another anticipated development is that the built-in video editor will be swapped out for Microsoft’s web-based video editor, Clipchamp

How to install the new Photos app

If you’d like to try the new Photos app for Windows app before it’s available in a future update, you can do so by following these steps: 

First, you need to go to https://store.rg-adguard.net. 

This will allow you to generate a direct link for the new Photos app from the Microsoft store. 

Second, make sure the first drop-down menu shows “URL (link)” and paste this link into the long middle URL box: 

https://www.microsoft.com/store/productid/9WZDNCRFJBH4 

Third, in the smaller drop-down box next to the URL box, select “Fast” and click the checkmark button directly next to it. 

Then, you may have to scroll down a bit (if you can’t see the long list of available links) which should show up in a table. You want to find the link that looks exactly like this: 

Microsoft.Windows.Photos_2023.11080.4003.0_neutral_~_8wekyb3d8bbwe.msixbundle

Next, you have to right-click this link and from the menu that appears, select Save link as. Allow for your device to download the file. 

Finally, you’ll want to open the file you just downloaded and click Update. This will prompt Windows 10 to update the app and allow you to open it. 

Woman using free video editing software on laptop

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Things for users to consider

It’s worth noting that the Windows 10 Photos updated app won’t work exactly like the Windows 11 version, at least for now. For instance, the Windows 11 Photos app allows for iCloud integration as the Windows 10 version doesn’t. Also, if you install the updated Photos app and find that you don’t like it as much as the older app, there’s an easy way to downgrade to the previous version. You can go to Settings in the Photos app and click the Get Photos Legacy button, and this should revert your Photos app.

I appreciate Microsoft’s approach to enable users to adjust their Windows experience to their liking, no matter what version they are using. If you like the older version of the operating system, you can get most apps and features in Windows 10 that you’d find in Windows 11. 

Microsoft’s continued support for Windows 10 by bringing new apps and features to the older operating system, despite the existence of Windows 11 (which the company clearly wants its users to upgrade to), is good to see, and hopefully will put pressure on other companies (especially Apple and Google) to continue to bring new features that are compatible with older operating systems.

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Love your multi-monitor setup? Windows 11 could soon make it even better

Windows 11 has a new preview build carrying a very useful change for those who run multiple monitors, in a move that’ll help save system resources to some extent.

The change is in testing right now – and the very earliest test channel, namely Canary – having been brought in with build 25915 late last week.

What Microsoft has done is improved the way Windows 11 handles refresh rates so that when a PC has two (or more) monitors, different refresh rates can be used on multiple screens.

Previously, Windows 11 would apply the refresh rate which is a system-wide setting to both monitors, so now in this preview version, they can each have different refresh rates. We’ll come back to discuss refresh rates in more depth, and why this is important, in a moment.

Elsewhere in build 25915, Microsoft has tweaked Dynamic Refresh Rate (DRR), a feature that intelligently adjusts your monitor’s refresh rate depending on what you’re doing. (If you’re reading emails or doing other basic tasks, DRR will employ a lower refresh rate – but when you need a smoother experience, such as when scrolling through a large document with embedded images, a higher refresh rate will be utilized).

The change to DRR now means that if you’re in battery saver mode on your laptop, Windows 11 will stick with the lower refresh rate no matter what, in order to conserve power. In short, battery saver overrules DRR completely, which is for the best when your notebook is on the verge of conking out.


Analysis: A very refreshing change

Refresh rate means the rate that the screen refreshes itself every second (measured in Hertz), or in other words, how many frames are displayed per second. Every monitor is essentially displaying a slideshow, and you’re seeing a number of images (slides, or frames) every second. (But always, in theory, so quickly that you’ll never see the ‘joins’ as it were – it should all happen fluidly, especially with a top-end PC and one of the best monitors out there).

The faster the refresh rate, the more fluid and smooth the image seems to your eyes (with caveats, such as with games for example, your GPU and other components need to have the horsepower to be able to produce the requisite frames, and with demanding titles and resolutions, that can be a steep hill to climb).

So, what this change does is allow a task like gaming on a primary high refresh rate monitor to hit, say, 240Hz, whereas if you have a second monitor where you’re just surfing the web, watching a video maybe, you can have that running at 60Hz. Because you won’t need any more than 60Hz on that second display, you can save your PC the trouble of having to push both monitors to a higher refresh rate.

That means fewer system resources are used, and they can be employed elsewhere, plus you might save a teeny-tiny bit of power to boot (it all adds up).

This means nothing to those who don’t have more than one monitor, of course, but the DRR change will still be useful for those with a laptop who want to conserve power when the battery gets to a low level.

Via Windows Central

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Windows 11 just got loads of new features including one that iPhone owners will love

Windows 11 has just been graced with a big update, albeit not a full feature update, but one of Microsoft’s so-called ‘Moment’ upgrades.

Moment 2 to be precise, and if that sounds familiar, that’s because Microsoft released it in testing (as an optional update) at the end of February. Now, however, it has arrived as a full release, which means it’s coming to all Windows 11 PCs as we type this.

If you haven’t already been offered what is formally known as patch KB5023706, then you can head to Windows Update and check for new updates, whereupon you should see Moment 2 ready to roll.

The update introduces a raft of new features, including improvements for those using Windows 11 with a touchscreen (a touch-optimized taskbar). Another big move is Phone Link for iOS, giving iPhone owners the ability to hook up their handset to the desktop (giving access to iMessage correspondence from their PC).

Windows 11 will now provide energy efficiency recommendations and additional help when troubleshooting issues with your PC (via ‘Quick Assist’). On top of that, the system tray has been given a fresh lick of paint in the form of a rounded focus (rather than square, when mousing over icons bottom-right, to be more in keeping with the rest of Windows 11’s modern look).

Accessibility features have also been improved, most notably with enhanced support for braille devices, and Voice Access getting new commands.

As well as all the feature additions, KB5023706 comes boasting the usual slew of security fixes provided by Microsoft with these monthly cumulative updates.


Analysis: Plenty of features and hopefully no bugs

So, all the testing of the preview version of the Moment 2 update is now done and dusted, and with no major bugbears sighted, everything should go smoothly with the upgrade now it has become available – in theory. Of course, when a much wider rollout happens, with a lot more PCs involved, fresh bugs can still make their unwelcome presence felt.

Nothing’s guaranteed even with finished updates for Windows, as we’ve seen in the past. Windows 10 in particular has seen the release of patches with some serious problems lurking within (we’re talking file deletion, if you recall that memorable and very unfortunate episode).

Another thing you might also recall is when Microsoft revealed the preview version of Moment 2, the company talked about the ChatGPT-powered Bing being put on the taskbar, giving us the impression that this was a full integration of the AI chatbot with the Windows 11 interface.

As we’ve discussed in the past, though, this wasn’t the case – the implementation of this ‘feature’ (ahem) was simply a link in the search box that brought up Bing in the Edge browser.

Users were pretty disappointed about that, and the Bing icon swiftly vanished, with Microsoft subsequently assuring us that the chatbot hadn’t been ditched from the taskbar, but was in a rotation with other search highlights. And wouldn’t you know, just as Moment 2 is rolling out, we can now see the Bing icon in our search box once again (doubtless just temporarily, though). Interesting timing…

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The love for open source software is showing no signs of slowing down

The love for open source software is spread across the whole technology spectrum, a new report looking at the state of developing software and the tools needed to do so has claimed.

The 2022 State of Open Source Report, conducted by OpenLogic, surveyed 2,660 professionals and their organisations that use open source tools. 

If you are a software developer or work in an adjacent industry then this is probably no surprise: open source tools are the glue that holds so many things together, a community of selfless individuals working towards a bigger goal. 

Open source love

The report asked respondents a series of questions to gauge their interest (and love) for open source, covering a wide variety of roles and companies (see below for more on the specific methodologies).

Most respondents use an open source programming language or framework, closely followed by databases, OSes, Git repos, frameworks for AI/ML/DL, and the cloud. 

2022 open source report

(Image credit: OpenLogic)

When it comes to reservations, respondents highlighted a lack of skills. But, perhaps most interestingly, a full 27% said they had no reservations at all.

2022 open source report

(Image credit: OpenLogic)

When it came to reasons for using open source, the answers were clear: access to innovations and latest technologies; no license cost, meaning an overall cost reduction; modernising their technology stack; many options for similar technologies; and constant releases and patches.

2022 open source report

(Image credit: OpenLogic)

Methodology 

Most (38%) are technology companies, but lots of other sectors are represented: consulting, banking and finance, transport, telecoms, education, healthcare, public sector, and so on. 39% of companies were between 100 and 1,000 employees, 32% were under 100 employees, and 28% were over 1,000 employees.

In terms of the regions, North America dominated, representing 52.6% of respondents, followed by Asia Pacific (12.4%), UK and Europe (10.9%), Asia (7.7%), Middle East (6.6%), Latin America (5.2%), Africa (4.2%), and Oceania (0.32%). 

Full Stack Developers were the highest respondents, representing 21.8%, followed by Back End (18.5%), Front End (16%), Engineering (15.7%), Project Management (14.4%), Architect (14.4%), DevOps (12.6%), and so on. 

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