Microsoft adds Instagram-like filters and AI effects to profile pictures in sneaky upgrade as part of Windows 11 preview build

Windows 11 has a new preview version out, and it introduces a batch of settings relating to user profile pictures, complete with fresh AI tricks to try out. These settings are included in the latest Windows 11 preview in the Canary channel for testers, albeit they are hidden away in Build 26231.

This development was spotted and shared on X by @PhantomOfEarth, who is a keen Windows Insider. As you can see in the screenshot provided by @PhantomOfEarth, the profile picture options are located in a new section of the Accounts page (in Settings) called ‘Your info,’ and they allow you to apply effects and filters to your profile picture.

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As noted, they are hidden away in the preview build, and you’ll need to use ViVeTool (a Windows configuration tool) to get them to appear.

As Windows Latest observes, the new customization options and AI effects include the ability to blur your profile picture’s background, add portrait lighting, and upscale the resolution of the image.

There are also filters you can use to give your picture a distinctive appearance, similar to those you might benefit from on apps like Instagram. Windows Latest reports that there are currently six different filters you can try out. As well as those filters, you can also transform your profile picture by rotating it clockwise or anticlockwise, or zooming in closer. 

If you do enable these hidden options in Build 26231, keep in mind that there could still be bugs, as this is all still in testing (and early testing for that matter). We expect that issues will be ironed out when it comes to the final version of the feature, naturally. 

A laptop with the Windows 11 desktop on screen, glowing, while on a work desk

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Ham patipak)

A solid but unexciting addition to Windows 11

This seems a solid enough feature on the face of it, but I can’t say it particularly excites me as a Windows 11 user. Furthermore, I can foresee some people possibly getting annoyed that Microsoft is pushing AI into yet another corner of Windows 11 where it’s not necessarily improving things. It’s a neat enough demonstration of AI-assisted capabilities, but a niche thing really, and I don’t see how it improves Windows 11’s quality-of-life experience for users at its core. 

Other changes that have arrived in this preview build include a new Copy button in Windows Share that lets you copy files to the clipboard more easily, along with the auto-saving of captured recordings in the Windows 11 Snipping Tool. As you’d expect, there are a bunch of bug fixes for existing issues here, too.

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WhatsApp working on a way to stop users from screenshotting your profile pic

Meta may be releasing yet another layer of privacy protection to WhatsApp that will prevent people from taking screenshots of your profile photo on the service.

This upcoming feature was discovered in the most recent WhatsApp beta on Android by WABetaInfo. It'll be housed within the Privacy section of the Settings menu, according to tomsguide.  Having access to the blocking tool, they attempted to take a screenshot of a profile picture however they were prevented from doing so. The publication was met with a notification at the bottom of the screen stating they couldn’t take a screenshot “due to app restrictions”. 

As explained in the report, WhatApp introduced the option to stop users from saving “others’ profile photos” about five years ago. It was supposed to prevent bad actors from sharing images without the owner’s consent; however, screenshotting completely bypasses this. WABetaInfo argues that directly blocking the ability to screenshot allows WhatsApp to further reinforce “the concept of user privacy and consent” on its service. It seemingly doesn’t want said bad actors to utilize people’s photographs for scams, impersonations, or harassment.

Analysis: A small, yet important issue

Now you may be wondering, “Is taking unauthorized screenshots of a WhatsApp profile picture really that big of an issue?” 

Well, based on the brief research we did, it seems screenshotting profile photos isn’t a major problem plaguing the user base, but it is an anxiety held by a small group. We’ve seen multiple posts on Reddit of people voicing their concern over this issue. Someone on the Privacy subreddit even asked if it was possible to find out who screenshotted their WhatApp profile pic.

We also found an interesting post on Medium by writer Bilge Tekin who proposed the concept of a Screenshot Restriction feature for WhatsApp back in 2021. Tekin’s idea took it a step further by preventing screenshotting in chat rooms. When he had people try out his idea, it seemed the testers liked having the option to restrict others from sharing private conversations. 

Granted, none of these examples come from a Meta-financed scientific study or an official poll. There haven't been any large-scale studies delving into this phenomenon as far as we can tell. But at the very least, it could give WhatsApp an edge over rivals by appealing to this niche subset of the user base. Neither Telegram nor Signal have a feature like this. Plus, having the option doesn't hurt.

If you’re interested in trying out the new tool, you’ll first need to join the Google Program Beta Program and then install the beta version of WhatsApp. The blocking update may not be available to you as only a select group currently has access, but WABetaInfo states it will be rolling out to more users over the coming weeks.

While we have you, be sure to join TechRadar’s own WhatsApp channel to get our latest reviews right on your phone.

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Microsoft Teams will now show people your LinkedIn profile

Microsoft is looking to bring two of its most successful software offerings in recent months closer together with another significant update to its video conferencing platform.

The company has announced it is working on a new feature that will allow LinkedIn profiles to be displayed in Microsoft Teams.

The information will be displayed in personal chats, meaning colleagues can find out more about their co-workers, say when planning for a project or looking to help with onboarding.

Microsoft Teams LinkedIn

The official entry in the Microsoft 365 roadmap notes that the change will allow users to see LinkedIn profiles of their colleagues in 1:1 chats only to begin with. Users will be able to view information on a person's profile via the LinkedIn tab in the 1:1 chat panel.

The update is still currently in development, with Microsoft projecting a March 2022 release date at the moment. The tool is also noted as being generally available to all global users across Microsoft Teams web and desktop versions.

Microsoft bought LinkedIn back in 2016 for around $ 26.2 billion as it looked to get a foothold in the social media space. The move has so far proved successful, with Microsoft's most recent financial results showing that Productivity and Businesses Processes, which includes Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn, was up 19% YoY to $ 15.9 billion.

However, the site has struggled to break into the potentially-lucrative Chinese market, with Microsoft forced to launch InCareer, a completely new app solely for Chinese users after being forced to withdraw its standard offering.

Elsewhere, however, LinkedIn appears to be enjoying strong growth in other markets, with Microsoft recently announcing the launch of its worldwide Services Marketplace for freelancers and adding a Hindi option, opening the service up to over 600 million speakers globally.  

Microsoft Teams continues to go from strength to strength, with the latest figures from the company showing that the service now boasts over 270 million monthly active users (MAUs). 

Recent data collected by software firm StarLeaf found almost all (97%) businesses say that tools such as Zoom, Webex and Teams are now essential to their operations.

More than half (57%) of the 2,000 UK-based respondents claim their company would not be able to operate for more than an hour without access to their communications tools, while 27% admitted they would struggle to function for even 30 minutes.

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