The 8 best games in the Meta Quest April Mega Sale that you should buy right now

If you're looking to add some new titles to your Meta Quest 3 library then look no further than the Meta Quest April Mega Sale.

From now until April 28 at 11:59 PM PT (April 29 at 07:59 AM BST) you can pick up a whole host of VR games and apps at a bargain price. There are lots of fantastic option to choose from, but I've selected eight deals worth considering.

If you want to find more suggestions you can check out our best VR games list.

Walkabout Mini Golf

If I’m doing a VR game roundup, I’m going to include Walkabout Mini Golf because it’s without a doubt my favorite VR experience. I think you should buy this game at full price so while it’s discounted it’s a no-brainer.

The courses are varied and gorgeous, the mechanics feel true to life, and it offers a superb multiplier experience to boot. But honestly just stop reading this and go buy it if you haven’t already (then come back and keep reading for more suggestions).

Dungeons Of Eternity

Dungeons of Eternity is an action-packed dungeon crawler with an addictive combination of excellent physics-based combat with a satisfying gameplay loop that has you exploring, well, dungeons filled with monsters.

What really takes this game up a level is its multiplayer mode. Just grab a few friends and you can tackle the hordes of terrors together – and you might get a little fitter in the process as this was one of a personal trainer's recommended VR titles for people looking to try VR fitness.

What's even better is that this is a big discount, so it's a great time to finally try Dungeons of Eternity if you haven't already.

The Last Clockwinder

This VR puzzle game is my favorite for people after a more serious experience – combining an intriguing tale of mystery with a host of engaging mechanics.

Your goal is to restore the Clocktower’s gardens to grow different fruits using a small army of robots that mimic your movements – all while you search for the missing Clockwinder. Simply record an action and an automaton will spawn to recreate what you did on a loop; by chaining these robots you’ll create complex sequences to solve the various puzzles in your way.

What makes The Last Clockwinder fun for puzzle fans like myself is that while each mission can be completed using as many robots as you can spawn, there are in-game challenges and rewards encouraging you to be as efficient as possible. 

This means novices can always find a solution, but experts will have a real challenge finding an optimal solution – which often requires precise movements and out-of-the-box thinking.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

This VR multiplayer game is a perfect choice for people who want to enjoy VR together but only have one headset. 

One player – the person in VR – can see a complex bomb with various puzzle modules that must be solved in order to deactivate it. The other player (or players) can see a complex manual – much of which may be irrelevant to the virtual bomb you’re trying to defuse. By working together the duo must defuse the explosive before a timer runs out or making too many mistakes.

It’s chaotic, it’s fun, and right now it’s on sale for a great price.

I Expect You To Die Collection

If you’ve ever wanted to be James Bond – though at times you may feel more like Austin Powers – then this virtual escape room series is what you need. Brimming with all the spy tropes under the sun (complete with kickass theme songs I have in my playlist) this game series is an absolute delight to play through – it’s one of those VR games everyone should play.

This double pack includes the first and second games at a discounted price, but if you already own one or both you can pick up all three games in the series individually for a lower-than-normal price:

The Light Brigade

This VR shooter roguelike has you fighting through a dark world of corrupted soldiers and monsters. If you fail – and you will – you can retry your mission but be careful as the dungeon you’re adventuring through will have a different layout every time you enter.

The Light Brigade is adrenaline-inducing in all the right ways, with semi-realistic World War I-era weapons to handle, a diverse range of formidable foes, and a great selection of classes you can switch between – each with a unique style of gameplay. As you progress, you can upgrade your soldier’s abilities to make future runs a little easier.

I adore The Light Brigade – every time I boot it up I binge it for hours on end – and at this price, it’s a certified must-play.

Among Us VR

I love social deduction games – be they board games like Secret Hitler and Coup, or video games like Town of Salem and Among Us – and this VR version is an absolute riot.

The first-person perspective and proximity chat make the experience feel way more immersive (read: it’s a lot scarier being a crewmate), and meetings are a lot more engaging compared to using the flat game’s text-chat option – though chat-only VR lobbies are available.

For only $ 7.49 / £5.99 Among Us VR is a steal that you should definitely pick up.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus

This is the only game on this list I haven’t played – ignoring an early-access demo I tried when I first gave the Meta Quest 3 a whirl – but I’ve heard great things about it and it’s been on my to-play list for some time.

Nexus lets you play as the series’ most iconic Assassins in VR recreations of iconic locations from the original games. I’ve been told that at times it can be a little janky, but the combat and parkour experience are good enough for it to stick the landing on helping you live out your dream of joining the Brotherhood.

This isn’t the biggest discount in the world, but considering this is a pricey game to begin with we’ll take any discount we can get.

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Microsoft pinches one of the best macOS features for Windows 11 – here are three other ideas it should steal from Apple

It looks like Windows 11 could be getting a new device management feature that will seem a bit familiar to anyone who has ever used Apple’s rival macOS Sonoma operating system for Macs and MacBooks.

As MSPoweruser reports, an early build of an upcoming Windows 11 update adds a new ‘Linked devices’ window within the Settings app, giving users an overview of all the devices, such as laptops and Xbox consoles, that are signed into their Microsoft account.

From that window, it looks like users will then be able to manage each device from a single screen.

Apple-like convenience

You may be surprised how many devices you’ve linked to your Microsoft account, especially if you have several laptops. Signing in to your smartphone and connecting it to your Windows 11 device via the handy Phone Link app and using your Microsoft account to sign up to other services could also mean your ‘Linked devices’ list is actually longer than you might have expected.

It's always important to keep track of the devices you sign into – especially if you are planning on selling or giving away a device. Currently, there’s no easy way to see all the devices signed into your Microsoft account in Windows 11 – instead you need to go to the Microsoft account website. It’s not the most intuitive website, and having this information displayed in a much clearer way within Windows 11 is a good move in my view. However, as MSPoweruser points out, at the moment some tasks you want to perform with the devices will still need to be done through the website.

It's (very) early days with this feature, however, as it is currently only available with the beta build 22635.3495, which is only available to people signed up to the Windows 11 Insiders program. By the time this feature rolls out to all Windows 11 users, more tasks should hopefully be integrated directly into Windows, rather than having to go to the website.

This addition adds a level of Apple-like convenience to Windows 11 – something the operating system often lacks. As I’ve said many times before, Windows 11 can sometimes feel like a jumbled mess of new and legacy operating systems – and that means it fails to offer a coherent experience.

Meanwhile, Apple’s macOS certainly isn’t perfect, but it does integrate your various devices much better than Windows 11. Of course, Apple being Apple, this works best if all your other devices are Apple products as well, and due to the huge range of manufacturers who make Windows 11 products, Microsoft hasn’t got this luxury.

This new feature, however, is certainly welcome and brings Windows 11 a step closer to the kind of easy device management that Apple is known for. If Microsoft has indeed taken inspiration from its archnemesis, then I’m certainly not complaining. In fact, here are some other Apple features I wouldn’t mind Microsoft copying:

1. Make the Start menu more like the Launchpad

Windows 11 Start menu

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Now, a few years ago the idea that I might one day suggest that Microsoft change the iconic Windows Start menu to be more like the Launchpad of macOS would have been laughable. Since its debut in Windows 95, I’ve always preferred the start menu – it was easy to find the app you wanted to launch, and it confined to the bottom-left-hand corner of the screen, it didn’t feel intrusive, unlike the full-screen Launchpad.

In fact, when Microsoft dropped the Start menu in Windows 8 for a much more Launchpad-like fullscreen Start screen, I – like many other Windows users – was horrified.

However, while the Start menu has returned in Windows 10 and Windows 11, Microsoft has seemingly done its hardest to make me avoid the once-essential part of the operating system.

Stuffing apps and widgets that I don’t want or use into the Start menu makes it harder to find what I actually want – and it looks like it’s set to get worse as Microsoft is apparently considering putting adverts for suggested Microsoft Store apps into the ‘Recommended’ section of the Start menu.

macOS launchpad

(Image credit: Apple)

More unnecessary bloat means it’s harder to find the apps I actually want to use, and ironically it means I open up the Start menu less and less these days. The fact that in Windows 11 the Start menu now pops up right in the middle of my desktop means it can feel just as obnoxious as Launchpad (unless I change the settings to put the Start menu back in the left-hand corner).

It’s got to the point where I prefer using Launchpad. Sure, I still don’t like that it takes over my entire screen, but there are no adverts, notifications to try more services, and few pre-installed apps in there. Instead, it just shows me the apps I have installed, letting me find and open them up quickly.

2. Make the Taskbar more like the Dock

Windows 11 2022 Update taskbar

(Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

This is another suggestion I can hardly believe I’m making in 2024, but the sad fact is that despite the macOS Dock coming after the Windows Taskbar set the… er… bar… Microsoft’s tinkering has ended up making Windows 11’s version of the Taskbar a lot less useful.

At first glance, the centering of the app icons suggests that Microsoft has already taken inspiration from the macOS Dock – but if that’s the case, then it’s learned the wrong lesson.

The macOS Dock is a more elegant solution to quickly opening up your favorite apps, while also switching between open windows – but not because it sits at the centre of your screen. As with the Launchpad, the Dock is mercifully free from clutter, while the Taskbar can look cluttered by comparison.

By default, as well as icons for your apps, the Windows 11 Taskbar also shows the Search bar (which often features graphics), weather warning, notifications, and the new Copilot icon, many of which I never use.

macOS sonoma

(Image credit: Future)

Also, while the Dock sits in the center of the screen, the Taskbar stretches across the entire screen, and while the app icons and Start menu appear in the center, the weather icons appear on the far left, while notifications, time and date, Copilot and volume controls are shoved to opposite side. This means the Taskbar in Windows 11 feels cluttered, whilst also having lots of wasted space.

Worst of all, Microsoft has dropped a lot of functionality from the Windows 11 Taskbar compared to previous versions of Windows – including the ability to drag and drop apps onto the Taskbar to pin them so they always appear there, or to drag and drop files onto an app’s Taskbar icon to open up the file in the app.

It’s a curious move that has perplexed a lot of Windows 11 users, and I would like Microsoft to take inspiration from both macOS and past versions of Windows to create a modern Taskbar that’s elegant, powerful, and simple to use.

3. Make Microsoft Store more like the App Store (that is, make it more useful)

Microsoft Store

(Image credit: Microsoft)

This last point is probably one that Microsoft would love, but ever since the introduction of the Windows Store with Windows 8, the company has struggled to make a case for what is now called the Microsoft Store.

Much like the App Store in macOS, the Microsoft Store offers a way to find and install apps. It should be easy and safe (as all apps in the store are tested to ensure they don’t include malware) – yet while the App Store in macOS feels like a useful, maybe even essential, part of the operating system, the Microsoft Store is easily ignored.

Microsoft must look at the money Apple rakes in through the App Store with seething jealousy. So what can Microsoft learn from Apple’s implementation?

For a start, the App Store looks cleaner and feels more curated. The Microsoft Store certainly looks better than in the past, but it’s still not the easiest when it comes to finding things you want (there’s a bit of a theme developing here). It also feels slow and laggy compared to the App Store.

App Store data collection

(Image credit: Apple)

Microsoft has also struggled to get developers to make bespoke versions of their applications for the Microsoft Store, which means it feels a bit sparser than the App Store. It also means that some versions of apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store lack the features of the same app downloaded from a website. It also leads to strange inconsistencies, such as the app being a paid-for app in the Microsoft Store – but it’s free to download from the official website.

Probably the biggest problem for Microsoft when it comes to this is that the App Store has been such an integral part of macOS for so long that users think nothing of using it to install new apps. They will also trust Apple’s recommendations for new apps.

Microsoft doesn’t have that kind of reverence from its users, and Windows users have mainly grown up with using the internet to find and download applications, preferring the freedom of picking where to download the app from, and where to install it – even if it brings certain risks.

It’s hard to see how Microsoft can change a lot of that, but by making the Microsoft Store more useful, easier to navigate and with a much wider app selection, it could help make it more popular with its customers.

Apple – and macOS – is far from perfect, and there are lots of things that Windows 11 does better than macOS, but if Microsoft is in the mood for taking tips from its fruit-themed competitor, the above suggestions would be very welcome indeed.

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Should you upgrade to Google One AI Premium? Its AI features and pricing explained

Google has been busy revamping its AI offerings, renaming Bard to Gemini, pushing out a dedicated Android app, and lots more besides. There's also now a paid tier for Google's generative AI engine for the first time, which means another digital subscription for you to weigh up.

You can read our Google Gemini explained explainer for a broad overview of Google's AI tools. But here we'll be breaking down the Google Gemini Advanced features that come as part of the new Google One AI Premium tier. 

We'll be exploring how much this new cloud tier costs, plus all the AI features and benefits it brings, so you can decide whether or not you'd like to sign up. It's been added as one of the Google One plans, so you get some digital storage in the cloud included, too. Here's how Google One AI Premium is shaping up so far…

Google One AI Premium: price and availability

The Google One AI Premium plan is available to buy now and will cost you $ 19.99 / £18.99 / AU$ 32.99 a month. Unlike some other Google One plans, you can't pay annually to get a discount on the overall price, but you can cancel whenever you like.

At the time of writing, Google is offering free two-month trials of Google One AI Premium, so you won't have to pay anything for the first two months. You can sign up and compare plans on the Google One site.

Google One AI Premium: features and benefits

First of all, you get 2TB of storage to use across your Google services: Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. If you've been hitting the limits of the free storage plan – a measly 15GB – then that's another reason to upgrade.

You'll notice a variety of other Google One plans are available, offering storage from 2TB to 30TB, but it's only the Google One AI Premium plan that comes with all of the Gemini Advanced features.

Besides the actual storage space, all Google One plans include priority support, 10% back in the Google Store, extra Google Photos editing features (including Magic Eraser), a dark web monitoring service that'll look for any leaks of your personal information, and use of the Google One VPN.

Google Gemini Advanced on the web

Google Gemini Advanced on the web (Image credit: Google)

It's the AI features that you're here for though, and the key part of Google One AI Premium is that you get access to Gemini Advanced: that means the “most capable” version of Google's Gemini model, known as Ultra 1.0. You can think of it a bit like paying for ChatGPT Plus compared to sticking on the free ChatGPT plan.

Google describes Gemini Ultra 1.0 as offering “state-of-the-art performance” that's capable of handling “highly complex tasks” – tasks that can involve text, images, and code. Longer conversations are possible with Gemini Advanced, and it understands context better too. If you want the most powerful AI that Google has to offer, this is it.

Google Gemini app

A premium subscription will supercharge the Gemini app (Image credit: Google)

“The largest model Ultra 1.0 is the first to outperform human experts on MMLU (massive multitask language understanding), which uses a combination of 57 subjects — including math, physics, history, law, medicine and ethics — to test knowledge and problem-solving abilities,” writes Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The dedicated Google Gemini app for Android, and the Gemini features built into the Google app for iOS, are available to everyone, whether they pay for a subscription or not – and it's the same with the web interface. However, if you're on the premium plan, you'll get the superior Ultra 1.0 model in all these places.

By the way, a standard 2TB Google One plan – with everything from the photo editing tricks to the VPN, but without the AI – will cost you $ 9.99 / £7.99 / AU$ 19.99 a month, so you're effectively paying $ 10 / £11 / AU$ 13 for Gemini Advanced.

A laptop on an orange background showing Gmail with Google Gemini

An example of Google Gemini in Gmail (Image credit: Google)

Gemini integration with Google's productivity apps – including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Meet, and Google Slides – is going to be “available soon”, Google says, and when it does become available, you'll get it as part of a Google One AI Premium plan. It'll give you help in composing your emails, designing your slideshows, and so on.

This is a rebranding of the Duet AI features that Google has previously rolled out for users of its apps, and it's now known as Gemini for Workspace. Whether you're an individual or a business user though, you'll be able to get these integrated AI tools if you sign up for the Google One AI Premium plan.

So there you have it: beyond the standard 2TB Google One plan, the main takeaway is that you get access to the latest and greatest Gemini AI features from Google, and the company is promising that there will be plenty more on the way in the future, too.

Google One AI Premium early verdict

On one hand, Google's free two-month trial of the One AI Premium Plan (which contains Gemini Advanced) feels like a no-brainer for those who want to tinker with some of the most powerful AI tools available right now. As long as you're fairly disciplined about canceling unwanted free trials, of course.

But it's also still very early days for Gemini Advanced. We haven't yet been able to put it through its paces or compare it to the likes of ChatGPT Plus. Its integration with Google's productivity apps is also only “available soon”, so it's not yet clear when that will happen.

The Google Gemini logo on a laptop screen that's on an orange background

(Image credit: Google)

If you want to deep dive into the performance of Google's latest AI models – including Gemini Advanced – you can read the company's Gemini benchmarking report. Some lucky testers like AI professor Ethan Mollick have also been tinkering with Gemini Advanced for some time after getting advanced access.

The early impressions seem to be that Gemini Advanced is shaping up to be a GPT-4 class AI contender that's capable of competing with ChatGPT Plus for demanding tasks like coding and advanced problem-solving. It also promises to integrate nicely with Google's apps. How well it does that in reality is something we'll have to wait a little while to find out, but that free trial is there for early adopters who want to dive straight in.

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Windows 11 users should fire up Paint now to check out this superb new AI-based feature

Windows 11 users are getting the Paint app bolstered with a really smart addition on the AI front.

This is the introduction of Dall-E 3 support to Paint, or as it’s known in the app, Cocreator.

If you’ve seen the feature in Bing AI, it’s a top-notch image creation feature. Basically, you can tell Cocreator what you want and it’ll make an image based on your description (and specified art style).

As we’ve already seen with Bing AI, it’s easy to use and provides powerful results, so much so that when first rolled out with Bing Chat (now renamed as Copilot), there was a massive rush to use the image generation capability – and a whole lot of buzz around how good it is. (With a few wobbles along the way, mind, but that’s par for the course for AI in many respects).

Windows Latest reports that Cocreator in Paint is now rolling out to all Windows 11 users, so it has left the testing phase (where it was first spotted back in September, before making it to the Release Preview build at the end of October).

There’s a short tutorial to introduce the feature to help beginners understand what it’s all about, too.

Analysis: Not got Cocreator yet? You will have it soon

Not everyone will see the Cocreator feature right now, as the rollout will take a little time. Also, you need to ensure that you’re running the latest version of Paint (so update the app), and if Microsoft asks you to sign up to the waiting list for the feature (in the app), make sure that you do this.

Paint has been fleshed out considerably this year, not just with the addition of this AI-based feature, but also with a transparency effect, and moreover, layers, a much-requested piece of functionality that was added recently. Not to mention background removal which does what it says on the tin, quickly and with no fuss (the Photos app also got this recently, as well as a background blur option to boot).

The improvements for Microsoft’s core Windows 11 apps keep coming, as well as the ditching of some of the chaff in this department too, which is equally welcome.

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Google Bard content should be fact-checked, recommends current Google VP

If you need any more reason to be skeptical of generative AI, look no further than a recent BBC interview with Debbie Weinstein, Vice President of Google UK. She recommends people use Google Search to fact-check content generated by the Bard AI.

Weinstein says in the interview that Bard should be considered more of an “experiment” better suited for “collaboration around problem solving” and “creating new ideas”. It seems like Google didn’t really intend for the AI to be used as a resource for “specific information”. Besides fact-checking any information offered by Bard, she suggests using the thumbs up and thumbs down buttons at the bottom of generated content to give feedback to improve the chatbot. As the BBC points out, Bard’s homepage states “it has limitations and won’t always get it right, but doesn’t repeat Ms. Weinstein’s advice” to double-check results via Google Search.

On one hand, Debbie Weinstein is giving some sound advice. Generative AIs have a massive problem when it comes to getting things right. They hallucinate, meaning that a chatbot may come up with totally false information when generating text that fits a prompt. This issue has even gotten two lawyers from New York in trouble as they used ChatGPT in a case and presenting “fictitious legal research” that the AI cited.

So it's certainly not a bad idea to double-check whatever Bard says. However, considering these comments are coming from a vice president of the company, it's a little concerning.

Analysis: So, what's the point?

The thing is Bard is essentially a fancy search engine. One of its main function is be “a launchpad for curiosity”; a resource for factual information. The main difference between Bard and Google Search is the former is relatively easier to use. It's a lot more conversational, plus the AI offers important context. Whether Google likes it or not, people are going to be using Bard for looking up stuff. 

What’s particularly strange about Weinstein’s comments is it contradicts with the company's plans for Bard. During I/O 2023, we saw all the different ways the AI model could enhance Google Search from providing in-depth results on a topic to even creating a fitness plan. Both of these use cases and more require factual information to work. Is Weinstein saying this update is all for naught since it uses Google's AI tech?

While it's just one person from Google asserting this on the record (so far), she is a vice president at Google. If you’re not supposed to use the chatbot for important information, then why is  it being added to the search engine as way to further enhance? Why implement something that's apparently untrustworthy?

It’s a strange statement; one that we hope is not echoed throughout the company. Generative AI is here to stay after all, and it’s important that we trust it to output accurate information. We reached out to the tech giant for comment. This story will be updated at a later time.

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Windows 11 should soon get a lot more Android apps (but there’s no sign of Threads yet)

Windows 11 is about to get a lot more Android apps, or at least a fair few, as Microsoft and Amazon have opened up the floodgates to all developers who wish to get their mobile applications onto the desktop operating system.

As you’re likely aware, the way Android apps are run on Windows 11 is through WSA (Windows Subsystem for Android), and the app themselves are downloaded from the Amazon Appstore.

And Amazon has just announced to developers that the Appstore on Windows 11 is “now generally available”, meaning that anyone can now get on board and get their apps out there for Windows 11 users to download.

Amazon enthused: “We look forward to many more Android apps and games launching on Amazon Appstore for Windows 11.”

Don’t expect an immediate flood of additional apps for Windows 11, mind you, as bolstering the Appstore library is very much a process that’ll take time.

Analysis: A positive step forward, but manage those expectations

The Appstore is now available across 30 regions worldwide, too, so is becoming a pretty expansive market.

That said, far from all of the best Android apps (or the worst ones, for that matter) are downloadable via the Appstore, so it remains a considerably limited ecosystem in comparison to the Play Store. But it’s still definitely way better than having no Android apps on your Windows 11 desktop at all.

Perhaps a good example right now is the new Android (and iOS) app making big waves as folks flee Twitter for a new home, namely Threads. Zuckerberg’s Threads is not available on the Amazon Appstore yet, mind you, although to be fair, it has only just come out (you can read up more about it here).

We’re expecting it soon enough, but for now, those who want to use Threads on their Windows 11 desktop can circumvent the Windows Subsystem for Android by side-loading the app (not an officially sanctioned method, and not something for those who aren’t tech-savvy to attempt either, as you need to go into developer mode).

Via Windows Latest

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Google Lens and Bard are an AI tag team that ChatGPT should fear

Google Lens has long been a powerful party trick for anyone who needs to identify a flower or translate their restaurant menu, but it's about to jump to the next level with some Bard integration that's rolling out “in the coming weeks”.

Google teased its tag-team pairing of Lens and Bard at Google IO 2023, but it's now given us an update on how the combo will work and when it's coming. In a new blog post, Google says that within weeks you'll be able to “include images in your Bard prompts and Lens will work behind the scenes to help Bard make sense of what’s being shown”.

The example that Google has shared is a shopping-based one. If you have a photo of a new pair of shoes that you've been eyeing up for a vacation, you can ask Bard what they're called and, unlike standard Lens, start grilling Bard for ideas on how you should style the new shoes.

Naturally, the Lens-Bard combo will be able to do more than just offer shopping advice, with huge potential for travel advice, education, and more. For example, imagine being able to ask a Lens-powered Bard to not only name a holiday landmark but build you a good day trip itinerary around it.

This isn't the end of Google Lens' new tricks, either. It's also tentatively jumping into the health space with a new feature that helps you identify any skin conditions that have been nagging you (below). To use the new feature, Google says you can “just take a picture or upload a photo through Lens, and you’ll find visual matches to inform your search”. 

It can apparently also help identify other nagging issues like “a bump on your lip, a line on your nails, or hair loss on your head”. Naturally, these won't be proper diagnoses of conditions, but they could be a start of a conversation with your doctor. 

If you aren't familiar with Google Lens, it's pretty easy to find on Android – it'll either be built into your camera app or you can just download the standalone Lens app from the App Store. On iPhone, you'll find Lens within the official Google app instead.

Next-gen Lens

A phone screen on an orange background showing a Google Lens search for a skin condition

(Image credit: Google)

The budding Google Lens and Bard partnership could be a match made in search heaven, given that Lens is the most powerful visual search tool around and Bard is improving by the week. And that combo could be a powerful alternative to ChatGPT.

ChatGPT itself has basic image recognition powers and Microsoft did recently bring AI-powered image recognition to its Bing search engine. But the integration of the two isn't quite as powerful as the incoming Lens-Bard integration, at least from what we've seen from Google's demos.

Unfortunately, Google's extreme tentativeness around Bard (which is still labeled an 'experiment') means we might not see its full potential for a while. For example, the huge potential power of this Lens and Bard combination will be limited by the fact that there's still no Google Bard mobile app.

Google could change its stance in the future, but right now we're limited to using Bard in our web browsers – and that's far less convenient for visual search than scanning the world with a smartphone and its built-in camera.

So while the integration of powerful Google apps like Lens with Bard has massive potential for how we search the world for info, ChatGPT will rest a little safer in the knowledge that Google is taking a glacial approach to unleashing its full AI-powered potential.

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Windows 11 lost users this month – should Microsoft be worried?

Windows 11 has slipped with its market share over the last month, at least going by a report from one analytics firm.

According to Statcounter’s figures for May, Windows 11 fell to a market share of 22.95% (across all Windows versions). That’s only a touch lower than April, during which Windows 11 stood at 23.11% – but it’s a real surprise to see Windows 11 effectively stall at this point (we’ll discuss why shortly).

Windows 10 rose very slightly to hit 71.9%, and it remains by far the most dominant version of Windows, even though Windows 11 has been around for a year and a half now.

Microsoft’s newest operating system has made slow progress, and particularly with this latest small stumble, that must be something of a concern for the company.

Elsewhere in the stats, Windows 7 remains fairly static on 3.6%, and Windows 8 versions amount to 1.09%.

Windows XP, believe it or not, still has users out there, holding a 0.32% niche market share. (There are reasons some might be forced to use Windows XP, as we chewed over recently – that said, though, if you are running the ancient OS, you really should be keeping it fully offline for obvious reasons).

Analysis: Trouble ahead for Microsoft?

The reason why Windows 11 slipping slightly for adoption is so surprising is because recently the operating system has been taking some sizeable strides forward (with Statcounter’s figures for earlier this year).

Now, granted, some of that was due to Windows 7 finishing its extended support period, meaning a bunch of users were then forced to migrate – initially more to Windows 10 than 11, but both platforms saw a boost.

However, even after Windows 7’s userbase settled at its new lower level (just under 4%), where it’s been for a few months now, Windows 11 has been up by a significant market share over the last two months – about 2% for both March and April in fact.

This led us to believe that the OS was having something of a surge, and would finally start making serious headway towards that 30% mark – but now, in May’s figures, we see Windows 11 having stalled.

Why might that be? The irony is that Microsoft announced the end of feature updates for Windows 10 at the close of April, a move that was clearly designed to persuade folks to migrate to Windows 11 (if they want any new features at all – except for minor tweaks). And yet during May, Windows 11 has suddenly floundered compared to the rest of 2023.

Is that an element of pushback, people digging their heels in – rather like our reaction to the end of feature updates for Windows 10? Perhaps there’s a touch of that here.

Windows 11

(Image credit: Unsplash)

More likely, though, this could be bound up in faltering laptop sales, with fewer new pieces of hardware being sold – cost of living crisis, and all – resulting in less progress for Windows 11, maybe? That’s certainly a compelling possibility, as the current PC slump is being seen to hit some laptop makers hard (in the consumer and business arenas).

It’s possible, too, that we could be starting to hit a wall in terms of the number of PCs that are actually capable of being upgraded to Windows 11 (at least without changes to meet the more stringent hardware requirements, like adding a TPM module – and folks may not want to be bothered with that kind of hassle). Combined with lower sales of new PCs, this could be a recipe for a poor outlook, at least in the shorter-term, for Microsoft.

That said, all this theorizing aside, we shouldn’t get carried away with one month, and a single set of figures, from one analyst firm. Let’s keep an eye on Statcounter next month, and if Windows 11 once again flails around, then it’ll be time for Microsoft to be concerned about how its new OS is being received. After all, with the recent announcement of the Copilot AI – and killing off Cortana in Windows 10 (where it won’t have Copilot as a replacement) – Microsoft will doubtless be expecting to generate more footfall of users heading towards Windows 11.

If not, then Windows 11 is likely to have a tough time of things until we get closer to the end for Windows 10 starting to come into view (2025). Either that, or the current PC sales slump starts to ease off…

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ChatGPT lands on the Apple Watch and Siri should be worried

Just a few months after its integration into Bing, ChatGPT has made the leap to iOS as a third-party app exclusively for the Apple Watch.

It’s called Petey – AI Assistant and it was created by developer Hidde van de Ploeg (listed as Modum B.V. on the App Store). Originally, it was known as watchGPT, but due to trademarking issues with the acronym “GPT”, the name had to be changed. Looking at a demo video posted by the developer on Twitter, Petey functions similarly to Siri. You open the app, ask it a question and it answers in just a few seconds via Text to Speech. To continue an inquiry, you swipe down on the watch face, then tap Reply. Unlike Apple’s own Siri, Petey as an assistant can provide fairly complex answers like giving steps on how to catch a fish.

One of the problems with voice assistants like Siri is that they are fairly rigid in what they can do. You have to ask those AIs specific questions in a certain manner to get a response. ChatGPT, on the other hand, is more flexible in what it can do, from writing business letters to even drafting Christmas stories. It’s hard to say exactly how capable Petey is, but at the very least, it appears you won’t have to struggle with it as much.

A work in progress

Petey is a work in progress as new features are constantly being added. Right now you have a handful to work with. For starters, you can share the responses with other people “via text, email, or social media” although the App Store listing doesn’t specify which ones.

The app can be set as a complication on the Apple Watch’s face for quick access. Support for multiple languages is growing as well, bringing the total to 14.  Petey now supports German, Italian, and Japanese, just to name a few. Also if you prefer, Petey comes with a tiny, on-screen keyboard so you can type in your questions. You’re probably better off using your voice.

As for future updates, there are several things in the works. From what is known, van der Ploeg is working on adding a History tool so you can go back to a previous question, making vocal inputs the default setting, and improving the app’s overall performance so you can ask it multiple questions.

There are a couple of caveats, however. One: the app isn’t free as you’ll have to purchase it for $ 4.99 (about £4, over $ 7 AUD, and almost €5) on the App Store. To use Petey, you must have an Apple Watch running on watchOS 9 or up. So make sure you update your device if you haven't already. We should mention the software does not collect user data so rest assured, your privacy is safe.

Users with an Android smartwatch will be out of luck, unfortunately. When asked about a potential Android version, van der Ploeg said there won't be one as his “skillset wouldn't allow [for] that”.

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