Windows 11 gets a bunch of small but useful changes – including something nifty for Notepad

Microsoft has pushed out a new preview build for Windows 11, and made some useful changes in the earliest development channel – plus the company has applied some nifty tweaks for default apps in testing, too.

Let’s start with the freshly deployed preview build 25941 in the Canary channel, which introduces a toggle to turn on dynamic refresh rate (in Advanced Display settings). This allows Windows 11 to adjust the refresh rate of the screen on-the-fly, so when you don’t need to be running at the display’s maximum refresh, it can be toned down, thus saving a bit of power with your high refresh rate display.

Another related tweak is that when choosing a refresh rate, Windows 11 will now mark rates (with an asterisk) that can’t currently be selected due to the resolution you’re running at (but could be used at a different resolution).

Build 25941 also has a raft of bug fixes as detailed in Microsoft’s blog post introducing this new preview version.

Elsewhere in testing, Microsoft has rolled out updates for the Snipping Tool and Notepad apps in Windows 11 (for Canary and also Dev channel testers).

With the Snipping Tool, users now get the benefit of a ‘combined capture bar,’ a panel that easily allows you to switch between capturing screenshots and video clips. And with those videos, screen recording has been bolstered so you can record the PC audio and a voiceover using a microphone should you wish.

As for Notepad, this is getting an auto-save feature. Anything you write will be saved, and sessions will be saved when you close Notepad, coming back up when you next start the app.


Analysis: Small tweaks with bigger results

Dynamic refresh rate is a neat feature to see arrive in Canary (it was previously in Dev channel, too), and hopefully this will be inbound for beta builds before too long, and shuffling its way through to the release version of Windows 11.

It’s going to be of considerable benefit to laptop owners, as the energy savings to be made by lowering the refresh rate (where possible – such as when you have a screenful of text you’re reading, which really doesn’t require any smoothness) will add up to longer battery life when out and about.

As for the beefed-up Snipping Tool, that’s a more streamlined experience, and the support for voiceovers will doubtless be welcomed by those knocking up, say, a quick help video on how to do something on the Windows 11 desktop.

It’s certainly useful to give Notepad auto-save – it’s a favorite app for some folks – for obvious reasons (and there’s the ability to switch it off, if you don’t want it). What’s also cool about this is that you don’t have to engage with any dialog boxes (such as confirming ‘Do you want to save?’). Notepad just keeps the content saved without prompting you when you close the app, bringing the text back when it’s reopened.

Via Neowin

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Windows 11 just got a pile of nifty new features – and something you might hate

Windows 11 just got a whole bunch of new features which are now available to all-comers.

As you may, or may not, realize, the Moment 3 update turned up in the Windows-verse quite some time back, but not everyone running Windows 11 was able to install the new functionality.

When Moment 3 was first made available, it wasn’t to all PCs – just those with the ‘Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available’ option turned on. And on top of that, the update remained a staggered rollout even among those selected users, with only some folks receiving it.

Now, though, following the release of Moment 3 features in preview late last month, the full upgrade – tested and complete – is now available to anyone who wants it.

Fall into that category? Then all you have to do is head to Windows Update and check for the latest updates, and you’ll get Microsoft’s freshly released patch (KB5028185) which enables Moment 3 features.


Analysis: Some cool functionality is here – and something unwanted too

Is Moment 3 worth having? We think so, as it brings some nifty additions to the mix for Windows 11. For starters, there’s a good deal of work on the accessibility front, with the help system for Voice Access commands being revamped to give users a much better understanding of how everything works, plus there are new commands too (for selecting and editing text). On top of that, Microsoft now supports more dialects for Voice Access and more languages for live captions.

Elsewhere, some important bits of the Windows 11 interface have also been improved, such as the Settings app, Task Manager, and widget board. We discuss these changes in more depth here.

Unfortunately, there’s a sting in the tail here with what Microsoft calls the expanded rollout of “notification badging for Microsoft accounts” on the Start menu. What does that mean? More folks – but still not everyone – will be receiving nag prompts on the Start menu to sign up for a Microsoft account (or to finish configuring their account).

We’ve been voicing our opposition to this move since Microsoft kicked off this badging scheme (which would be better named badgering, as we’ve noted in the past), but it seems the software giant is determined to push ahead with it for now. These are thinly disguised adverts by any other name, even if they are designed to ‘help’ the user as Microsoft argues.

Whatever the case, the odds of seeing these badges are increasing with the delivery of Moment 3, and the update is not something you can avoid, of course. (Windows 11 Home users can only postpone a cumulative update for a short time, as they are mandatory and will be automatically installed eventually).

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The Spotify HiFi dream is still alive, as platform plans to do something “unique” someday

No one can blame you if you've given up on Spotify HiFi ever becoming a thing. It’s been two years since the initial announcement. However, all hope is not lost as the streaming service recently confirmed that it’s still working on the high-res audio tier.

This news comes from Spotify co-president Gustav Söderström who sat down for an interview on TheVerge’s podcast, Decoder. Confirming HiFi’s existence was pretty much the only straight answer he gave as the rest of the responses were vague at best. According to Söderström, the reason why the tier is taking so long is that the “industry changed and [Spotify] had to adapt”, but doesn’t elaborate any further. He does hint at the cost of HiFi and deals with music labels as being two major factors to the delay, and again, doesn't elaborate any further.

Söderström goes on to say Spotify wants to do something “unique” with HiFi and not “unnecessarily commoditize” itself by “[doing] what everyone else does”. When asked about an expected launch date and support for spatial audio, Söderström remained tight-lipped. There will be a “Spotify HiFi lossless-type experience at some point” in the future, however, that’s all the co-president was willing to divulge.

Söderström’s comment on needing to adapt to a changing industry is arguably the most telling in that whole exchange because it’s emblematic of the company’s recent moves. Pinning the delay of Spotify HiFi on not wanting to copy other platforms is rather ironic if you think about it. For starters, the streaming service is currently rolling out a redesign for its mobile app taking clear inspiration from TikTok. It now sports a vertical discovery feed as a way to encourage people to check out the latest songs or popular podcasts. You even have Spotify incorporating tech from OpenAI in its new DJ feature to simulate a real-life radio DJ. While these additions are great and everything, do users really want the TikTok experience and generative AI? From what we’ve seen, not really.

It appears the platform is more interested in growing its media library over providing HiFi. Spotify has grown its podcast content exponentially alongside real-time transcriptions. Also, the audiobook feed has a new preview feature where users can listen to a book for five minutes before purchasing. All this and still no high-res audio, at least any time soon. We asked Spotify if it could tell us more about its HiFi tier – anything at all. This story will be updated at a later time.

If you want to get high-res audio, there’s a way to do it with the right set of devices. Be sure to check out TechRadar’s guide on how to buy into high-res audio without the high prices

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Need something for Valentine’s Day in a hurry? These apps could save the day

Before apps on your smartphone would be able to solve a dilemma without leaving your house, you would have had to see if the nearest store was open to try and save face.

But if you’ve left it too late in 2022 to find a perfect Valentine’s Day gift, we’re in a time where apps can come to the rescue.

This problem has soothed somewhat anyway, thanks in part to easier methods of sending gifts, such as greeting cards and flowers to appease your better half, without having to make a quick dash during your work break.

Of course, if you’re not with someone just yet, there are plenty of dating apps that can help you with that as well.

So, read on for our pick of the best apps on iOS that could make February 14 a Valentine’s Day to remember.

Temply

Temply on iOS

(Image credit: Temply)

Available on the App Store for free, but with a bunch of in-app purchases that range between £9.99 / $ 9.99 / AU$ 11.99 and £52.99 / $ 49.99 / AU$ 59.99, this app enables you to add some Valentine’s Day filters and themes for your Instagram Reels and Stories. This way, you can mark the day in style while being able to save the videos for future reference.

t’s not just limited to Instagram, either. As you can export these videos, you can upload them to Twitter or TikTok as well, with your filters and themes intact.

It’s the 2022 method of a mixtape – instead of a collection of songs on a tape, your partner could receive a thoughtful compilation video of both your best and most embarrassing moments together.

Bloom and Wild

Bloom and Wild on iOS

(Image credit: Bloom and Wild)

Bloom and Wild is an app that you can download for free, letting you buy a bunch of flowers, alongside a box of chocolates if you wish, and have them delivered to your home at a time that suits you or your partner.

There may have been a time when you would have had to find the closest florist, and pick a bouquet of flowers that best suited the day.

Bloom and Wild also has an innovative feature, where you can add a special occasion, and its notifications will remind you to make sure to order something for it. If you add three occasions, you will receive £5 in credit, so everybody wins for Valentine's Day.

Cameo

Cameo on iOS

(Image credit: Cameo)

If you want to surprise your partner with a short video featuring an actor, perhaps from the Harry Potter series, for example, this is the app for you.

Cameo has grown in popularity in recent years, mostly due to the pandemic, with actors and other celebrities turning to the service to communicate with their fans. With this app, you can pay for them to record a short personalized video for your partner.

The app has also branched out into offering one-to-one video calls with certain celebrities, so it could be a nice touch to have your partner spend a few minutes on Valentine's Day with their true love.

OpenTable

OpenTable on iOS

(Image credit: OpenTable)

If a takeaway and a movie aren’t an option, OpenTable will be able to find available tables in nearby restaurants for you.

The app has an intuitive way of finding the nearest bookings by showcasing a home screen with the restaurants in your area, with the next available time, so you can book for Valentine’s Day in an instant.

When you select a restaurant, you can also view the menu, so if your partner is slightly picky in what they like to eat, you can do some research beforehand, to make sure that the restaurant will cater.

Givingli

Givingli on iOS

(Image credit: Givingli)

Available to download on the App Store in the US only, Givingli allows you to create and send a digital greeting card with no fuss. So if you mistakenly forget to arrange a card or a gift, this app can hopefully save the day.

(For a UK equivalent, thortful achieves the same, free to download on the App Store).

You can choose from a wide variety of styles and themes that best suit your partner, either in interest or in humor, and you can arrange to have it sent as soon as possible.

Alongside adding a personalized note, you can also include a gift card that can be from Amazon or DoorDash. There are plenty of options for Valentine's Day, but we can’t guarantee same-day delivery if you order on February 14th..

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