Got an old Android phone? Google Calendar could soon stop working on it

If you're the sort of person who likes to keep their Android phone or tablet running for several years, you might want to take note that Google Calendar could be dropping support for devices that aren't running Android 8 or newer.

The team at TheSpAndroid (via Android Police) has spotted code and an image in the latest release of Google Calendar for Android, which tells the user that “your current Android version is no longer supported”.

There's a flag labeled “UnsupportedOperatingSystem__enabled”, and the app is now marked as only supporting Android 8 (Oreo) and newer. For now though, it doesn't seem as though the switch has been hit that will disqualify older devices.

When that happens, you'll see a message on screen if you try and run the Google Calendar app on something older than Android 8, telling you to upgrade. Presumably Google Calendar will still be available via a mobile web browser on these phones and tablets.

The end is nigh

To be fair to Google, Android 8 was launched all the way back in August 2017. There aren't going to be a huge number of devices still running Android 7 (or Nougat) that can't be updated to Android 8, with the final Android 7.1.2 update pushed out in April 2017.

According to StatCounter, 2.12% of Android devices worldwide are running Android 7 or Android 7.1, with another 3.42% of devices on anything older than that – so we're looking at about 1 in 20 phones and tablets overall. The newest version, Android 14, started to roll out in October 2023.

Some of those older devices will be eligible for upgrades to newer Android versions, but if you have one that doesn't, it might be time to think about investing in a new gadget – at least if you want to carry on using Google Calendar.

Besides offering an improved set of features, newer versions of Android also give you better security, which is probably Google's main motivation here. According to TheSpAndroid, Google Calendar on Android currently supports devices running Android 5 (Lollipop), launched in June 2014.

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Spotify could soon let you turn off personalized recommendations

While we're patiently waiting for Spotify Wrapped 2023 to drop, it seems as though a tweak is on the way in terms of how recommendations are served up: Spotify would appear to be testing the option to turn off personalized recommendations.

This comes from code spotted in a beta version of one of Spotify's apps, by a MacRumors source. At the moment though, we don't know much else about this potential new feature or how it might work if it rolls out to users.

Personalized recommendations are of course based on listening history and habits, so presumably most people will want to keep them switched on to see more music that matches their tastes. Without the personalization, presumably the recommendations would be what's trending and popular, or picked out by Spotify staff.

It does seem that this will be an optional extra for users, so personalized recommendations are by no means going away. It might also be useful if someone else (like your kids) are using your Spotify account – though the Taste Profile features do help you modify the way your recommendations work, to some extent.

Keep on tracking

By default, Spotify does of course keep tabs on everything you do in the app, to make sure you're never short of something to listen to – you can have playlists automatically continue with related music, for example. These algorithm-driven recommendations apply to Spotify audiobooks and podcasts too.

There's a possibility that some people just don't want to be driven by algorithms and AI, or don't want Spotify keeping tabs on every playlist they put on, or both. Until we get an official word on what this new setting might mean, we can only speculate about why it would be implemented.

This built-in tracking is what makes features such as Spotify Wrapped 2023 work, giving you a deep dive into all the tracks you've played over the years – and perhaps surfacing some listening trends that you wouldn't otherwise have noted.

We will of course keep you posted if we hear anything else about what might be happening with Spotify and personalized recommendations. In the meantime, check out our Spotify tips and tricks guide to get more out of the music streaming service.

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Your WhatsApp backups on Android will soon eat into your Google Drive storage

Bad news for WhatsApp users on Android: chat log and media backups will soon count toward your Google Account storage limit.

This includes the free 15GB of storage given to people whenever they create a new Google Account. That amount is shared across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos with the update further restricting on what can be saved. This move is a complete reversal of a 2018 decision where backups didn’t count toward the limit. It was all on the house. 

Google explains on its Android Help website that it’s enacting this change so the “WhatsApp backup experience… will be in line with how it works on other platforms, with the added benefit of” having the free 15GB. The tech giant takes the time to point out this is “three times more than most mobile platforms” which appears to be a random potshot at iCloud’s more confining 5GB of storage. 

The new rules

WhatsApp’s own post on its help website describes in detail how the update will roll out. It’ll affect WhatsApp Beta users first starting in December 2023. After that, the changes will periodically expand to all Android users throughout the first half of 2024. The platform states it’ll erect a banner in the Chat Backup section of the app’s Settings menu 30 days before it goes live on your phone.

Once you’ve reached the storage limit, you will need to start deleting files on your account in order to resume backups. You do have the option to purchase more storage via Google One. Prices normally start at $ 2 for the 100GB plan; however, at the time of this writing, monthly subscriptions have been reduced to $ 0.50 for the first three months. WhatsApp also recommends using their Chat Transfer tool to move chats between phones.

It’s important to mention this only affects personal Google Accounts. “If you have a Google Workspace subscription through work or school,” nothing changes for you. Restrictions won’t be implemented.

Feeling the squeeze

We should mention the move isn’t totally coming out of nowhere. 

Hints of this decision first appeared all the way back in early 2022 when news site WABetaInfo discovered code in a WhatsApp beta revealing the cut off. We theorized the limitations were due to the sheer size of some chats as well as the “quantity of multimedia content people share” on the platform. All that data may have been putting a squeeze on Google servers “costing [the company] a significant sum.” 

It appears all the recent WhatsApp updates have exacerbated this issue. We reached out to Google asking if it would like to make a statement. A company representative told us one of the main reasons why the two are making this change is “that over the years, more people have joined WhatsApp, sharing more high-res images and videos than ever before.” 

During this past summer, the platform gave people the ability to share high definition photographs and videos. Perhaps the large file sizes proved to be too much for Google to handle, forcing the company to implement some sort of limitation on the platform.

Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best photo storage and sharing sites in 2023 if you're looking for other options.

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Microsoft tests option to make Copilot AI appear as soon as Windows 11 loads

Microsoft could be giving its Copilot AI some new powers in Windows 11 (and maybe Windows 10 eventually), or at least this functionality has been spotted in test builds – including the ability to fire up the AI as soon as the operating system boots.

Windows Latest reported on some fresh options recently brought into testing for Copilot, and as mentioned one is a toggle to ‘Open Copilot when Windows starts’ (tucked away in the Personalization area of Settings).

In short, this means that when your PC first loads up the desktop, the Copilot panel will appear straightaway. This option carries some text notes explaining that this is primarily aimed at those with a wider screen (in other words, with the display real-estate to fit Copilot on as a constant companion).

Another move in testing for Copilot is unpinning the AI’s side-panel. This is a button present on the actual side-bar for the AI, and when clicked, Copilot collapses when you maximize another window.

As it is, the Copilot side-panel stays in place when you make another app full-screen, so you can still see the AI to the right of whatever program is running. When this switch is flicked, though, a maximized app will take up the whole screen, with the side-panel being hidden.

Finally, Microsoft is currently trying out the ability for users to resize the Copilot panel. This has been spotted in testing before, mind you. However, this time around Windows Latest shows us that as you enlarge the side-panel, at a certain point when the interface is big enough, recent activity and active plug-ins are shown.

Analysis: Some useful changes for tailoring the AI

If you’re a Windows 11 tester and you haven’t seen any of these options for Copilot, that’s not too surprising, as Microsoft is only trialing them with a limited set of Windows Insiders at the moment.

As ever with features in preview, they may or may not be carried forward, but if they are, all testers will get them eventually – and then they’ll debut in the release version of Windows 11.

The functionality to unpin, resize, and have Copilot appear by default after boot – if you want to, and perhaps have an ultra-wide monitor – are all choices that will prove useful and add versatility to the way Copilot’s interface works. And given that, we can’t see why they wouldn’t make the cut for inclusion in Windows 11 ultimately.

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Google Maps could soon be getting its own AI chatbot

Google hasn't been shy about pushing artificial intelligence into its various apps and services, and it seems that the venerable Google Maps could be next in line to get an integrated AI chatbot of its own.

Code hidden in the latest beta version of Google Maps for Android, as spotted by Android Authority, makes various mentions of in-app conversations – including the line “you're talking with a chatbot”, which sort of gives the game away.

However, only a few strings of related code have been spotted so far, so we don't have too much more information about this chatbot in terms of what form it will take, what it's designed to do, and how it will integrate with the rest of Google Maps.

Nothing is certain yet, and of course Google could easily change its mind about the Maps chatbot – but given the company's focus on AI these last few months, we wouldn't be surprised to see this new feature arriving in the app very soon.

Getting chatty

Without any official word from Google, we're left to speculate what an AI chatbot in Google Maps might do. As Android Authority points out, it could well be something to do with submitting reviews and comments to Google Maps, perhaps via the Local Guides program.

The line of code that says “thank you for your contribution” certainly backs that up. Perhaps a chatbot might swing into action when you've visited a place, asking what your experience was like or what you thought of the service.

Another possibility is that the upcoming bot will actually give you travel advice: what to see in a particular area, where the best places to stay are, and so on. This would be similar to the advice that Google Bard (now with Google Maps integration) can already give.

AI chatbots might also be used to field questions from Google Maps users to businesses – questions about opening hours and facilities, for example. Right now, these questions can be posted and answered by humans, but AI might be about to step in.

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Bing AI could soon be much more versatile and powerful thanks to plug-ins

Microsoft’s Bing AI may be close to finally getting plug-ins, a feature that has been experimented with before, and will make the chatbot considerably more versatile and powerful (in theory, anyway).

Windows Latest reports that the update to add plug-ins has rolled out to a ‘small’ number of Bing Chat users over the weekend, and the tech site was one of those to get access.

Note that it appears the rollout is only happening for those using the Canary version of Microsoft’s Edge browser (and Windows Latest only got the feature in that preview release, not in the finished version of Edge).

We’re told that the AI currently offers five plug-ins to testers and you can pick any three of those to use in a session. If you want to change plug-ins, you’ll need to start a new Bing Chat session.

Windows Latest carried out some testing with a couple of those plug-ins, and the results seemed useful, with the OpenTable add-on providing some restaurant recommendations in a query.

Other plug-ins available in testing include Kayak, Klarna, and a shopping add-on for buying suggestions – we’ve already got you covered there, of course, especially for the imminent Black Friday sale – but it may be the case that different plug-ins appear for different users.

Analysis: Faster and better

Eventually, of course, there will be a whole load of plug-ins for the Bing AI, or that’s certainly Microsoft’s plan, although they’ll doubtless be rolled out in stages over time. One of those will be the much-awaited ‘no search’ function that was switched to be implemented via a plug-in not so long ago. (This allows the user to specify that the AI can’t use search content scraped from the web in its responses).

We’ve seen plug-ins in a limited test rollout before (in August), but they were pulled, so this is effectively a return of the feature – hinting it might arrive sooner rather than later.

Fingers crossed, and the good news is that Windows Latest observes that these new plug-ins seem to be more responsive and work better than the old efforts (performance-related concerns are likely one of the reasons that the test plug-ins got pulled earlier this year).

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Windows 11’s final major update before Windows 12 could drop soon – and here’s what it will look like

Keen-eyed observers have spotted ISOs of the next version of Windows 11, Windows 11 23H2, on Microsoft’s servers. This suggests that the company is preparing the update for public rollout very soon. 

ISO files are digital versions or copies of a whole disk like CD, DVD, or Blu-ray – but all in a single smaller file. In this case, ISO files (or sometimes called ISO images) of Windows 11 23H2 have been seen on Microsoft’s servers. 

It’s also expected that Windows 11 23H2 will have all the new features from the recent “Moment 4” update to Windows 11 22H2, and introduce some new changes like an enhanced notification center, a System Components page, and Microsoft's shiny new AI assistant, Copilot.  While the Windows 11 23H2 update isn’t the most ground-breaking in Windows 11’s history, it’s still worth installing to get the new features and ensure your PC gets support from Microsoft.

With rumors that Windows 12 could be coming sooner rather than later, this may be the last major update we get to Windows 11.  The last major update to Windows 11 was version 22H2, which was released in September 2022, and has seen regular updates. Windows 11 22H2 Home, Pro, Pro Education, and Pro for Workstations editions will be supported by Microsoft until October 8, 2024, according to its lifecycle policy. Meanwhile, Windows 11 Enterprise and Education editions will be supported a little longer until October 14, 2025.

Young woman using a laptop inside at night

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to get the new Windows 11 update

Microsoft will continue to put out security updates, bug fixes, or technical support for the above versions of Windows 11 22H2 up until those stated dates. That means you shouldn’t wait too long to upgrade to Windows 11 23H2, as upgrading will ensure you get the latest features and fixes. If you want to make the change sooner, we hope to see it available as an optional update in Windows Update very soon – and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available to download.

Windows Latest, which reported on the existence of the ISOs, concludes that update 23H2 will be the last major update for Windows 11, with Microsoft expected to announce the next generation of Windows (which many people are calling “Windows 12”, despite Microsoft being understandably tight-lipped about any potential successor to Windows 11). Windows Latest also states that it’s known for some time that we’re to expect Windows 11 23H2 at some point in October or November of this year, and that seems spot on now that the ISOs of the update have appeared on Microsoft’s servers over the weekend, suggesting the launch is imminent. 

Apparently, there are two versions of the update ISOs, English (United States) and China, and we can reasonably conclude that the update is done and dusted (at least for these languages), and being prepared for commercial dispatch to users. What’s left is to watch for Microsoft’s official communications about the update.

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Copilot AI could soon be available to a lot more Windows 11 users with a big privacy change from Microsoft

Microsoft has an incoming change to Windows 11 – or at least it’s in testing – that makes some moves on the privacy front over in Europe.

Windows Latest spotted something in an older preview build of Windows 11 that was rather glossed over at the time, but recent happenings with the Copilot AI – which has not been made available to European users for privacy reasons – throw an interesting new light on the change.

The preview build we’re talking about was pushed out in August 2023 in the Dev channel (build 23521), and in the blog post introducing it, Microsoft noted the following: “In the European Economic Area (EEA), Windows will now require consent to share data between Windows and other signed-in Microsoft services. You will see some Windows features start to check for consent now, with more being added in future builds.”

Microsoft goes on to say if this consent is declined by the Windows 11 user, that “some functionality in Windows features may be unavailable.” As an example, Microsoft notes that certain file recommendations may not be made in the Start menu’s Recommended panel.

That’s a potentially intrusive element that we’ve been a bit concerned about – in terms of where the line might lie between recommendations and ads, and how flexible that line might be – so European users will potentially be able to dodge the worst of this.

Not just that, of course, as this consent applies to other (unspecified) Windows features – we’ll come back to that shortly.

As for the progress of this EEA consent change, it appears to still be rolling out to those testing Windows 11 and hasn’t come to everyone yet, as Windows Latest observes.

Windows Latest asked Microsoft about this introduction, with the software giant replying: “We have nothing more to share beyond what’s in the blog post [for build 23521]. This change was previously rolled out to the Dev Channel in August.”

Analysis: A hopeful hint of a timely landing for Copilot?

Presumably this change will be more widely rolled out going forward to testers, because it might tie in with an important factor that recently emerged – namely the availability of Microsoft’s Copilot AI.

As we’ve previously reported, even though Copilot is now officially out for Windows 11 (the release version), it’s only certain regions that can get the AI assistant. Due to stricter privacy regulations in the European Union, Microsoft cannot deploy Copilot to users who live there.

Not yet anyway – but a version of Copilot that’s compliant with EU laws is underway, and those Windows 11 users will get the AI on their desktop in time.

Now, we’re just theorizing here, but it seems like Copilot could be one of the various features that’s bound up with this data-sharing consent measure which is now in testing.

If so, the good news for those in Europe who want Copilot is that the groundwork to get the AI available over there was already started a couple of months back. And if you think about it, that makes sense – Microsoft would’ve known about this issue for some time, after all, so would surely be preparing for it in advance.

We can hope, then, that the wait for the Copilot AI for Windows 11 users in Europe might be a shorter one than we expected (and perhaps that other regions will follow soon enough, too).

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The Meta Quest 3 will get a much-needed body-tracking update soon

If you’ve ever found yourself pulled out of a VR experience because your virtual arms and upper body don’t match up well with your real body, Meta has some good news: the Meta Quest 3 will soon have proper body tracking thanks to an incoming update.

Currently, a lot of guesswork goes into VR avatars. Unless you’re wearing some kind of tracking suit, the headset has to guess where your arms and body should be based on your head and hand movements, as well as any height data you provide. Sometimes it's okay, but generally this system is a little off, and rather than helping with immersion it can serve as a constant reminder that the virtual world is just that.

The Meta Quest 3 has an answer – or at least it will come December, when Meta rolls out an update (via UploadVR). The new VR headset’s downward-facing side cameras are able to see and track your torso, shoulders, elbows, and wrists, and using these data points, and some new algorithms, VR experiences can create avatars that more closely mimic your actual movements through a system called inside-out upper-body tracking.

In a demo video Meta, has shown how this system can not only more accurately copy your movements, but translate body movements that Quest hardware couldn’t follow well before – such as elbow strikes, and bending forward or to the side (movements which could be great for guided workouts in VR, for example).

Unfortunately, not every app will support inside-out upper-body tracking right away. A few, like Supernatural and Drunken Bar Fight, will, but you’ll have to wait for developers of other VR experiences to implement the SDK update into their software before you can enjoy the improved avatars.

Legs at last 

This SDK update will also bring some improvements to VR legs.

VR legs have been a sore spot for Meta. It received some ridicule during Meta Connect 2022 when one of its biggest announcements was that Meta’s avatars would soon get legs – ridicule that was amplified when it was discovered that the demo it showed off was staged using motion-captured animation.

Virtual legs did actually start rolling out in September, but only for VR beta testers, and only in the Quest home app. It appears that this upcoming Meta Quest 3 update will bring the appendages to more users and a wider variety of apps – that is, if developers enable it.

A VR Mark Zuckerberg jumping with his legs tucked during a staged demo at Meta Connect 2022

(Image credit: Meta)

It’s worth noting, however, that your VR legs will be AI-generated rather than actually being tracked. Based on demo videos, the AI seems to get the leg movements mostly correct – it knows when you’re squatting, jumping, or doing a movement like a boxer bounce – but it won’t know when, say, you lift up a knee. So copying the jump-knee tuck movement Zuckerberg showed off during the Meta Connect 2022 demo won’t be possible in VR yet.

With the advancements Meta is making in tracking and AI it’s possible its legs will evolve in the coming year but for now, we’ll have to make do with what we have.

Want to know more about the new VR headset? Check out our hands-on Meta Quest 3 review.

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Microsoft reminds Windows 11 users on original version that they’ll soon be forced to upgrade

Are you still running Windows 11 21H2? The original version of Windows 11 is about to run out of road for support, and Microsoft has reminded us that users are going to have to upgrade to a newer version imminently.

Neowin spotted that Microsoft has updated its release health dashboard to make things clear for those on Windows 11 21H2 (Home and Pro, plus Pro variants).

The company reminds us that support ends on October 10, 2023, and that the cumulative security update for October, to be released on that day, will be the last ever update that Windows 11 21H2 receives.

Microsoft further clarifies: “The September 2023 non-security preview update will be the last optional release and the October 2023 security update will be the last security release for Windows 11, version 21H2. Windows 11, version 22H2 will continue to receive security and optional releases.”

Analysis: Only one road ahead

Users on 21H2 will therefore be pushed to upgrade to 22H2 and Windows 11 will automatically fire up the update to do so when this end date rolls around – or up to a couple of months before that. So, if you are still on Windows 11 21H2, you might experience this forced upgrade very soon.

It is, of course, of paramount importance that your copy of Windows 11 remains in date and keeps up with the flow of security fixes, otherwise your PC could be open to being exploited by hackers and opportunists out there.

If Windows 11 23H2 emerges very soon, it’s possible you could get pushed to move to that instead of 22H2. However, we don’t think that’s too likely – although it could arrive later this month, as we’ve previously observed, but most rumors have it penciled in for Q4, which of course means October at the soonest, and quite possibly not early in the month. We shall see.

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