Microsoft’s AI Copilot is coming to your messaging apps, starting with Telegram

Whether you love or hate Microsoft’s Copilot AI, there could be no escaping it soon as it has recently been spotted crawling around messaging apps, specifically Telegram. Microsoft seems to have sneakily introduced Copilot into the messaging app, allowing Telegram users to experience it firsthand. 

According to Windows Latest, the move is part of a new project from Microsoft dubbed ‘copilot-for-social’, which is an initiative to bring generative AI to social media apps. The Copilot bot seems to currently work in Telegram in the US and UK (and possibly other regions). It’s available for free, although it requires your phone number to work.

Telegraph and Copilot

(Image credit: Future)

You can find the bot by typing in ‘@CopilotOfficialBot’ into Telegram’s search bar, whereupon a new message thread will open and Copilot will give you the rundown of everything it can do. Keep in mind that there is a query limit of 30 questions a day, but given that you don’t need to create a separate account and it’s all completely free, that’s not a bad setup. 

Copilot appears to work similarly to how you use it on a PC. The AI can also be used on the desktop, phone and web versions of Telegram. 

Great, I hate it 

From what we understand the reason why you need to verify your phone number to enable Copilot in Telegram is to stop people within the EU from gaining access (likely due to data regulations and stricter laws in that region). We’re sure in time that EU users will have the chance to try it out, but as of now, they’re going to have to wait.

Copilot may be exciting news to some, but others may not like the idea of an AI having access to their messaging app (there could be trust issues for some Telegram users, we’d imagine). Furthermore, this does give me flashbacks to Snapchat’s AI chatbot, a rather bizarre affair that died as quickly as it popped up.

It seems like generative AI chatbots are becoming harder and harder to escape, as Telegram surely will not be the end of Copilot’s mobile integration plans. Microsoft could also push for integration with WhatsApp, Messenger and more, which I would find unbearable frankly. 

Hopefully, Microsoft will stick with the non-invasive setup that Copilot seems to have in Telegram, where you must actively seek it out, rather than having the AI shoved into your messages by default somehow.

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OpenAI’s Sora just made another brain-melting music video and we’re starting to see a theme

OpenAI's text-to-video tool has been a busy bee recently, helping to make a short film about a man with a balloon for a head and giving us a glimpse of the future of TED Talks – and now it's rustled up its first official music video for the synth-pop artist Washed Out (below).

This isn't the first music video we've seen from Sora – earlier this month we saw this one for independent musician August Kamp – but it is the first official commissioned example from an established music video director and artist.

That director is Paul Trillo, an artist who's previously made videos for the likes of The Shins and shared this new one on X (formerly Twitter). He said the video, which flies through a tunnel-like collage of high school scenes, was “an idea I had almost 10 years ago and then abandoned”, but that he was “finally able to bring it to life” with Sora.

It isn't clear exactly why Sora was an essential component for executing a fairly simple concept, but it helped make the process much simpler and quicker. Trillo points to one of his earlier music videos, The Great Divide for The Shins, which uses a similar effect but was “entirely 3D animated”.

As for how this new Washed Out video was made, it required less non-Sora help than the Shy Kids' Air Head video, which involved some lengthy post-production to create the necessary camera effects and consistency. For this one, Trillo said he used text-to-video prompts in Sora, then cut the resulting 55 clips together in Premiere Pro with only “very minor touch-ups”.

The result is a video that, like Sora's TED Talks creation (which was also created by Trillo), hints at the tool's strengths and weaknesses. While it does show that digital special effects are going to be democratized for visual projects with tight budgets, it also reveals Sora's issues with coherency across frames (as characters morph and change) and its persistent sense of uncanny valley.

Like the TED Talks video, a common technique to get around these limitations is the dreamy fly-through technique, which ensures that characters are only on-screen fleetingly and that any weird morphing is a part of the look rather than a jarring mistake. While it works for this video, it could quickly become a trope if it's over-used.

A music video tradition

Two people sitting on the top deck of a bus

(Image credit: OpenAI / Washed Out)

Music videos have long been pioneers of new digital technology – the Dire Straits video for Money For Nothing in 1985, for example, gave us an early taste of 3D animation, while Michael Jackson's Black Or White showed off the digital morphing trick that quickly became ubiquitous in the early 90s (see Terminator 2: Judgement Day). 

While music videos lack the cultural influence they once did, it looks like they'll again be a playground for AI-powered effects like the ones in this Washed Out creation. That makes sense because Sora, which OpenAI expects to release to the public “later this year”, is still well short of being good enough to be used in full-blown movies.

We can expect to see these kinds of effects everywhere by the end of the year, from adverts to TikTok promos. But like those landmark effects in earlier music videos, they will also likely date pretty quickly and become visual cliches that go out of fashion.

If Sora can develop at the same rate as OpenAI's flagship tool, ChatGPT, it could evolve into something more reliable, flexible, and mainstream – with Adobe recently hinting that the tool could soon be a plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro. Until then, expect to see a lot more psychedelic Sora videos that look like a mashup of your dreams (or nightmares) from last night.

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Microsoft is changing the way it updates Windows – and it’s starting to sound like Windows 12 won’t happen

Windows 12 may not be happening after all, or at least that seems to be the way the rumor mill is suddenly tilting – and Microsoft is also changing how it’ll update its desktop OS in the future, we’re told.

This fresh info comes from Zac Bowden of Windows Central, a well-known leaker on all things Microsoft.

Bowden tells us that the next version of Windows (codenamed Hudson Valley) will be highly AI-focused (quelle surprise) and Microsoft is planning to launch it in September or October 2024 – but the final name is a marketing decision that hasn’t yet been made.

However, the leaker claims that sources inside Microsoft are doubtful as to whether it’ll be Windows 12. The reason? Microsoft is apparently wary of fragmenting the user base further with another release that has a different name – and we totally get where that line of thought is coming from (we’ll return to discuss that shortly).

This doesn’t rule out Windows 12, of course, but it certainly sounds like Microsoft is edging towards sticking with another release of Windows 11 for the next incarnation.

Bowden also chews over purported changes to the way Windows updates are delivered, and sources inside Microsoft have indicated that there’ll be a return to a big annual feature update – with fewer ‘Moment’ (smaller) feature updates.

Currently, we’re getting a raft of Moment updates – we’re up to Moment 4 this year, with a fifth planned for February or March next year – and an annual upgrade (23H2 this year) which was somewhat smaller in terms of its feature count (as lots of features had been introduced with those Moment updates already).

Next year, with fewer Moment updates – we’re told these will still exist, but will be used “sparingly” – the big upgrade for later in 2024 (Hudson Valley) will be a chunkier affair. In short, Microsoft is putting more emphasis on the major annual update going forward, or that’s the theory.


Analysis: Two buckets are better than three

So, if Microsoft goes the route of making Hudson Valley an all-new release called Windows 12 (or another alternative – Windows AI, maybe), what’s the danger of fragmentation referred to here?

Well, if Windows 12 came out next year, we’d have a bunch of folks leaping to that OS, a bunch still on Windows 11, and a whole load of users still running Windows 10 (stuck behind a hardware upgrade barrier in many cases – either because they don’t have TPM functionality on their PC, or their CPU is too old).

This would be diluting the user base over three buckets instead of two, if you will, which does feel like a clumsy approach, and servicing all this will end up a clunkier, harder-to-manage process, too.

Funnily enough, we just saw a leak suggesting Windows 11 24H2 is incoming, which is what the name of Hudson Valley will doubtless be if Microsoft sticks with Windows 11 – so this lends a bit more weight to the speculation here.

Again, this doesn’t rule out Windows 12, of course – but it is starting to feel somewhat less likely.

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Get ready to take your Bing AI chat from the desktop to mobile, without starting over

Microsoft is working on yet another sizable update to Bing AI with this round going to mobile. The latest batch comes just weeks after a previous announcement of various desktop improvements and we have a lot to cover.

Starting off with the Bing app itself, users will be able to add a Bing Chat widget to their “iOS or Android home screen”. This gives you direct access to the AI with the option to either type in your query into the text window or select the microphone icon to ask the question verbally. You can start fresh with a new chat or continue with an old one as Microsoft is enabling the frequently requested “continuous conversations across platforms”. So now a conversation held with Bing on the desktop can continue on mobile devices and vice versa.

The last Bing app update sees the AI gaining new support for multiple countries and languages, which opens it up to more people around the world. Unfortunately, a list of all the newfound support was not included in the post (although we did ask). Microsoft also claims it “improved the quality for non-English chats.” However, the company didn’t provide any details on the level of improvement. 

Expanding support

Moving on to the second app, SwiftKey will have a Compose feature to help you write texts “according to the parameters you suggest”. These parameters include the subject matter, tone, length, and format with the final one being useful for drafting emails. Of course, you can edit those drafts. Two new tones are being added to SwiftKey as well – Witty and Funny – bringing the total to six. So, if you want to have Bing create some eye-rolling dad jokes, you can (just be sure you use this power wisely). To top it all off, the AI-powered Translator on Android will be migrating over to iOS “within the next week” or so.

The Edge browser app is getting Contextual Chat allowing users to ask Bing a question based on the content they’re viewing. The example given is you can ask the AI what the best wine would be to pair with a recipe you're looking at or have it write up a summary of an article you're looking at. Learning will also be made a bit easier thanks to Selected Text Actions. Highlighting a piece of text will open a conversation with Bing where it will then explain that topic in detail complete with “cited sources”.

And last but not least, every single group chat in Skype will have access to the generative AI. All you have to do is tag it by entering “@Bing” into a discussion. 

Bing AI update on mobile apps

(Image credit: Windows)

Availability

The release dates of all these features are all over the place which is why it wasn’t mentioned earlier. The Skype update, SwiftKey Compose tool, and the Bing widget are releasing this week (week of May 14, 2023). Next week, we’ll see continuous conversations alongside the Translator tool. Everything else is unknown other than a vague “soon”. 

We asked Microsoft if it could provide us with dates for the unmentioned features plus a list of the newly supported countries and languages. This story will be updated at a later time.

While we have you check out TechRadar’s list of the best AI tools for 2023 to see what the technology is capable of. It’s not just assistants or content generators.

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Google Chat is starting to look even more like Slack

Keeping in touch with your colleagues around the world could soon be a lot easier thanks to a new update to Google Chat.

The online collaboration service is now allowing users to create group chats (known as Spaces) within Google Chat that you can then share with others in your organization.

Much like Slack, once a new custom Spaces group has been created, you'll be able to share it with whoever you choose, with participants able to join by clicking on a custom link. 

Google Chat or Slack?

“With this launch, Spaces are no longer restricted to only people added to the conversation,” Google said in a Workspace blog post announcing the news.

The company says the update will be particularly useful for creating and sharing “topic-based conversations” within your business, such as team discussions, how-to guides and mentoring opportunities. 

Google Chat spaces share

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

The change could also help leaders or admins share organizational and policy updates, or gather together a particularly interested or skilled group, such as when investigating an outage. Or, it could be great for just finding those with similar interests to yourself, allowing for custom groups to celebrate anything from sports to cooking.

Spaces will only be able to be shared with those inside your organization, and will have to be entirely new groups created from this date forward.

The feature is available and rolling out now to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers.

The news is the latest change to Google Chat to bring it more in line with some of its rivals, offering tools such as in-line replies and native content search, bringing Google Chat closer in line with services like Slack and Teams.

Google Chat officially replaced Google Hangouts earlier this year, with all enterprise and business users on “Classic Hangouts” having been upgraded to the new service by March 22, 2022.

The company says the move will ensure all Google Workspace customers are using the same platform, with anyone trying to access Hangouts being redirected across to Google Chat.

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