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.
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.
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.
Apple Business Essentials is designed to support SMBs throughout the entire device management life cycle from device setup to device upgrades while also providing strong security, prioritized support, data storage and cloud backup. It begins with simple employee onboarding which allows a small business to easily configure, deploy and manage the company’s products from anywhere.
VP of enterprise and education marketing at Apple, Susan Prescott provided further insight on the company’s complete solution for SMBs in a press release, saying
“Apple has a deep and decades-long commitment to helping small businesses thrive. From dedicated business teams in our stores to the App Store Small Business Program, our goal is to help each company grow, compete, and succeed. We look forward to bringing Apple Business Essentials to even more small businesses to simplify device management, storage, support, and repairs. Using this new service leads to invaluable time savings for customers — including those without dedicated IT staff — that they can invest back into their business.”
Apple Business Essentials
One of the most useful features in Apple Business Essentials is Collections which allows groups of apps to be delivered to employees or teams while settings such as VPN configurations, Wi-Fi passwords and more can be automatically pushed to devices.
To get started, employees simply need to sign in to their work account on their iPhone, iPad or Mac using a Managed Apple ID. Once this is done, they will have access to everything they need to be productive including the new Apple Business Essentials app from where they can download their organization’s work apps.
Managed Apple IDs for employees can be created by federating with Microsoft Azure, Azure Director and later this spring with Google Workspace identity services. This allows employees to log into their business laptops using a single business username and passwords.
Apple Business Essentials also works with both company-provided and personal devices and with Apple’s User Enrollment feature, employees’ personal information stays private and cryptographically separated from work data.
In addition to Apple Business Essentials, Apple has announced the launch of AppleCare+ for Business Essentials which provides organizations with 24/7 access to phone support and up to two device repairs per plan per year by individual, group or device. Employees can initiate repairs directly from the Apple Business Essentials app and an Apple-trained technician will come onsite in as little as four hours to get their devices back up and running.
Apple Business Essentials with up to 2TB of iCloud cloud storage starts at $ 2.99 per month after a two-month free trial while plans for AppleCare+ for Apple Business Essentials start at $ 9.99 per month.
Bitdefender has announced the launch of its new password manager which aims to simplify the creation and management of secure passwords across all of a user's online accounts on both desktop and mobile.
While the company is known for its antivirus software, its new Bitdefender Password Manager offering also includes a password generator to create and save unique, highly complex passwords for each online account. These passwords can then be accessed by using a single master password. Bitdefender Password Manager is also backed by strong end-to-end encryption along with simple set-up, easy installation and an intuitive user interface designed to be accessible to all.
Vice president of Bitdefender's consumer solutions division, Ciprian Istrate explained why the company decided to create its new password manager in a press release, saying:
“Cybercriminals rely on weak passwords to compromise accounts, steal user identities and profit from selling credentials on the dark web. Despite understanding the importance of strong passwords as a security best practice, the ease of memorizing a few passwords and reusing them everywhere outweighs increased security risk for most. We built Bitdefender Password Manager with this in mind, delivering what we believe is one of the best-in-class password protection without sacrificing user convenience.”
Bitdefender Password Manager
In addition to allowing users to store their passwords, Bitdefender Password Manager can also be used to manage and auto-fill payment data. All of this data is encrypted and decrypted locally and the account holder alone has access to the master password so that no third party has access to their financial information.
While there are mobile apps available for Android and iOS, Bitdefender has also created browser extensions for Windows and macOS that support a wide range of browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Edge with support for Safari launching soon.
If you already use another password manager like 1Password or LastPass, Bitdefender Password Manager allows you to easily import data and passwords from other platforms including browsers like Chrome and Firefox which have their own built-in password managers.
An annual subscription to Bitdefender Password Manager costs $ 29.99 per year but the company is currently offering an introductory discount where new customers can save 33 percent and pay $ 19.99 for the year or as little as $ 1.66 per month.
If you browse forums and news sites, you'll most likely come across concept ideas from users who want to give their vision of how a product from Apple or Microsoft could be.
Back when owning an iPhone was a wish for many in the early noughties, you would see concept images of iPod Videos with a 'Phone' menu, but in the same iPod body, or a design that would look similar to the bondi-blue iMac from 1997.
However, one user has gone beyond this concept idea, and removed the display to a MacBook Pro, but left the keyboard part intact.
This not only harks back to the days of the Amiga with its 2-in-1 design, but gives me the idea that this could be perfect as a replacement to the Mac mini.
An Amiga and Apple hybrid?
The Mac mini has been around since 2006, and Apple mentioned at the time that they could only do this thanks to the PowerPC to Intel CPU transition.
But with another transition in progress, Apple has repeated the same mantra, which is why we've seen a redesigned iMac and MacBook Pro so far.
While there's been efforts by others to prove that a smaller Mac mini could work for the Apple Silicon chips, you still need to have a keyboard and trackpad in order to use it.
This is why the below makes sense in the long run, instead of being an effort to go viral for a day.
More and more people are buying a MacBook Pro without a screen to use as a Mac mini. Not only does it have a trackpad and keyboard, but it also has better speakers, and the main price is particularly affordable. pic.twitter.com/WtxMQk1h8FMarch 7, 2022
This would reshape how a Mac mini could work, especially if this concept could also run on a battery if needed.
You could take this hybrid on a commute to work, and plug in the HDMI or Thunderbolt cable to start your day. This would cut down the setup you would normally have to do for a Mac mini, as the keyboard and trackpad are already there.
But this also harks back to the days of the Amiga, a PC from the eighties that allowed you to do this in a similar design.
It's one thing to look at an image, but to see someone use a snapped MacBook as if it's an Amiga 600 in 2022, makes a lot of sense.
The design can work in an age where you can easily find a spare monitor in the office and get going on some work, without also having to find a keyboard and mouse.
If this was to replace how we see the Mac mini in the near future with an M2 chip, it could be the best recommendation from me for family and friends, especially if they're looking for a new device for their bedroom or office.
There may soon be a way to cleanse your Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint accounts of pesky large folders, freeing up much-needed storage space and decluttering your mind for good.
The company is working on a new update for its cloud storage service that will allow users to delete large folders on Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint Document Libraries on web.
The move will cover folders holding up to 10,000 items, meaning it could be the solution your overcrowded account needs to make some room for new items.
Microsoft OneDrive purge
The official entry on the Microsoft 365 roadmap notes that the feature is still in development for now, but should have a general release in March 2022. It is listed as being available to all Web users of OneDrive and SharePoint around the world.
With hybrid working now a common experience for most businesses, cloud-based services such as OneDrive have become pivotal to making sure organizations stay connected, wherever they may be located.
The idea is to use this heightened level of interoperability to make it as inconvenient as possible to break away from the Microsoft ecosystem, even if a company or individual has adopted just a small selection of services.
The company also recently made it easier for remote workers to ensure that important tasks don’t slip through the cracks with another OneDrive update that provides a dedicated feed to highlight recent activity associated with their files.
However, concerns were raised in a separate area of Windows recently when Microsoft was forced to admit that its data wiping tool didn't always completely clean everything it needed to.
Although data collected by TechRadar Pro suggests Google Drive is currently the most popular cloud storage service by some margin, Microsoft will hope OneDrive improvements like these will help capture a larger portion of the business market.
Microsoft has released a software preview for Windows 11 that will make using the operating system on tablet devices, and 2-in-1 laptops, much better.
As DigitalTrends reports, Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22563, which has just been released to people signed up to receive early versions of Windows 11 to test, optimizes the taskbar on tablets and 2-in-1 devices.
In the new update, the taskbar now has two states: a collapsed and expanded mode. When the taskbar is collapsed, it appears much thinner, giving you more screen real estate and helping to prevent accidental presses of taskbar buttons.
Meanwhile, the expanded mode makes the taskbar wider, allowing you to select items more easily, such as apps, using the touch screen.
Switching between the two modes looks pretty easy as well, and is done by simply swiping your finger up or down at the bottom of the tablet’s screen where the taskbar resides.
It seems that this version of the taskbar will only be available on Windows 11 tablets and 2-in-1 laptops, which have touchscreens that either detach from the keyboard, or can be folded back, and used as a tablet. Desktop PCs and traditional laptops won’t get this new taskbar.
As it’s currently in a Preview Build, it also means that regular Windows 11 users won’t see it just yet. However, if testing goes well and there’s a positive reaction from Windows Insiders, we could see the feature appear in a Windows 11 update sometime in the future.
Analysis: Microsoft’s tablet ambitions remain
This new update shows that Microsoft’s tablet ambitions remain undeterred. While its rivals Apple and Google have found immense success with tablet devices, Microsoft has yet to do the same. Its attempts to take on the mighty iPad and gain tablet market share have been a mixed bag.
There was the deeply unpopular Windows 8, which dropped much of the classic interface of Windows, including the taskbar and Start menu, for an interface with large icons that was aimed at tablet use. The problem was, Windows 8 tablets were largely ignored, and desktop and laptop users hated having to put up with an interface that was designed for touchscreens they didn’t have.
Microsoft found more success with its Surface Pro line of 2-in-1 devices, alongside Windows 10, which struck a more even balance with an interface that was better suited to traditional PCs, while also having a tablet mode.
However, Surface Pro sales still lag behind iPad and Android tablet sales, but it seems Microsoft isn’t giving up. If Windows 11 continues to evolve to work even better on tablet devices, then this could be Microsoft’s best bet yet to take on Apple and Google.
Taking photos in iOS has always been a relatively simple affair, just by using the Camera app by Apple. But third-party developers have gone further to make the iPhone camera work harder for you and the photos you take every day.
This is what Obscura has been doing since its launch in 2015. Developed by the Obscura team of Ben Rice McCarthy, Adam K. Schmidt and Sara Lovic, the third version of the app launched this week (February 17) for $ 9.99 / £9.99 / AU$ 10.99.
This new version brings a redesigned gallery view, video capture, refined layouts for controlling exposure settings, and the multiple lenses of the iPhone models, alongside controller support. This allows anyone with an Xbox or PlayStation controller, to take a photo through Obscura 3.
Having used the update for a month, it’s a significant improvement over Obscura 2. The new gallery view brings your albums front and center, giving you a quick overview of what you want to select.
There’s also the ability to rate your photos, not just a thumbs up or down as in Apple’s Photos app. Here, you could take a selection of photos, say different locations for a wedding venue for instance, and rate them in order. It makes sorting some photos much easier, as it could help you decide on certain locations or products for those important situations.
It’s the gestures that help make Obscura 3 shine – especially the exposure gesture. As you’re taking a photo, you can press the exposure icon on the bottom-left of the app to change how light or dark you need the image to be. But if you use your thumb to slide up and down on the icon, you can more accurately choose the exposure point instead.
These little touches are found across the app in this third version. While you can’t currently change the default camera app in iOS, Obscura 3 makes a compelling case for why the option should be there for pro users.
A chat with Obscura’s developer
Speaking with McCarthy after the launch of Obscura 3, I asked them whether the pandemic inspired the development of the new update, in regards to features and what users were asking for. “Not particularly. In an ideal world we would have taken a trip to somewhere exciting to take incredible marketing photos of rainforests or glaciers,” McCarthy clarifies. “But for the most part, the production of Obscura 3 wasn’t all that different to Obscura 2.”
With every major update to an app, there’s always the question of what the main objective was for the newest version. We asked McCarthy what the aim was for Obscura this time. “Am I allowed to say everything? Because we really did throw it all out and start from scratch,” McCarthy continues. “There are obvious changes like the new camera interface, but everything has been rewritten and improved, like the gesture to close the camera, the photo capture pipeline, the filters to support P3 color, I could go on all day.
“If I had to choose just one though, I’d probably say the Image Detail view,” McCarthy reveals. “There’s an astonishing amount of complexity to it. It was honestly pretty janky in Obscura 2. It now has better support for RAW files, depth data, video (for the first time!), and is much smoother at handling changes to the photo library while you’re browsing. The triage features are also really neat if you care about keeping your library organized.”
We wanted to mention the Exposure wheel, which we found very intuitive for allowing certain amounts of light in. We asked McCarthy how this came to be, and why it’s arriving in this update.
“Conceptually, the Exposure and Focus dials were planned from the very start. In fact, I had built a very rudimentary version of them in Obscura 1, but it wasn’t great,” McCarthy explains.
“We played around with the functionality quite a bit. Should the dial have values displayed around the ring? Should the sensitivity vary as it expands? How sensitive should the haptic feedback be? But everything we added made it feel less intuitive and more distracting. In the end, the simpler it was, the more natural and like using a physical camera it felt.”
With the new gallery view being a tentpole feature of Obscura 3, we asked McCarthy whether there was going to be an option for opening the app and having the gallery appear first.
“I had thought of making that an option for the forthcoming iPad version, which is well suited to browsing and editing photos, but I hadn’t really considered it for the phone,” McCarthy explains. “But if we build that functionality anyway, I don’t see why we wouldn’t add it to the phone.”
In-app purchases, or IAPs, are ways for users to buy more features for an app. In previous Obscura versions, this allowed you to buy additional filters, but for Obscura 3, there are no IAPs this time.
We asked McCarthy what the reasons for this were, and if IAPs have had their due, especially for photography apps.
“There were a few reasons behind this decision, benefitting both us and the user. The first is that we wanted to avoid the feeling of upselling, especially when the user is in the middle of taking photos,” McCarthy explains.
“Secondly, the StoreKit API has also been a pain to work with in the past and was the source of more support email than any other part of the app. And thirdly, having IAPs for filters necessitated having example photos for the product pages, and those added quite a considerable amount to Obscura’s download size (O2 was about 70MB and O3 is down to about 5MB, though the sample photos weren’t the only factor).”
The gallery view also shows promise for other Apple platforms, such as macOS, an operating system that doesn’t have an Obscura app. We wondered whether this is something up for consideration.
“I’m certainly not promising anything right now, but I have tried building it for the Mac using Catalyst and it mostly runs without issue,” McCarthy reveals. “The real work would be in making it feel more at home on macOS, so I guess we’ll have to see if we can find the time to make it happen.”
A surprising feature was the integration of controller support in Obscura 3. You could use a Dual Sense controller to take a photo if needed. We asked whether this was always intended and if there are further plans to expand this in the future.
“As I was working on the Apple Watch companion app, it occurred to me that it would be nice if there was an alternative for people who don’t have one. And I had a spare PS4 controller (in theory for playing more games on iOS, though I rarely use it) and I realized that could be a decent alternative,” McCarthy reveals.
“There’s not much functionality there right now, but we have plenty of ideas on improving this feature that just didn’t make the cut for launch.”
Finally, widgets are still being heavily used on iPhone and iPad devices, where you can place bite-sized information on your home screen without launching the app. For Obscura, this seems to be a natural step, especially for rated photos and shortcuts for launching different modes of the app.
We asked McCarthy whether this was something that they were considering. “Definitely. As soon as the launch chaos is over we’re going to start work on widgets, and we already have a few planned,” McCarthy continues. “Having access via the lock screen is a big bonus that widgets also provide. And given that we may never see an option to set third-party camera apps as the default, we have to take what opportunities we can get.”