Windows 11’s Copilot AI just took its first step towards being an indispensable assistant for Android – but Google Gemini hasn’t got anything to worry about yet

Microsoft’s Copilot AI could soon help Windows 11 users deal with texting on their Android smartphone (and much more besides in the future).

Windows Latest noticed that there’s a new plug-in for Copilot (the recently introduced add-ons that bring extra functionality to the AI assistant), which is reportedly rolling out to more people this week. It’s called the ‘Phone’ plug-in – which is succinct and very much to the point.

As you might guess, the plug-in works by leveraging the Phone Link app that connects your mobile to your Windows 11 PC and offers all sorts of nifty features therein.

So, you need to have Phone Link app up and running before you can install the Copilot Phone plug-in. Once that’s done, Windows Latest explains that the abilities you’ll gain include being able to use Copilot to read and send text messages on your Android device (via the PC, of course), or look up contact information.

Right now, the plug-in doesn’t work properly, mind you, but doubtless Microsoft will be ironing out any problems. When Windows Latest tried to initiate a phone call, the plug-in didn’t facilitate this, but did provide the correct contact info, so they could dial themselves.

The fact that this functionality is very basic looking right now means Google will hardly be losing any sleep – and moreover, this isn’t a direct rival for the Gemini AI app anyway, as it works to facilitate managing your Android device on your PC desktop.

Expect far greater powers to come in the future

Microsoft has previously teased the kind of powers Copilot will eventually have when it comes to hooking up your Windows 11 PC and Android phone together. For example, the AI will be able to sift through texts on your phone and extract relevant information (like the time of a dinner reservation, if you’ve made arrangements via text).

Eventually, this plug-in could be really handy, but right now, it’s still in a very early working state as noted.

While it’s for Android only for the time being, the Phone plug-in for Copilot should be coming to iOS as well, as Microsoft caters for iPhones with Phone Link (albeit in a more limited fashion). Still, this isn’t confirmed, but we can’t imagine Microsoft will leave iPhone owners completely out in the cold when it comes to AI features such as this.

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Apple is forging a path towards more ethical generative AI – something sorely needed in today’s AI-powered world

Copyright is something of a minefield right now when it comes to AI, and there’s a new report claiming that Apple’s generative AI – specifically its ‘Ajax’ large language model (LLM) – may be one of the only ones to have been both legally and ethically trained. It’s claimed that Apple is trying to uphold privacy and legality standards by adopting innovative training methods. 

Copyright law in the age of generative AI is difficult to navigate, and it’s becoming increasingly important as AI tools become more commonplace. One of the most glaring issues that comes up, again and again, is that many companies train their large language models (LLMs) using copyrighted works, typically not disclosing whether they license that training material. Sometimes, the outputs of these models include entire sections of copyright-protected works. 

The current justification for why copyrighted material is so widely used as far as some of these companies to train their LLMs is that, not dissimilar to humans, these models need a substantial amount of information (called training data for LLMs) to learn and generate coherent and convincing responses – and as far as these companies are concerned, copyrighted materials are fair game.

Many critics of generative AI consider it copyright infringement if tech companies use works in training and output of LLMs without explicit agreements with copyright holders or their representatives. Still, this criticism hasn’t put tech companies off from doing exactly that, and it’s assumed to be the case for most AI tools, garnering a growing pool of resentment towards the companies in the generative AI space.  

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman attends the artificial intelligence Revolution Forum. New York, US - 13 Jan 2023

(Image credit: Shutterstock/photosince)

There have even been a growing number of legal challenges mounted in these tech companies’ direction. OpenAI and Microsoft have actually been sued by the New York Times for copyright infringement back in December 2023, with the publisher accusing the two companies of training their LLMs on millions of New York Times articles. In September 2023, OpenAI and Microsoft were also sued by a number of prominent authors, including George R. R. Martin, Michael Connelly, and Jonathan Franzen. In July of 2023, over 15,000 authors signed an open letter directed at companies such as Microsoft, OpenAI, Meta, Alphabet, and others, calling on leaders of the tech industry to protect writers, calling on these companies to properly credit and compensate authors for their works when using them to train generative AI models. 

In April of this year, The Register reported that Amazon was hit with a lawsuit by an ex-employee alleging she faced mistreatment, discrimination, and harassment, and in the process, she testified about her experience when it came to issues of copyright infringement.  This employee alleges that she was told to deliberately ignore and violate copyright law to improve Amazon’s products to make them more competitive, and that her supervisor told her that “everyone else is doing it” when it came to copyright violations. Apple Insider echoes this claim, stating that this seems to be an accepted industry standard. 

As we’ve seen with many other novel technologies, the legislation and ethical frameworks always arrive after an initial delay, but it looks like this is becoming a more problematic aspect of generative AI models that the companies responsible for them will have to respond to.

A man editing a photo on a Mac Mini

(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple approach to ethical AI training (that we know of so far)

It looks like at least one major tech player might be trying to take the more careful and considered route to avoid as many legal (and moral!) challenges as possible – and somewhat surprisingly, it’s Apple. According to Apple Insider, Apple has been pursuing diligently licensing major news publications’ works when looking for AI training material. Back in December, Apple petitioned to license the archives of several major publishers to use these as training material for its own LLM, known internally as Ajax. 

It’s speculated that Ajax will be the software for basic on-device functionality for future Apple products, and it might instead license software like Google’s Gemini for more advanced features, such as those requiring an internet connection. Apple Insider writes that this allows Apple to avoid certain copyright infringement liabilities as Apple wouldn’t be responsible for copyright infringement by, say, Google Gemini. 

A paper published in March detailed how Apple intends to train its in-house LLM: a carefully chosen selection of images, image-text, and text-based input. In its methods, Apple simultaneously prioritized better image captioning and multi-step reasoning, at the same time as paying attention to preserving privacy. The last of these factors is made all the more possible for the Ajax LLM by it being entirely on-device and therefore not requiring an internet connection. There is a trade-off, as this does mean that Ajax won’t be able to check for copyrighted content and plagiarism itself, as it won’t be able to connect to online databases that store copyrighted material. 

There is one other caveat that Apple Insider reveals about this when speaking to sources who are familiar with Apple’s AI testing environments: there don’t currently seem to be many, if any, restrictions on users utilizing copyrighted material themselves as the input for on-device test environments. It's also worth noting that Apple isn't technically the only company taking a rights-first approach: art AI tool Adobe Firefly is also claimed to be completely copyright-compliant, so hopefully more AI startups will be wise enough to follow Apple and Adobe's lead.

I personally welcome this approach from Apple as I think human creativity is one of the most incredible capabilities we have, and I think it should be rewarded and celebrated – not fed to an AI. We’ll have to wait to know more about what Apple’s regulations regarding copyright and training its AI look like, but I agree with Apple Insider’s assessment that this definitely sounds like an improvement – especially since some AIs have been documented regurgitating copyrighted material word-for-word. We can look forward to learning more about Apple’s generative AI efforts very soon, which is expected to be a key driver for its developer-focused software conference, WWDC 2024


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ChatGPT just took a big step towards becoming the next Google with its new account-free version

The most widely available (and free) version of ChatGPT, ChatGPT-3.5, is being made available to use without having to create and log into a personal account. That means you can have conversations with the AI chatbot without it being tied to personal details like your email. However, OpenAI, the tech organization behind ChatGPT, limits what users can do without registering for an account. For example, unregistered users will be limited in the kinds of questions they can ask and in their access to advanced features. 

This means there are still some benefits to making and using a ChatGPT account, especially if you’re a regular user. OpenAI writes in an official blog post that this change is intended to make it easy for people to try out ChatGPT and get a taste of what modern AI can do, without going through the sign-up process. 

In its announcement post on April 1, 2024, OpenAI explained that it’s rolling out the change gradually, so if you want to try it for yourself and can’t yet, don’t panic. When speaking to PCMag, an OpenAI spokesperson explained that this change is in the spirit of OpenAI’s overall mission to make it easier for people “to experience ChatGPT and the benefits of AI.”

Woman sitting by window, legs outstretched, with laptop

(Image credit: Shutterstock/number-one)

To create an OpenAI account or not to create an OpenAI account

If you don’t want your entries into the AI chatbot to be tied to the details you would have to disclose when setting up an account, such as your birthday, phone number, and email address, then this is a great development. That said, lots of people create dummy accounts to be able to use apps and web services, so I don’t think it’s that hard to circumvent, but you’d have to have multiple emails and phone numbers to ‘burn’ for this purpose. 

OpenAI does have a disclaimer that states that it is storing your inputs to potentially use to improve ChatGPT by default whether you’re signed in or not, which I suspected was the case. It also states that you can turn this off via ChatGPT’s settings, and this can be done whether you have an account or not.

If you do choose to make an account, you get some useful benefits, including being able to see your previous conversations with the chatbot, link others to specific conversations you’ve had, make use of the newly-introduced voice conversational features, custom instructions, and the ability to upgrade to ChatGPT Plus, the premium subscription tier of ChatGPT which allows users to use GPT-4 (its latest large language learning (LLM) model). 

If you decide not to create an account and forgo these features, you can expect to see the same chat interface that users with accounts use. OpenAI will also be putting in additional content safeguards for users who aren’t logged in, detailing that it’s put in measures to block prompts and generated responses in more categories and topics. Its announcement post didn’t include any examples of the types of topics or categories that will get this treatment, however.

Man holding a phone which is displaying ChatGPT is, prototype artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI

(Image credit: Shutterstock/R Photography Background)

An invitation to users, a power play to rivals?

I think this is an interesting change that will possibly tempt more people to try ChatGPT, and when they try it for the first time, it can seem pretty impressive. It allows OpenAI to give users a glimpse of its capabilities, which I imagine will convince some people to make accounts and access its additional features. 

This will continue expanding ChatGPT’s user pool that may choose to go on and become ChatGPT Plus paid subscribers. Perhaps this is a strategy that will pay off for OpenAI, and it might institute a sort of pass-it-down approach through the tiers as it introduces new generations of its models.

This easier user accessibility could mean the type of user growth that could see OpenAI become as commonplace as Google products in the near future. One of Google Search’s appeals, for example, is that you could just fire up your browser and make a query in an instant. It’s a user-centric way of doing things, and if OpenAI can do something similar by making it that easy to use ChatGPT, then things could get seriously interesting.


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iPadOS 16: Five features I’d like to see as we head towards WWDC 2022

When iPadOS 15 was announced back at WWDC 2021, I was disappointed to find that it was more of a catch-up to iOS 14, with widgets on the home screen.

While the new Focus feature and better multitasking options were welcome, they didn't go far enough in improving how I used the iPad at the time. As these updates felt so minor to me, I decided to switch to a MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), and I've been happy with it since.

However, with WWDC 2022 confirmed for June 6, there's a good chance we'll see iPadOS 16. Hopefully, we'll see the operating system set itself apart from iOS, with features that are not only exclusive to the iPad but justifies the 'Pro' in iPad Pro.

With this in mind, here are five features that I'd like to see for iPadOS 16.

iPad home screen with widgets in iPadOS 15

(Image credit: Future)

1. External monitor support

This is a feature that many iPad users have been wanting, myself included when I owned one. While you can connect an iPad to a display, it only mirrors what's being shown on the tablet, and worse, in a resolution that doesn't adapt to the monitor.

We're in a time where completing your work on two or three monitors is normal. You can swap apps and windows between these displays and macOS or Windows 11 handles them fine.

But in iPadOS, that's not possible. Let's see an additional multitasking window show when an iPad is connected to a display. This way, you can swipe an app to another display, and let it display in the full resolution that the monitor is capable of.

2. Redesigned lock screen

There are parts of iPadOS where it looks as though it's an iPhone feature but supersized. Siri was guilty of this for years, where it would cover the entire screen, but thankfully this was resized in a compact menu in iPadOS 13.

The lock screen should be next to benefit from this. While we were given refined notifications in iPadOS 15, there's plenty of space being wasted, especially on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Let's see a widget displayed at least – perhaps weather as the default, followed by the choice of adding another. While you can swipe to the left and have some widgets display, having them show as soon as you wake the screen would be a nice touch.

3. Record more than one person in a call

This has been a bugbear of content creators, especially those who record podcasts. While you're able to take part in calls and group calls thanks to FaceTime, Skype and others, there's been no way to record everyone separately.

This is how many people capture the recordings for a podcast, as it enables audio editors to place separate audio files to make an episode.

Currently, on iPadOS, there's no way of doing this.

So, let's see an easier way to record multiple people on a call and be able to save them all as separate files, ready to edit into a podcast.

This one change could open up the iPad as a portable podcast machine – from recording a guest, to placing the file into Garageband or Ferrite, then saving it as a finished podcast file, ready to upload to a provider.

4. Final Cut

While there are apps like iMovie and Luma Digital that can edit your video projects, some content creators want the extra power and features that an app like Final Cut provides.

This is Apple's pro version of its video editing apps and has only been available on macOS. But with the Mac and iPad both running on Apple Silicon, users have been wishing to see Final Cut on the iPad.

Seeing this as part of iPadOS 16, along with widgets and shortcuts, could really appeal to pro users. And being able to carry on with their Final Cut projects from Mac to iPad would improve workflows, no need to use a different app on an iPad.

5. Better picture-in-picture support

This is a feature that was once exclusive to the iPad, before moving over to macOS, then iOS 15. However, its features have stayed the same since its debut in iOS 9 on iPad. It's time for some improvements.

To have a timeline slider would be a great benefit, as you currently have to go back to the app that's originally playing the video and press the slider to switch to a different part of what's playing.

Another welcome feature would be the ability to place the video anywhere on the display. While you can do that to a point now, the video has been known to place itself below menus or obstructed by an app. On macOS, you can solve this by holding down the command button and dragging the video anywhere on the display.

If these two improvements arrived on iPadOS, there'd be an increase in its use, especially with YouTube's decision to bring the feature to its app for Premium users.

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Adobe announces Creative Cloud Express, a hint towards its freemium future?

If you're keen to use Adobe's powerful creative tools, but are less excited about their high prices, the company's new Creative Cloud Express app could be for you. Effectively a lite version of its software suite, the app is free to use on mobile devices or via web browser, with extra features costing $ 9.99 / £10.10 / AU$ 14.29 a month.

Creative Cloud Express is designed for students, small business owners, or for those who want to turn a hobby into a career. Instead of a collection of apps, here you download just one app that gives you features to edit photos, trim videos and create GIFs, while making content that’s relevant to your customers.

It’s the first freemium product from Adobe, and with Christmas fast approaching, it could be a great entry point for those who want to try out Adobe’s products on their new devices.

Who would want this?

Available from today, you can download Creative Cloud Express for free, from the Microsoft store, Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The free plan includes:

  • Create on both web and mobile.
  • Thousands of templates, design assets, and Adobe Fonts.
  • A limited collection of royalty-free Adobe Stock free collection photos.
  • Basic editing and photo effects including removing backgrounds and animations.
  • 2GB of storage.

You only need to sign up and you can use the above features straight away. It’s a new angle that Adobe is offering here, as you would have had to sign up for a free trial for Creative Cloud at least, to see if apps such as Photoshop and Premiere Pro were suited to your needs.

The paid plan includes a 3-month free trial with more images and templates to use, alongside the ability to export a project into PDF and other useful features. You can sign up and get a feel for whether Express or the full Creative Cloud package is best for you.

Its press release also stated that an Enterprise edition of Express is coming in 2022, which would help businesses offer the package to its employees in one go.

Analysis: A hint towards the future? 

So far the new offering from Adobe looks impressive, with its demos showing both tablets and web browsers using Express. With many users going through their favored web browser to use certain web apps, it could show what the future holds for Adobe and Creative Cloud going forward.

Express looks to be the start of this, and if its features expand to those that are inspired by Adobe’s other apps such as Illustrator and XD, this new package is an enticing and exciting start.

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Cyber Polygon 2021: Towards Secure Development of Digital Ecosystems

Cybersecurity is one of the most important topics on the global agenda, boosted by the pandemic. As the global digitalisation is further accelerating, the world is becoming ever more interconnected. Digital ecosystems are being created all around us: countries, corporations and individuals are taking advantage of the rapid spread of the Internet and smart devices. In this context, a single vulnerable link is enough to bring down the entire system, just like the domino effect.

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