Microsoft dumps Windows 11 Recall feature from Copilot+ PCs at launch – an embarrassing turn of events, but ultimately for the best

In a very surprising move – albeit the right one, in our books – Microsoft has pulled the rug on its big Recall feature, so it now won’t launch as planned with Copliot+ PCs.

Microsoft just issued an update on Recall (hat tip to Tom’s Hardware) as follows: “Recall will now shift from a preview experience broadly available for Copilot+ PCs on June 18, 2024, to a preview available first in the Windows Insider Program (WIP) in the coming weeks.

“Following receiving feedback on Recall from our Windows Insider Community, as we typically do, we plan to make Recall (preview) available for all Copilot+ PCs coming soon.”

To recap briefly, Recall is the feature which constantly takes screenshots of the activity on the host PC, allowing the user to search these leveraging AI (Copilot), offering an undoubtedly powerfully ramped up search experience.

But there have been issues aplenty raised around Recall before its (now canceled) launch, and much controversy stirred by those who have fudged their Windows 11 installation to enable and test the feature.

So, as noted in Microsoft’s statement, the expectation was very much that Recall would be live next week, when Copilot+ PCs finally emerge blinking in the sunlight, but that will no longer be the case.

Instead, Microsoft is going to have the Recall preview made available to testers in early builds of Windows 11 in the “coming weeks,” and there’s the second major admission here. That makes it sound like testers won’t be getting the feature to play with next week, let alone buyers of Copilot+ PCs, and it may be some weeks before it arrives in whatever preview channel Microsoft deploys Recall.

In short, Microsoft isn’t sure whether Recall will even be ready for testing any time soon.

Person with a laptop

(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / ImYanis)

Analysis: A major setback, but still the right decision

This has all been a bit of a fiasco, frankly. Microsoft announced Recall with a big fanfare for Copilot+ PCs, then proceeded to batten down the hatches as flak and doubts were fired at the feature left, right, and center. Defensiveness and evasion gave way to big changes being implemented for Recall to shore up security in the light of all the negative feedback, and also ensuring it’s turned off by default (something we argued strongly for).

Now, even after that, it’s been canned for the time being, at least for Copilot+ PCs. It’s not a good look, is it? It feels like Microsoft has been taken aback by all the salvoes fired at Recall by security researchers, rushed to implement some hefty changes, realized that there isn’t time to do all this properly – Copilot+ PCs are almost upon us – so put the full launch on ice to go back to testing.

There’s no doubting that this will be damaging to Copilot+ PCs to some extent. These are AI PCs, after all, and Windows 11’s key feature for them was Recall – there is other AI functionality for these devices, but nothing on the same scale. Just look at Dell’s Copilot+ PC web page, and how it’s built around Recall – it’s the key piece of the AI puzzle, and now it’s missing.

However, we’re glad Microsoft has taken the PR hit here, as it were, and pulled Recall, rather than putting its head down and trying to forge through with the feature. That would have proved even more damaging, most likely, so we understand, and approve of this move in the end.

Honestly, though, we don’t think Recall – given that it’s a sensitive and tricky piece of AI functionality with all those privacy and security aspects – should be pushed out to finished versions of Windows as a ‘preview’ at all. This should be done, dusted, tight and secure, before leaving testing – shouldn’t it?

Speaking of tight and secure, this is especially bad timing for Microsoft, given that Apple Intelligence was just unveiled, with the rival AI offering looking super-sharp on the privacy front, while Copilot appears to be stumbling about from blunder to blunder for the moment. Again, it’s not a good look, made much worse by Apple’s confident and professional revelation of its AI rival for Macs and iDevices (though we should note, we need to see Apple’s promises in action, not just words, before we get carried away with any comparisons).

Still, awkward days for Microsoft, but we’re hoping the company can now take the time to get things right with Recall. In fact, we’d argue it must take the time to do so, or risk blemishes on the Copilot brand that’ll quite probably cause lasting damage in terms of public perception.

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Your ChatGPT data automatically trains its AI models – unless you turn off this setting

If you rely on ChatGPT to run aspects of your life, and often pass fairly sensitive data to the AI, you might want to make sure you’ve opted out of its ‘Improve model for everyone’ setting. Otherwise OpenAI’s model will be training itself on what you tell it.

Before you panic, you should know that not all data is automatically passed over to ChatGPT’s training pool. Temporary Chats and Business plans will have this feature turned off by default. What’s more, OpenAI makes clear that the data is kept private and is purely used to improve the AI’s understanding of how language is used, rather than being used to create individualized profiles of users for advertising or other nefarious purposes.

Still, if you’re a free or even a premium ChatGPT Plus account anything you say will be helping to train ChatGPT with by default. So how do you turn it off?

Three simple steps

Looking to opt out of contributing your data to the training of OpenAI's AI models? Here's how to do it:

A laptop screen on a pink and purple background showing ChatGPT's settings page

(Image credit: OpenAI / Future)
  • Start by clicking your profile picture in the top right corner of the ChatGPT screen.
  • You’ll then want to go into Settings, and the third option down will be Data Controls. Click it.
  • Once in this submenu, toggle ‘Improve the model for everyone’ off and close out of settings.

A more private AI era?

Apple Intelligence presentation

(Image credit: Apple)

Privacy in AI has always been an important topic, but it has been thrust firmly into the spotlight recently thanks to Apple’s WWDC 2024 keynote. 

This is where the company finally unveiled its Apple Intelligence model, and one of its core features is its top-tier data handling and privacy methods – which Apple has boasted are verified by independent third-parties.

It also follows Microsoft’s botched rollout of Recall; it’s a Windows Copilot feature where an AI takes screenshots your display very frequently and logs everything you do on your PC so it can remind you of your actions later. Useful, sure, but also a potential privacy nightmare.

We expect privacy will only continue to be an important conversation, with users more and more wary of auto-on data sharing settings like ChatGPT’s 'Improve model for everyone', but we’ll have to wait and see how AI creators react.

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Truecaller’s new feature can turn your voice into a personal secretary

Caller ID service Truecaller is giving users the ability to create a digital assistant that has their voice and can respond on their behalf. If you’re unfamiliar with the app, Truecaller launched its AI Assistant feature in 2022 to screen phone calls and take messages, among other things. Up to this point, it utilized pre-made voices, but thanks to the power of Microsoft’s Azure AI Speech, you can now use your own.

Setting up your voice within Trucaller is quite easy; you just need a subscription to Truecaller Premium, which is $ 9.99 a month per account. Once that is set, the software will immediately ask you to select an AI assistant – but instead of picking one of the pre-made personalities, select “Add your Voice.”

You’ll then be asked to read a consent sentence and a brief training script out loud into your smartphone’s microphone. Doing so ensures the AI has a voice that mimics your “speaking style.” When done, Truecaller states that Microsoft’s Azure Custom Voice begins to process the recording to create a “high-quality digital replica.” The app will give you a demo sound bite to help you imagine what it’ll sound like when someone calls you. 

Truecaller's training script

(Image credit: Truecaller)

Robo-voice

Keep in mind the technology isn’t perfect. While the digital assistant may sound like you, it does come across as rather robotic. The company published a YouTube video on its official channel showing what the AI sounds like. Admittedly, the software does a decent job at mimicking a person’s vocal inflections; however, responses still sound stiff. That said, it is an interesting and interactive way to screen calls as they come in, especially when stopping spam ones. 

Keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives, as we tried to create our own digital secretary on our Android but couldn’t since we didn’t receive the feature as of yet. It’s unknown exactly when and where the update will be available. TechCrunch claims the tool will roll out “over the next few weeks” as a public beta across a small selection of countries. These include, but are not limited to, the US, Canada, Australia, and Sweden. Soon after, it’ll become widely available “to all users in the eligible markets. 

We also reached out to Truecaller with a couple of questions, including how recordings are stored, whether they are saved on the device or uploaded to company servers, and more. If we hear back, this story will be updated.

While we have you, check out TechRadar's round up of the best encrypted messaging apps on Android for 2024.

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Amazon Alexa’s next-gen upgrade could turn the assistant into a generative AI chatbot

Rumors started circulating earlier this year claiming Amazon was working on improving Alexa by giving it new generative AI features. Since then, we haven’t heard much about it until very recently when CNBC spoke to people familiar with the project’s development. The new reporting provided insight into what the company aims to do with the upgraded Alexa, how much it may cost, and the reason why Amazon is doing this.

CNBC’s sources were pretty tight-lipped. They didn’t reveal exactly what the AI will be able, but they did mention the tech giant’s goals. Amazon wants its developers to create something “that holds up amid the new AI competition,” referring to the likes of ChatGPT. Company CEO Andy Jazzy was reportedly “underwhelmed” with the modern-day Alexa and he isn’t the only one who wants the assistant to do more. Reportedly, the dev team is seemingly worried the model currently amounts to just being an “expensive alarm clock.”

To facilitate the new direction, Amazon reorganized major portions of its business within the Alexa team, shifting focus toward achieving artificial general intelligence. 

AGI is a concept from science fiction, but it’s the idea that an AI model may one day match or surpass the intelligence of a human being. Despite their lofty goals, Amazon seems to be starting small by wanting to create its own chatbot with generative capabilities. 

The sources state, “Amazon will use its own large language model, Titan, in the Alexa upgrade.” Titan is only available to businesses as a part of Amazon Bedrock. It can generate text, create images, summarize documents, and more for enterprise users, similar to other AIs. Following this train of thought, the new Alexa could offer the same features to regular, non-enterprising users.

Potential costs

Previous reports have said Amazon plans to charge people for access to the supercharged Alexa; however, the cost or plan structure were unknown. Now, we’re learning Amazon is planning to launch the Alexa upgrade as a subscription service completely separate from Prime, meaning people will have to pay extra to try out the AI, according to this new report.

Apparently, there’s been debate on exactly how much to charge. Amazon has yet to nail down the monthly fee. One of the sources told CNBC that “a $ 20 price point was floated” around at one point while someone else suggested dropping costs down to “single-digit dollar [amounts].” So, in other words, less than $ 10, which would allow the brand to undercut rivals. OpenAI, for example, charges $ 20 a month for its Plus plan.

There is no word on when Alexa’s update will launch or even be formally announced. But if and when it does come out, it might be the first chatbot accessible through an Amazon smart speaker like the Echo Pop

We did reach out to the company to see if it wanted to make a statement about CNBC’s report. We’ll update this story if we hear back.

Til then, check out TechRadar's roundup of the best smart speakers for 2024.

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Apple’s new Final Cut Pro apps turn the iPad into an impressive live multicam studio

At Let Loose 2024, Apple revealed big changes coming to its Final Cut software, ones that effectively turn your iPad into a mini production studio. Chief among these is the launch of Final Cut Pro for iPad 2. It’s a direct upgrade to the current app that is capable of taking full advantage of the new M4 chipset. According to the company, it can render videos up to twice as fast as Final Cut Pro running on an M1 iPad.

Apple is also introducing a feature called Live Multicam. This allows users to connect their tablet to up to four different iPhones or iPads at once and watch a video feed from all the sources in real time. You can even adjust the “exposure, focus, [and] zoom” of each live feed directly from your master iPad.

Looking at Apple’s demo video, selecting a source expands the footage to fill up the entire screen where you can then make the necessary adjustments. Tapping the Minimize icon in the bottom right corner lets creators return to the four-split view. Apple states that previews from external devices are sent to Final Cut Pro so you can quickly begin editing.

Impactful upgrades

You can’t connect your iPhone to the multicam studio using the regular camera app, which won’t support the setup. Users will instead have to install a new app called Final Cut Camera on their mobile device. Besides the Live Multicam compatibility, Apple says you can tweak settings like white balance, shutter speed, and more to obtain professional-grade recordings. The on-screen interface even lets videographers monitor their footage via a zebra stripe pattern tool and an audio meter. 

Final Cut Camera

(Image credit: Apple)

Going back to the Final Cut Pro update, there are other important features we’ve yet to mention. The platform “now supports external projects”. This means you can create a video project on and import media to “an external storage” drive without sacrificing space on an iPad. Apple is also adding more customization tools to the software like 12 additional color-grading presets and more dynamic backgrounds.

Final Cut Pro for Mac is set to receive a substantial upgrade too. Although it won’t support the four iPhone video feeds, version 10.8 does introduce several tools. For example, Enhance Light and Color offers a quick way to improve color balance and contrast in a clip among other things. Users can also give video effects and color corrections a custom name for easy identification. It’s not a total overhaul, but these changes will take some of the headache out of video editing. 

Final Cut Pro on Mac version 10.8

(Image credit: Apple)

Availability

There are different availability dates for the three products. Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 launches this spring and will be a “free update for existing users”. For everyone else, it will be $ 5/£5/$ 8 AUD a month or $ 50/£50/$ 60 AUD a year for access. Final Cut Camera is set to release in the spring as well and will be free for everyone. Final Cut Pro for Mac 10.8 is another free update for existing users. On the Mac App Store, it’ll cost you $ 300/£300/$ 500 AUD.

We don’t blame you if you were totally unaware of the Final Cut Pro changes as they were overshadowed by Apple's new iPad news. Speaking of which, check out TechRadar’s guide on where to preorder Apple’s 2024 iPad Pro and Air tablets

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New Android 15 feature could turn your smartphone into a desktop computer

Did you know that Android OS has had a desktop mode similar to Samsung Dex for the past five years or so? It’s true. The mode first came out back in 2019 on Android 10.  It allowed you to connect your smartphone to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard setup turning it into a mini-desktop. No one can blame you for not knowing it existed in the first place. It was primarily meant for developers to use as a testing ground for their apps. It was as barebones as a system can be. However, recent evidence suggests Google is expanding the feature to be more friendly for the everyday user.

News site Android Authority dove into the Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2.1 update and with some technical know-how, activated desktop mode “to see how the… system has evolved.” As it turns out, it’s advanced quite a bit since 2019. 

Their demo video shows windows can now be dragged around and resized on the screen. Resizing causes the page to go blank save for the app’s logo in the center. 

Moving a window over to either side causes it to snap into place. They then opened another app, clicking into place on the other side letting them have two pages side-by-side similar to Windows 11. Grabbing a full-screened page by dragging the top handle causes it to shrink, letting users make quick adjustments.

At the top of every full-screen is a small menu. Android Authority states it “contains the app’s name, icon, and three buttons to switch between full-screen, split-screen, and freeform mode. That last option lets you drag the window around. While the app is in freeform, apps gain a URL bar, a dropdown menu for altering the viewing mode, plus maximize and close buttons. 

Basic, yet important

This may seem like basic functionalities that all web browsers come with. Well, that’s because they are. Earlier when we said desktop mode is as barebones as a system can be, we meant it. The thing to keep in mind is this update signifies a continued effort to improve this feature. We could see where Android smartphones can turn into capable computers that are more portable than laptops. Technically, they already are, but they're missing the necessary support.

There is still a lot of work to be done, as the publication points out. Most apps, for instance, “don’t support drag-and-drop”. A few keyboard shortcuts are apparently present, but the report doesn’t go into detail.

No word on when the revamped mode will launch. Considering it’s part of a late beta, we could see the feature arrive on Android 15 which is scheduled to come out somewhere between August and October. 

Take this information with a grain of salt. After all, Google could suddenly change its mind and kill the project. Something similar happened recently with the WSA (Windows Subsystem for Android) app on Windows 11. It gives users a way to run Android software natively on the Windows operating system, however, starting on March 5, 2025, support is going cut off.

While we have you, be sure to check out TechRadar's roundup of the best Android phones for 2024.

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Windows 11’s next big AI feature could turn your video chats into a cartoon

Windows 11 users could get some smart abilities that allow for adding AI-powered effects to their video chats, including the possibility of transporting themselves into a cartoon world.

Windows Latest spotted the effects being flagged up on X (formerly Twitter) by regular leaker XenoPanther, who discovered clues to their existence by digging around in a Windows 11 preview build.

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These are Windows Studio effects, which is a set of features implemented by Microsoft in Windows 11 that use AI – requiring an NPU in the PC – to achieve various tricks. Currently, one of those is making it look like you’re making eye contact with the person on the other end of the video call. (In other words, making it seem like you’re looking at the camera, when you’re actually looking at the screen).

The new capabilities appear to be the choice to make the video feed look like an animated cartoon, a watercolor painting, or an illustrated drawing (like a pencil or felt tip artwork – we’re assuming something like the video for that eighties classic ‘Take on Me’ by A-ha).

If you’re wondering what Windows Studio is capable of as it stands, as well as the aforementioned eye contact feature – which is very useful in terms of facilitating a more natural interaction in video chats or meetings – it can also apply background effects. That includes blurring the background in case there’s something you don’t want other chat participants to see (like the fact you haven’t tied up your study in about three years).

The other feature is automatic framing which keeps you centered, with the image zoomed and cropped appropriately, as (or if) you move around.


Analysis: That’s all, folks!

Another Microsoft leaker, Zac Bowden, replied to the above tweet to confirm these are the ‘enhanced’ Windows Studio effects that he’s talked about recently, and that they look ‘super cool’ apparently. They certainly sound nifty, albeit on the more off-the-wall side of the equation than existing Windows Studio functionality – they’re fun aspects rather than serious presentation-related AI powers.

This is something we might see in testing soon, then, or that seems likely, particularly as two leakers have chimed in here. We might even see these effects arrive in Windows 11 24H2 later this year.

Of course, there’s no guarantee of that, but it also makes sense given that Microsoft is fleshing out pretty much everything under the sun with extra AI capabilities, wherever they can be crammed in – with a particular focus on creativity at the moment (and the likes of the Paint app).

The future is very much the AI PC, complete with NPU acceleration, as far as Microsoft is concerned.

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Say cheese! You’ll soon be able to turn your Android phone into a wireless PC webcam in Windows 11

If you’re a Windows 11 user on a PC, you’ll soon be able to use your Android smartphone (or tablet) as a webcam. This feature is currently being made available to Windows Insiders, Microsoft’s official community for professionals and Windows enthusiasts who would like early access to new Windows versions and features to test and offer feedback ahead of a wider rollout. 

In an official Windows Insider Blog post, Microsoft explains that it’s begun a gradual rollout of the feature that enables users who have a suitable Android device, such as a tablet or phone, to act as a webcam while using any application that involves video webcam functions on their PCs. If you’d like to try this new feature or get access to whatever else Microsoft has up its sleeve that it would like users to test, it’s free to sign up for the Windows Insider Program – you just have to make sure you have a suitable PC that can run Windows 10 or Windows 11. 

Once you install the latest preview build, you’ll also have to ensure that the mobile device you want to use as a webcam is running Android 9.0 or later. You also have to install the Link to Windows app on your mobile device. 

This is really good news for users who don’t have a dedicated webcam or are unhappy with the quality of the built-in webcam of their laptop. Many modern smartphones come with cameras that can offer better quality than a lot of webcams – and this feature allows them to be used wirelessly, which makes them far more convenient as well. On top of being able to function as your webcam, you can also switch between the front and back cameras of your phone, pause your webcam stream, and activate your mobile device’s available camera effects.

Group of cheerful friends teenagers spending fun time together outdoors, looking at phone

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Dean Drobot)

How to set up your Android phone as your webcam

Once you’ve made sure you have all the necessary specifications, updates, and apps, you’ll need to set the feature up on the device you’d like to stream to. You can do this by navigating to the following settings in Windows 11:

Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mobile devices

Select “Manage devices” and turn on the setting that allows the Android mobile device that you’d like to use as a webcam to be accessed by your PC. This will then prompt your PC to receive a Cross Device Experience Host update via the Microsoft Store which you should allow, as this is necessary to facilitate the feature. 

It will likely prove to be very useful, offering users more versatility and options for appearing in video calls. With many of us now working from home, either full-time or as part of a hybrid working week, picking the best webcam for your needs is now more important than ever. This upcoming feature could make that search even easier if all you need is a modern Android smartphone.

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Turn your iPhone into an iPod Classic with these brilliant lock screen wallpapers

Software designers Oliur and Shane Levine have released a series of wallpapers that convert the lock screen on your iPhone into an iPod Classic.

It’s a real blast from the past. The collection is known as the iPod Wallpaper Pack, consisting of “12 high-definition wallpapers” sporting a multitude of colors. Just to name a few of the shades, you'll get the classic silver look, black, turquoise, hot pink, and lime green. But one of our favorite aspects of these covers is the attention to detail the designers gave each of them.  

Color iPods on iPhone display

(Image credit: Oliur)

One wallpaper is completely covered by heart and flower stickers, and it looks exactly like something your little sister would do to your iPod. Another has carefully placed stickers around the click wheel: AC/DC in one corner with Rockstar Games in the other. Plus, we like how a few of the selections have scratches and chipped-off paint because who among us did not drop their iPod multiple times? 

iPod on iPhone display with scratches and stickers

(Image credit: Oliur)

Availability

The date and time will hover around the same location – somewhere near the top of the screen with battery life over in the top right corner. There’s even a little bit of room for widgets in the iPod display.

Oliur’s iPod Wallpaper Pack is currently available for $ 14 on its official website. Upon purchase, the images will be placed into a 58 MB ZIP file that needs to be extracted to be used. According to tech news site T3, you can save the wallpapers by uploading them to your iCloud account if you’re buying them on your iPhone. 

If you’re curious about what happened to iPods, Apple officially retired the series back in May 2022 with the final model being the 7th generation iPod Touch. The company continued to sell the device for a little while on its online store, however, if you go on there today, it’s completely gone. It’s sold out. Nowadays if you want an iPod, you’ll have to try your luck on a third-party retailer like Amazon or Walmart.

Or better yet: get yourself something more modern. If you want recommendations, check out TechRadar’s roundup of the best MP3 player for 2023.  

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Microsoft Copilot’s new AI tool will turn your simple prompts into songs

Thanks to a newfound partnership with music creation platform Suno, Microsoft Copilot can now generate short-form songs with a single text prompt.

The content it creates not only consists of instrumentals but also fleshed-out lyrics and actual singing voices. Microsoft states in the announcement that you don’t need to have any pre-existing music-making skills. All you need is an idea in your head. If any of this sounds familiar to you, that’s because both Meta and Google have their versions of this technology in the form of MusicGen and Instrument Playground, respectively. These two function similarly too, although they run on a proprietary AI model instead of something third-party.

How to use the Suno plugin

To use this feature, you’ll have to first launch Microsoft Edge, as the update is exclusive to the browser, then head on over to the Copilot website, sign in, and click the Plugin tab in the top right corner. Make sure that Suno is currently active. 

Suno plugin

(Image credit: Future)

Once everything is in place, enter a text prompt into Copilot and give it enough time to finish. It does take a little while for the AI to create something according to the prompt. In our experience, it took Copilot about ten minutes to make lyrics to a pop song about having an adventure with your family. Strangely, we didn’t receive any audio.

Copilot told us it made a link to Suno’s official website where we could listen to the track, but the URL disappeared the moment it was finished. We then prompted the AI to generate another song, however it only wrote the lyrics. When asked where the audio was, Copilot told us to imagine the melody in our heads or to sing the words out loud.

This is the first time we’ve had a music-generative AI flat-out refuse to produce audio.

Microsoft Copilot refusing to generate

(Image credit: Future)

Good performance… when it works

From here, we went to Suno’s website to get an idea of what the tech can do. The audio genuinely sounded great in our experience. The vocal performances were surprisingly good although not amazing. It’s not total gibberish like with Google’s Instrument Playground, but they’re not super clear either. 

We couldn't find out how good Copilot’s music-making skills are, but if it’s anything like the base Suno model, the content it can create will outshine anything that MusicGen or Instrument Playground can churn out.

Rollout of the Suno plugin has already begun and will continue over the coming weeks. No word if Microsoft has plans to expand the feature to other browsers although we did reach out to ask if this is in the works and if Microsoft is going to address the issues we encountered. We would’ve loved to hear the music. This story will be updated at a later time.

In the meantime, check out TechRadar's list of the best free music-making software in 2023.

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