Windows 11 Photos and Paint apps are set for major upgrades with new AI features – but most users won’t get them

The Microsoft AI hype train is now well on its way and the next stop is Windows 11’s Photos and Paint apps getting another helping of AI integration. 

Microsoft is currently holding its Build 2024 conference, where the company has already introduced its line of new AI-focused Copilot+ PCs, including a feature called ‘Recall’ that records the activity on the PC and makes it searchable. Microsoft has also brought in an upgraded Cocreator feature for the Paint app.

Cocreator will run locally on Copilot+ PCs and make use of the more powerful NPUs (Neural Processing Units) on these devices to generate images based on text prompts that you provide. The current Paint app does have an AI-powered Image Creator feature, but it’s not the same as Cocreator. 

Cocreator is different because it will work locally on your computer and won’t need to go online to tap the computing power to generate images. Furthermore, it’ll produce images faster than Image Creator, although the latter isn’t being dropped – the two options will run side-by-side.

The new feature was demonstrated by Microsoft on a Surface Pro, showing the presenter putting in a prompt and drawing a basic outline of what they wanted the image to look like. Cocreator then used this information to generate the image based on the rough shapes that were drawn.

A screenshot showing the new Cocreator, demonstrating an image being generates from a rough drawing

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Cocreator is also shown to have a ‘Style’ dropdown menu, presumably to choose the style you’d like the image to be generated in, and a ‘Creativity’ slider.

Increasing that Creativity slider produces a higher quality image filled in with a greater level of detail, with the AI exercising its abilities more, whereas towards the lower end of the scale, the generated image sticks more closely to the rough sketch provided by the user.

The ability to experiment with styles in the Photos app

The Photos app in Windows 11 is also getting an AI boost on Copilot+ PCs in the form of a feature named ‘Restyle Image.’ This enables you to transform your own photos with preset artistic styles, for example taking a photo of your pet and making it an anime-style picture. 

There is a text box where you can enter prompts to give the feature your own specific instructions about what kind of style you’d like it to transform your photo into, and a ‘Creativity’ slider that apparently works similarly to the one in Cocreator. 

One interesting aspect that was picked up on by Windows Latest is that there doesn’t appear to be a fixed number of credits limiting the amount of times you’re able to use either feature. Both Cocreator and the ‘Restyle Image’ capabilities can be run as many times as you like locally on your PC using small language models. 

Both features will also require the PC to have a processor with a suitable NPU, so they won’t be available on all Windows PCs, including existing devices running Windows 11. This will be for laptops using the new Snapdragon X chip only, or other Copilot+ PCs with future AMD or Intel silicon.

For those keen on AI assistance, this is good news, as are the other AI tools Microsoft is introducing to Windows 11. It’ll make things that were unimaginable to most people not all that long ago easily accessible with a few clicks without even going online.

If you’re not a fan of AI-powered apps, then I can imagine this news will simply be a continuation of issues you may have with AI getting everywhere these days.

Either way, it doesn’t seem like Microsoft is going to be remotely discouraged from forging on this path, and it will continue to try and push to become the industry standard for AI-focused consumer products. 


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Microsoft is bringing Window’s 11’s slimmed-down updates to Windows 10, shedding megabytes for quicker upgrades

Windows 10’s monthly updates will get a lot smaller, and therefore quicker to download and install, thanks to a feature that first debuted in Windows 11. Users with eligible devices can expect a decrease in update since the April 9, 2024 update which was 830 MB to around 630 MB with the latest update, released on April 23, 2024. 

The change was announced by Microsoft in a Windows blog post, writing that Windows 10 users will be getting a significant efficiency boost. Monthly Windows updates are typical for Windows 10 and Windows 11, and having to download bulky updates can be annoying and time consuming, especially for people with slower (or metered) internet connections. 

You can read more about what the shrunk-down update, KB5036979, will bring on Microsoft’s Support blog. Some of the developments that this update brings include account-related notifications (such as account activities, data backups, subscription management, and security settings) across the Start menu and Settings, an updated Widgets lock screen, a fix for a Bluetooth-related issue affecting certain wireless earbuds, an improved and more reliable Windows Search, as well as other quality-of-life updates. 

Woman sitting at a table in a modern corporate office, working at a laptop

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff)

Improved Windows 10 updates ahead

Microsoft explains that until now, Windows 11 cumulative updates were more efficiently packaged than those for Windows 10. This has now changed, with a reduction in the size of the monthly latest cumulative update (LCU) package.

If your device is running Windows 10, make sure you have done the following to make sure you’re ready for these new updates:

  1. Check if you’ve updated your system since the Windows 10 July 23, 2023 update (KB5028244).
  2. If you haven’t, download and install Servicing Stack Update (SSU) KB5031539
  3. Once the above step is finished, download and install a quality update from April 2023 or later. 

It’s good to see that Windows 10 users are still getting quality updates and that Microsoft is making adjustments to make them easier to install, especially as we approach Windows 10’s End-of-Life date on October 14, 2025. While I’m sure Windows 10 users appreciate that they’re still getting improved functionality, it remains sensible to prepare to update to Windows 11 (or whatever the next iteration of Windows is called which we expect to learn about soon). 


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The Apple Notes app could seriously step up its game in iOS 18 with these two upgrades

The Apple Notes app is a cultural fixture as well as an essential tool, and it looks like Apple is going to supercharge the iconic app in iOS 18, the next major update for Apple’s flagship mobile operating system. iOS 18 is expected to be previewed alongside the latest versions of its other platform operating systems at WWDC 2024, Apple’s software-centric conference primarily aimed at developers, which kicks off on June 8.

Reports from AppleInsider are that two impressive features are expected to be revealed. First is support for audio recordings directly within the app –  akin to the Voice Memos app, but better integrated. This feature is currently being developed for iOS 18 and macOS 15, and a version for the newest iteration of iPadOS can be expected soon after. 

The feature will give users basic playback features for audio recordings, letting them record, play, and save entries right in the Notes app. The recordings will be embedded into specific notes that users choose, which can also include text and images along with the recording. Creatives will no doubt find this useful for making multimedia entries, and more casual users might find it a great way to make digital scrapbooks. It will also let users make more complex entries to detail the audio they save, being able to add lengthy descriptions or context entries. 

The user interface of the app will be visually similar to the existing Voice Memos app, with the new audio recording feature being presented with similar graphical representations of the captured audio. These new in-app audio notes recordings will be available on all devices connected to iCloud and running at least iOS 18 or macOS 15.

Pre-release versions of the operating systems to be presented at WWDC 2024 also apparently reference a new ‘Math Notes’ feature which will enable the Notes app to interact with the Calculator app. Presumably, this will allow the Notes app to enlist the Calculator app to make calculations as users are entering them in Notes, though there’s no indication of how complex these calculations might be. 

More features of this sort are expected to follow the Math Notes feature, and the introduction of the Math Notes feature is slated to coincide with Apple’s debut of a redesigned macOS Calculator app. Users will likely be able to prompt the Math Notes feature from the Calculator app using a designated button or option, but we will have to wait a little while longer to see the exact plans Apple has in store for Math Notes.

Man taking a picture of the presentation at the conference hall using smartphone

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Matveev Aleksandr)

Apple steals a note from Microsoft

These features have both been a part of OneNote, Microsoft’s proprietary note-taking app, a favorite among many who use educational curricula and materials, and those who work in mathematical notation. It also happens to rank highly in terms of popularity in both the iOS App Store and the macOS App Store, the former being highly regarded in user reviews and the latter having been awarded Apple's Editors' Choice award. It’s the cohort of people who find OneNote so useful and crucial to their work that Apple might hope to entice them with its Math Notes feature.

The Notes app may have begun as a humble confidant for shopping lists and late-night thoughts, but it looks like it’s growing up and becoming a more capable app to assist users in more ways. It’s still very popular as the native notetaking app for Apple products, and Apple is understandably making moves to hold on to its staple status. 

Again, it’s expected that both the embedded audio recording feature and the Math Notes feature will be premiered at WWDC 2024, but Apple has canceled or delayed features that have been rumored to be in the pipeline before. We won’t know for sure until we hear about it on stage at WWDC in June.


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Google Maps AI upgrades could solve your EV charging headaches

It’s a big day for Google Maps. First, the 3D buildings layer is rolling out to all Android users after months of waiting. And now we’re learning the app is expanding its eco-friendly features by introducing new ways to find EV charging stations and “lower-carbon travel alternatives”. The former, according to the announcement, aims to help electric vehicle owners map out those long road trips for the summer.

First, text summaries will appear in Google Maps describing the exact location of a nearby charging station. The tool utilizes artificial intelligence to take “helpful information from user reviews” to build directions below the name of a charger. As the company explains, you'll see step-by-step instructions telling you to drive down into an underground parking lot, follow the signs, and turn right just before you exit to find a station. 

The company explains that since it sources from the community, generated summaries are “accurate and up-to-date”. To continue feeding the feature, reviews for charging stations will ask for extra details from the type of plug you used to how long you spent waiting.

New Google Maps features

(Image credit: Google)

While driving in your EV, Google Maps will highlight nearby chargers on your car's dashboard display. Indicators provide the name of the station, how many ports are open at a given time, and the ports' charging speeds.

Lastly, Google Maps will recommend the best charging locations for people taking multi-stop trips. The suggestions it makes depend on your EV’s battery level. For example, if the car is fully charged, the app will point out stations nearer your destination rather than the ones closer to you. 

Everything you see here is scheduled to roll out within the coming months, but their availability differs. Review summaries will be available on the mobile app while the charging station indicators and suggestions will be exclusive to vehicles with built-in Google software.

Charging stations appearing on Google Maps trip

(Image credit: Google)

Google Search's travel update

The other half of the patch will see Google Maps make “public transit or walking suggestions” below driving routes  – so long as travel times are “practical.” It won’t recommend you hop on a bus if it takes longer to go from point A to point B. This feature is receiving a limited rollout as it’s only being released for around 15 cities around the world including London, Paris, and Sydney.

Google Maps new public transit recommendations

(Image credit: Google)

Google Search is also getting a travel-centric update. The search engine began adding information for long-distance train routes into results back in 2022. Moving forward, these details will include schedules and ticket prices with a purchase link on the side. What’s more, long-distance bus routes are going to be present too. 

The new train data on Search is now available across 38 countries such as the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Spain. The bus route info, on the other hand, is seeing a more limited release as it'll only show up in 15 global regions, including the United States, France, and Germany.

Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the 10 things you didn't know Google Maps could do if you want to learn about all the neat tricks.

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Microsoft can be slow to cure bugs at times – but you won’t believe how long it took to fix a CPU-related glitch preventing Windows 11 upgrades

After over two years of waiting, Microsoft has finally lifted a block on some Windows 10 PCs with Intel Rocket Lake CPUs that prevented users from upgrading to Windows 11 – so those folks should now be free to migrate (should they wish).

We’re all by now familiar with Windows 11’s more onerous system requirements – which includes a stipulation for having TPM, and rules out older CPUs to boot, but Rocket Lake is contemporary silicon and officially supported by Microsoft’s newest OS. Rocket Lake is, in fact, Intel’s 11th generation, so it’s only three generations back from current 14th-gen chips (Raptor Lake Refresh).

However, as mentioned, some of those PC owners who have a Rocket Lake processor were prevented from upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11, and this was due to a compatibility issue with 11th-gen CPUs and some driver versions for Intel Smart Sound Technology (SST).

The problem is that older SST drivers could cause the PC to crash with a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) when using Rocket Lake.

What’s really odd here is that the bug was discovered a long, long time ago – in November 2021 – and as Tom’s Hardware, which spotted this, points out, for those who had upgraded to Windows 11 and were hit by these BSoD crashes, a fix was offered up within weeks.

However, as is the case when a software or hardware compatibility issue is discovered, PCs that might run into the pinpointed gremlin are blocked from upgrading to prevent that from happening.

The trouble is Microsoft has only just lifted that block now, and finally marked the bug as resolved, almost two and a half years after this glitch was first discovered.

Analysis: Definitely not as fast as a speeding rocket

That’s not exactly moving fast, is it? And yes, the cure in this case did depend on an external source – an Intel driver update – but that was delivered in a relatively timely manner by Team Blue. As mentioned, the fix for those who’d already upgraded to Windows 11 on a Rocket Lake PC, and had run into the BSoD error, was provided not long after the issue was discovered.

So, why did it take Microsoft so long to actually get this fix delivered to Rocket Lake PCs via Windows Update, so the Windows 11 upgrade block could be removed? Well, we don’t know the answer, and the whole episode is very odd indeed. Until now, Microsoft just left the solution to this bug as pointing users to the Intel website to obtain the correct and updated drivers (rather than actually delivering them as part of Windows 10’s updates).

In case you wondering about the specifics here, the affected Intel SST driver versions are or If you’re running a PC with Rocket Lake on either of those versions, you need to upgrade to version or later, or or better, respectively.

You can now grab those versions via Windows Update – simply head there in Windows 10 and check for updates. Once installed, you should be free to upgrade to Windows 11, though not in every case – and not immediately.

Microsoft clarifies: “If your device still encounters this safeguard hold [block on upgrading to Windows 11] 48 hours after updating your drivers, it’s possible drivers for this Audio Controller [Intel SST] haven’t been developed for your specific device hardware configuration.”

So, bear in mind that even after installing the drivers, it could take up to 48 hours before you get offered the Windows 11 upgrade. However, if you aren’t offered it once you’ve waited out those two days, then you need to contact the manufacturer of your device and get them to help you on how best to proceed.

This is rather an anomaly, it has to be said – Microsoft taking such a ridiculously long time to get its house in order with a fix – and hopefully, we won’t be treated to any hold-ups quite this bad going forward.

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Sticking with Windows 11 22H2? If you can dodge forced upgrades, you’ll still get new features… for a little while

Windows 11 users holding out on version 22H2, rather than upgrading to 23H2 which was released late last year, just got a reprieve that means if they stick with the older incarnation of Microsoft’s OS they’ll still get feature updates – at least for a time.

Previously, Microsoft had stated that as of February 27, only monthly security updates would be provided for Windows 11 22H2 – meaning feature updates (non-security efforts) wouldn’t be piped through.

However, Neowin noticed that Microsoft just updated the release info for the February patch for Windows 11 22H2 to change the dates for those feature updates ceasing to be applied for 22H2.

What this means is Windows 11 Home and Pro users will now continue to get these non-security updates going forward, but the deadline has only been extended slightly – to June 26, 2024. (Although enterprise users will get these updates until June 24, 2025).

Analysis: Listening to feedback

So, in other words, Windows 11 Home and Pro will get non-security updates for March, April, May and June (when they weren’t going to previously). After that, though, it’s just security updates only, going forward.

This is an interesting move by Microsoft as the company isn’t in the habit of making such extensions to support deadlines. It does happen, but not often, and not usually in this kind of last-minute fashion.

What’s revealing is that in the blurb announcing the new end date, Microsoft says the change was made based on user feedback. Which would seem to suggest that Microsoft had some unhappy punters on their hands with the end date as it was.

Whatever the case, all updates will be halted by October 8, 2024, including security patches, as that’s when support ends for version 22H2.

However, very few people should be left on the OS at that point, as Microsoft is already forcing upgrades to Windows 11 23H2 (using an AI-powered automated process that started just last week).

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Intel upgrades Bluetooth for Windows 11 – and it’s great news for people with the PS5 DualSense controller

Intel has just released a new Wireless Bluetooth driver for Windows 11 (and Windows 10), and it looks like it could make DualSense, the official controller for the PlayStation 5, work even better with PCs.

As Neowin reports, the Intel Wireless Bluetooth 23.30.0 driver is available to download from the official Intel website for Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices.

According to the release notes, this driver includes “Improved connectivity to a second gaming controller (Dual Sense)”, as well as several new functional updates. Devices that have gone into hibernation or sleep modes will also be more stable when they wake up.

If you have a laptop or PC that comes with Intel processors, its built-in Bluetooth connectivity is likely based on Intel hardware, so you’ll probably be able to benefit from these new drivers.

Making perfect (Dual)Sense

While Bluetooth driver updates are often hardly the most exciting news, I am glad that support for the DualSense is getting improved for Windows 11 PCs.

The innovative DualSense controller, which has lots of clever haptic feedback tricks that make playing games more immersive, is one of the best things about the PS5 – and because it can be hooked up to a gaming laptop or gaming PC, it’s also one of the best PC controllers you can buy.

This is because not only is it a solidly built controller that is comfortable to hold, but you can also make use of its advanced haptic features – including triggers that change resistance depending on what you’re doing in-game.

DualSense controllers

(Image credit: Sony)

However, while you can connect a DualSense controller wirelessly to a PC via Bluetooth, to make use of the more advanced features, you still have to use a USB cable.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem like this driver update changes that – though I would love to see those features enabled for wirelessly-connected DualSense controllers. Instead, going by the release notes, it will allow people to connect two DualSense controllers to a single PC or laptop.

This is still a welcome development, as it will enable people to play local multiplayer and cooperative games on PC. To be honest, if these improvements keep coming, it’s making me less likely to buy a PS5 and just stick with my trusted gaming PC.

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Google has fixed an annoying Gemini voice assistant problem – and more upgrades are coming soon

Last week, Google rebranded its Bard AI bot as Gemini (matching the name of the model it runs on), and pushed out an Android app in the US; and while the new app has brought a few frustrations with it, Google is now busy trying to fix the major ones.

You can, if you want, use Google Gemini as a replacement for Google Assistant on your Android phone – and Google has made this possible even though Gemini lacks a lot of the basic digital assistant features that users have come to rely on.

One problem has now been fixed: originally, when chatting to Gemini using your voice, you had to manually tap on the 'send' arrow to submit your command or question – when you're trying to keep up a conversation with your phone, that really slows everything down.

As per 9to5Google, that's no longer the case, and Google Gemini will now realize that you've stopped talking (and respond accordingly) in the same way that Google Assistant always has. It makes the app a lot more intuitive to use.

Updates on the way

See more

What's more, Google Gemini team member Jack Krawczyk has posted a list of features that engineers are currently working on – including some pretty basic functionality, including the ability to interact with your Google Calendar and reminders.

A coding interpreter is apparently also on the roadmap, which means Gemini would not just be able to produce programming code, but also to emulate how it would run – all within the same app. Additionally, the Google Gemini team is working to remove some of the “preachy guardrails” that the AI bot currently has.

The “top priority” is apparently refusals, which means Gemini declines to complete a task or answer a question. We've seen Reddit posts that suggest the AI bot will sometimes apologetically report that it can't help with a particular prompt – something that's clearly on Google's radar in terms of rolling fixes out.

Krawczyk says the Android app is coming to more countries in the coming days and weeks, and will be available in Europe “ASAP” – and he's also encouraging users to keep the feedback to the Google team coming.

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YouTube TV could soon get some big upgrades for sports fans

Improvements are being made to YouTube TV ensuring sports fans can watch multiple games with little to no interruptions.

The annoying thing about watching sports online is there can sometimes be broadcast delays. This results in laggy streams and it's awful. Back in December 2023, YouTube introduced a way to temporarily reduce latency for up to 48 hours at a time. It ensures interference or fluctuating internet speeds don’t cause streams to freeze. But now, according to CordCuttersNews, the latency reduction option can be enabled permanently. 

Images on a 9To5Google report reveal text mentioning the 48-hour time limit is no longer present on Decreased Delay. What's more, it applies to all channels on the service. The publication states enabling the tool will only go into effect after closing and then reopening the app on Android TV. What’s interesting is that Decreased Delay is still labeled as an experimental feature so there could be some performance issues. It’s possible YouTube will patch Decreased Delay at a later time. Nothing's confirmed, right now.

Activating Decreased Delay is simple. On the YouTube TV app, select the three-dot menu then go to Broadcast Delay. The “Decrease” and “Default” options will be underneath that setting. The official YouTube TV Help page explains the former is best for minimizing playback interruptions while the latter is more for reducing “live spoilers.” 

Build your own stream

The second improvement is an update for Multiview. This feature was first released back in March 2023, giving users a way to stream up to four sports games at the same time. Back then, people were forced to pick from preset options. However, thanks to the new Build a Multiview tool, you can choose the four games you want to watch. 

Build a Multiview was initially discovered by a Reddit user who stumbled across the option one day on YouTube TV. They claim they were able to pick out a group from all of the games that were on at the time; not just from a specific sport. 

There is a catch: Build a Multiview is only seeing a limited release. Google told CordCuttersNews they’re currently testing the feature, so only a select few have access. But there are plans for a wider release. It’ll be available on “all devices that support multiview.” A full list of these devices can be found on the YouTube Help website. They include video game consoles, recent smart TVs, and streaming dongles like the third-generation Fire TV Stick.

Super Bowl 2024 kicks off on Sunday, February 11 and these updates could not have come at a better time. If you’re looking for a new TV to watch the big game, check out TechRadar’s list of the best smart TVs for 2024

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The Discord mobile app has 4 new upgrades we’ve all been waiting for

Today Discord is rolling out some much-needed updates to its mobile app which might finally make it feel like a proper alternative to the desktop version.

While I’ve had Discord installed on my phone for years I only ever turn to it as a last resort. It has been sluggish, more than a bit clunky, and was overall a less reliable experience than the version on my PC. Nine times out of ten a different app would be a better option. That might be about to change though, thanks to some improvements the Discord team has been working on with help from the community.

Speaking of which, if you’ve been trying out the experimental build of Discord, you might find some of the updates are familiar – that’s because today’s update is finally rolling the fine-tuned upgrades out to everyone. So now all mobile Discord users can take advantage of the app's new features which should improve load times, extend your phone's battery life, and use your data package more efficiently. 

More to come 

Alongside the updates highlighted below, Discord has a few more mobile app improvements up its sleeve that are set to arrive in the (hopefully near) future. This includes better search filters for finding the exact message or post you’re after, giving you more control over how compact lists and messages appear so that they suit your preferences, and adding a quick access option to see a server’s member list.

But let's get into the features you can take advantage of right now.

Discord icon on phone screen with logo on blurry background, Illustrative Editorial

Update your discord app today to see the improvements (Image credit: Shutterstock / Postmodern Studio)

Faster, more efficient chatting

The best upgrade to the Discord app is that it now opens much more quickly – with the new version reducing app opening times by 43% on iOS and 55% on Android. What’s more, when you hop between servers the mobile app now uses four times less data so you can hop between conversations without eating into as much of your monthly limit.

Android users should also notice the software is more reliable. Over the past year, the team says they’ve cut the crash rate by half for people using Android phones and tablets.

Midnight dark mode is here 

A screenshot of the new black Midnight Mode on Discord Mobile

A proper dark mode is finally here (Image credit: Discord)

Second on my list of Discord upgrades is that the app finally has a proper dark mode. Discord’s old Dark mode just wasn’t dark enough, but thankfully it now has Midnight mode that hits the mark by making menus black – with it not only adding some subjective style but also offering reduced battery drain on phones with an OLED display. 

By tapping on your profile picture, then the Settings cog wheel, you can scroll down to see your app’s Appearance settings. From here, tap Theme and you can now select Midnight (or the other free Dark and Light themes), or perhaps one of the funky color options if you pay for Nitro.

Media sharing simplified 

If you’re looking to share snaps via a DM or in your server’s picture chat, everything should feel a lot more organized.

With this new update, Discord mobile gained the ability to send images and videos as a neatly packed gallery that you could swipe through without having to scroll through a huge trail of images in the main chat. 

This should help to keep your conversations clearer, without losing the ability to share fun snaps or clips.

Cleaner call UI

A screenshot of the new leaner call UI on Discord Mobile

The call UI isn’t massively different, but feels better (Image credit: Discord)

Last but not least, the voice and video call user interface has been redesigned to offer a more intuitive and “cozy” space when you’re on a call while out on the go. It's also now a little more seamless to jump into one of Discord's inbuilt games with other members of the call, based on our experience with the experimental build. 

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