Windows 11 gets a bunch of small but useful changes – including something nifty for Notepad

Microsoft has pushed out a new preview build for Windows 11, and made some useful changes in the earliest development channel – plus the company has applied some nifty tweaks for default apps in testing, too.

Let’s start with the freshly deployed preview build 25941 in the Canary channel, which introduces a toggle to turn on dynamic refresh rate (in Advanced Display settings). This allows Windows 11 to adjust the refresh rate of the screen on-the-fly, so when you don’t need to be running at the display’s maximum refresh, it can be toned down, thus saving a bit of power with your high refresh rate display.

Another related tweak is that when choosing a refresh rate, Windows 11 will now mark rates (with an asterisk) that can’t currently be selected due to the resolution you’re running at (but could be used at a different resolution).

Build 25941 also has a raft of bug fixes as detailed in Microsoft’s blog post introducing this new preview version.

Elsewhere in testing, Microsoft has rolled out updates for the Snipping Tool and Notepad apps in Windows 11 (for Canary and also Dev channel testers).

With the Snipping Tool, users now get the benefit of a ‘combined capture bar,’ a panel that easily allows you to switch between capturing screenshots and video clips. And with those videos, screen recording has been bolstered so you can record the PC audio and a voiceover using a microphone should you wish.

As for Notepad, this is getting an auto-save feature. Anything you write will be saved, and sessions will be saved when you close Notepad, coming back up when you next start the app.

Analysis: Small tweaks with bigger results

Dynamic refresh rate is a neat feature to see arrive in Canary (it was previously in Dev channel, too), and hopefully this will be inbound for beta builds before too long, and shuffling its way through to the release version of Windows 11.

It’s going to be of considerable benefit to laptop owners, as the energy savings to be made by lowering the refresh rate (where possible – such as when you have a screenful of text you’re reading, which really doesn’t require any smoothness) will add up to longer battery life when out and about.

As for the beefed-up Snipping Tool, that’s a more streamlined experience, and the support for voiceovers will doubtless be welcomed by those knocking up, say, a quick help video on how to do something on the Windows 11 desktop.

It’s certainly useful to give Notepad auto-save – it’s a favorite app for some folks – for obvious reasons (and there’s the ability to switch it off, if you don’t want it). What’s also cool about this is that you don’t have to engage with any dialog boxes (such as confirming ‘Do you want to save?’). Notepad just keeps the content saved without prompting you when you close the app, bringing the text back when it’s reopened.

Via Neowin

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Microsoft’s ChatGPT-powered Bing AI just got a really useful new feature

Microsoft is in the process of adding a new feature to its Bing chatbot that will considerably increase the utility value of the AI, namely image recognition.

Bing Vision is being tested with a small number of chatbot users at present, as Neowin reports, and it lets those folks upload an image for a query. In other words, instead of typing text, you can sling the AI a picture, and it’ll identify it and provide information on the image.

Neowin flags up some of the people on Twitter who’ve got to play with Bing Vision, and their results include the chatbot identifying an Egyptian temple from a photo, which is a good example of how you might be able to use the facility.

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In another instance, a scan of a maths equation was fed to the chatbot which correctly identified it as the ‘Schrodinger equation’, and there’s a further example where a humorous cartoon is analyzed and explained by the AI.

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to get Bing AI to flex its image recognition muscles, that’s because only a niche set of users are getting the feature right now, as mentioned at the outset. We’re told by Microsoft’s head of advertising and web services, Mikhail Parakhin, that it’s currently just over 10% of the user base.

Analysis: Bing Vision is coming to everyone soon

You’re pretty lucky if you’ve got this image recognition system enabled, then, as not many folks have at this point. Do note that it is only available on desktop PCs, by the way, as Bing Vision isn’t yet being offered on mobile devices.

Clearly, this is a useful extra string to the bow of the AI that can help in all sorts of potential ways for image-based queries, as we can see from those who’ve already tried it out on Twitter.

See a picture of a beautiful beach, lake, mountain, or town, and wonder where it is? Chuck that image at Bing and it should hopefully be able to tell you not just the location, but further details, say, on how you might plan a trip there.

The feature should be much more broadly rolled out in a few weeks, Parakhin tells us, and that will include mobile users too – in fact, it should arrive for everyone by then. Good stuff.

Microsoft is working at a pretty fast pace to expand the capabilities of Bing AI, which isn’t surprising given that AI is the talk of the town right now. Microsoft just ushered in voice input for desktop PCs (previously this was mobile-only), as well as improving this feature for mobiles (and adding an iOS widget for Bing Chat, to boot).

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Leaks suggest iOS 17 could make your iPhone way more useful in the home

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2023 event is happening soon (June 5, 2023) and like clockwork, the leaks are popping up. The rumors this time suggest iOS 17 will have a new lock screen that will turn your iPhone into a sort of smart display.

What gives this rumor more credence than others is the fact it comes from notable industry insider Mark Gurman from Bloomberg. He claims in a recent report that Apple is looking for a way to “make iPhones more useful when they’re [sitting] on a person’s desk or nightstand.” The tech is reportedly based on the customizable lock screen from iOS 16 which allows “users “to see small snippets of information”. 

Beyond that, not much else is known. Gurman’s anonymous sources state the iOS 17 features function similar to Amazon’s Echo Show displays and it’ll utilize a “dark background with bright text” similar to the Apple Watch's Nightstand Mode.

Smart home expansion

It's been known for a while now the company has been working on growing the smart home side of its business. All the way back in January of this year, rumors were floating around stating the tech giant is planning to launch a low-end iPad as the company’s first official smart home controller. Gurman’s report states it’s been “designed to control things like thermostats” and house lights, as well as “show video”.

It's hard to say whether or not Apple wants the iPhone to play a bigger role in its smart home plans. Sure, a smart display is useful for displaying basic information, but there has to be more to it than that. And we can't help but wonder how this will affect the Matter standard

The protocol is in dire need of some support, after all. Matter 1.1 recently launched, and what was supposed to be a major upgrade, but without more device-type support, it's a little underwhelming. Looking at Gurman’s leaks, there isn’t a single word about Matter, which is rather concerning.

Either way, mum's the word for now.  Gurman states that “an Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on [the company's] plans for iOS 17.”

A peek at the future

As for the rest of the report, it mostly consists of previously seen leaks like watchOS 10 getting widgets as part of a major revamp and the world premiere of the company’s VR headset. Some of the more interesting tidbits, however, include “significant changes to the iPhone’s Wallet app” plus an AirPlay upgrade “to make it easier for users to beam [content] to devices they don’t own.” Apparently, Apple spoke to some hotels “that offer TVs and speakers” to make the latter possible.

Be sure to stay tuned for our coverage of WWDC 2023. We do expect to see the official reveal of iOS 17.

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Microsoft could cut one of Windows 11’s most useful features to save your PC

An early version of what is likely to end up being a major Windows 11 update has been rolling out to people signed up to test it out, and it looks like Microsoft is making a rather large change to one of the most useful features: Alt + Tab.

As Neowin reports, it looks like Microsoft will limit the amount of recent windows that you can scroll through when pressing the Alt + Tab keys on the keyboard.

A twitter user known as Xeno has been digging into the latest version, and noticed that in the ‘Multitasking’ settings of Windows 11, the limit of tabs you can quickly switch to (with each ‘tab’ representing an open application) has been reduced from an unlimited maximum to 20.

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While I’m not a big fan of Microsoft removing features and functionality from Windows 11, in this case, it might be a good move.


Alt + Tab is one of the oldest features of Windows, and one of its most useful. By holding down the Alt key, and then tapping the Tab key, you can quickly switch between open programs. This can be a lot faster than trying to find the open app on your desktop or taskbar, especially when using devices with smaller screens, such as laptops.

Alt + Tab lets you switch between full screen apps as well, such as games, rather than having to close them down, and it has been a life-saver for many people when an app or game becomes unresponsive, as you can Alt + Tab out of it and close it, rather than having to restart your entire PC and potentially lose any unsaved work.

Limiting the usefulness of this feature would certainly be worrying, but as Xeno points out in another tweet, 20 is still a big number of open apps. If you have huge amounts of apps all running in the background, your PC will start performing slowly – and trying to find the app or window you need quickly can also become a nightmare.

Because Alt + Tab allows you to instantly switch to apps and start using them, Windows 11 needs to keep them running in your PC’s memory (RAM), so having 20 or more will be a severe drain on resources, slowing down your computer and even potentially making it crash.

It seems to reduce the likelihood of these crashes, Microsoft has implemented the limit, and in this case, it’s probably the right thing to do. I’m terrible for closing apps once I’ve used them, but even I have never had more than 20 open at once to wade through. For extreme power users who often have lots of apps going at once, and have the best RAM to handle it, Windows 11 will at least let you quickly Alt + Tab between the 20 most recently-used apps. Bad news for the 21st app, but it’s likely you weren’t using it much anyway.

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Microsoft Teams update introduces a useful new way to control your calls

Dealing with dodgy audio levels on a Microsoft Teams call could soon be a thing of the past following a new update to the platform.

The company has revealed that users of its video conferencing service will soon be able to control aspects of calls using a Bluetooth device.

The change means users will soon be able to use a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone to answer or end a Microsoft Teams call, giving users much more flexibility, such as answering a call on the move, or at their desk.

Microsoft Teams Bluetooth

The news will allow Microsoft Teams users to use the buttons on a connected Bluetooth device to control their call, largely by answering, ending, or putting the call on hold.

Thes devices won't even require a USB dongle when connected to a Windows PC running Teams desktop client, and Microsoft says that for many headsets and speakerphones, this will work without requiring any user action to enable other than pairing the device with the PC.

It's likely that only certain devices will be able to use the feature to begin with, and Microsoft notes that users should stay tuned to its certification page for additional information about devices tested to meet all certification criteria with native Bluetooth connections soon.

The official Microsoft 365 roadmap notes that the feature is currently still in development, but is set to start rolling out to users in March 2022. When live, the feature will be available to all Microsoft Teams desktop users only, with no news of a mobile launch just yet.

The update could be good news for companies looking to upgrade their online collaboration hardware, and follows the recent launch of a new initiative designed to attract even more customers to Teams.

Microsoft recently announced a new device trade-in scheme whereby businesses can claim cash back on old video conferencing hardware and desk phones when they make the switch to Microsoft Teams. The scheme will be facilitated by a partnership with Network-Value, a company that specializes in global device trade-in and responsible equipment disposal.

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Squarespace users are getting some super useful new video tools

Top website hosting service Squarespace has announced a range of new video tools that it thinks will greatly please creators. 

Although embedding video, such as from YouTube, has always been possible on Squarespace, the new additions are focused on hosting and monetizing that video content, such as its relatively new Member Areas service. 

Broadly, the new tools let website owners sell access to video content, host video content directly, and upload up to 30 minutes of high-res content. There are also new tagging and merchandising tools. 

Squarespace video hosting

The company has also rebuilt its video player from scratch to accommodate the new features, which includes playback, speed, and resolution controls alongside deep integration with the Squarespace platform. 

“We launched Member Areas in 2020 to provide creators with a new way to sell content through memberships,” said Squarespace. “Since then, we’ve seen an increase in video content being utilised, and to help customers better leverage this medium, our latest releases offer a seamless way to monetise video content such as classes.”

Hosting video, and offering extensive tools to manage it, puts Squarespace more directly in competition with the likes of Patreon and YouTube, both of which offer options to monetise content. OnlyFans is also now a direct rival, although it remains unclear what Squarespace's content moderation policy says about adult content. 

In recent days, Substack, the newsletter platform, has also added the ability to host video for creators in beta, a feature that will be well-received by those with many subscribers already paying for their services. 

Via Engadget

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Firefox Relay may not be as useful as you thought

A major debate has erupted online after Firefox's Relay offering was nearly added to a list of “burner” email services.

There is a list on the GitHub repository, with hundreds of burner email services, used by many service providers to prevent customers from using such tools  (such as, for example, 10minutemail) to register an account, and force them into using legitimate emails.

Companies do this for a number of reasons – to prevent abuse (someone might register hundreds of accounts to take advantage of a free offer), or to ensure that the service provider’s mailing list is useful.

Burner emails

Users, on the other hand, enjoy burner emails as they allow them to register for a service without having to sign up for a mailing list and receive multiple promotional emails every day. 

Recently, a co-maintainer of the list suggested that the “” domain be added to the list, prompting a major discussion on the forums, and drawing the attention of the media.

Relay is Firefox’s email privacy service, giving users free email aliases to use whenever they want to sign up for an online account anywhere. According to Mozilla, Relay’s goal is to preserve the privacy of its users’ email addresses, and comes as both a free service, and a paid Premium service.

Turning anti-abuse measures into weapons

Firefox Relay works by sending and forwarding email messages from the alias address to the primary email address. Besides the five free aliases, users are also allowed to get up to 150kb attachments.

Unlike burner emails, these aliases do not disappear unless deleted by the user, and are perceived by the users as “purely a privacy tool”.

“My reasoning on including this is that an email with a mozmail domain is never going to be a primary email and is always going to forward to some other address,” the co-maintainer, Dustin Ingram, explained.

But some people weren’t buying it. A GitHub user going by the alias worldofgeese said the GitHub repo “looks like it’s used, or can potentially be used, as a weapon by providers trying to rob users of one of the few defenses they have to their email address leaking, a scarily common occurrence, which are then weaponized by bad actors to flood those users' inboxes with spam.”

“Can you not do this? You look like extremely bad actors. Please don't contribute to an unsafe internet. I use Private Relay to protect my personal mail address, not as a tool for spam. I'm not even sure how a user would use Private Relay for spam, as users cannot begin email chains with a Relay address, only respond to mails delivered to those addresses.”

Via: BleepingComputer

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