Google is working on a faster Android setup process that uses Wi-Fi and a cable

Setting up your Android phone might become much faster in the near future. Industry insider Assemble Debug recently dove into the code of Google’s Data Restore Tool and shared his findings with Android Authority. He found evidence within the files of a potential tool referred to as “MultiTransportD2dTransport” as well as a line of text that reads “Copying using cable and Wi-Fi for fastest speed”. 

Putting two and two together, it appears Google could one day allow users to move data from an old phone to a new one using a Wi-Fi and cable connection simultaneously. Doing so would make the transfer process much faster – at least in theory. We don’t know exactly how much faster data transfers will become when using a wired and wireless connection simultaneously. Assemble Debug couldn’t find a whole lot of information in the files. 

He did, however, discover another line of text stating: “Want to speed things up?” This seems to hint that the faster speeds will be optional. If someone prefers to use the slower method of just connecting a cable between the devices, they will still have the choice.

New restoration tool

Another feature called Restore Anytime was also unearthed from the Data Restore Tool files, but the information surrounding it is rather confusing. 

Looking at the screenshot in the article, users can easily send over photos, contacts, text messages, and more from an old Android smartphone to a newer device. You don’t have to worry about losing any data or perform a factory reset on the older hardware. Nothing will be overwritten. And it even works when transferring from iPhone to Android, so long as the former still has its charging cable.

Here is where the confusion lies. Android Authority claims the donor phone can only send data without incident if it’s already been used to transfer files to your current device. If you try to send files to brand new hardware, you will have to first erase all the data on the recipient phone before moving forward. However, the article contradicts this by stating you can transfer data to new devices “at any point.” 

It’s a strange feature. Perhaps Google has yet to create a clear set of parameters for Restore Anytime. That would explain why the restrictions are so confusing. Or maybe the tech giant is simply experimenting with tech it has no intention of releasing. It’s hard to say for sure, but hopefully, Restore Anytime will launch in some form. Being able to move swaths of data to recently purchased smartphones without hindrances or resetting sounds very helpful.

While we have you, check out TechRadar's list of the best Android phones for 2024.

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Windows 11 users can now try a new feature that uses an Android phone as a webcam – here’s how

Windows 11 users will soon be able to use their Android phones as webcams for video calls, an exciting development for people who don’t want to spend money on a webcam or work on the go and need one in a pinch. 

Earlier this month we reported on the feature being available to just a few select groups (referred to as ‘channels’) in the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft’s community for Windows enthusiasts who want to get early access to potential new features and Windows versions. The feature has had an expanded rollout to all Insider Channels, making it much easier to try it out for yourself. 

Members of the Windows Insider Program can give feedback ahead of a more widespread rollout. So, the fact that Microsoft is opening this feature up to more channels in the program suggests that it’s already taken feedback and improved upon the feature enough to allow more people to give it a try. 

Normally, a new feature being released across all Insider channels strongly suggests that we may see an imminent public release, which is an exciting development for those of us who have been waiting for the feature to drop. 

 Give it a go!  

If you’re not already in the Windows Insider Program, you’ll have to sign up first. It’s free to join, and all you have to do is make sure you’ll be using it on a PC that’s running Windows 10 or Windows 11. 

Once you’ve signed up you’ll need to install the latest preview build, and then make sure your phone is set up and ready to go. Your phone should be running Android 9.0 or later, with the Link to Windows app installed.

Before you can get video calling, you’ll need to quickly hop into your settings and make sure your phone is set as the desired streaming device. This means you’ll need to go to:

Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mobile devices

From there hit the ‘Manage Devices’ options and link your Android phone to your PC. You’ll be prompted to download a Cross-Device Experience Host update from the Microsoft Store and you should be ready to go!

Overall this feature should be very useful in the long term, whether you have one of the best webcams on the market or not. When I’m working on the commute or hot-desking it can be such a hassle to find an external webcam and carry it around with me – or having to resort to using the built-in webcam of a laptop, which sometimes isn’t very good quality, especially on older devices. The alternative is just using your phone to join meetings, which is fine, but does mean you have a rather small screen to look at. Of course, sometimes you just want to pick the camera up to show your team something cute your cat is doing, and this feature will be perfect for that as well.

Via MSPowerUser

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Apple Vision Pro patent reveals some less-creepy uses for its external display

The Apple Vision Pro headset is potentially just weeks from launching, if the latest rumors are to be believed, but a few new details about the external display may have been leaked via an Apple patent. 

According to the document (first reported on by Patently Apple) the headset’s external display won’t just be able to enable EyeSight – which shows onlookers the wearer's eyes in a kinda creepy way – but will also be able to display a much wider array of images.

A person wearing an Apple Vision Pro, you can see their eyes on the external display

How EyeSight looks on the Apple Vision Pro (Image credit: Apple)

So far Apple has only shown the Vision Pro’s external screen displaying two things: the wearer’s eyes when they’re in mixed reality, and a colorful pattern when they’re fully immersed in virtual reality. But using the display to show a wider mix of icons makes a lot of sense, and would be useful.

A flashing “do not disturb” sign, for example, could alert people around you that you’re in an important virtual meeting or trying to focus on something, while displaying a virtual scene on the external display would give people around you an idea of what you’re looking at. 

The patent also reveals alternatives to Apple’s realistic EyeSight feature. Rather than showing a photorealistic image, the wearer's eyes could be shown as digital dots and lines, in the style of an expressive robot – still a little creepy-looking, but maybe not so weird in practice.

Various Apple Vision Pro headsets showing different ways the external display could be used

Examples from Apple’s patent showing how the external display could be used (Image credit: Apple)

Other examples in the patent document, like the clock or current weather conditions, aren’t super-helpful while you’re wearing the headset but could be handy when you aren’t. While the Vision Pro is charging on your desk the external display could be set to show you useful info like what’s on your calendar for the day, or simply what charge the headset is at.

As with all tech patents, there’s no guarantee that we’ll ever see these features in action, and even if they are on their way to the Vision Pro, they might not be ready at launch or for a while after. Until the headset is in people’s hands we won’t know what it is or isn’t capable of.

However, if Apple is indeed close to launching the headset, it shouldn't be too long before all of our Vision Pro questions are finally answered.

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Watch out, Google – Bing search now uses AI to hone its results

Bing, Microsoft's search engine, has been powered up using AI.

Windows Central noticed that Microsoft penned a blog post about the generative AI captions which have been introduced to Bing search.

Normally, when you search for something on Bing, Microsoft’s engine returns results accompanied by a small snippet of text pulled from the page based on relevant key words.

Generative AI captions are different in that they offer a more context-based summary tailored to your search query.

Microsoft explains: “By analyzing a search query, [generative AI] extracts the most pertinent insights from web pages, and skillfully transforms them into highly relevant and easily digestible snippets.”

Every search query will prompt Bing to return a different snippet with the result, so even searching on the same topic, but with changed wording for the query, will mean generative AI (if it’s involved, of course) returning a different summary.

Analysis: A revolution in web search?

For those wary of having their website dealt with in this way, Microsoft further notes that while the generative AI-powered captions “may not mirror the exact wording on the webpage,” Bing employs a whole load of signals to ensure a precise and high-quality summary.

Those who remain unconvinced can opt their website out of generative AI captions if they wish.

Microsoft believes this initiative will “revolutionize the way people explore the web,” so the company is talking a pretty big game on this one.

It’s still early stages for the feature, of course, and a lot will depend on whether that promise of high-quality summaries is consistently realized.

Google isn’t standing still in this area, mind you, and already instigated its own program bringing generative AI to search, highlighting the key points of a web page in a similar vein (and more besides). This has been in testing throughout this year (since May), with it being rolled out much more broadly earlier this month.

AI is pretty much creeping into every area of computing, of course, and web searches will doubtless prove to be a rich avenue to explore.

Thus far, the addition of the Bing chatbot hasn’t helped drive traffic to Bing search, as Microsoft hoped – but perhaps generative AI will have more success in this respect. It’s a hugely uphill struggle against the might of Google, though, which has effectively become a verb meaning to search the web.

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Windows 11 gets a cool new look for a feature everyone uses – but nobody loves

Windows 11 has got a new preview build which comes with a whole lot of work on the interface, and other tweaks besides.

The most significant introduction with preview build 23493 (in the Dev channel), mind you, is the rollout of Windows Copilot – which we cover in-depth here – but there’s also a new home page for Settings, and a revamped volume mixer.

The home page for the Settings app provides an overview of the status of various bits and bobs pertaining to your PC – for example, cloud storage used (in OneDrive), and messages about your Microsoft Account (relating to security, as shown in Microsoft’s example, where you’re reminded to add a recovery email address).

The home page is actually divided into different ‘cards’ (panels), and the most important cards we see in this first take on the idea are Personalization and Recommended Settings.

The Personalization card provides easy access to basic customization options for Windows 11, a useful touch. But the real prize here is those recommended settings, which intelligently present changes based on “your specific usage patterns”, saving you time by allowing you to apply commonly used (or recently used) settings right on the home page when needed.

Windows 11 Settings Home Page

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Moving on to the revamped volume mixer (accessed via the system tray, far-right of the taskbar), this offers the ability to not just swiftly adjust the volume, but you can do so on a per-app basis.

The new mixer panel also allows you to quickly swap your output device, plus options for switching Spatial Audio formats are provided here too. On top of that, Microsoft has implemented a new keyboard shortcut to bring the mixer straight up (Windows key + CTRL + V).

Preview build 23493 also expands support for compressed file formats (not just ZIP, but also RAR, TAR, 7-Zip, and much more – this was a much-wanted tweak Microsoft announced last month, you may recall). Furthermore, Microsoft says it has improved the performance of archiving files in Windows 11, so you should see this happen faster.

There are a bunch of other changes in this preview version, all detailed in Microsoft’s blog post. Another notable one is making Snap Layout suggestions, where recommended window layout options are presented to the user complete with app icons to show which programs will go where.

Analysis: Ready, Settings, Go!

That Recommended Settings card looks like a big benefit for Windows 11 users, and should mean you have to take fewer trips deep into the cogs and machinery of the Settings subpages to make any necessary adjustments to the OS.

Nobody likes having to search around in Settings, as it can be a head-scratching affair trying to find what you need, and on-tap suggestions based on your previous usage of Windows 11 should be very handy.

On top of that, we have Windows Copilot coming in to make performing changes and switching on features in Windows 11 a far easier process, so between these two new elements of the interface, the operating system should be much improved when it comes to tweaking settings.

The volume mixer overhaul is a nice addition to boot. Want to turn down the volume for just your browser? That’s now possible with the per-app volume controls, and the new panel also makes it very easy to configure some important settings, like the chosen output speaker, and that’s just more added convenience.

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