Watch out, Apple Vision Pros are reportedly cracking all on their own

If you’ve spent $ 3,500 or more on the Apple Vision Pro you’d be understandably frustrated if you damaged the outer screen and had to pay $ 799 (or $ 299 with Apple Care) to get it fixed. But imagine how much more annoyed you’d be if it cracked for seemingly no reason at all.

That’s what some people are taking to social media to complain about, after they discovered cracks extending upwards from the nose bridge of their pricey Apple headset – which they all claim appeared despite them never dropping, bumping, or damaging the headset.

Reddit user dornbirn explained that after putting their headset away for the night they woke up and found a large crack extending from the nose bridge. u/ContributionFar8997, u/inphenite, and u/Wohinbistdu all shared similar complaints to the Vision Pro Subreddit, with images of their Vision Pro’s showing practically identical cracks extending from the nose bridge.

You should always take posts on the internet with a pinch of salt, but the fact that every crack looks the same and has seemingly appeared while the headset wasn’t in use suggests that this is some kind of manufacturing issue rather than user error.

We’ve reached out to Apple to find out what's causing the apparent cracks and if it has any advice for Vision Pro customers who are worried about their screens breaking.

Cracked Vision Pro Update: good ending! from r/VisionPro

Why are Vision Pro screens cracking? 

It’s not clear exactly why the outer screen is cracking, but the reports we’ve seen all come from people who discovered the Vision Pro was damaged after leaving the device charging with the front cover on.

Our best guess right now is that as the headset charges it heats up, and because of the cover this heat doesn’t dissipate quickly. As the outer screen warms it expands, with perhaps one of the inner layers expanding faster than the outer layer causing tension.

Given the nose bridge is the area with the most complex curved design it makes sense this would be the place where the tension is at its highest. So when the screen can’t take anymore this is where it would most likely crack – explaining why all the images show near identical damage.

We're not engineers though, so to know for sure we'll need to wait for an official Apple explanation of what's causing the cracks.

An Apple support employee in an Apple Store with customers.

Apple Store support staff should be able to help  (Image credit: Apple)

I have a Vision Pro, what should I do? 

Because there are so many unknown factors it’s tough to say exactly what measures you should take to avoid the same issue happening to your Vision Pro. 

Based on the current evidence we’d suggest that you don’t charge the headset with the cover on and that you don’t leave it charging for longer than is necessary. However, the best thing to do is to keep an eye out for Apple’s official guidance, and if a crack forms in your Vision Pro contact support as soon as you can. 

While some users have said the Apple Care support team hasn’t been the most helpful – asking them to pay to get the screen fixed – u/Wohinbistdu posted an update to their original Reddit post saying that they were able to take their Vision Pro to the Apple Store and get a replacement unit. Their original has apparently been sent off for Apple’s engineers to investigate.

This was 12 days ago at the time of writing so hopefully Apple is close to finding what’s causing the problems, and is almost ready with a fix.

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Watch out: soon some older PCs will lose Windows 11 support

Since its launch, Windows 11 has been plagued by compatibility issues due to its high-spec demands that excluded plenty of PCs. But now even more will be left in the cold thanks to a new update.

The upcoming version 24H2 update, which has been rumored to launch in September 2024, will no longer boot on computers that use very old processors; specifically, the kind that doesn’t support the POPCNT (population count) instruction, according to Twitter/X user Bob Pony.

Many of the system files will require the POPCNT CPU instruction from the Windows 11 kernel to the USB XHCI drivers, the tweet states, meaning that any processors without it cannot run the operating system.

POPCNT was made standard in CPUs in the mid-2000s starting from AMD's Barcelona architecture, followed by Intel's first-gen Core i-series processors. This means that PCs manufactured in the past 15 years shouldn’t be affected by this new Windows 11 requirement. It also shouldn’t affect modern PCs unsupported by the OS, so those who've managed to find a workaround would still be able to run Windows post-update.

Windows 11 support could be the better option 

As user-unfriendly as this new update will be for those running PCs with old processors, it makes sense from Microsoft’s viewpoint to force users to run Windows 11 on newer machines. The 24H2 update will be ushering in some massive changes that will heavily focus on next-gen AI experiences, as well as various performance and security updates and new features.

In order to ensure that all these new features actually work as planned with the OS, the tech giant needs to make sure that spec requirements are up to snuff to run them – especially as it expands Microsoft Copilot support, since that’s supposed to enhance the Windows interface and boost productivity in terms of apps, search, and more.

And as off-putting as the growing emphasis on Copilot and other AI features and tools can be, at least Microsoft is only focusing on updating Windows 11 and doesn’t seem to be switching to a whole new OS, Windows 12. While tempting, such a move could fracture an already heavily divided user base that overwhelmingly still supports Windows 10.

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Watch out Windows 11 users: Microsoft may be sharing your Outlook emails without you knowing – here’s how to stop it

It looks like Microsoft’s penchant for collecting its users’ data may get it in more trouble, with a worrying new report suggesting that it's sharing more information from emails sent by the new Outlook for Windows app than people may know.

This is particularly concerning as most people check their emails daily, to keep up with friends and family, or send important documents and information at work, and with the Outlook for Windows app now being the default program for emails in Windows 11, this discovery could impact a lot of people

MSPoweruser reports that the team behind ProtonMail, an end-to-end encrypted email service and competitor to Microsoft Outlook, has discovered the worrying scale of user data being collected by Outlook for Windows, which reportedly includes your emails, contacts, browsing history, and possibly even location data. 

ProtonMail’s blog post goes so far as to call Outlook for Windows  “a surveillance tool for targeted advertising”, a harsh comment, certainly, but people who downloaded the new Outlook for Windows app have encountered a disclaimer that explains how Microsoft and hundreds of third parties will be helping themselves to your data. 

It seems like the majority of the data is being used primarily for advertising purposes, with users having to opt out of sharing their data for each of the 772 companies manually. This means that by default you may be sharing a heck of a lot of information, and if you wish to opt out, the process is time-consuming and annoying. 

Here we go again … 

Microsoft has a rather dubious past of being quite greedy with user data. This time last year you might remember our report detailing serious privacy concerns users had with Windows 11, with the PC Security Channel uploading a YouTube video that demonstrated that before you even connect to the internet or open an app, Windows 11 was collecting and sending data to Microsoft – and possibly third-party servers.  

That being said, we should remember that ProtonMail is a direct competitor of Microsoft’s email apps and services, and the team behind it would be very keen to direct criticism at Outlook for Windows. ProtonMail is a service dedicated to user privacy and keeping users' email (as well as calendar, file storage, and VPN) encrypted, so we do have to keep in mind the team’s motives for highlighting this, as the company would want to make its privacy and security look much better than Outlook. 

We also have to consider the fact that Outlook for Windows is a free app, so you could argue that Microsoft can support the app and continue adding features by providing user data to paying third parties.  Regardless, while you can technically opt out of the data sharing, it’s still cheeky of Microsoft to have the opt-out option be a per-advertiser toggle click rather than a simple ‘reject all’ button. But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. 

Opt out as fast as you can!

If all of this has you concerned and itching to opt out entirely, we’ve got you covered. Head over to the General section of your Outlook for Windows settings and you should see an option called ‘Advertising Preferences’. When you click that you’ll see a large list of company names and toggles near their name set to ‘enable’. 

Unless you create a brand new Outlook email, from what we can tell there’s no single button that will deselect all of them, so you may have to set some time aside to sit down and deselect them all. Each advertiser has an option for you to read more about their privacy policies, and once you open that you’ll see another option to opt out. 

Microsoft Outlook

(Image credit: Future)

I created a new Outlook email account just to test it out, and the option to reject all did pop up when Outlook for Windows first opened, and I also have the option to deselect all the advertising preferences at once in the Settings page as well, though that might not appear for people who have already set up the app with an existing Outlook account. 

If sharing our data by default is the price we have to pay for free apps like Outlook for Windows, at least Microsoft seems to have made turning off that sharing easier than ProtonMail’s team have made out. Still, this shows that it’s well worth paying attention to user agreements and disclaimers for free apps, especially from Microsoft, so you know exactly how much of your data you’re sharing – and who has access to it.

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Google Bard can now watch YouTube videos for you (sort of)

Google has bolstered the powers of Bard AI regarding YouTube videos, with the AI now capable of tapping into a better level of understanding such content.

Google posted about the latest update for Bard and how these are the ‘first steps’ in allowing the AI to understand YouTube videos, and pull out relevant info from a clip as requested.

The example given is that you’re hunting out a YouTube explainer on how to bake a certain cake, and you can ask Bard how many eggs are required for the recipe in the video that pops up.

Bard is capable of taking in the whole video and summarizing it, or you can ask the AI specific questions as mentioned, with the new feature enabling the user to have ‘richer conversations’ with Bard on any given clip.

Another recent update for Bard improved its maths powers, specifically for equations and helping you solve tricky ones – complete with straightforward step-by-step explanations (just in English to begin with). Those equations can be typed in or supplied to Bard via an uploaded image.


Analysis: YouTube viewing companion

These are some useful new abilities, particularly the addition for YouTube, which builds on Google’s existing extensions for Bard that hook up to the company’s services including the video platform.

It’s going to be pretty handy to have Bard instantly pull up relevant details such as the mentioned quantities for recipes. Or indeed specifics you can’t recall when having just watched a video, to save you having to rewind back through to try and find those details.

The maths and equation-related skills are going to be a boon, too. The broad idea here is not just to show a solution, but teach how that solution was arrived at, thus equipping you to deal with other similar problems down the line.

Via Neowin

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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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How to watch Meta Connect 2023: tune in for the Meta Quest 3, AI updates, and more

Meta is due to host Meta Connect 2023, its annual hardware and software event, live from its headquarters in Menlo Park, California on September 27-28. The event's keynote kicks off on September 27 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST, or 3am AEST on September 28 for Australia.

The highlight of this year’s two-day showcase will be the official unveiling of the Meta Quest 3 headset, and we also anticipate a host of announcements around the company’s various AI and software developments.

Meta Quest 3 with the front face and parts exploding upwards

(Image credit: Meta )

Meta Connect 2023 will be the company’s first in-person showcase since the pandemic, with most of the big announcements likely to happen during that keynote presented by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. This will be followed by the Developer State of the Union presentation, which will feature the latest updates from Reality Labs for developers working on software for Meta's XR ecosystem

The Meta Quest 3's full unveiling will follow a brief teaser at last year’s Connect 2022, which was followed by an announcement from Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook and Instagram in June. This major hardware reveal aside, it seems as though the 2023 event will largely focus on software innovation, including details of enhancements coming to Meta’s hardware as well as its expanding developments in AI and the Metaverse. 

You’ll be able to follow the pre-show news, and all the big announcements as they happen, at our Meta Connect live blog – here's everything you need to know to get prepped.  

How to watch Meta Connect 2023

Meta Connect's keynote kicks off 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST on Wednesday September 27, which is 3am AEST on Thursday September 28 for Australia.

You can watch the event through Meta’s livestream on Facebook or, alternatively, you can sign up to attend Meta Connect 2023 virtually and receive news and updates directly to your inbox.

If you already have a Meta Quest headset, you can also watch the event inside the Horizon Worlds app, with the keynote being streamed in 3D.

A laptop screen on a blue background showing the Meta Connect 2023 homescreen

(Image credit: Meta)

We’ll be live-blogging the event, so you’ll also be able to follow the pre-show news, and all the big announcements as they happen, with us. 

What to expect at Meta Connect 2023

We already know that the hardware highlight of Meta Connect 2023 is likely to be the official unveiling of the Meta Quest 3, the VR headset that’s the successor to the Meta Quest 2.

While this announcement is confirmed, we don’t have many details about the Quest 3, and what upgrades it will bring over the current model – but we do have some thoughts on what we’d like to see. We also don’t know if new software will be announced to support what we expect will be the Quest 3’s improved specs, although we expect new VR games and software will be released that take advantage of the Quest 3’s enhanced performance.

Meta Quest 3 floating next to its two controllers, they're all facing towards us, and are clad in white plastic

(Image credit: Meta )

In the last two years, Meta has revealed that it's been working on developing AR (augmented reality) tech, although it’s yet to announce a dedicated AR device. This year’s Connect might be when that changes, and it's likely that we’ll get an announcement about some type of augmented reality hardware. We imagine that augmented reality glasses are next on Meta’s to-do list, although Meta hasn’t confirmed this, and we’ve seen little in the way of rumors about possible specs and features.

Microsoft 365 app logos including Teams, Word and Outlook surrounding the CoPilot hexagon

Maybe the AI Copilot will come to Quest as well (Image credit: Microsoft/GTS)

Meta’s innovative approach to improving software is another area where we expect some headline-grabbing announcements, starting with a long-awaited partnership with Microsoft. We could see Microsoft Office programs like Excel and Word optimized for the Quest hardware platform, with the two companies having announced the collaboration at Connect 2022.

In light of Microsoft Office coming to VR, it was hinted at last year’s Connect 2022 that Xbox gaming would be integrated into virtual reality through Meta, but this is only a possibility right now given the lack of details.

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Got a blank YouTube homepage? You may now need to turn on your watch history

YouTube users from across the internet have reported encountering a homepage completely devoid of content. That’s because the platform has decided it will no longer provide video recommendations if an account's watch history has been turned off “and [has] no significant prior [history]” available. 

The company quietly made the announcement on a support page explaining certain features like your personal home feed require a watch history to function normally. Moving forward, users who won’t allow YouTube to keep track will only see a search bar at the top of their page plus the four buttons on the left-hand guide menu. The platform states this update is to provide people a “more streamlined [experience] for those… who prefer to search rather than browse recommendations.” It can also push users to become more acquainted with subscribed channels or the Topics tab as they won’t be distracted by a wall of videos.

Rolling out

A YouTube Community Manager said these changes will be rolling out slowly, “over the next few months” starting today, but as stated earlier, a few already have the update. Posts on X (formerly known as Twitter) and Reddit show the blank home pages on the YouTube mobile app as well as on desktop. All you’ll see is a window stating your watch history setting is currently disabled. 

You can check if the patch has reached your account by going over to your Google Account’s Activity Controls. Scroll down to the bottom and you'll see the YouTube History entry where you can turn it off or make a few adjustments. Return to your account and see if anything’s different. 

watch history entry in Activity Controls

(Image credit: Future)

User response

The response from users has been mixed. On one hand, you have people who are pretty happy, even ecstatic, since their YouTube account will be a lot cleaner. Home feeds won’t be inundated with unwelcome content just because they played a random video one time. Others, however, are less keen stating this kills a “huge part” of YouTube. Part of the fun is having the algorithm feed you videos you may like, leading you to discover hidden gems on the site. Some simply don't like the idea of having a completely empty home page or needing to reactivate their watch history.

See more

Now if only YouTube would allow us to opt out of seeing advertisements, but that’s wishful thinking. We’ll just have to make do with installing an ad blocker on our browser. 

Speaking of which, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best ad blockers for 2023

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The Apple Watch could see huge changes with watchOS 10

If you want an upgraded Apple Watch experience you might not have to buy a new Apple Watch to get it, as it sounds like the next major operating system update – likely to be dubbed watchOS 10 – will include substantial changes for existing models like the Apple Watch 8.

That’s according to Mark Gurman, in his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg (via 9to5Mac). Specifically, Gurman says “I believe the new watchOS should be a fairly extensive upgrade – with notable changes to the user interface – unlike iOS 17.”

Gurman doesn’t get more specific than that, but we might not have to wait long to find out more about this “extensive upgrade”, as watchOS 10 will almost certainly be announced at Apple’s WWDC 2023 conference on June 5.

We’ll probably also see the first developer beta launch there, followed not too long after by public betas, though the finished software probably won’t be available until around September, when it's expected to be released alongside the Apple Watch 9.

Big software updates and small hardware ones

However, the Apple Watch 9 itself might not prove that tempting, with Gurman adding that “it’s important for watchOS to have a big year given that the Apple Watch hardware updates will be anything but major.”

This claim echoes the few Apple Watch 9 rumors we’ve heard so far, which suggest it will be a lot like the Apple Watch 8. Other leaks suggest we might not see an Apple Watch Ultra 2 or the Apple Watch SE 3 until 2024, so that could be a huge year for Apple Watch hardware, with the Apple Watch 10 (or Apple Watch X as it might be called) also rumored to be getting big upgrades.

But this year? It seems Apple’s focus will very much be on software updates rather than hardware ones. So if you already have an Apple Watch 8 or an older model, you might find that you get most of this year's upgrades by downloading them to your current Watch, rather than having to splash out on a new device.

Of course, we’d take Gurman’s claims with a pinch of salt, but he has a pretty good track record, so there’s a strong chance he’s right. In which case, our guide to the best Apple Watches might not see much change this year, but the wearable you already have might soon feel new and exciting again.

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ChatGPT lands on the Apple Watch and Siri should be worried

Just a few months after its integration into Bing, ChatGPT has made the leap to iOS as a third-party app exclusively for the Apple Watch.

It’s called Petey – AI Assistant and it was created by developer Hidde van de Ploeg (listed as Modum B.V. on the App Store). Originally, it was known as watchGPT, but due to trademarking issues with the acronym “GPT”, the name had to be changed. Looking at a demo video posted by the developer on Twitter, Petey functions similarly to Siri. You open the app, ask it a question and it answers in just a few seconds via Text to Speech. To continue an inquiry, you swipe down on the watch face, then tap Reply. Unlike Apple’s own Siri, Petey as an assistant can provide fairly complex answers like giving steps on how to catch a fish.

One of the problems with voice assistants like Siri is that they are fairly rigid in what they can do. You have to ask those AIs specific questions in a certain manner to get a response. ChatGPT, on the other hand, is more flexible in what it can do, from writing business letters to even drafting Christmas stories. It’s hard to say exactly how capable Petey is, but at the very least, it appears you won’t have to struggle with it as much.

A work in progress

Petey is a work in progress as new features are constantly being added. Right now you have a handful to work with. For starters, you can share the responses with other people “via text, email, or social media” although the App Store listing doesn’t specify which ones.

The app can be set as a complication on the Apple Watch’s face for quick access. Support for multiple languages is growing as well, bringing the total to 14.  Petey now supports German, Italian, and Japanese, just to name a few. Also if you prefer, Petey comes with a tiny, on-screen keyboard so you can type in your questions. You’re probably better off using your voice.

As for future updates, there are several things in the works. From what is known, van der Ploeg is working on adding a History tool so you can go back to a previous question, making vocal inputs the default setting, and improving the app’s overall performance so you can ask it multiple questions.

There are a couple of caveats, however. One: the app isn’t free as you’ll have to purchase it for $ 4.99 (about £4, over $ 7 AUD, and almost €5) on the App Store. To use Petey, you must have an Apple Watch running on watchOS 9 or up. So make sure you update your device if you haven't already. We should mention the software does not collect user data so rest assured, your privacy is safe.

Users with an Android smartwatch will be out of luck, unfortunately. When asked about a potential Android version, van der Ploeg said there won't be one as his “skillset wouldn't allow [for] that”.

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iOS 15.4 update saves you going to an Apple Store to restore your Watch

With the release of iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5, Apple has finally made it easier to restore your Apple Watch without having to take it to an Apple Store for a Genius appointment.

Since its first release back in 2015, if you had an issue with your Watch where a factory reset wouldn't solve the issue, there was no direct port to plug in a lightning cable to restore from iTunes – similar to what you would do with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

A trip to an Apple Store close by to book a Genius appointment would be the only option, where their tech support would be able to forcibly restore your Watch through a secret data port.

But with iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5, this can be done anywhere, saving you a long trip and a headache.


Analysis: A long time coming

The ability to restore your own iPhone has been the standard since the first iPhone in 2007.

But while the Apple Watch has always had a secret data port that's at the bottom of the smartwatch, it's a port that's never been intended for consumer use, only by Apple. You would go to an Apple Store, see its tech support, or Genius as they're called, and they would be able to use this port to reset your Watch.

However there are situations where an Apple Store could be hundreds of miles away, and you've got a paperweight on your wrist. This is why it's a relief to have this feature in iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5.

Apple Watch in recovery mode

(Image credit: Apple)

All you need to do is place the Watch on a charger, press the side button twice, and a pop-up should appear on your iPhone, explaining that it's discovered an Apple Watch that needs to be restored.

After a half hour, the Watch will appear as though it's being used for the first time, and you can start to pair it to your iPhone again.

This is going to be a great help for many, and will reduce the stress at least in trying to find time to go to an Apple Store to do this.

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