Microsoft has announced a big update with loads of AI-driven features and general useability updates coming to Windows. Its new AI-powered Bing will now be accessible from the search box in the Windows taskbar, and Phone Link for iOS on Windows 11 is beginning an early preview. Smaller changes to the OS include better touch experiences, full-screen widgets and quick access to the Windows 365 app.
The new AI-powered search functionality will be limited to those who have already been invited to try out the new Bing preview, in addition to having the latest Windows update released on February 28. For everyone else, getting on Microsoft’s waitlist is the way ahead. There are several new “AI features in Start” as well but Microsoft didn’t specify what these features are and how they work. Remember that these AI Start menu features will only be available in Windows 11 Pro or higher.
Windows 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based virtualisation tech, is also easily accessible from the Microsoft Store now. Users can download the Microsoft 365 app and access their cloud PCs in a few clicks. IT admins can also reduce friction for enterprise users by giving them a single sign-on (SSO) login experience.
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Phone Link for iOS enters early preview
As for Phone Link, its app for connecting Windows and Android devices to give the Apple ecosystem some competition, this support is now being extended to iOS devices. Phone Link has now come to Windows 11 in a limited preview and will only be available to those who have opted their device into one of the three Insider channels for testing new Windows features.
Phone Link for iOS comes with basic iOS support for calls, messages and contacts meaning you’ll be notified directly using Windows notifications. Of course, this functionality is quite limited compared to the app’s Android counterpart, but a big step nevertheless to bridge the gap between iPhone users who previously have found using a Windows device quite the hassle.
Speaking of the app’s Android counterpart, it’s getting a couple of new features too. More specifically, users with Samsung phones can now activate their phone’s WiFi hotspot from inside the WiFi network list on their PC. Additionally, the Recent Websites feature allows Samsung users to transfer their browser sessions from their phone to Windows.
Native screen recording, Notepad tabs and more accessibility features
Other features included in this update include updates to Windows Studio Effects, which now uses AI to bring features like background blur, eye contact and automatic framing. With Microsoft’s latest update, these settings can now be adjusted straight from the taskbar. The Chat feature available from the taskbar has also been fully revamped to make it easier to get into a call or share a call link through any app.
Notepad now has tabs, and unlike Windows Explorer tabs, these can be dragged from window to window, much like you’d drag a browser tab. The Quick Assist app has been redesigned to make helping other users rather easy, including the ability to share screens and take full remote control. On that note, the Snipping Tool has also seen an update allowing it to record your screen natively.
Finally, widgets can now be full screen instead of appearing in a small window on the left, alongside more widgets to include Phone Link, Xbox Game Pass and Microsoft partners like Meta and Spotify. The touch experience has also been revamped with support for new gestures and touch controls for Snap. Key apps get support for Braille display and enhanced voice access. Last but not least, Windows will now give you energy recommendations to adjust settings and get more battery life out of your device.
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