- The new Windows 11 update is rolling out to users now
- Those on the global Bing preview list will have access to AI-powered Bing on Search
- Users of Apple’s iPhones can also link their phones to Windows 11, now
Microsoft announced on Tuesday, February 28th, that it is rolling out its latest major Windows 11 update, geared at improving the operating system with new features and abilities. While there are a number of changes that Panos Panay, the chief of product at Microsoft, detailed in a blog post, there are two key takeaways that detail the list of features that would be important for the operating system in the long run — phone connectivity support for the iPhone, and the integration of the company’s new ChatGPT-powered Bing search tool on the taskbar of Windows 11 itself.
On this note, here’s looking at the top features that are part of the latest Windows 11 update.
Link iPhone to PC directly
Years into users around the world asking for the feature, Phone Link for iPhone is finally (almost) here. The feature is also part of the Windows Insider Preview programme, which means that bulk users who are not on the beta version of Windows 11 will not have access to it right away. Going forward, Microsoft said it expects the feature to roll out some time by the end of this year itself for all users, and via the Phone Link app, will allow Apple iPhone users to connect their devices to Windows 11 PCs. As part of the latest Windows 11 update, iPhone users will now get the ability to make phone calls, send and receive messages, and control other applications that are on their devices — similar to what Android users have been able to do for a while now.
The biggest feature on note as part of the Windows 11 update is the addition of Microsoft’s new AI-powered Bing search tool, right into the Windows 11 taskbar. With this update, users will be able to access the AI search tool right from their laptop home screens, and not need to use a specific web browser or other app to find the service. Microsoft has over 1.4 billion active Windows PCs, and as per a report by The Register, about 15 percent of these run on Windows 11 as of November last year — or over 200 million devices.
This suggests that even in the early-stage beta preview rollout, the ChatGPT-backed AI Bing search service can have a potential market of 200 million to reach, giving it a leg up in the race for AI search supremacy against the present market rulers, Google. Nevertheless, Panay’s post confirmed that only those users who have been selected for an early preview of Bing will have the feature, at least for now. The company claimed to have over 1 million selected users across 69 countries as part of its AI Bing beta trials.
Other Windows 11 update features
Phone Link updates for Android
Updated features to Phone Link for Android smartphones are squarely targeted at Samsung devices at the moment — the blog post details that Samsung users will now be able to switch on their phone Wi-Fi hotspots from Windows 11 PCs, and will also be able to migrate their open websites on phone browsers to desktop browsers, in one click.
Improvements to Microsoft Teams
Microsoft has improved the usage experience for Microsoft Teams, which is built into the operating system as the default communication app a la FaceTime for Apple platforms. Now, the company is offering a slide-up settings pane through the quick settings menu at the bottom right, which will allow users to apply filters and enhancements without complicating things. The ‘Chat’ window will also show a video preview, making it more intuitive to set-up video calls.
Expanded Widgets portfolio
Microsoft now has a larger portfolio of Widgets on Windows 11. These new ones include Phone Link, Xbox Game Pass, and more by third parties such as Meta’s apps (Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram) and Spotify, among others.
Access cloud PCs through Windows 365
Through the Windows 365 app, Microsoft is integrating the ability for users to add and access their virtual Windows PCs — thus adding more multitasking ability to the service.
Others: Quick Assist, Snip recording, Notepad tabs and more
Quick Assist, available on the Start menu, will allow users to quickly access technical support from Microsoft. Furthermore, accessing the Snipping tool on the Windows menu, or through the ‘Win + Shift + S’ shortcut combination, will also allow users to summon screen recording, instead of just screenshots. Microsoft has also added tabs on the Notepad app, which means that you can now open multiple notes on the same window and in different tabs — a feature that can make a major difference for frequent users of the app.
For the full list of all other features that are part of the Windows 11 update, click to read Panay’s full blog post here.