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Guest column by attorney Alexa Elder with Wyatt: How Gonzalez v. Google could reshape the internet
Twitter Says Parts of Its Source Code Were Leaked Online
Elon Musk Values Twitter at $20 Billion
At Apple, Rare Dissent Over a New Product: Interactive Goggles
Gordon E. Moore, Intel Co-Founder Behind Moore’s Law, Dies at 94
Bard Fork, and How to Talk So Chatbots Will Listen
LG Will Spend $5.5 Billion on a Battery Factory in Arizona
Microsoft’s Bing AI Chatbot is actually tempting users away from Google
Microsoft has pushed hard and fast to get the ‘new and improved’ AI-powered Bing out there to consumers and it seems like all that hard work and (light badgering of users) may have paid off. As of now, it seems Bing is gaining new users while Google is seeing a small drop.
According to Reuters, Microsoft is seeing an increase of about 16% in page visits since Bing launched its ChatGPT-powered ‘new Bing’ experience. Microsoft confirmed earlier this month that it has now reached an estimated 100 million active users and that number is likely to continue in an upward momentum as more people get comfortable - or at least cautiously acquainted - with AI chatbots.
Microsoft launched the enhanced Bing in early February and has since then seen a 15.8% boost in page visits according to the data, which could suggest a sliver of success in Microsofts painstaking journey trying to pull users away from Google and its absolute dominance in the search engine sphere.Analysis: We don't need to take Google out behind the barn just yet
Reuters points out that the drop in Google’s numbers is about 1% for the same time period and that’s obviously not a massive hit, but it does represent a significant number of people given Google's huge popularity. We can see this trend in terms of mobile downloads as well, with the Bing app seeing eight times more downloads compared to pre-GPT times, while Google's dropped by 2%.
We can see from this that there is a slow, small shift between the two search engines' normal dynamics, though we won’t be rushing to call it the ‘death of Google’ anytime soon. Microsoft is enjoying this newfound interest in its product (a refreshing change from its annoying, almost pathetic banners in the Edge browser demanding you not download Chrome) and it’s seen its own string of issues with Bing AI before reaching its current level of popularity. So, it's safe to say Google might have to go through these AI-related speed bumps too before it catches up.
Regardless, Google hasn’t taken things lying down! The company has just launched Bard, its own AI chatbot, and has big plans to integrate it with other products like Google Workspaces. Bard did pretty well in our first hands-on with the product upon launch and will hopefully rise to the occasion to find its footing in the AI world.
Microsoft keeps messing with the Windows 11 taskbar – and I hate it
Windows 11’s new preview build has hidden features that have been uncovered, and they include some changes for widgets and the taskbar which feel like a step backward in some ways.
The new preview build 25324 of Windows 11 (which has just landed in the Canary channel) has been poked and prodded by PhantomOfEarth (via Nytrona), who has used a Windows configuration tool to dig in and find hidden features. One of which is an option to display widgets on the taskbar next to the system tray, as flagged up on Twitter.
As I speculated, Microsoft is experimenting with displaying Widgets on the taskbar next to the system tray in build 25324 (hidden) when the taskbar is left aligned, similar to Windows 10's News and interests featurevivetool /enable /id:43214488huge thanks to @Nytrona https://t.co/1AdGuGxxYF pic.twitter.com/EstID36yRDMarch 23, 2023See more
Note that this is an option to display the widgets on the right side – in the style of the old ‘News and interests’ panel – when the taskbar is left-aligned (meaning the Start menu and search box are over on the left, rather than centrally positioned as is the default with Windows 11).
Further movement – literally – has been spotted on the widgets front, with the discovery of animated widgets on the taskbar, as shown in one of the leaker’s other tweets about the preview build.
Canary build 25324's new animated Widgets icons (mentioned in blog post, https://t.co/gGlHaVvUpT) are pretty nice. The little things can be the cool ones, and this is definitely the case here (imo). If you want the eye candy:vivetool /enable /id:42934589 pic.twitter.com/ple4HrJbPLMarch 23, 2023See more
In Microsoft’s blog post introducing build 25324, the company noted that it has actually started rolling out animated icons for widgets, clarifying that only a few icons are supported right now (weather, finance).
So, only a limited amount of Canary testers will be seeing this to begin with, and it’ll roll out to more folks soon enough, but meanwhile, the feature can be enabled using ViVeTool. (That’s the Windows configuration utility PhantomOfEarth does all their digging with).
Note that Microsoft has also made the widgets board larger with this preview build, upping it to a width of three columns (if screen real estate allows) and providing separate sections for widgets and news feed content. Again, this is a change only rolling out to a limited number of testers, as Microsoft is evaluating feedback to ascertain how popular this move is.Analysis: Step back in time
This essentially amounts to experimenting with the reintroduction of the mentioned ‘News and interests’ panel (albeit in a slightly different take) that debuted way back with Windows 10. Indeed, if you look at the screenshot of the left-aligned taskbar provided in the top highlighted tweet, it kind of feels like Windows 11 is stepping back in time to become Windows 10.
In short, it’s more taskbar clutter, and that’s an idea I could well live without. I didn’t like News and interests when it was swanning around on the Windows 10 desktop, covering way too much taskbar space and popping up, waving at me, when I didn’t want to hear from it. So I don’t particularly relish the return of the panel in Windows 11. No thanks, Microsoft; let’s not go there again.
That said, this is still just early-stage experimentation, with some of it remaining hidden away in the preview build, and the other bits only being seen by a small section of testers. It’s perhaps no surprise that Microsoft is carefully gauging reaction to the widget and taskbar-related changes made here, as we suspect there may be some heated feedback.
As for the animations for widget icons, we don’t mind those. They even look quite cute, with the sun popping behind the clouds in one of the sample weather icon animations. However, the worry with these is that folks with lower-spec hardware won’t want any unnecessary fanciness potentially slowing down performance on the desktop – but again, there’ll doubtless be an option to disable these animations.
We can’t help but feel Microsoft needs to stop messing around with widgets for the moment, though, and focus on other more requested taskbar work, such as bringing back ‘never combine’ for apps on the bar.
Secret Windows 11 feature hints at how Windows 12 could change everything
New features hidden away in an early build of an upcoming Windows 11 update will allow users to configure their own ‘Cloud PC’ – and this could be our clearest hint yet at what Microsoft plans for the future of Windows – such as Windows 12.
As Neowin reports, Twitter user Albacore has been digging into Windows 11 Dev build 23419, which is rolling out to people signed up to the Windows Insider program, and is available on the Canary, Dev and Beta channels.
In a series of tweets, which you can see below, Albacore noticed that in the Windows 11 ‘Settings’ app, there are now options for how to access a Cloud PC – either via a dedicated app, or straight from the desktop.
Cloud PC settings now have extra toggles for what kind of resources you'd like to share with it pic.twitter.com/eOgKitNAziMarch 22, 2023See more
The page also has a section allowing you to choose which ports, features, and accessories you share with your Cloud PC. So, you could share your USB ports, and that would mean a USB memory stick you plug into your physical PC will also be accessible on your Cloud PC.
If you leave the PC on, you could then access the Cloud PC on a different device, and have access to the USB memory stick, or you could quickly copy stuff from the memory stick to the Cloud PC’s storage – making it available for any other device you use to access it.
It looks like you can also share the clipboard, printers, local hard drive, microphone, and more. Depending on Microsoft’s plans for Cloud PC integration, this could be a really useful feature and hints at what Microsoft plans for Windows 12 (if it exists).Cloudy thinking
We’re not currently sure what Cloud PC integration will look like in Windows 11, but by the looks of things, Microsoft is keen to make switching between your local PC or laptop and the Cloud PC seamless.
If Windows 11’s Cloud PC feature will be like the Cloud PC included with Microsoft’s Windows 365 Business subscription, you’ll get access to a virtual PC stored on the internet that will work like a regular PC. No matter what device you use, be it a smartphone or Chromebook, as long as you have an internet connection, you can access the Cloud PC and use it as if you were sitting in front of it.
It’ll likely be tied to a OneDrive subscription in Windows 11, though you may be able to access a limited version for free, much like you can with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage. Hopefully, if you aren’t interested in the Cloud PC feature, and don’t want to subscribe, it won’t be forced on you, though Microsoft’s desire to get people to sign up for OneDrive does leave me slightly concerned.
These features are well hidden at the moment. Not only are they in a version of Windows that’s only available to Windows Insiders who have signed up to try out early, experimental, versions of Windows 11, but you have to edit the "settingshandlers_cloudpc" DLL file to enable them.
Microsoft clearly isn’t ready to show off this feature, then, but it does give us a tantalizing hint at the type of operating system Windows 12 could be – and that could be very exciting.A hint of Windows 12?
(Image credit: TechRadar)
Microsoft has been very clear about its interest in taking Windows to the cloud. Not only has it added the functionality to Windows 365 Business, explaining that “Microsoft Cloud PC is a strategic, new offering that is built on top of Windows Virtual Desktop to delivering Desktop as a Service,” but Panos Panay, who is leading the Windows team at Microsoft, has been talking up how Cloud PC will be the future of Windows – which many have taken to mean Windows 12.
As we reported earlier, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, also recently commented that “the boundaries between the PC and the cloud are fading away”.
We’ve seen an increase in rumors about Windows 12, including that it may launch as soon as 2024, and I’m becoming more convinced that we’ll see the next version sooner rather than later. These new cloud-based features that have been hidden away in an early version of Windows 11 may be our best look yet at what Microsoft plans for the next version of its operating system.
Twitter's blue-check doomsday date is set and it's no April Fool's joke
Months after its tumultuous launch, Twitter has announced that Twitter Blue is now available globally - and the social media company plans to pull checkmarks from ‘legacy’ verified accounts on April 1st.
Twitter Blue has expanded to users across the globe, so if you thought you were free from the Twitter madness, think again.
Twitter Blue is now available globally! Sign up today to get your blue checkmark, prioritized ranking in conversations, half ads, long Tweets, Bookmark Folders, custom navigation, Edit Tweet, Undo Tweet, and more. Sign up here: https://t.co/SBRLJccMxDMarch 23, 2023See more
Twitter’s legacy verification system did have some contention surrounding it due to its inconsistency even before Elon bulldozed through the site, but upheaving the entire system and putting it behind a paywall was undeniably not a popular change.
The new Twitter Blue subscription brings support for a ‘verified’ checkmark alongside prioritized ranking in conversations, fewer ads (notably not no ads, just fewer of them), and the ability to edit and undo tweets. The most recent addition to the feature roster is the ability to tweet up to 4,000 characters, which totally ruins the point of Twitter, but whatever.
Alongside the announcement Twitter also confirmed plans to ‘wind down’ its previous verified program, which granted a blue checkmark to accounts based on real-world ID and individual notoriety. Understandably, many ‘legacy’ verified users who jumped through hoops to gain verification before Musk took over are unhappy with the change.
On April 1st, we will begin winding down our legacy verified program and removing legacy verified checkmarks. To keep your blue checkmark on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue here: https://t.co/gzpCcwOpLp Organizations can sign up for https://t.co/RlN5BbuGA3…March 23, 2023See more
As it stands, Twitter Blue costs $8/£6.99/$13AUD and you can get $1 a month off if you choose to be billed annually. The price is pretty standard regionally, adjusted for local currency. One odd wrinkle is that purchasing a Blue membership in-app on your phone actually costs a bit more, which Twitter says is due to Apple and Android storefronts taking a cut of in-app purchases.
The sweeping decision to ‘de-verify’ legacy accounts is as bizarre as it is dangerous. The move will make it a lot easier for impersonation accounts to pop up and no real well of identified who is who if you were not following the original account. Twitter will also be lowering the time it takes for Blue verification from 90 days to 30 which means creating fake accounts will become a much faster process.
ChatGPT plugins are officially here, and I’m already filled with dystopian dread
Not to be outdone by the rising (well, sometimes falling) star of Google Bard, OpenAI has announced that popular language learning model ChatGPT now has official plugin support for developers.
Under OpenAI’s ‘iterative deployment philosophy’, the AI lab is releasing initial plugin access to a limited number of partner companies in order to study how the plugins are used, and how effective they are, before committing to a wider-scale rollout (developers can currently subscribe to a waitlist for access).
We have a list of the companies that have been granted access, and have already created plugins: Expedia, FiscalNote, Instacart, KAYAK, Klarna, Milo, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack, Speak, Wolfram, and Zapier.
That’s… a really weird list. I’m not the only one who thinks that, right? Some of them make sense; Wolfram and FiscalNote are both organizations that have history working with AI technology, while ChatGPT integration with Slack was something we knew about already. Speak isn’t entirely surprising either; we’ve already seen GPT-4 working as a virtual tutor in rival language app Duolingo.
Other participants in the plugin program feel a little harder to justify. OpenAI says that it’s ‘excited to build a community shaping the future of the human–AI interaction paradigm’, but I’m really not convinced these are use cases where human-AI interaction is actually needed. I can already book a holiday quite easily using the KAYAK app – I don’t need a chatbot to handhold me through the process. Do you?Opinion: ChatGPT has its uses, but it doesn't need to be everywhere
I feel quite dubious about several of the plugin-touting companies on this list – I don’t think shoehorning AI into restaurant-booking app OpenTable was necessary at all – but there’s one that really worries me: Klarna.
Now, I’m not here just to rag on Klarna (or any buy-now-pay-later service), but let’s be honest here: these platforms are moderately helpful at best, and downright predatory at worst. I’m sure not everybody will share my view here, but I’ve always felt that companies such as Klarna, Afterpay, and Zip exist solely to prey on people living paycheck to paycheck – getting into contractual debt over smaller expenses like ordering takeout or buying some groceries is basically never a good idea, if you ask me.
The point I’m trying to make is that some of the people who suffer the worst at the hands of pay-later companies are exactly the same people who will be more vulnerable to the encroaching effects of AIs in our society. I’ve written before about how AI could ruin a whole generation of future kids if we’re not careful, and slapping ChatGPT into Klarna is exactly the sort of dodgy nonsense I was talking about.
AI is still a largely unregulated space; there’s nothing to stop ChatGPT from suggesting that you absolutely should take out a loan to get that burrito delivered. Of course, ChatGPT doesn’t actually know what a burrito tastes like, but it sure can amalgamate a bunch of food critics’ words to convince you that it does.
Honestly, this sort of thing worries me. Not on a personal level, because I’m not about to let a chatbot convince me to get into debt over a shopping cart of food, but on a moral level, because some people will be swayed by it. There’s also the entirely different threat of companies like Klarna booting out human customer service in place of AI assistants; not only could that cost real people their jobs, but debt-stricken, desperate individuals will be better served by an actual person than by an unfeeling chatbot.
Look, AI isn’t all bad, and ChatGPT isn’t evil. And sure, OpenAI needs to make money; running a large, complex machine-learning program like ChatGPT requires a lot of hardware and a lot of energy. But we need to collectively take a serious look at how far we’re willing to go when it comes to letting it into every facet of our lives. AI isn’t the big problem – but how people use it definitely is.
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WhatsApp takes on Zoom with eight-person video calls on new Windows app
WhatsApp may soon become Zoom’s next rival as it’s currently rolling out a revamped Windows client adding eight-person video calls. Additionally, the desktop app will now allow users to host audio calls with up to 32 people at once.
If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because these features have been on Android and iOS for quite a while now. This is part of a renewed effort by Meta to improve WhatsApp's desktop clients so it’ll be more on par with the mobile app. In that same vein, the user interface has also been redesigned to make it look more similar to the smartphone app and several under-the-hood changes have been made to enhance multi-device linking. Now devices will be able to connect to WhatsApp on Windows more quickly than before while also unlocking new tools like link previews and stickers.
This update may not seem like much compared to Zoom which can hold up to 100 attendees in one video conferencing meeting on its Basic plan. However, the company states it has plans to increase the limit of people the app can host in group calls. So it’s entirely possible that video calls on WhatsApp could one day match up against Zoom meetings in terms of sheer numbers. Meta certainly isn’t afraid of enabling massive groups on its platform as seen with the recent Communities feature.Managing Communities
Speaking of Communities, WhatsApp on smartphones got an update earlier this week to help users manage their groups. Admins now have the ability to reject entrants. It’s a pretty small but much-needed change that really should’ve been there from the beginning. Also whenever you look up a contact’s name, you will see if the two of you are in the same community.
As for the future, Meta states it recently introduced a new beta for Android tablets and it’s working on one for Mac desktops. Not much was revealed, but according to a recent report from WABetaInfo, the latest Android beta introduces a new toggle for polls limiting participants to making just one choice. For macOS, it’s a complete unknown. Although it could be connected to the upcoming “native app build with Mac Catalyst” that’s currently in the works. We reached out to Meta for more info. This story will be updated if we hear back.