Wednesday Newsbytes: More AI Features Coming to Windows 11; Microsoft Finally Realizes No One Wants Bloatware; Hidden Map On Your Phone Shows Everywhere You’ve Been: Scammers are Coming for Your Phone Number… and more!

By | August 23, 2023
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Wednesday Newsbytes: More AI Features Coming to Windows 11; Microsoft Finally Realizes No One Wants Bloatware; Hidden Map On Your Phone Shows Everywhere You’ve Been: Scammers are Coming for Your Phone Number… and more!

Every day we scan the tech world for interesting news in the world of technology and sometimes from outside the world of technology. Every Wednesday, we feature news articles that grabbed our attention over the past week. We hope you find this week’s  ‘Wednesday Newsbytes’ informative and interesting!

Microsoft is testing new AI features in Windows 11, including OCR and object removal

Windows 11 could be getting a slew of AI-powered features on top of Copilot, which is already in testing.

Microsoft has been all about AI for the past few months, and Windows 11 is already getting a taste of that with Copilot, which is currently in testing with Insiders in most channels and expected in version 23H2. However, there’s a lot more to come, as the company is also working on other AI-powered features across Windows 11 apps, including the classic Paint, as well as the Photos and Camera apps.

Optical character recognition (OCR)

One of the big features reported by Windows Central’s Zac Bowden is support for optical character recognition, or OCR, in the Camera app as well as Snipping Tool. OCR means that the computer can recognize text from an image and render it as actual text you can copy and edit as needed. OCR in the Camera app will be similar to Google Lens or Live Text on iOS, meaning you can take a picture of a sign or document and easily grab text from it.

In the Snipping Tool, this feature is probably reminiscent of what Microsoft already offers with PowerToys, which can grab text from a screenshot so you can more easily copy it.

Object removal in Photos

Another notable capability that’s being worked on is the ability to identify and select objects from pictures in the Photos app. Again, this is something we’ve seen on platforms like iOS and Android, but if you’re not aware of it, this essentially means that the Photos app can identify objects in a picture and then make it possible to copy those elements and paste them elsewhere, so you can use them in another app to compose a final image, for example.

Generative AI in Paint

Finally, the classic Paint app — which just recently got an update with dark mode — is also getting an AI power-up, if Microsoft’s internal tests are anything to go by. In this case, Microsoft is testing generative AI to allow users to create images based on a description…

Read more at XDA.

Microsoft Finally Realizes Nobody Wants Its Windows 11 Preinstalled Bloatware

Five more Microsoft apps nobody uses will have the uninstall option enabled soon.

Windows 11 users will soon be able to remove more of the bloatware that gets preinstalled with Microsoft’s operating system.

Whenever you boot up a freshly-installed copy of Windows 11, there’s a number of apps preinstalled and quite a few of them can’t be uninstalled. However, that’s changing, and Microsoft is going to let us uninstall five apps most of us have probably never opened (other than accidentally or due to some default file association).

As The Verge reports, a beta build of Windows 11 in the Canary Channel includes the option for the first time to uninstall the Camera app, Cortana app, Photos app, People app, and the Remote Desktop client. Of those, the Cortana uninstall makes the most sense for Microsoft seeing as they killed it as a service.

Microsoft calls these pieces of software “inbox apps” and last year claimed they were “essential to the overall Windows experience.” Clearly they aren’t as essential as 2022 Microsoft thought they were, and I’m sure many users will be happy to have a less cluttered Start menu to deal with once they are removed…

Read more at PC Mag.

There’s a Hidden Map on Your Phone That Shows Everywhere You’ve Been and the Photos You’ve Taken There

When cameras were added to mobile phones, suddenly we could take photos any time, anywhere. As phones progressed from flip phones to blackberries and now finally to the smartphones we own today, things got a bit more high-tech. Google then came along with their photo app that stores and sorts your photos for you. However, with all the positives of this, there is one caveat: Google photos tracks your location via a hidden map that knows everywhere you’ve been via your photos.

f you go into your Google photos app and click on the “search” function, a screen will come up that allows you to search your photos by people and pets, documents, things, and of course, places. It’s here in the “places” folder that you can find your personal, somewhat hidden map.

For some, there might be a square that says “your map.” Others, you may have to select a place, say the city that you live in. From there a map will appear that shows you everywhere in your city you’ve taken a photo. Monkey around with it a bit more, and you’ll realize that Google has stored every location you’ve ever taken a photo around the world.

Naturally, many people are put off by this. If you don’t like the idea of Google maps knowing every location that you visit and snap a pic of, follow the steps below to turn off your location tracking…

Read more at TiffyTaffy.

Scammers are coming for your phone number: How to protect your data

Scammers want access to the most sensitive data available, like a social security number or credit card. But those are much more heavily protected, so they settle on the next best thing for wreaking havoc — your name and phone number.

Once a hacker, scammer, or cybercriminal gains access to your phone number, they can disrupt your life in untold ways by infiltrating the rest of your sensitive data. Learn more about this terrifying threat and how to prevent falling victim to these faceless villains.

Why do scammers want your phone number?

Think about all the ways you use your phone number. No longer are your digits just for making and taking phone calls or text messages. They connect you to your financial institutions, social media accounts, travel and accommodation bookings, and even access to streaming services.

Because our phone numbers are everywhere, they have become a dangerous tool for scammers and hackers. With your phone number, criminals can impersonate you, commit fraud, gain access to your data and money, and tarnish your reputation.

And these criminals are constantly adapting to changing technologies. They use SIM swapping, DNS cache poisoning, spyware, wardriving, and phishing techniques to obtain, manipulate, and use your data to meet their needs.

How do scammers get your phone number?

As we mentioned, scammers and hackers use various methods to obtain and use your private information. Here are just a handful of ways these criminals get their hands on the data they want…

Read more at Apple Insider.

5 exciting features coming in Windows 11 version 23H2

Windows 11 version 23H2 is almost upon us, and these are five features you can look forward to in this update

Windows 11 is already a fantastic OS, and Microsoft has consistently added tons of features, bug fixes, and patches in the Windows Insider channels over the past months. The much-anticipated Windows 11 23H2 update will make these thoroughly tested changes and enhancements available to a broader user base. While most of the new additions are great in their own right, there are a few noteworthy features that, in my opinion, elevate the overall user experience a lot more than the others.

1 Dynamic lighting (RGB controls)

If you’re an avid fan of RGB-lit peripherals, chances are you’re familiar with the compatibility issues associated with syncing the lighting effects for devices from different manufacturers. Heck, with Corsair, Logitech, Hyper, and other manufacturers providing their own SDKs, you’ll have to juggle multiple third-party apps just to configure the RGB settings for all your devices.

While there are apps like OpenRGB and SignalRGB that boast compatibility with a plethora of devices, I’m more excited about the Dynamic Lighting controls that are coming with this update. Admittedly, Dynamic Lighting is rather bare-bones at the moment and doesn’t support many devices besides a few keyboards and mice from Razer.

However, it’s still a step in the right direction as Dynamic Lighting is Microsoft’s first attempt at creating a centralized interface to control RGB peripherals. Compared to most third-party apps, Dynamic Lighting barely consumes any resources and doesn’t bombard you with ads and deals every other minute.

Judging by everything we’ve seen so far, I’d say the future looks bright for Dynamic Lighting. For one, Microsoft claims Asus, Acer, HP, and Logitech have agreed to integrate Dynamic Lighting into their products. If Microsoft manages to add support for lesser-known and generic brand peripherals, Dynamic Lighting can very well become the easy-to-use RGB customization interface we’ve been waiting for!

2 Support for multiple archive formats …

Read more at XDA.

The 5 Most Secure Browsers For Maximum Web Privacy

Despite the massive changes in the way people have come to use the internet, web browsers remain the primary gateway for internet access for the vast majority of people worldwide. However, most modern browsers have come a long way from being simple tools to render websites. Today, they have taken the form of instruments that double up as platforms for running web apps, with support for extensions and add-ons. Unfortunately, these capabilities also come with their share of pitfalls, with the most common allegation being that most modern web browsers have turned into data collection tools for large internet companies.

It is not surprising, therefore, to see that the most popular browsers of today are owned by tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple. While there is no denying that these web browsers offer a lot of convenience and features, they are also notorious for implementing invasive tracking mechanisms. Aside from the threat of data collection from corporations, popular web browsers are often targeted by hackers with malicious intentions.

In response to this growing concern, many privacy-focused browsers have emerged. These browsers are designed to protect user privacy by blocking trackers, encrypting traffic, and limiting data collection. We have selected five of the best secure browsers that offer maximum web privacy in 2023. Herein, we compare and contrast each browser and highlight its strengths and weaknesses.

Read more at Slash Gear.

Thanks for reading this week’s Wednesday Newbytes. We hope these articles were informative, interesting, fun, and helpful. Darcy & TC

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