On Thursday morning, Microsoft is expected to announce the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, a free upgrade to the operating system set to launch on all 500 million-plus active Windows 10 devices later this year.
And while we’ll have to wait a while to get our hands on this Fall Creators Update — the name gives you a general idea of when Microsoft thinks it will officially drop — it looks to be kind of a doozy.
First, Microsoft says, it will include a “new creative app” that takes your photos and videos and automatically stitches them into stories, complete with a soundtrack and transitions. It sounds a little like the photo assistant in the popular Google Photos service, but we’ll wait to hear more about it.
But the truly cool things are the new integrations between Windows 10 and your iPhone or Android phone, which stand to actually make your smartphone a lot more useful. Here’s the breakdown:
- Timeline: Windows 10 will keep a running tally of all the apps you use and sites you visit, in the order of when you visited them. So if your day gets interrupted, you can swipe back through your timeline, minute by minute and hour by hour, and jump back into whatever you were doing at any time. And because it works across iPhone, Android, and your PC, you can pick your work back up on the go, too.
- Pick Up Where You Left Off: Microsoft is prepping a feature that lets you pull up your last used file, app, or website on your phone after you log off your PC, or vice versa. It will happen by way of the Cortana app on iOS and Android. Apple offers a similar feature, called “Handoff,” but it only works between Macs, iPhones, and iPads. This new feature will bridge together Windows 10, Android, and iPhone.
- Clipboard: Microsoft is prepping a way to let you copy text and images from Windows 10 and then paste them on your iPhone or Android phone. Again, Apple offers a similar so-called “universal clipboard,” but it only works across Macs, iPhones, and iPads.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but a lot of these features were only available to those relative few Apple fans who were using a Mac with an iPhone.
They’re useful, but, well, there are a lot more Windows 10 PCs in the world than there are Apple Macs, and there are a lot more Android phones out there than iPhones. So for those many millions who are running some mix of Windows 10, Android, and iPhone, these features stand to make your digital life much easier to manage.
The only bad news is that “Pick Up Where You Left Off” requires developers to build that capability into their apps — so while it seems likely that Microsoft’s own Office apps will get it very quickly, it may be a while (if ever) until other popular apps work with the feature.
On the one hand, that’s all super useful. Still, the fact that Microsoft is bending over backwards to integrate so tightly with Android and iPhone just underscores Microsoft’s failure to get its own Windows phone platforms off the ground. It’s an important concession to the reality of the smartphone market.
There’s no word on when, exactly, the Fall Creators Update will be available. However, back in April, Microsoft signalled that it’s going to try to release major Windows 10 updates in March and September, so that gives you a rough idea of how long you’ll have to wait to try this stuff out for yourself.
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