Time really does fly as August 2 marks the first birthday of Windows 10, and Microsoft is celebrating by releasing the free Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Here’s our pick of the best new features in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, and what’s changed over the old Windows 10.
If you’re already a Windows 10 user then you’ll get Microsoft’s update alert on August 2, which will allow you to download and install the Anniversary Update for free. But what new features does the Anniversary Update bring and is it actually worth downloading? Well, alongside plenty of small fixes and tweaks, there are some pretty cool stand-out features too. Here’s the best new bits to look forward to.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Cortana upgrades
The smart voice controlled assistant Cortana is getting a proper boost in the Anniversary Update, taking up her position front and central on the Windows 10 lock screen.
That means quick voice-controlled access to your favourite apps and other bits. So you’ll be able to instantly play music, set reminders, make notes and even schedule appointments in Outlook with just a quick command. And Cortana will now also work before you even login to your device.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Goodbye to passwords with Windows Hello
Windows Hello is a security feature that replaces your passwords by using the latest PC and laptop cameras to recognise the owner’s face and unlock the device. For those without the latest cameras that support this, a tap of a connected smartphone can also do the unlock trick.
The Anniversary Update brings online support for Windows Hello. That means if you use websites that require a login, you’ll no longer need to worry about remembering lots of different passwords. Instead, Windows Hello will log you in automatically.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Windows Ink
The Anniversary Update feature that aims to get people picking up their stylus pens more is Windows Ink, and it sounds like it’s going to work rather well.
Windows Ink lets people use their pens and fingertips to interact directly with their device’s screen. From annotating documents to drawing graphs and having them automatically morph into digital versions, Windows Ink does the lot. There’s even a virtual ruler that you can hold with your hand to draw straight lines across the screen, just like it were real.
Windows Ink also gives you the option to activate notes using the pen button, and scribble something down before unlocking the device.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Microsoft Edge extensions
Microsoft might be late to the party as Chrome extensions are already well developed, but better late than never, right? So Windows 10’s web browser Edge is finally getting extensions in the Anniversary Update.
The Microsoft Edge browser will not only support Microsoft’s own extensions but also third-party creations. Some already available include AdBlock, 1Password, LastPass and EverNote.
Also being updated in Edge is notifications, which can now be sent to the Windows 10 Action Center by websites. Battery performance gets a boost for the browser and now a right-click on the back button shows the history of a tab.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Xbox Play Anywhere
Now if you buy an Xbox Play Anywhere game you’ll be able to play it across multiple devices. So if you start a game on your Xbox One, you can continue it later on your PC, right where you last saved.
Initially games that support this will include all those from Microsoft Studios shown off at E3. These will be available via the newly unified Windows 10 and Xbox One Windows Store.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Phone app syncing
One brilliant update in the new Windows 10 allows Windows and Android phone users to sync their app notifications to their PC.
That means your messages and more will pop up on your PC, allowing you to reply right there and then or dismiss them without picking up your phone. The sync feature also allows for the transmission of photos directly from your phone to a PC, in a quick and easy way.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Auto time zones
It might seem a bit mad that Microsoft doesn’t let your Windows 10 device automatically update times based on your location, like Apple does, but sadly that’s the case. Or at least, it was.
The Anniversary Update finally brings with it automatic time zone adjustment. This isn’t enabled by default though, so be sure to turn it on in Windows 10’s settings if you want to use it.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Project to PC
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update now offers a Project to PC option that will allow users to effectively fling their phone or computer screen to another PC.
This isn’t just screen mirroring though. A phone flung to a PC will mean you’re able to use the PC’s keyboard and mouse while interacting with the phone’s content – ideal for working when your computer is at home but you have access to someone else’s machine.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: One Skype to rule them all
Until now there have been several Skype apps for Windows 10 but now, with the latest update, there will be one Skype universal app for Windows 10.
That means video and audio calling from an app that launches near instantly and offers notifications for calls and messages from right there within Windows 10, regardless of the app being open or not.