Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 update is arriving for PCs and tablets today. Like the previous Fall Creators Update, it’s full of small features that improve Windows 10 without dramatically changing the platform. Microsoft is only adding one major feature with this update, and it’s the Timeline feature that lets you resume where you left off across multiple Windows 10 machines.
Elsewhere there’s easy sharing, quick Bluetooth pairing, a dictation feature, and the ability to mute tabs in Microsoft Edge. Microsoft is also continuing to tweak and improve the Fluent Design system it introduced with the Fall Creators Update. You’ll notice more hover effects when you’re using your mouse in the Start menu or notification center, and there’s a new blur effect on the taskbar. I’ve been testing the Windows 10 April 2018 Update for months now, and these are my favorite new additions.
Timeline is the major new feature here, and it replaces the familiar Task View button that shows what apps are currently running on a system. Timeline lets you see what apps are running, but also what apps and activities you’ve used on your Windows 10 PC in the past 30 days. These activities and apps sync across multiple machines, so if you’ve been using a laptop for a document you can easily pick up the same activity on a desktop PC that you’re also signed into.
You can also combine Timeline with Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android, and access the smartphone browser history on your PC. Microsoft is updating its mobile Edge apps to support this, and it’s one of the main reasons you might use Timeline. If you’re concerned about the privacy aspects of having documents, apps, and activity history in your Task View, Microsoft disables the device sync by default and you can disable activity history.
Windows has had a variety of dictation tools over the years, but Microsoft is creating a quick way to access the built-in Windows 10 version with the April 2018 Update. You can launch it with the windows key + H keyboard shortcut, and it will let you dictate into any app. I even wrote this part of the article using the dictation tool, and if you’ve got a good mic it works really well.
Chrome added tab muting recently, and now Microsoft is bringing the same feature to Edge. You can mute loud and annoying websites with this feature, and spare any audio blasting out of your speakers. Microsoft has also tweaked the performance and design of Edge. Microsoft Edge certainly feels better to use as a default browser with this update, but it still needs work to truly compete with Chrome.
Microsoft is also adding support for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in this April 2018 update. PWAs are essentially web apps, but they have the full support of Google, Apple, and now Microsoft across mobile and desktop operating systems. This could improve the Windows 10 app situation, and we’re expecting to hear a lot more about PWAs for Windows 10 at Microsoft’s Build conference in May.
Scaling desktop apps has always been an issue in Windows, but this latest April 2018 Update is trying to make blurry apps a thing of the past. Windows 10 will now detect if an app is blurry because of a monitor change or if you docked a laptop, and it will attempt to scale it better to stop apps from scaling too small or becoming blurry.
Microsoft is adding some great new audio features with this Windows 10 April 2018 Update. You can now set the input or output audio devices per application. You could have Spotify audio blasting out of your speakers, while your browser audio comes through a headset. The new audio settings let you customize both the input and output per application, so it’s also useful if you use different microphones across a variety of apps.
Microsoft is adding a simple and quick way to pair Bluetooth accessories. Windows 10 will now produce a notification to quickly connect to a Bluetooth peripheral and pair it. Microsoft is supporting its Surface Precision Mouse for now, and the company is working with Logitech and others to ensure additional hardware will support this quick way to Bluetooth pair in the future.
Ever get annoyed with those Windows Defender notifications that tell you Microsoft’s anti-virus just scanned your machine and it’s fine? Yeah, who cares. With the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, you can now suppress these notifications so you’re not told every single time there’s a successful scan.
Nearby sharing lets you easily share websites, photos, or documents to nearby Windows 10 machines. It’s not a feature you’re probably going to use all that often, but it works over Bluetooth and is similar to Apple’s AirDrop feature. You can share to devices that are colleagues or friends nearby, and it’s a lot quicker than emailing over a file. Nearby sharing is disabled by default, and you can set it to only receive files from your own devices or everyone nearby. Hopefully Microsoft adds the option to customize this further in the future so you can only receive from contacts.
Microsoft is changing and updating its do-not-disturb mode for Windows 10 with this new update. Previously known as Quiet Hours, Focus Assist is a smarter way of stopping notifications popping up when you’re busy. Focus Assist will now automatically mute notifications when you’re playing a game or projecting your presentation to a screen. This stops annoying notifications during a gaming session, or equally important meetings when you don’t want your emails, messages, and other notifications being displayed to the whole conference room.
You can also let particular apps break through and still trigger notifications, which is useful if you have a messaging app that you still want to see notifications from while you’re playing a game.
Microsoft is making some neat gaming-focused changes to Windows 10 with this update. You can now customize graphics performance per game, allowing you to set games to high performance or power saving. This is particularly useful if you’re using a laptop that’s capable of gaming, but you want certain games not to draw the best performance in order to save battery life. The new feature is available in “graphics settings” in the main settings app. Microsoft is also redesigning the Xbox game bar so it now has a white or black theme with this update.