Windows’ October 2018 update wants to be best buds with your phone

windows 10 october update

Microsoft’s Windows 10 October 2018 update is finally here, and while it’s not a massive overhaul, there are a number of exciting new features with it. Instead of focusing on stability and security fixes, this update is all about expanding the potential of the modern Windows operating system.

Here’s everything new in the October 2018 update.

Working with smartphones

windows 10 october update

A major component of this update is improving the interaction between a desktop Windows and a connected smartphone. The new Your Phone app makes it so that you don’t need to ever physically connect your phone to your PC. Share pictures, videos, emails, documents, messages, and more, directly between the two platforms.

It’s compatible with Android and iPhone. Android users will gain access to new features first, through the Microsoft Launcher app. Microsoft says iOS users will see functionality about a month later, through Microsoft Edge for iOS.

The two-way connection also extends to Windows Timeline, which now makes it possible to scroll back through what you were doing on your phone to see what you were viewing or working on earlier in the day or week. Microsoft says that apps “must be able to describe activities to Microsoft Graph” for that feature to work, however, which means compatibility will be limited at first. Office Apps will lead the charge in hopes that third party apps follow in their footsteps.

Inking in Office

windows 10 october update

The Windows 10 October 2018 update introduces big changes to Microsoft Office apps too, in the form of enhanced inking. Whether you’re using PowerPoint or Word, you can ink directly onto documents or pages and the applications will use smart-AI to automatically turn your cursive and squiggles into correctly formatted slides. Shapes, doodles, and text can be automatically turned into content that can then be manipulated and edited in the programs as if you had used more traditional on-screen tools to create them. Word users also gain new digital pen gestures. Alongside text highlighting and deletion, you can now add line breaks, insert new words, and split and join words together.

Powerpoint users will enjoy the new Office AI system’s recommendations for slide design. The same goes for typed text. Should you create a block of prose, PowerPoint Designer can understand the context of what’s been written and create a slide design using icons and Smart Art to enhance it. Both Word and PowerPoint now support 3D models and animations too, so you can spice up a presentation with movement.

Most of these features are available now, but some will be rolling out to Office Insiders first, releasing to the wider Office 365 audience in the near future. The Text to Smart Art feature will also be made available to PowerPoint Online and Mac users.

Edging ahead

Elsewhere in the OS, Microsoft Edge is getting some enhancements. Line Focus is designed to reduce onscreen clutter when reading an article by highlighting a set of lines, while new grammar tools help highlight text and individual syllables. Offline reading has also been improved with a new offline dictionary and new learning tools with a refreshed choice of themes for a more customized reading experience.

If you want to take a screenshot of any of the fun new features in the Windows 10 October 2018 update, Snip and Sketch has been improved to make that easier. It can be pulled up by pressing Alt + Tab and its Windows size can be adjusted too. Any screenshots taken will go straight to your clipboard and if you want to edit them, you’ll get the chance to quickly open that screengrab in the Snip and Sketch app — a little like MacOS does in the latest Mojave update.

The classic Snipping Tool will remain available for now if people continue to use it, but if Microsoft detects a big drop off it will discontinue it in the future.

If you have any trouble downloading the latest Windows update, try these quick fixes.

Ray Tracing support arrives

Nvidia’s new GTX 2080 and 2080 Ti support Ray Tracing, an advanced graphics feature that can greatly improve lighting quality, but they needed Windows support to enable it. That support has now arrived with the Windows 10 Fall Update. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you can immediately use Ray Tracing in your favorite games, but it does means games can begin to implement that support in future patches and releases.

Availability

The first wave of users can download the Windows 10 October 2018 Update immediately through Windows Update. Additional users will be added in the coming weeks. It will automatically update and install unless you’ve turned off automatic updates.

Having trouble, or lacking patience? Check out our guide to installing the Windows 10 October 2018 Update for tips and tricks that will resolve any lingering update problems.

Computing

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!
Computing

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…
Computing

New rumors say the Pixelbook 2 could show up at CES 2019

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.
Computing

3DMark’s Port Royal lets you benchmark ray tracing on Nvidia’s RTX cards

UL is adding another benchmarking utility to its popular 3DMark suite to help gamers measure their graphics card's ray tracing performance. You'll soon be able to measure how Nvidia's RTX 2070, 2080, and 2080 Ti stack up.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.
Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.
Deals

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.
Computing

Hitting ‘Check for updates’ in Windows 10 opts you into beta releases

Users who are careful about keeping their system updated should watch out -- Microsoft revealed this week that clicking the Check for updates button in Windows can opt you in to testing beta code.
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.
Computing

Which Macs are compatible with MacOS Mojave?

Is your computer ready for Apple's big Mojave update? Here's what you need to know about MacOS Mojave compatibility, what Macs can successful download Mojave, and the requirements you need to know about.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.