Windows 10 April 2018 Update lands next week packing Timeline, Cortana updates

We figured Microsoft would wait until its BUILD developers conference to announce its Spring Creators Update for Windows 10, but given we’re near the end of April, why not reveal it now? It’s officially called the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, and it launches on Monday, April 30. You’ll have an option to manually update your Windows 10 PC using Microsoft’s Update Assistant or wait forever for the update to roll out to your machine. 

This mega-update adds new features to the Windows 10 experience to make your day easier, including an update to Cortana, who can now manage your smart home through your voice commands. Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of the Windows and Devices Group, specifically mentions smart thermostats by ecobee, Honeywell, and Nest that you can adjust through Cortana with just your voice. 

Microsoft Edge gets an upgrade, too. For starters, you can disable annoying audio running on tabbed pages you’re not even viewing by clicking on the tab’s audio icon. There’s also a new Grammar Tools button, seemingly targeting students, that can break words down into syllables, and highlight the different components of a sentence, including parts of speech such as nouns and verbs. Other updates include a “clutter-free” printing option, auto-fill payment information on web payment forms, and a full-screen view for books, PDFs, and Reading View pages. 

The biggest new feature rolling out to Windows 10 is Timeline. It’s a way to “go back in time” and locate the items you’ve seemingly misplaced on your PC, such as photos and music. The new feature essentially focuses on your timeline so that if you need to stop and switch devices, you can resume whatever you were doing on the second device and not lose track. 

Timeline goes back 30 days, thus if you emailed a specific document, but you can’t remember the recipient, you can use Timeline to dig through your email to locate the document faster than performing a manual search. Timeline lists each daily event as a tile, but if you still can’t remember the exact day you sent that document, there’s a search feature in Timeline to hunt down and access the file. 

Other notable new features provided in the April 2018 Update include an updated Dictation component. Simply place your cursor in any text field in Windows 10 or a related app and press Win + H to dictate your message. There’s also Focus Assist to eliminate distractions and help keep you “in the zone.” 

“The average amount of time people spend on any single event before being interrupted or switching tasks is about three minutes,” Mehdi says. “Since the average person needs about 23 minutes to regroup after being interrupted, we see our productivity and creativity diminished.” 

With this feature turned on, notifications, emails, updates, social calls and so on are “muted” so you can focus on the task at hand. When it’s turned off, you get a summary of what was nagging at your attention while you were focused elsewhere. You can manually switch this feature on and off, or have it turn on at specific times of the day. 

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