After early 2017's Creators Update and the Fall Creators Update later last year, Microsoft has been mysteriously quiet about the name of the next big Windows update. The company let the cat out of the bag in a recent blog post. The next biannual release will be called the April 2018 Update, and its release on Monday will get it out the door on the last day of the month.
Microsoft says the big focus in the new update is on saving time. The company is especially proud of a new Timeline feature that aims to make it easier to find things a user has worked on in the last 30 days. The feature even works across PCs and mobile devices, provided one is signed into a Microsoft account and using Office 365 and Edge on their Android or iOS device.
The Focus Assist feature turns off social media and related distractions in order to help the user work more effectively. Focus Assist can be activated manually or be scheduled to start automatically at certain times. When the Focus Assist period is over, Windows provides a summary of the hushed notifications and updates.
The Edge browser gets some new features as well, including a button to mute or unmute sound playing from a specific tab. The browser can now show books, PDF documents, and Reading View pages in distraction-free full-screen mode. A new clutter-free print option could help make printed web pages easier to read and save some paper and ink in the process. A new set of grammar tools can break words into syllables and highlight parts of speech in a sentence, among other functionality.
The feature that caught my attention was the pumped-up dictation options. My wife and I use Amazon Echo Dots for home automation and entertainment in our house, and I use voice-to-text on my Android phone quite a bit, so keyboard input sometimes seems like a bit of a throwback on my Windows PCs. Microsoft says once the April 2018 Update is installed, users can put the cursor in any text box, press Win+H, and just start dictating text. The software firm also says it's improved the Cortana voice assistant's ability to work with smart home devices like thermostats from Ecobee, Honeywell, and Nest.
Microsoft says the April 2018 Update will include other goodies like improved Mixed Reality capabilities and new tools for photos and system management. Users will have to join the Insider Program or wait until fall to get access to the tabbed File Explorer that many have been waiting for, though. Windows 10 users can download and install the April 2018 Update starting Monday, April 30.