Windows 11 New Features: Teams Integration, Keyboard-less, Gaming and Microsoft Store

The popular productivity and live streaming app Microsoft Teams will now be integrated directly into the UI, getting its own icon on the taskbar. The app allows chat, calls, video calls with anyone anywhere in the world on platforms including, Windows, iOS, Android and others.

For those using their Windows device as a tablet, Windows 11 will be very familiar to users with few visual changes when the device is in tablet mode. Users will still be able to snap to navigate between various open apps. And if one rotates the screen the apps will get vertically staked for easy navigation.

A new feature to Windows 11 will be a floating keyboard and voice typing that uses auto punctuation and can follow voice commands like “delete that word.”

For gamers Windows 11 is offering “Auto HDR” which automatically improves the color and lighting of game visuals. This technology was first developed for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming consoles. In Windows 11 Xbox Game Pass will now be built in and give subscribers access to a library of hundreds of PC games.

The Microsoft Store has been redesigned to be faster. Users will also have a larger selection of apps including Android apps from the Amazon App Store allow users to load thousands of Android apps on their PC.

While rebuilding the Microsoft Store, Microsoft fire a metaphorically shot at Apple’s iOS store which takes a cut of each app purchase. Microsoft Store does not.

However, to date, the Microsoft Store has not been largely popular. Most apps are still downloaded and installed from .exe files.

Windows 11 New Features: User Interface

One of the biggest updates to Windows 11 will be the Start menu and Start button which will be placed front and centered on the task bar. The menu opens to pinned apps, “recommended” recent documents and a search bar. Live tiles are gone.

What Microsoft called “snap layouts” will give the user different window layout options. This will allow users to automatically arrange up to four open windows on their screen without manually moving and resizing them.

A new feature called “Snap Groups” will save a collection of apps a user was using and their layout. This allow users to quickly shift gears between different arrangements which are focused on different tasks. If using a docking station or switching between monitors at work and at home the snaps will reload as soon as a monitor is plugged back into the computer.

Another task oriented preset feature is saved desktops with personalized wallpapers. You could have one each for say school, home, work and gaming.

The entire system will get a graphic update with founded corners on windows and icons and a return to some Vista-like translucent layers for certain windows.

Windows widgets will bring personalized, AI-powered feed of information from weather, traffic, news and more. However, it won’t be all that different from Cortana and the Interests app on Windows 10.

Four New Google Maps Features

Google Maps has rolled out some new features on its app that are focus on community engagement. This is all intended as part of Maps evolution from how-get-there app to a question-and-answer engine for businesses and customers.

Firs they’ve added a live feed that will so users recent reviews, photos and posts added to maps by people they follow and Goolge selected “experts.” Kind of like Yelp, but all inside Maps.

Messaging for Maps is the next new feature which will allow customers and businesses to contact each other directly inside of maps instead of relying on second-party messaging or a phone call.

Maps will now provide performance insights for businesses. While limited in scope, the feature will measure what kinds of interactions the business is getting inside the Maps app with customers and provide that data to the business.

As a final update users can now add their own street view images from their phones.

The app version of Google Maps was released in 2005.

Google Quietly Adds Features to Popular “Maps” App

Google has added new functionality to its Maps app, it now displays an icon when there is a traffic light at an intersection. This is available only for some US cities.

Without fanfare Google Maps added a highly requested feature last month; users can now see intersections that have traffic lights. Though the feature is only available for some US cities.

According to Google the change was mode “to help people stay better informed on the road.” The icons appear at intersections inside the app on some US cities. The feature is present on both iOS and Android platforms.

This came along with a color mapping algorithm that helps users see different terrain types like beaches and forest. The updated also included better coloration of sidewalks and pedestrian islands.

Google stated that the traffic light/intersection view had been available in Japan for years and was a top requested feature in the United States for some time.

Google started testing the feature earlier this year in a few US cities.