5 Important Features In Windows 10’s First Big Update

The first big update to Windows 10, Threshold 2, was released earlier this week. Threshold 2 brings a number of new tweaks, performance enhancements, and important new features to users. Five of the most important features released with the new update are highlighted below.


  1. Windows Can Track Down Your Lost PC
    Windows 10 now includes a “Find My Device” option under Settings > Update & Security. This means Windows finally includes built in tracking so if you ever lose your laptop, you can track it down via GPS. You can also ask Windows 10 to send your device’s location to Microsoft servers, allowing you to view the last known location if you ever lose it.
  2. Cortana No Longer Requires A Microsoft Account
    Cortana is better than ever before with the release of Threshold 2, especially since users are no longer required to hold a Microsoft account. You can use Cortana if you’re logged into your computer with a local user account and ‘she’ now understands inked notes, can track events, warn you when you miss a phone call, and sync your messaging.
  3. Skype And Sway Are Integrated
    Windows 10’s latest update includes a few new apps – Skype Messaging, Video, and Phone. These apps all use Skype’s service, replacing the big Skype app originally offered for Windows 8. These apps are designed to integrate Skype with Windows 10 although the standard desktop app will still be available. The update also brings us “Sway,” an office-style app designed to share interactive reports, presentations, and more.
  4. The Start Menu Is More Polished
    The Start Menu has been improved during this update as well. You can now have more than 512 apps installed and support up to 2048 “tiles.” The Start Menu is much more consistent than the previous version; a welcome sight for anyone who’s had issues dealing with Windows 10’s odd mix of context menu styles before.
  5.  Edge Gets Some Love Too
    Microsoft Edge received a little love during this update as well, featuring support for new HTML5, CSS3, and ECMAScript. Microsoft Edge hasn’t received any browser extensions – yet. Major updates for Edge appear that they are being held for a later date and major new versions of Windows 10.

First Major Update for Windows 10 Available Today



Offline Navigation Available On Google Maps

Android users who trust Google Maps to get from point A to point B now have the same navigation abilities offline as they do online. All you have to do is update to the latest version of the app.

We got our first glimpse of Google Maps new offline search and navigation feature during Google I/O in May earlier this year — and now, six months later, the feature is finally available; well, for Android users. Google says an iOS version is “coming soon.”

Google Maps users have had the ability to save certain areas within the app since 2012 but the updated software now allows users to download specific map areas to their mobile device. The maps are then indexed locally so that searches and turn-by-turn directions still work even when you’re offline.

This means that if you save the city you live in, you’ll be able to search for a place to grab lunch and get suggestions without a connection; get directions to that new Blues bar you’ve been wanting to check out (based on average traffic time rather than real traffic-time although your route will update as soon as your connection is restored), or find information about hours of operation for local businesses in the area.

According to Google’s announcement about the app update,

“Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today…this is a huge problem, especially as people attempt to navigate and explore the world around them, so Google Maps is taking steps to help people across the globe find directions to get where they are going…”

The feature will be useful for anyone trying to navigate without a cell connection, in a foreign country that requires a second SIM card, or like in my case, if you move to a new city, have no clue where you’re going half the time, and can’t afford to keep your data on 24/7 because you share a plan with two data-hogging siblings.

Navigate and search the real world…online or off
Google adds offline Maps button to Android app in response to complaints

Google Inbox

Google Is Making Inbox “Smarter”

Google’s been busy beefing up the corporate versions of its Apps productivity suite, but the internet giant took some time to put outside software providers in the spotlight earlier this week.

Amid updating the Google Apps Marketplace, Google has started posting third-party app recommendations that integrate easily with Google Calendar, Drive, and Gmail. Rahul Sood, managing director for Google Apps for Work, said in a blog post Tuesday that all third-party apps recommended by the search engine have been tested for performance and security.

“It can be difficult to assess which apps are secure, reliable, high-performing and well-integrated with the tools customers use most,” Sood wrote. “And many businesses have neither the time nor the capability to do this assessment across all of the apps they might consider.”

Handpicked suggestions include the likes of single sign-on providers Ping Identity and Okta, Smartsheet for project management, and Switch for cloud based communications.

The Google Apps Marketplace carries hundred of apps and more than 2 million business subscribers (Sood didn’t provide an exact number). Google is also taking care to tighten up links within its own portfolio, highlighting apps supported on Android and Google Play for Work.

With Inbox, Google is revamping email as we know it by updating it with a new function dubbed as “Smart Reply.” Smart Reply can suggest up to 3 responses based on the email you’ve received. Suggestions are based on the length of the email that you received and the responses that you select or don’t select from the most often.

Both Inbox and Smart Reply are a work in progress as Google software engineer Balint Miklos suggested in a separate blog post. For example, Miklos admitted that the automated response “I love you” seemed to be popping up more often than it should but Smart Reply is designed to learn and expected to perform well.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Smart Reply works, you can read about it on the Google Research Blog.


Strengthening the Google Apps Ecosystem
Computer, respond to this email: Introducing Smart Reply in Inbox by Gmail