The latest update to Windows 10 became available on Monday. It’s called “The April 2018 Update”, and like every big Windows update, it brings with it a variety of fixes, quality of life improvements, and new features.
We’re very happy to see that Microsoft has stopped giving these updates silly names; the last one, the “Fall” update, was probably the worst of the lot, since “Fall” isn’t in wide use outside of North America. The “Creator’s Update” that came before that isn’t much better. Dates are boring, sure, but at least everyone can relate to them.
Anyway, that aside, here’s a look at some of the features this new Windows update brings with it.
The big feature rolling out is called Timeline, which lets Windows 10 users go “back in time” to find files you were working on at a specific time, in the exact condition they were in at that time. It’s a little tough to wrap your head around from a text description, so Microsoft put this cool video out about it that does a better job of explaining:
Then there’s Nearby Sharing, which lets you share files with people who are in close physical proximity to you over Bluetooth or WiFi. Windows 10 will automatically pick the best way to share whatever it is you want to share, and you have the option to see who’s available to share with.
For those of us who stare at screens all day being bombarded by notifications from social media, the next feature could prove incredibly useful: it’s called Focus Assist, which lets you block notifications, sounds, and alerts in order to dramatically reduce the number of distractions entering our perception and allow you to do presentations in peace without worrying something is going to pop up in the middle of it.
Microsoft also appears to understand that while we need to keep social media at arm’s length at some point in our work day, we don’t want to miss out on anything important, either, so Focus Assist also provides a handy summary of everything we missed while it was active.
Here’s another video that explains it more in-depth:
Microsoft Edge, the company’s latest effort at making a fast, safe, competent browser, also got its share of tweaks in this update (some of which are long overdue). They include:
- Tab muting (brilliant for annoying websites that play video with sound automatically
- Autofilling cards on web forms
- Clutter-free printing
- Full-screen, distraction-free reading of PDFs, EPUB books, and more (hit F11 to access)
- Grammar tools to improve the reading experience
- Fluent Design tweaks with a new Dark theme, better contrast
- Availability on Android phones, iPhones, and iPads
Naturally, security was given special attention, with updates to Windows Defender that include a feature previously only accessible to Windows 10 Enterprise users called Application Guard that comes to Windows 10 Pro. Improvements to Windows Security Center are here, too, like quick access from the context menu, more options for notifying people, and more.
Single sign-on for all Microsoft apps is another interesting feature – if you sign into one Microsoft application or service (or Windows 10) signs you into all of them. This one is only going to be available in June for all Windows 10 users; it’s out right now for people on the Fast Track of the Office Insiders programme.
And anyone using Windows Hello will be happy to know that this update makes it far easier to set up Windows Hello on their compatible device, as Microsoft has brought its settings screen up from the depths of Windows 10’s Settings and placed it on the lock screen, under the “Sign-in options”, er, option.
You’ll still need a compatible device, however – Windows Hello requires the use of a specialised infrared webcam (that’s why it’s impossible to fool), and those don’t ship with every laptop due to costs.
There are plenty of other tweaks in this update, but these are the ones we think are most interesting and relevant for the largest number of Windows 10 users.
How to get it?
So, by now you might be wondering how you can get the update. There are four ways to do it:
- Wait for Windows Update to grab it automatically (which it should do at any time from now as the update has reached wide availability)
- Trigger the update manually by forcing an update in the Settings app
- Download and run the Windows Update Assistant
- Download the full Windows 10 April 2018 Update .ISO file yourself, create a Windows 10 installation USB drive and install it manually
Having done the upgrade already on our end, the easiest is probably forcing Windows Update to check for the new update, as that doesn’t need you to download and run anything. Just click Start, Settings, Update & Security, and Check for Updates – the PC will do the rest.
We love these updates, and look forward to seeing what else Microsoft has up its sleeve with the next one.