Here we go again! The first significant update for Windows 10 for the year is here in the form of the April Update. Moreover, although it may not have the most creative name, it is a packed one.
Microsoft focused a lot on the smaller improvements in this version, while also adding in a couple of prominent features like Timeline and Progressive Web Apps. However, for the most part, the April Update is about refinements to existing options in the operating system.
Along with the more in-depth implementation of the Fluent Design language across the OS.
Let’s take a look at everything new in the April Update or Version 1803, as it is known.
It is probably what most users will notice first. Microsoft has been gradually implementing its new design language across all its platforms, from Windows 10 to Xbox. Also, happy to report that even more elements of the operating system are now, well, fluent.
Acrylic and Reveal, the two trademark features of Fluent Design are now in abundance across the OS.
The first is the transparent glass effect with a blur that is used lavishly on the Start menu, the Settings app, the Edge web browser and the share flyout. Even the Messaging app now comes in Acrylic.
Same goes for the Reveal effect, which is a nice little highlight of the movement of your cursor across the screen. This element is present in the Start menu, on the calendar flyout, as well as essential applications like Edge and Settings.
Much work remains to implement Fluent Design fully in Windows 10, but Microsoft just got closer.
Your web browser remembers every webpage you visit. The timeline is Microsoft’s attempt to make Windows 10 do the same. The operating system now recognizes the different tasks you have been working on, letting you quickly jump to it.
Timeline keeps tracks of everything you have worked on across various devices, including Windows 10, Android and iOS. Central to this whole deal is what the company calls activities — which you can think of as a concept that takes note of both the apps and files. Windows 10 keeps tracks of the applications you had open and files you were working on, and this data move across your device.
Have a PowerPoint presentation that you were designing yesterday? Or that PDF ebook that you were reading over the weekend on your tablet? They are all now part of your Timeline, and just a click away in Windows 10 now.
Also, oh, if you are concerned about Timeline compromising your privacy, there is a new Activity History Settings page that lets you specify the accounts that appear. You can also delete all activity from a given hour or a day directly. The feature only shows four days of activities unless you sync with the cloud.
If there’s a marquee feature of the April Update, a highlight, this is it.
There were days when Microsoft was improving Cortana with new capabilities left and right. With the Windows 10 Mobile platform now part of history, the digital assistant is not as actively worked on by Microsoft.
However, the company still has reserved some changes for Cortana in the Windows 10 April Update.
Improvements include a new destination called Organizer that lets users Lists and Reminders, as well as Collections, which are primarily things you save from websites like recipes for example.
In fact, you will find that Cortana is now less contextual and proactive than before. She does not offer you tips on news and weather on her main interface. That has been moved to the Action Center, while the Cortana interface now focuses on what you are doing, activities you might want to do.
The Notebook for Cortana also houses skills for the voice assistant, like music providers and home automation. A bunch of useful skills is available to users in the United States, with Microsoft promising additional features for more markets soon.
Microsoft has been hard at work improving its browser, and happy to report that Edge is quickly catching up with rivals regarding features and functionality. Along with a Fluent Design makeover, the April Update adds in a slew of new options for the fledgling web browser.
Including the handy ability to mute tabs.
Also, if you did not like the previous dark look of the browser, this time around it gets a proper dark theme that does highlight the contrast between websites and the UI elements.
The browser also finally gets autofill functionality, and users can now have Edge fill in their card details from their Microsoft account and automatically entered at online checkouts. Autofill can also save address information and fills it instantly when details like deliveries and address registration are required online.
The reading experience is another area of improvement in this version. The reading view in Edge now offers the same consistent experience for web pages, ebooks and PDF files. Also new is a fullscreen button in reading mode, which displays your content onscreen without the clutter.
Speaking of, you can now save ink and paper by printing pages without the clutter. This option removes the junk from web pages, allowing you the ability only to print the content.
Ebook readers have plenty to like in this new Edge, too. Not only can they save the free EPUB files from the web directly to their computers, but the browser also keeps track of the changes and your reading progress, syncing your notes and annotations to all your connected devices.
There are even some grammar tools to check your writing.
Moreover, finally, the InPrivate mode in the web browser allows you to use extensions privately, meaning all your extensions now work while you are browsing privately.
Microsoft introduces My People experience in the previous Fall Creators Update, is improved in this one, with drag and drop support for contacts that you pin to the taskbar and the in People flyout. It makes it easy to rearrange them.
April Update also lets you control how many contacts show up in the taskbar, lifting the three contacts limit that Microsoft had imposed. You can now have as few as one contact, or as many as 10.
It is Microsoft’s answer to Apple AirDrop, a feature that lets you share content from apps that make use of the share extension to transfer data and information to other nearby Windows PCs that are in Bluetooth range.
An excellent addition for when you quickly want to share a file with someone in the same room, with a patchy WiFi connection and without going the cloud route.
Another name change, you ask? Sadly, yes. Quiet Hours is no more. Instead, the latest version of Windows 10 introduces Focus Assist, which is merely a rename along with expanded capabilities of what is the Do Not Disturb feature in the operating system.
It is also a more fitting name.
That is because this feature helps you concentrate on whatever you are doing, without annoying distractions. Windows 10 will not bother you with notifications, application alerts, and other such interruptions. Focus Assist automatically turns on when you play a game, and you can configure via its Setting panel.
Data collection has always been a concern for the privacy-conscious of Microsoft’s modern operating systems. Luckily, the company has been making regular improvements in this regard, doing all it can to address privacy concerns for Windows 10 users.
The Windows 10 April Update takes matters even more severely.
It lets you opt out of data collection for inking and typing recognition, clearing concerns about the operating system acting as a keylogger. Naturally, Microsoft makes it clear that it only used this data to improve input services on Windows 10.
User control is paramount in this version, with the company even throwing in Diagnostic Data Viewer, an app that is available for download from the Microsoft Store and allows you to see, exactly what data your system is sending back to Microsoft. It groups the information into simple categories and is a significant step up on the transparency front by the company.
It is not on by default, though, and takes a while before it starts showing the sent data.
However, it is a sign of progress.
Which leads us to, you guessed it, Progressive Web Apps.
There’s a new revolution brewing, one that aims to run applications on the Internet, rather than display websites and web pages. Progressive Web Apps are the latest sensation, and starting with the April Update, Windows 10 offers full support for these new apps.
As a matter of pure fact, the first wave of PWAs has already hit the Microsoft Store, led by the refreshed Twitter app. The developers host these applications on their servers. They can update on the fly and users can start using them as like they are streaming.
Microsoft and other companies like Google are still finalizing the specifications and standards for Progressive Web Apps, but for the most part, these apps offer a perfectly usable experience, one that is quite similar to native applications.
Performance remains a bit of an issue, but that is something that will improve with time, as well.
HDR video support is not new; Windows 10 has offered it for a while. However, High Dynamic Range videos have now been made available to more users and devices, allowing them to view more detailed, natural and realistic looking content on their screens.
If you have a compatible system, you can toggle on the Stream HDR video setting. Do note that this feature maximizes the brightness of your screen and consumes significantly more battery life. Worth it, however.
Microsoft continues to refine how updates get to deliver for Windows 10 with each new release, and the April Update is no different. A notable new addition is that Windows Update now keeps your PC on to complete the deployment of an update.
You also get the ability to control the download bandwidth used in foreground downloads, which should come in handy if you have less than stellar Internet connectivity at the time.
The Microsoft Paint 3D app that made its debut with the Creators Update last year has been updated to offer a new 3D View mode that is designed to improve the ease and accuracy of editing 3D objects right in the application.
You can edit the creations from any angle, as well as orbit, pan, and zoom around them.
Moreover, since this is an update to the application, you do not exactly need to be running this latest version of Windows 10 to access this feature. Merely updating the Paint 3D app from the Microsoft Store gains you access to it.
Windows Camera also saw an update that helps the app deliver a more personalized experience. It now remembers the last camera and scene used, while letting you handle two cameras simultaneously. The application also offers more resolution options.
This new version of Windows 10 also packs in a long list of accessibility improvements for those with visual, hearing and other impairments. There’s a new Ease of Access section in Setting that groups these accessibility options make it easier to discover them and manage their settings.
The narrator, once again, sees some improvements, and users can now make use of it to navigate the web as well as modern applications. It also works better in the Microsoft Edge web browser and can emphasize text differently depending on its formatting.
It also works in Safe Mode.
Also, although the Eye Control feature that allows users to control their PCs with their eyeballs is still in preview form, there are some improvements for it as well.
A new feature that makes it easy to connect two devices via Bluetooth. Quick pair automatically kicks in when you hold supported Bluetooth devices near your PC and triggers an Action Center notification asking you whether you want to pair your computer with the invention.
Each new iteration of Windows 10 solidifies the Settings panel, and the April Update is no different. Microsoft has continued its trend of migrating features from the Control Panel to its Settings app, with elements like Fonts, Display, Sound, and Language all being accessible.
Also, not only are you now able to manage typefaces through the Settings app, but you can now also download new fonts from the Microsoft Store.
Although this feature is not prominently noticeable, the latest version of Windows 10 lets you access settings for installed apps directly from the Start menu. It not only saves much time but also enables you to manage permissions, change default app choices and modify options for your applications.
You can access this customization feature from the Start menu by right-clicking an app.
Finally, a word about the improvements to gaming in the April Update. These range from a redesigned Game Bar and better HDR support to a few under the hood optimizations for better gameplay experiences.
The gaming section of the Settings app is also a bit more polished, more refined, with more options.
There are a bunch of other small changes and improvements spread across the April Update, including enhancements to existing features. Nearly every facet of the OS has been touched up and improved. Some of these minor changes are listed below: