Microsoft just sherlocked the best Windows 11 audio app

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What you need to know

  • The latest Insider build of Windows 11 includes an experimental feature that adds options for controlling system audio.
  • The audio mixer is similar to the popular third-party app EarTrumpet.
  • There's a chance that Microsoft may not ship the new functionality, as it is only a hidden feature within an Insider build at this time.

Windows 11's latest Insider build include a set of audio features that will look familiar to anyone that has used the third-party app EarTrumpet. If you enable an experimental flag in a recent Insider build of Windows 11, you'll be able to try out a volume mixer that allows you to control the audio levels of specific apps. It also simplifies switching between audio outputs, such as speakers or headphones.

These features have been available on Windows for five years through the use of EarTrumpet, but are new to the OS itself. The experimental audio mixer isn't identical to the third-party application, but it's close in many ways.

The term "Sherlocked" refers to when the maker of an operating system or a first-party app copies the functionality of a third-party application. Specifically, it means to do so without compensation or permission. 

The word gained that meaning after people accused Apple of copying the software Watson when designing Sherlock 3, but it has since become commonplace in the software industry. If you're a PC gamer, you've likely seen developers copy popular mods; the principle is the same.

One could argue that Microsoft has Sherlocked EarTrumpet with its latest move. EarTrumpet is free, so its developers may not mind Microsoft mimicking the third-party tool.

Rafeal Rivera, who made EarTrumpet alongside former Microsoft engineer Dave Amenta, joked about Microsoft copying the tool:

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In a follow-up tweet Rivera argued that EarTrumpet is faster than Microsoft's implementation of similar functionality.

Since the new options are hidden within an Insider build of Windows 11, there's a chance that they may never ship. Microsoft may also change them before release if they do decide to add the functionality to the operating system.

If you're interested in experimental features, make sure to check out our new series "Windows Unshipped," in which our senior editor Zac Bowden takes a deep dive into features and designs that never made their way to Windows.

EarTrumpet | Free at Microsoft Store (opens in new tab)

EarTrumpet | Free at Microsoft Store (opens in new tab)

This volume control app lets you individually set the audio levels for various apps and devices on your PC. It's one of the best ways to customize how audio works on Windows, and it's free.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).