What you need to know
- The latest Windows 10 19H2 test build opens the OS up more for digital assistant alternatives Cortana.
- Third-party digital assistants will now be able to wake from Windows 10's lock screen.
- This will allow assistants like Amazon's Alexa to activate with their wake words without unlocking your PC first.
Microsoft is planning to open up Windows 10 to third-party digital assistants even more with the release of its next major update. In the latest Windows 10 19H2 build released to Slow ring Insiders today, Microsoft revealed a change that will allow third-party assistants like Alexa to activate with their wake word from the lock screen. This was previously a function only available to Cortana.
Alexa is the primary alternative to Cortana on Windows 10 PCs right now, and the app already allows you to use a wake word to make queries. The shift to allow this over the lock screen shows that Microsoft is looking to give users more choice over the digital assistant they prefer to use across more aspects of the OS. This capability will be open to third-party assistants outside of Alexa as well, making it a feature that, say, Google Assistant could take advantage of if Google ever decided to launch it as an app for Windows 10.
Microsoft has signaled its intentions to de-couple Cortana across Windows recently for a while now. The assistant was separated from the Windows 10 search bar in the April 2019 Update. In June, the company launched Cortana as a separate app on the Microsoft Store, putting it on the same footing as Alexa while also enabling Microsoft to update it more frequently — something that will come in handy when Cortana's contextual future comes to fruition.
Portable (and affordable) power accessories we love
Each and every one of these charging gadgets will keep your favorite gear and gadgets going for longer, and none of them costs more than $30.
VisionTek 8,000 mAh micro-USB power bank ($13 at Dell)
This compact dual-output powerbank can speedily recharge any and all your devices, thanks to a two-amp "fast charge feature," using its micro-USB out port. Its simple design includes an LED indicator, and it costs about as much as a single ticket to the movies.
Panasonic eneloop AA batteries (From $13 at Dell)
Panasonic's rechargeable batteries are among the best available, and just a couple of them will keep your favorite remote, mice or other peripherals powered up when you need them. They're also eco. And the company's affordable charger fits and charges both AA and AAA batteries at the same time.
Belkin Qi Wireless Charging Pad ($30 at Dell)
This unobtrusive Qi wireless charging pad looks good (and kind of like a UFO …) and easily charges all your Qi-compatible device up to 5W. Its LED indicator lights up when you're charging. And it costs just $30.
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