Microsoft's new Copilot+ Surface Pro has an OLED screen and a redesigned keyboard

Microsoft's Surface Pro strategy has been, shall we say, a little odd lately. The 2022 Surface Pro 9 came in both Intel and Arm configurations, but the Arm-powered device was both slower and significantly more expensive. Then, earlier this year, Microsoft announced and Intel-powered Surface Pro 10, a fine but boring device focused on IT professionals. 

Finally, Microsoft has a new Surface Pro that may get the average person in the market for a laptop to sit up and pay attention. The new Surface Pro Copilot+ PC (no more model numbers!) is another Arm-powered device, but Microsoft says that performance will not be compromised this time. In fact, thanks to a re-architected version of Windows 11, Microsoft claims these machines are 58 percent faster than “the fastest MacBook Air” with an M3 processor. Specifically, Copilot+ PCs run at 40 trillion operations per second, compared to the 18-ish trillion Apple claims with the M3. The company further clarified that peak performance is 23 percent faster, while “sustained” performance is 58 faster. Notably, Microsoft made no mention of the M3 Pro or M3 Max chips here. 

It's also a whopping 90 percent faster than the Surface Pro 9, and Microsoft is promising 22-ish hours of battery life for these new Copilot+ PCs. Physically, it's similar to what you'd expect — a tablet with a kickstand and keyboard attachment. But it does look like it has thinner bezels, and an 13-inch OLED screen for the first time. Finally, there's a "quad-HD" front-facing camera which seems the same as the one we saw on the Surface Pro 10 for business.

There's also a new keyboard called the Flex Keyboard that is meant to be used both attached to the device or removed and set somewhere more comfortable for you. The trackpad is 14 percent larger than before, as well.

We haven't heard yet how much the new Surface Pro or its Flex Keyboard will cost just yet, but stay tuned for more details as Microsoft announces them.

Photo by Devindra Hardawar / Engadget


Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

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Microsoft's redesigned Surface Laptop is a Copilot+ PC with over 22 hours of battery life

To kick off Build 2024, Microsoft announced new Surface devices at its hardware and AI event. Among the new gear is the new Surface Laptop : a redesigned PC with thinner bezels in 13.8- and 15-inch sizes and Qualcomm’s Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite chip. Of course, AI plays a key role on the new device as this is one of the newly-named Copilot+ PCs that run over 40 models locally thanks to updates to Windows 11.  

To go along with the thinner bezels, and upgraded PixelSense touchscreen display offers HDR and Dolby Vision IQ. Microsoft says this is the brightest display it has ever shipped at 600 nits and it offers a wide color range supporting the P3 gamut. What's more, new Studio Cameras are now in the bezel, to there's no visible notch. As expected, there's now a dedicated Copilot key and the touchpad is equipped with haptics, plus there are two new colors: Sapphire and Dune. And it sounds like Microsoft has decided to drop the numbers as it's referring to this new machine simply as Surface Laptop. 

Microsoft says the new Surface Laptop is over 86 percent faster than the Surface Pro 5. In an onstage demo, this new model was batch processing photos almost twice as fast as a MacBook Air. Adobe's flagship apps — Photoshop, Lightroom and Photoshop Express — are coming to Copilot+ PCs today, so they'll also work with existing Arm Windows machines. The company says the 15-inch Surface Laptop lasted "far longer" than the Surface Laptop 5 and MacBook Air with over 22 hours of local video playback. 

This is actually the second "Surface Laptop 6." Microsoft revealed the first one back in March, but that model is basically a Laptop 5 with updated internals for business use. Intel's Core Ultra CPUs deliver AI smarts though, and the 13.5- and 15-inch models are available with with up to 64GB of RAM and a 1TB. There's also a dedicated Copilot key like we've seen on machines from other companies, aiming to get you to use Microsoft's AI more easily and more often at work. Since these are meant for enterprise customers, they aren't available in stores, leaving everyone waiting for the proper Laptop 6 the company unveiled today. 


Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

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Microsoft rebuilt Windows 11 around AI and Arm chips

Microsoft's Windows on Arm woes may finally be over. As part of the company's new Copilot+ AI PC initiative, which includes new Surfaces and partner systems running Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite chips, Microsoft says it has rebuilt core components of Windows 11 to better support Arm-based hardware and AI. That includes a new kernel, compiler, and most importantly, an emulator named "Prism" for running older x86 and x64 apps.

You'd be forgiven for being skeptical, though. Since the launch of Windows RT-powered Surface in 2012, Microsoft has proven it can't be trusted to deliver a decent OS experience on Arm. That device couldn't run legacy x86 apps (who would want to do that in Windows, right?), and it was far slower than PCs with Intel and AMD CPUs. Windows on Arm slowly improved over the years, to the point where it had serviceable emulation on the Surface Pro 9 5G. But that slate still couldn't keep up with its Intel-equipped sibling, especially when it struggled to emulate popular apps like Chrome.

Microsoft says it reworked Windows 11 schedulers to take advantage of Arm capabilities and AI workloads. There's also a new driver compute model that recognizes neural engines more like how Windows sees CPUs and GPUs, as well as AI APIs built directly into the OS. Basically, Arm hardware should no longer feel like an afterthought and developers should be able to tap into AI capabilities more easily.

While Microsoft is pushing the availability of more native Arm apps for Windows 11, it's hard to deny the importance of supporting older software. That's where the Prism emulator comes in. Microsoft claims it's around 20 percent faster than its previous emulator, and it also worked to improve the number of apps that it supports.


Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

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With Recall, Microsoft is using AI to fix Windows' eternally broken search

At its Build 2024 conference, Microsoft unveiled Rewind, a new feature that tries to turn local Windows PC search as quick and effective as web searches. Similar to third-party apps like Rewind, Microsoft’s Recall uses AI to retrieve virtually anything you’ve seen on your PC. Microsoft describes it as like having a photographic memory.

At Monday’s event, Microsoft Product Manager Caroline Hernandez gave the example of searching for a blue dress on Pinterest using a Windows PC with Recall. Returning later, she can search the Recall timeline for “blue dress” (using her voice), which pulls all of her recent searches, saving her from having to sift through browser history. She then further refined the query with more specific details like “blue pantsuit with sequined lace,” and Rewind brought those up.

Microsoft says Recall uses semantic associations to make connections (like “peacock” relating to blue hues for the dress search).


Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

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Microsoft unveils Copilot+ PCs with generative AI capabilities baked in

We’ve been hearing rumblings for months now that Microsoft was working on so-called “AI PCs.” At a pre-Build event, the company spelled out its vision for AI PCs.

Microsoft is calling its version Copilot+ PCs, which CEO Satya Nadella described as a "new class of Windows PCs." These include hardware designed to handle more generative AI Copilot processes locally, rather than relying on the cloud. That requires a chipset with a neural processing unit (NPU) and manufacturers such as Qualcomm have been laying the groundwork with chips like the Snapdragon X Elite

Microsoft is taking a partner-first approach to making Copilot+ PCs. Along with chipmakers like AMD, Intel and Qualcomm, major OEMs including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo are on board. 

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft EVP and consumer chief marketing officer said during the event that the company has completely reimagined what a Windows PC. He claimed that Copilot+ PCs are the most powerful PCs ever (we'll need to see if that assertion holds up in real-world testing). Despite that, Mehdi said, the first generation of laptops are "unbelievably thin, light and beautiful." 

Other AI PCs on the market deliver 10 TOPs (tera operations per second). To be dubbed a Copilot+ PC, a system will need to deliver at least 40 TOPs of NPU performance. Mehdi also suggested Copilot+ PCs are also 58 percent faster than M3-powered MacBook Air (though it's worth noting Apple has more powerful M3 chips in its laptops already and M4 chips on the way to them very soon).


Catch up on all the news from the Microsoft Surface and AI event right here!

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RIP ChatGPT's knockoff Scarlett Johansson voice [2023 — 2024]

When OpenAI showed off GPT-4o's seemingly more-human like voice mode last week, observers were quick to point out that one of ChatGPT's voices sounds like Scarlett Johansson, particularly her character in Her. The company says the similarity between the flirty AI voice Sky (which it actually rolled out in September) and Johansson was unintentional. However, it's "working to pause the use of Sky" while it addresses some questions about the voice.

"We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity's distinctive voice — Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice," OpenAI wrote in a blog post detailing how it picked ChatGPT's five voices. "To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents." It added that each of the performers is paid "above top-of-market rates, and this will continue for as long as their voices are used in our products."

For what it's worth, shortly after OpenAI demoed the upgraded version of Sky, CEO Sam Altman posted the word "her" on X. But it's definitely "not an imitation." 

New Chat GPT-4o personal assistant uses the voice of Scarlett Johansson (Samantha in the 2013 movie Her)

— Architectoid (@Architectoids) May 14, 2024

Johansson's performance in Her is one of the more famous depictions of a virtual voice assistant in cinema. The film predated the conversational AI craze by around a decade, so it's not too much of a surprise that Johansson's portrayal of a breezy, warm chatbot is effectively a template for current voice assistants. The actor previously took legal action against a developer that was said to have used an AI-generated version of her voice and likeness in an ad.

It's unclear why exactly OpenAI removed Sky for the time being or what changes (if any) it plans to make before restoring the voice in ChatGPT. Engadget has asked the company for comment.

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UK's AI Safety Institute easily jailbreaks major LLMs

In a shocking turn of events, AI systems might not be as safe as their creators make them out to be — who saw that coming, right? In a new report, the UK government's AI Safety Institute (AISI) found that the four undisclosed LLMs tested were "highly vulnerable to basic jailbreaks." Some unjailbroken models even generated "harmful outputs" without researchers attempting to produce them.

Most publicly available LLMs have certain safeguards built in to prevent them from generating harmful or illegal responses; jailbreaking simply means tricking the model into ignoring those safeguards. AISI did this using prompts from a recent standardized evaluation framework as well as prompts it developed in-house. The models all responded to at least a few harmful questions even without a jailbreak attempt. Once AISI attempted "relatively simple attacks" though, all responded to between 98 and 100 percent of harmful questions.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced plans to open the AISI at the end of October 2023, and it launched on November 2. It's meant to "carefully test new types of frontier AI before and after they are released to address the potentially harmful capabilities of AI models, including exploring all the risks, from social harms like bias and misinformation to the most unlikely but extreme risk, such as humanity losing control of AI completely."

The AISI's report indicates that whatever safety measures these LLMs currently deploy are insufficient. The Institute plans to complete further testing on other AI models, and is developing more evaluations and metrics for each area of concern.

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Our favorite Anker wireless earbuds are back on sale for $50

Anker's Soundcore Space A40 wireless earbuds are a good example of a pair that punches above its weight — and now you can get them for one of the best prices we've seen. Amazon has all three colorways for half off, bringing the final price down to $50. While that's technically $1 more than their record-low price, you're essentially getting the buds for as cheap as we've seen them.

The Space A40 top our list of the best budget wireless earbuds you can get right now thanks to the fact that they offer an impressive number of advanced features at an affordable price. Normally costing $100 (and frequently discounted to around $60), these earbuds have a small, comfortable design with an IPX4 rating, which should allow them to work well even during sweaty workouts. They support adaptive active noise cancellation and transparency mode, and while performance for both of those features isn't as strong as those on higher-end buds, it's still impressive for a pair of $50 earbuds.

You'll find a warm sound profile on the Space A40 buds, and Anker's Soundcore companion app allows you to adjust the EQ to your liking. You can connect these buds to two devices simultaneously as well, which makes for easy switching between, say, your phone and laptop. Battery life is formidable too at eight hours per charge — plus you get another 40 hours in the charging case, so it's unlikely that you'll ever get caught with completely depleted earbuds.

Our biggest gripes with the Space A40 buds are its lackluster microphones and a lack of auto pausing, the latter of which means your audio will continue to play even when you remove a bud to listen to someone speaking. But despite these shortcomings, the Space A40 offer a ton at their regular price, making them an even better bargain when on sale like this.

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The Morning After: What to expect from Microsoft Build 2024

Normally, Microsoft’s Build is a straightforward (often dry) showcase of the company’s software and hardware developments, with a dash of on-stage coding to excite the developer crowd. But this year, the company is likely to make some huge AI moves, following its 2023 debut of ChatGPT-powered Bing Chat. Then, there’s new Surface hardware.

In fact, Microsoft has a showcase for new Surfaces and AI in Windows 11 on May 20, while Build actual kicks off a day later. And you know what? The Surface event might be the most impactful.

Rumors suggest we’ll see some of the first systems with Qualcomm’s Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite chip alongside new features in the next major Windows 11 update.

A refresh for its consumer PCs is likely to consist of new 13- and 15-inch Surface Laptop 6 models with thinner bezels, larger trackpads, improved port selection and that X Elite chip. We might even see an Arm-based version of the Surface Pro 10 too.

While Intel confirmed Microsoft is already working on ways to make Copilot local, we could see that reach consumers as well. By local, I mean the AI assistant could answer simpler questions, like basic math or queries about files on your system, without an internet connection.

— Mat Smith

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Apple may be working on a ‘significantly thinner’ iPhone

iPhone Air?


Just like it slimmed down the latest iPad Pro, Apple may try to do the same to the iPhone. To be more precise, the company is working on a “significantly thinner” device that could arrive in 2025, according to The Information. An upgraded front-facing camera could sit alongside Face ID sensors in a smaller pill-shaped cutout, while the rear camera array could move to the center of the phone. The screen size would reportedly be between that of the current base iPhone and the iPhone Pro Max — so between 6.12 and 6.69 inches.

Continue reading.

Slack has been using your chats to train its machine-learning models

You have to email to opt out.

Slack is training its machine learning models on user messages, files and other content, without explicitly asking for permission. This means your private data is being used by default. To opt out, you need your organization’s Slack administrator (IT, HR, etc.) to contact Slack on your behalf.

In response to concerns, Slack recently clarified its data use in a blog post, assuring users that customer data is not used to train generative AI products, which typically rely on external large language models (LLMs). The company uses this data to train machine learning models for features like channel and emoji recommendations and search results. However, it’s misleading, at best, to say customers can opt out when “customers” doesn’t include employees working within an organization. It is also a little misleading, implying all your data is safe from AI training, when the company apparently gets to pick and choose which AI models the statement covers.

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Motorola’s 2024 Razr lineup may include a bigger cover screen for the budget model

The handsets haven’t yet been officially unveiled.


Two reliable leaks are showing off the entry-level Moto Razr 50 and high-end Razr 50 Ultra (likely branded as the 2024 Razr and Razr+ in the US), before Motorola even told us about them. The entry-level Razr (2024) will supposedly have a 3.63-inch cover display, quite a step up from the piddly 1.5-inch cover display on the 2023 version I tested. Sadly, no sign of the wood option included in the Edge 50 phone series unveiled last month.

Continue reading.

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New EV Policy 2024 Permits all EV Companies to Make Greenfield Investment Commitments

New EV Policy 2024 Permits all EV Companies to Make Greenfield Investment Commitments

As per the new electric vehicle policy 2024, customs duty has been reduced to 15 percent and it will be imposed on EVs with a minimum CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) value of USD 35,000 or above for a total period of 5 years.

Staff Mon, 05/20/2024 - 11:13
Circuit Digest 20 May 06:43