Windows 11 is getting new features, faster input switcher and more

Windows 11 upcoming features

The next feature update for Windows 11 is not expected until
October 2022, but the improvements will slowly start surfacing
in the preview builds. Microsoft is currently working on a few
new features and user interface (UI) tweaks for the OS,
including a brand new Voice Access feature.

Despite still not having a confirmed version number, the next
feature update for Windows 11 has always been leaked by the
tech giant. In one of the retracted support documents,
Microsoft noted that Windows 11 version 22H2 would be the next
major update for the OS and there won’t be a 22H1 release.

Windows 11 22H2 is believed to be a part of the Nickel
development branch (which has already been sent out to testers)
and it will bring back features like drag-and-drop. This update
is also expected to add new
personalization options to the Settings app, and a new
voice control tool.

Voice Access

Microsoft is experimenting with a new voice control tool called
“Voice Access” to help people control their desktop. This
feature has been designed to help people with mobility
disabilities by allowing them to control their desktop, open
files, select texts, double-tap,  right-click, and more
using their voice.

As you can see in the below screenshot, you can access Windows
11’s experimental Voice Access feature by heading to
Accessibility Settings.

Windows 11 Voice Access settings

The Voice Access requires a speech model which is downloaded
from the Microsoft Store when you enable the feature. Once it
is downloaded, simply select a microphone of your choice and it
will be used for Voice Access.

If you followed the steps correctly, you can start using your
voice to control the PC with just one tap.

Voice Access is in the early stage of development, but it
already supports all basic features, including commands to open
or switch between apps. You can also use your voice to browse
the web, read and write emails.

Windows 11 Voice Access

Voice Access is powered by the company’s existing device speech
recognition and it currently supports English-U.S. language
only. In order to use Voice Access, you will also need to
switch the device’s display language to English-U.S.

Voice access may not work well if your display language is set
to English U.K or any other language.

Microsoft has confirmed support for the following Windows voice
commands:

  • Open [app name]. For example, you need to say “Open Edge”
    or “Open Word” to open the app.
  • “Minimize window,” “Maximize window,” “Close window” to
    manage your windows.
  • You can also click an item or open a link with these
    commands: “Click Start,” “Click Cancel”.
  • Other supported commands include “Right-click Start”,
    “Double click Recycle Bin”,
    “Scroll down” or “Start scrolling down”, “Press Escape”,
    “Press and Hold Shift”, and more.

Faster Input Switcher

As you’re probably aware, Windows 11 comes with a new input
switcher (popup menu that lets you switch between language
packs installed on your device).

Microsoft is making changes to the underlying platform behind
the input switch to improve overall performance and help people
easily switch between multiple keyboard languages and layouts.

Input Switcher

Additionally, Input Switcher now comes with support for Windows
11’s Fluent Design (acrylic background material).

Emoji panel is getting new features

Windows clipboard’s emoji section was recently refreshed with a
new set of Fluent emojis and Microsoft is now trying to
diversify the emoji collection by adding support for additional
skin tones.

Windows 11 emoji panel

You can share emojis based on the skin tones of family members.
As you can see in the above screenshot, it is now possible to
personalize emoji like couples with heart, kissing, and people
holding hands, etc.

Other improvements in the preview update:

  • File Explorer’s context menu now comes with support for
    additional top-level buttons.
  • Desktop spotlight support.
  • Weather widget on taskbar.
  • Better video encoding in third-party apps like Adobe or
    Filmora, thanks to the new API.

As we mentioned at the outset, it is important to understand
that these new features are still under development and a
stable release is expected in October or November 2022.

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