Recall, Windows’ New Star Feature, Is ‘Like Having a Photographic Memory’ in Your PC

  • The new tool, which will be available on the Copilot+ PCs, is a promising evolution of the traditional file explorer.

  • The system uses AI to record everything we do and help us remember and recover things.

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Although the main purpose of the event that Microsoft held today before select members of the press was to present its new and ambitious Copilot+ PCs, it also served as a forum to talk about what users can expect from the Artificial Intelligence in Windows 11.

Recall, one of the most exceptional new features, is the next evolution of the traditional Windows Explorer. What makes it so special is its use of AI.

According to Microsoft, it’s going to be like having photographic memory, in a way that will feel natural to the user. This feature will only be available in the new Copilot+ PCs, which include chips with powerful neural processing units (NPUs).

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, talked about how users often use all kinds of methods to set reminders: writing emails to themselves, leaving browser tabs open or writing notes. Recall does that with AI.

Product manager Carolina Hernández explained how Recall helps her handle different tasks. She showed how, weeks after searching for dresses on Pinterest, Recall was able to help her find the dresses she had seen.

Recall is a fantastic tool to easily remember and recover things we did and searched for. The app makes associations between colors, images and other characteristics of things it recognizes; then, users can use natural language to ask Recall about something. It's like a powerful search engine for all our past activity.

In one of the examples from the presentation, Recall was able to locate a PowerPoint presentation, as well as a specific slide, in order to make some changes. There's even a timeline that allows users to go back and forth in time to see what they were working on at each particular moment when editing the presentation.

The obvious question is what implications this tool has for privacy. Where is all this data stored? What guarantee do we have that it will not end up on Microsoft’s servers? According to the company, Recall was created with “responsible AI principles.” It will be private and safe, as it will run locally on the device, Microsoft added, pointing out that the company will not use any of that information to train its AI models.

In order to act as a photographic memory, Recall uses a semantic index, a tool that indexes on content on a device and associates it for future searches. Microsoft explained that Windows was redesigned to take advantage of this type of feature; the new Windows Copilot client uses up to 40 different AI models to implement AI functions such as Recall.

Some of the newest features stand out, like one that Microsoft demonstrated when playing Minecraft: the new Copilot was capable of describing, with a synthetic voice, what the player was doing in real-time, as well as provide additional information. Copilot+ PCs will also include features like Super Resolution, which will be able to restore old photos, as well as an AI narrator with the ability to describe images, an interesting aid in terms of accessibility.

However, the definite star seems to be Recall, one of the most promising Windows features in recent years. We’ll see if it delivers on its promises.

Related: Microsoft Already Knows How to Conquer the AI World: Money. It's Spent Nearly $30 Billion (So Far)

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