Most Helpful Features in Windows 10's Anniversary Update

These five additions to Windows 10 will make all the OS that much better.

Windows 10 PC
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Recently, we took a look at the biggest features headed to Windows 10 with the Anniversary Update--first introduced during Build 2016. Since then, Windows Insiders have been able to spend more time with the revamped operating system to get a better sense of the new features.

Like any major release, there's a lot of new stuff coming. With that in mind here's a look at five features I think users will find most helpful.

Cortana on the lock screen

A new option in Cortana's Settings will let you put the digital personal assistant on your PC's lock screen. From there you'll be able to interact with it to set reminders or ask questions. Once you need to launch an app, like when you want Cortana to send an email, you'll have to log in to your PC.

Android Phone Notifications on Your PC

Microsoft said it was coming in a future version of Windows 10, and now it looks like Android phone notifications on your PC will show up in the Anniversary Update.

Thanks to the combination of Cortana for Android and the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you'll be able to see and dismiss phone notifications on your PC. Right now, you can already get missed call alerts and respond to text messages on a Windows 10 PC, but the new feature will make Android integration far more full-featured.

Windows 10 Mobile users will also get more phone notifications on their PC with the Anniversary Update, but iOS users are out of luck. Due to Apple's tight control of iOS, Microsoft can't offer the same feature to iPhone users.

Edge Browser Extensions and Desktop Notifications

With the Anniversary Update, Microsoft Edge is coming closer to being a full-featured browser on par with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. The new update brings extensions to the browser--small programs that add extra functionality such as added security features or integration with online services like Pocket.

In addition, Edge will get the new notifications functionality that allows websites such as Facebook to push alerts to your desktop. Edge's version will integrate with Action Center allowing you to see all your notifications from websites in one spot.

Edge will also get click-to-play functionality for Adobe Flash videos. Microsoft's new browser will also prevent non-essential Flash content (think ads) from automatically running. Chrome introduced a similar feature in June 2015.

The one thing that will still be missing from Edge--as far as we know--is the ability to sync browser tabs across devices. Tab syncing is a feature most helpful to Windows 10 Mobile users--Edge is not available on Android or iOS--but anyone who uses multiple PCs or a Windows tablet would also find the feature helpful.

Calendar Taskbar Integration

This is one of those small features that really makes all the difference on a day-to-day basis. The Anniversary Update will bring calendar appointments from the built-in calendar app to the calendar in the taskbar.

If you're not familiar with the calendar in the taskbar click on the time and date on the far right of your desktop. A panel will pop-up with a larger version of the time and date. Underneath that is a miniature calendar showing the days of the week for the current month. This calendar will helpfully start showing upcoming agenda items after the Anniversary Update.

Dark Theme

For those of you that love a different look to their OS, Microsoft is bringing back the Windows 10 dark theme. The company originally shipped the dark theme as a secret option with pre-release builds of Windows 10--a secret that curious beta testers uncovered.

Now, however, the dark theme is coming as a full-fledged option for those who want it.

Those are the highlights of the most helpful features coming to Windows 10's Anniversary Update, but there's a whole lot more coming. Windows Hello biometric authentication will work with third-party apps and websites that support it. You'll also be able to unlock a PC with a smartphone or a wearable like the Microsoft Band. Skype is getting a new universal app, the Start menu is getting a design overhaul, and there will be more emoji--including​ a few Windows-specific ones.

It's going to be an interesting update, and if the rumors are right we should see it roll out at the end of July.