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Microsoft is working on many new features for Windows 11, and now the company has started testing something interesting: a new text selection popup that looks similar to what is available on iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25115 started rolling out to Windows Insider testers on Wednesday, with a new feature called suggested actions. Microsoft wrote in a blog post, “When you copy a date, time, or phone number, Windows will suggest actions relevant to you such as creating calendar events or making phone calls with your favorite apps.”

'Create event' popup when selecting a date

The new functionality is similar to what has been available on Android, iPhone, and iPad for several years, where installed applications can suggest actions for certain types of text. Microsoft’s example of selecting a phone number shows a button to call it in Microsoft Teams (Teams on some organizations can place outgoing phone calls). Selecting a date shows buttons for creating an event in Outlook and the Windows Calendar apps.

Popup for 'Call number' when selecting text

Popups on text selection can be fairly annoying, but the blog post says the popup only appears if text is copied to the clipboard, and if there is a suggested action available. It’s unclear if non-Microsoft apps can add their own actions to the popup — The Register asked Microsoft if third-party apps could be updated to support suggested actions, but the company didn’t respond.

Android added a basic version of this feature all the way back in 2015, with the release of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which allowed apps to add actions to the text selection menu. More recently, it was updated to show different options based on the text selected, just like suggested actions in Windows 11 — if you highlight an address, the first option is usually opening the address in Google Maps. iPhone and iPad has a similar feature, though you usually have to press ‘Share’ first after selecting text.

The new feature on Windows 11 looks like it could be helpful, but implementations on other platforms (especially Android) have had problems. Microsoft was caught adding a Bing search shortcut to Android’s text selection menu when the Outlook app was installed — capitalizing on Outlook’s popularity to promote an unrelated service. Third-party apps might do the same on Windows suggested actions, unless Microsoft blocks other apps from adding options… which would limit its usefulness.

Source: Windows Blog

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Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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