At its fall event, Microsoft not only launched new Surface computers, but also announced the availability of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. What was the top new capability in that release? The Your Phone app, which allows for easy sharing between a smartphone and your PC.
Drag and drop photos from a phone via a window on the PC. Or send web pages from a phone to the PC, where they can open immediately or reside in the Action Center for later use. You can also see your PC’s Timeline on the phone, though that feature is still labeled as beta—as is the coolest feature of all, Screen Mirroring, which displays and lets you interact with your smartphone’s screen on a PC.
If you have an Android phone, though, you can now get notifications from phone apps in the Your Phone app on the PC, Microsoft announced this week.
Microsoft would love to get the same functionality on iPhones, but Apple closely guards its ecosystem. Android is a lot more customizable than iOS, even letting you drop in a different Launcher home screen for your phone. With Your Phone, Microsoft takes advantage of this openness to deliver some impressive linkage between the worlds of mobile and desktop.
Read on to find out how to get going with the Your Phone app to transfer photos and send text messages on your PC. The Windows 10 update is rolling out gradually, but here’s how to get it now.
Install the Your Phone Companion App
The text you receive on the phone includes a link to the Your Phone Companion app, which you can quickly install from the Google Play store.
Turn On Photos and Messages
Go to the Your Phone PC app’s Settings and toggle the buttons below Photos and Messages to on so the app can show photos and text messages from your phone. Your Phone will then send a notification to the phone asking for permissions to do so.
Photos From Phone to PC Instantly
Voilà! Now when you take a photo on your phone, it will appear in the Your Phone app a few seconds later on the PC. Double-clicking on the photo tile opens it in the Photos app. It’s stored in a cache folder that’s not very accessible, but of course you can save from the Photos app, and you can even drag the thumbnail into another app, such as Word. This worked, but unfortunately, the image appeared upside-down, a common ailment in photo and video software. You need to be on Wi-Fi for this to work, but not necessarily the same Wi-Fi network as your phone.
Messages on the PC
You’ve already enabled Message sharing in Settings, so now just click over to the Messages tab in the Your Phone app on your PC. You’ll see that this feature is considered beta. Once again, you have the app send a notification to the phone to allow texting permission. After the phone has acknowledged your permission, the Your Phone app on the PC shows your text conversations.
Testing this showed me why the feature is in beta. When I engaged in texting with an iPhone, I only saw messages sent from the Android and the PC, not from the iPhone. When texting another Android, the messages worked on all three devices, but there was a longer delay than you associate with texting.
The other problem is that Your Phone’s texting doesn’t interact with the PC’s contact list, the People app. But that’s not a huge problem if you manage all your contacts on your phone. It would just be nice to be able to start a text from the People app. You can type a number in Your Phone to start a text, but only contacts on the Android will be found by name.
As of July 2019, you can see notifications from your Android apps on the Your Phone PC app. You’ll see them in both the Windows 10 Action Center and the Your Phone app after setting this up, but you can’t interact with the apps that sent the notifications, unless you head to App Mirroring.
What’s Next: App Mirroring
Speaking of, the holy grail of PC-phone integration is the ability to run your smartphone apps on your full-size computer. This is not yet available via Your Phone, but you can try it if you’re running Insider Preview. It worked impressively with our test Asus ZenBook Flip laptop and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 phone, even letting us interact with phone apps on the PC screen.
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