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Microsoft’s latest strategy for more deeply integrating Windows 10 PCs with smartphones centers on its forthcoming Your Phone Windows app for Android and iPhone owners.
The new app will work with the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17728 for Redstone 5 that came to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring yesterday.
The Your Phone app is “coming soon”, according to Microsoft, and will allow Windows Insiders on that build to immediately see a picture they take using an Android phone on their Windows 10 PC.
That’s a little like photos taken on an iPhone immediately appearing in the Photos app on macOS.
For Android users with Windows 10, it will help cut out the need to email yourself or transfer photos via USB cords or other methods. Microsoft first announced the app at its Build 2018 conference.
Microsoft says the app will allow photos on Android phones to sync with the Windows 10 PC and makes it easier to edit pics with Windows Ink by dragging and dropping pictures from the Recent Photos folder.
“And rolling out in the coming weeks, Android users might also start to notice a desktop pin taking you directly to Your Phone app — for quicker access to your phone’s content,” notes Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar and Brandon LeBlanc.
Though not mentioned in the blog, Microsoft at Build showed the Your Phone app also sending and receiving text messages, editing and sharing a photo from the phone, and checking notifications without having to take the phone out of your pocket.
Microsoft is providing Android users on Android 7.0 and up with the app, which needs to be installed for the feature to work on the next version of Windows 10, due out around October.
The Your Phone app for iPhone behaves a little differently, and somewhat like some of Apple’s iCloud-powered hand-off and continuity features.
“Surf the web on your phone, then send the webpage instantly to your computer to pick up where you left off to continue what you’re doing — read, watch, or browse with all the benefits of a bigger screen. With a linked phone, continuing on your PC is one share away,” explain Sarkar and Le Blanc.
The Your Phone app was presented as part of Microsoft’s other Windows mobile-to-PC effort, which brought additional cross-device features via Timeline in the April 2018 Update through the Edge app for iOS.
Basically, you can open a page from Edge on an iOS device in Edge on a Windows 10 PC. Again, this is aimed both at giving convenience to Android and iOS users with Windows 10 PCs, but also at encouraging Windows 10 users to actually use Edge.
All this investment in connecting Windows 10 to Android and iOS of course might not have been necessary had its Windows Phone venture not failed.
And on the issue of stopping Windows 10 users changing the default Edge browser on Windows 10 to Chrome or Firefox, Microsoft yesterday announced its WebAuthn Windows Hello biometric sign-in for Edge, which gives Edge a password-free way of signing into websites and some motivation for using it.
If that can convince more users to keep Edge as the default, that would also go some way to making the Edge app for iOS and Android more compelling.
On Android, Edge currently only has about five million downloads compared with Windows 10, which has “nearly” 700 million users. However, that five million is a fairly impressive increase from the mere one million it had in May.
Microsoft shows off how the Your Phone app works. Source: Microsoft
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