One of the big attractions of Apple products is the way they seamlessly share information between devices. It's always felt like Microsoft has been playing catch-up in that regard, something that was only emphasised by the discontinuation of Windows Phones.
Windows 10's October 2018 update attempted to bridge the gap, with the launch of the Your Phone app. While this had limited functionality initially, Microsoft has been gradually adding new features to make it a comprehensive companion app.
You can now manage your phone's calls, texts and notifications from the desktop, view & delete photos and control music. Unfortunately, features like Link to Windows, phone screen mirroring and running mobile apps are exclusive to Surface Duo or Samsung phones. A future update will even allow you to natively run Android apps on your desktop. Here's how to make the most out of it.
How to use Your Phone in Windows 10
Firstly, you'll need to download the Your Phone Companion app on the Google Play Store. This may already be on your phone if you have a Samsung device, while the Windows 10 version comes pre-installed on your device.
- On your Android device, go to www.aka.ms/yourpc.
- This should direct you to download the app from the Google Play Store, although it might be pre-installed if you have a Samsung phone.
- Once downloaded, open the app and sign-in with your Microsoft account. You must ensure this is the same as the one signed into your PC for it to work.
- Open the Your Phone app on your PC and select Android phone.
- The two devices should recognise each other, but if not scan the QR code that appears with your phone's camera and ensure you sign in on desktop too.
- A notification should appear on your phone requesting permission, tap allow.
- Check the box to say you've installed the app and then the app will open.
- That's it! Now you should see tabs for Notifications, Messages, Photos, Phone screen and Calls
Does Microsoft Your Phone work with iPhone?
While the Your Phone app isn't available on the App Store, there is a way to take advantage of one of its features on iOS:
- Download Microsoft Edge from the App Store
- Once downloaded it, open and accept all relevant permissions (some are required for the process to work properly)
- Open a web page of your choosing and tap the Continue on PC icon, located centrally at the bottom of the screen
- Choose the PC you'd like to send it to (if both are connected to the same Wi-Fi network it should display) and confirm
It's far from the full functionality though, and AirDrop already offers a similar feature. Unfortunately, iOS and Windows don't work particularly well together.
Why should I use Your Phone?
We all know how distracting your phone can be when you're trying to work. It feels much easier to ignore a notification in the corner of your laptop screen as opposed to front and centre on your phone. Also, many desktop apps won't send you notifications unless you have the program open, with should further reduce distractions.
When you are ready to check Your Phone, there's a good level of functionality. In addition to getting notifications, you can also make and receive phone calls, send texts and manage photos.
Your Phone new features
The biggest feature coming to Your Phone is undoubtedly the ability to natively run Android apps on your Windows PC.
It was announced in an official blog post on 5 August 2020, as part of an extensive partnership between Microsoft and Samsung. It's now been fully rolled out, but only on recent Galaxy phones and Microsoft's dual-screen Surface Duo, as indicated by Microsoft Principal Program Lead Analy Otero Diaz:
#YourPhone Apps is rolling out to everyone with supported devices (https://t.co/2p00jSOkwn)! Have you tried it out? Let us know which apps you have added to your favorites or pinned.— Analy Otero Diaz (@AnalyMsft) September 15, 2020
Note: Ability to run multiple apps simultaneously will be available later this year. https://t.co/9ePh17es3T
It's looking likely that this will remain a Microsoft and Samsung exclusive for the time being, and it's unclear whether the feature will ever come to other Android devices.
A short demo was leaked prior to the event and appears to suggest that it will work via screen mirroring.
Your Phone | Apps page to get👉DisplayPSUpdate pic.twitter.com/opGWXn2TmG— Aggiornamenti Lumia (@ALumia_Italia) July 18, 2020
Functionality includes the ability to open multiple phone apps on the desktop simultaneously, as well as pinning Android to the Windows 10 taskbar. Read more about the announcement here.
However, not all the recent updates are reserved for Duo or Samsung users. The most recent functionality to be added to all recent Android devices is the ability to control the music that's playing on your phone. This means you can play/pause, skip tracks and easily change your music provider without leaving your desktop. Read all the details here.
Another recently added feature is Image Management. Twitter user @ALumia_Italia has been able to delete phone photos directly from the Your Phone app, and the associated video shows it in action:
Previously, you could only view photos on your PC, so it's another significant step forward. The user's strong track record when it comes to Windows pre-release features means we have no reason to doubt what is being said.
Microsoft Your Phone upcoming features
Windows Latest is reporting on more feature that might be coming to Your Phone in the near future. A Picture-in-Picture mode, which will allow users to keep individual text conversations separate from the rest of the app. There will also be the option to call contacts directly from the messages tab.
Microsoft also seems to be working on a direct rival for AirDrop, as Windows Latest reports. Known simply as "Send from phone", it will allow you to seamlessly send links, photos and notes from your phone and pick it up instantly in the Your Phone app.
Elsewhere, Your Phone now offers the ability to intelligently copy text directly from a picture, simply by right-clicking on it. Windows Latest is also reporting on a new streamlined Settings menu, making it easier to navigate around the app.
These features are currently available to members of the Windows Insider Program, and a full rollout is expected soon. Windows Latest's good track record means we have no reason to doubt what they're saying on any of these upcoming features.
As is reported by WinBuzzer, a feature that allows you to directly respond to a message with a call is also being trialled on the Windows Insider Program.
Want to know more about using each section of Your Phone? Check out the in-depth guide on our sister site PCWorld.