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, and Android as the only rival in the phone space complicated matters.
Windows 10's October 2018 update attempted to bridge the gap, with the launch of the Your Phone app. It offered limited features initially, but has since grown into a comprehensive companion app that allows you to access much of your phone's functionality from a desktop. It currently lets you make calls, send texts and manage your phone's photo gallery from your PC, and is compatible with all recent Android phones.
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.
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 available to Your Phone is undoubtedly the ability to natively run Android apps on your Windows PC. It was announced in an official blog post 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. 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.
Functionality includes the ability to open multiple phone apps on the desktop simultaneously, as well as pinning Android apps to the Windows 10 taskbar. As Windows Latest reports, this functionality is available to everyone with a supported device.
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. As Windows Latest reports, the next update to Your Phone will add the ability to delete phone photos directly from the app. A video from Twitter user @ALumia_Italia shows it in action:
Previously, you could only view photos on your PC, so it's another significant step forward. Right-clicking on each image also allows you to copy, save or share individual mages.
Windows Latest also suggests a Picture-in-Picture mode will be coming to Your Phone soon. This will allow users to keep individual text conversations open while using other apps full screen, and there will also be the option to call contacts directly from the messages tab. The same site also says Microsoft is working on an AirDrop rival known as "Send from phone". This will allow you to send links, photos and notes from your phone to pick 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.
Talking of settings, a recent Aggiornamenti Lumia article says that you'll be able to manage key smartphone settings directly from the Your Phone desktop app. These are expected to include the likes of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Do Not Disturb toggles, and will be rolled out in version 1.21012.195.0 of the app.
Elsewhere, WinBuzzer is reporting on a feature that allows you to directly respond to a message with a call. It's been 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.