Microsoft’s Your Phone App Gets a New Continuity Feature with ‘Recent Apps’

Posted on February 10, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Mobile, Windows 10, Windows 11 with 15 Comments

Microsoft has started testing a new Recent Apps feature in its Your Phone app that lets Windows users see and launch the three most recently used apps on their Android phone. This new Your Phone feature is now gradually rolling out to Windows Insiders, and it leverages the existing Remote Apps capability that lets owners of select Samsung Galaxy phones access their mobile apps on their Windows PCs.

The new Recent Apps feature will be accessible by hovering the mouse cursor over the Your Phone icon in the Notifications area of the Windows taskbar. Additionally, the three most recently used Android apps will also appear at the top of the Your Apps page inside the Your Phone app. Clicking on one of the recently used apps will open it just the same way as if users had opened it from the Apps feature in the Your Phone app.

Unfortunately, Recent Apps currently requires select flagship Samsung Galaxy devices that support the exclusive “Link to Windows” feature. “Most of the functionality on the app works with all Android phones. Some features, like this one, require a deeper level device/OS integration and we worked directly with Samsung to make this possible,” explained on Twitter Analy Otero Diaz, Principal Program Manager Lead at Microsoft working on cross device experiences.

Overall, this new Recent Apps feature is a step towards a Windows alternative to Apple’s Handoff feature, which lets iPhone, iPad, and Mac users start using one app and continue where they left off on another device. The main difference is that Apple’s solution will open the native app that supports Handoff on the device you’re currently using: In practice, this means switching from an iOS app on an iPhone or iPad to a native macOS app when users transition to a Mac.

Microsoft’s new Recent Apps in the Your Phone isn’t as seamless as Apple’s Handoff feature, and the company’s choice to make it exclusive to select Samsung Galaxy phones is also a missed opportunity. However, Diaz teased on Twitter that “there’s more coming soon” for the Your Phone app on Windows and we’ll see what happens.  

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Microsoft’s Your Phone App Gets a New Continuity Feature with ‘Recent Apps’”

  1. plm

    Question: Does it work on the Surface Duo or Surface Duo 2? I think, like the Samsung devices, they support the "Link to Windows" feature too.

    • Laurent Giret

      I'm afraid not, the announcement only mentions select Galaxy devices including the Z Fold, the S and Note series.

      • navarac

        All this points to is a push to get new (Samsung) hardware sold - going along the same lines as the arbitrary requirements of PC hardware for Windows 11. It is getting more like Apple's la-la-land overtime something is announced.

  2. wolters

    I absolutely love using YourPhone and so glad to see features added...if we can get RCS messaging with YourPhone, it will be perfect.

  3. dftf

    I wish they could open-up the Your Phone app to more devices, not just specific handsets: why not limit to a version of Android (e.g. 9 or above, or something), rather than a specific manufacturer that not everyone will own?

    Within the US market, 60% of people use an iPhone [source: StatCounter, Jan 2022], and there is limited choice of manufacturers available, due to various sanctions. So it might make-sense in that market to only support Samsung, as a majority of Android devices there probably are.

    But Windows is not a US-only product. And in other countries of the world, there aren't the same sanctions, and in many of them, Android is used more. For example (again, from StatCounter), 95.1% in India use Android; 80.7% in Mexico; 78.5% in China; 78.3% in Spain; 70% in Italy; 63.2% in France; and 57.8% in Germany. Within those countries I'd bet Samsung may not-necessarily be the dominant manufacturer, and so many users that have devices running a recent-version of Android are missing-out on the full Your Phone app experience.

    This whole exclusivity nonsence should end; if the device has a capable version of the OS, let that user have the full Your Phone experience.

    • ebraiter

      You are comparing tangerines and oranges. Androids are on tablets and smartphones. Windows is on PCs. When you say "95.1% in India use Android" well, duh. India isn't using much PCs. They probably can't afford them.

      • dftf

        I don't see what point you're trying to make.

        Even if there were more PCs purchased, what affect would that have on the smartphone market? Android can only realistically lose market-share to iOS, as India increases in wealth.

        Maybe you could explain your thoughts differently, as I'm struggling to see your point.

  4. JustDavid

    I have a Note 20 and this works, but is something that I will never use. I tried to find where I could turn it off as I don't care to have it running all the time but could not find any settings to disable the feature

  5. hastin

    The bulky part about this feature if you have a Samsung phone (I have a Z Fold 3 - this works great with that), is that you still have to unlock and confirm permission to cast the screen (or window) from the Android system prompt every time you use the feature in a new session.

    • Laurent Giret

      Right, but looks like the Your Phone team heard that feedback if we believe this tweet:

  6. davidallen

    Your Phone App definitely changes my workflow on a daily basis that's for sure. Excited to see it keep improving.

  7. SvenJ

    Just replace everywhere it says Android in the article with Samsung. My Pixel (Google makes that BTW) doesn't do apps at all, much less this new fangled stuff.

  8. billjellis

    New update to "Your Phone" in Canada with a Surface Duo. I has been a great using most Android apps from my phone on PC. Great work.

    I use the Duo as my daily driver and it works well.

  9. adamstaiwan

    I cannot use Your Phone (terrible name) with Xiaomi Redme 10 5G, wish I could. I think my son sat on his old Samsung because the screen was cracked under the surface. So I began to look for a cheap Samsung phone that "Your Phone" supported. The list that Microsoft put out has not been updated. I found a special on the Galaxy A32 5G with a spec that comes close to me Redme phone so I took a risk and bought it (they don't allow returns). To my surprise it worked great. Today I updated to "Phone Link", saw the Win10 tile updating a notification count, clicked a notification, the app window opened, I did my password pattern with the mouse and was able to see the notification detail is the app all without touching the phone. I use the Phone Link app on the left 3/4 of my monitor and the phone window on right 1/4. I can view the app list, click and view any app (though the camera lags some). The one thing which I wish was better is the wifi on the phone has a weak connection, guess they thought it would not get much use.