Timeline Comes to Microsoft Launcher on Android

Posted on November 7, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 8 Comments

Six months after it announced it would do so, Microsoft has finally delivered Timeline on Android, courtesy of a major Microsoft Launcher update.

As you probably know, Timeline was introduced on the PC in Windows 10 version 1803 in April 2018. Timeline extends the Task View feature in the desktop platform to list out all of one’s activities back in time. And because it syncs with your Microsoft account, it provides activity data for all of your PCs, letting you pick off where you left off on the same PC or on a different PC.

At Build 2018 in May, the software giant announced that it would bring this functionality to mobile. How it does so varies by platform. On iPhone, where Apple has essentially locked down the platform and doesn’t allow third parties to heavily customize the user experience, Microsoft is adding Timeline capabilities to its Edge web browser. But on Android, Microsoft said it would integrate this functionality directly into its Microsoft Launcher, which you can use to replace the entire Android user experience, which is sometimes referred to as a launcher or home screen.

Microsoft Launcher home screen

Timeline support has been available in the Beta version of Microsoft Launcher for a month. But this week, Microsoft released the shipping version of Microsoft Launcher 5, which brings this support to all users.

Because Timeline is still considered a beta feature, it’s not enabled by default. But you can enable it by visiting Microsoft Launcher Settings > Your feed. When you do, Timeline will be available as a tab in the newly updated Feed (to the left of the first home screen), alongside Glance and News. (Glance and News were previously integrated into a single feed view in previous Microsoft Launcher versions.)

From here, you can select the apps and documents you worked on previously on your other devices—typically a Windows 10 PC—and open and edit them with the corresponding app on your phone. A Microsoft Word document would open in Word Mobile, of course. And a web page would open in Microsoft Edge.

In addition to Timeline and the new Feed, Microsoft Launcher 5 improves Cortana so that the digital assistant can “send emails with multi-turn emailing.” And parents who have configured Microsoft Family can now view their kids’ locations in real-time.

Microsoft Launcher is available for free in the Google Play Store. This is a solution I’ll be examining more thoroughly as part of my new Android Without* Google series.


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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Timeline Comes to Microsoft Launcher on Android”

  1. Pbike908

    Looks like I need to give Microsoft launcher another go. I've been using Nova which I really like.

  2. bart

    Ever since the 5.0 beta launched, I have been using the Microsoft Launcher. Timeline is very useful and notice that I actually use it quite a bit. Prerequisite is of course the use of Edge. But the browser seems to be coming along nicely. Hopefully many more of these useful integration features between Windows 10 and Android will follow

  3. Rob_Wade

    I don't see how anyone can say that Launcher replaces the entire Android user experience with a straight face. It does nothing of the sort. Believe, I've TRIED to turn my Android test device into a Windows phone of sorts, and you simply can't get anywhere close. Rearranging the placement of icons still leaves you with a sea of boring icons and far too much white space. Cortana is nowhere near useful compared to Windows phones, in which I have Cortana turned on fully. And while I don't really have any use for Timeline, I'm finding that it works no better on Android than it does on Windows, that is, I don't see consistent results between my studio PC, my Surface Pro or the test Android device.

  4. petrolemo

    hey Paul, I do hope you'll try out Evie Launcher at some point and report back. I find it a better Pixel launcher than the actual Pixel launcher, especially when paired with Pix UI round icon pack. Evie beats MS Launcher for fluidity, speed and especially simplicity. There's just something off about MS Launcher; it's a bit jarring at times in its animations and it lacks a coherence more generally. You'd think MS would have it figured out with how great WP8 was using Silverlight.

  5. bassoprofundo

    Interested to hear how this compares in practice to the experience of just using Edge as the default browser... I already do that and use timeline to pick up where I left off between phone and PC. I've used Microsoft Launcher before, but there are features that I miss from Nova Launcher that keep me coming back to it.

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