Hands-On with Your Phone for Windows 10

Posted on August 3, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile, Windows 10 with 12 Comments

After a summer of silence, Microsoft has finally delivered the first pre-release version of its Your Phone app to Windows Insiders. It’s a bit limited in that it only works with photos, but I like what I see so far.

As you may recall, Microsoft first promised in May that it would replace and greatly expand Windows 10’s phone integration functionality with a new app called Your Phone. Despite the semantic weirdness of the name—shouldn’t it be My Phone?—Your Phone seems like it should be a big improvement over the current situation, which includes a Phone interface in Windows 10 Settings, some unreliable Cortana-based text message capabilities, and one-off mobile experiences like the Photos Companion app.

“[Your Phone is] a new way to connect your phone to your PC with Windows 10 that enables instant access to text messages, photos, and notifications,” Microsoft explained back in May. “Imagine being able to quickly drag and drop your phone’s photos into a document on your PC in one swift movement—without having to take your phone out of your pocket. This new experience will begin to roll out in the Windows Insider Program soon.”

For the past three months, we’ve indeed had to imagine these capabilities, as each pre-release build of Redstone 5 since then has arrived without the app. This has triggered the expected hand-wringing in the enthusiast community, but since Your Phone is an app, and not tied to the operating system, it can be delivered (and updated) at any time.

And this week, finally, it happened. Well, sort of.

Starting with Windows 10 Insider Preview build 17728, which first shipped this past Tuesday, testers finally got access to the first version of the Your Phone. Which … didn’t do anything. It was basically an empty app that let you access the existing Phone settings experience so you could link your phone to your PC via your Microsoft account.

OK, fine. But then Microsoft today shipped a new version of the Your Phone app that finally adds some functionality. Is it odd that you can’t just update the existing app to the new version via the Store? Yep. But if you navigate to the right URL with your web browser, you can find the app and install it (via the Store). You can do this with Windows 10 version 1803 if you want, but it won’t work properly: You need to be on Windows 10 build 17728 or newer—and to install the Microsoft Apps app for Android on your phone and then link it to your Microsoft account—for this to really work.

Well. “Work” is perhaps an exaggeration. Right now, it only supports photos. Messaging and notifications are coming in the future. Oh, and did I mention that this only works with Android phones right now? Because that’s another issue.

But it does “work.” This early version of the app features a “Photos” item in the navigation bar and when you select that you will see the photos on your phone. Assuming, that is, that both the phone and the PC are on the same Wi-Fi network.

When you select a photo, it opens in the default app for photos. And from there, you can of course edit it and save it.

You can also right-click a photo and select from a single context menu item, Copy, to then paste it to your PC. But there’s no multi-select yet, so this can be tedious if you want to copy many photos.

And it appears to only display the 25 most recent photos (and screenshots) on the handset. For some reason.

So… Yeah. It’s early. But it’s finally coming. And I will play with this more.

 

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