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5 things Microsoft should do to further integrate Windows 10 and Android

Microsoft has worked hard to bring its software experience to Android phones, reaching a point where Android is now very much the mobile platform for Windows users. That connection is only growing stronger with the announcement of the new "Your Phone" features, but there are still some ways that Microsoft could better bridge Windows 10 PCs and Android phones.

Best ways to connect your Android phone and your Windows 10 PC

Relay phonecalls through Your Phone

Phones have evolved to the point that many people rarely use them to make telephone calls. That being said, it's a bit funny that the upcoming Your Phone app doesn't relay phone calls. The SMS syncing is a great feature, and it will do a good job connecting your phone and PC in other ways. But its natural progression would be to relay phone calls to your PC. This opens up the door for using higher quality microphones and input methods during calls and would also let you use any recording software that you already have on your PC.

Microsoft is looking into bringing phone call support to Your Phone, but there are factors that make it more difficult than it may seem. For example, Dell Mobile Connect can relay phonecalls but requires relatively new hardware.

Make Continue on PC work both ways

Continue on PC

Continue on PC (Image credit: Windows Central)

Continue on PC is a great feature that Microsoft is progressively working into more applications. It's already built into Edge on Android and iOS and Microsoft Launcher. The downside is that you can only send websites and content in one direction. While I often read things on my phone while commuting that I want to open on another device, it's just as common that I see something on my PC and want to continue it on my phone.

Admittedly, Microsoft might have to rename the feature if you could continue something on your phone, but that's trivial compared to expanding cross-platform functionality.

Release a universal clipboard

I'm cheating a bit on this one because the latest Insider builds of Windows 10 have "Clipboard", which is a cloud-enabled clipboard. But this has been a feature that Windows users have wanted for years, and it's going to do wonders when it comes to working across devices. Not only will Clipboard make it easier to copy things over immediately, it will also let you call back things you've previously copied, at least based on what we've seen of it.

Mirror phone screens on PCs

While syncing messages and sending content back and forth between your phone and PC is nice, sometimes it's just easier to have a mirror of your phone appear on your PC. There are third-party apps that do this and some OEMs like Dell, Samsung, and HP have their ways of delivering this feature. But Microsoft releasing its version woiuld still be worth it. Current solutions often rely on turning on developer options or require specific hardware to mirror your phone to your PC.

If Microsoft could work this feature into Your Phone, you could have your phone in a window that you could easily minimize or bring up, and then you could interact with apps, messages, and other parts of your phone using your PC's peripherals.

Bring Photos to Android

Microsoft recently released the Photos Companion app for Android. It allows you to send your photos from your phone to your PC instantly over a local wireless network. Since testing that app, it's been a part of my regular workflow. But while it has a role to fill, it doesn't fix the fact that Microsoft hasn't released a version of Photos for Android. Currently, you can take photos on your Android phone and have them automatically back up to your OneDrive. This allows your photos to sync across the cloud to be viewed through the Photos app on Windows 10. But you have to use a completely separate app to view these photos on your Android phone.

There's a plethora of photo viewing and file managing apps on Android, but not all of them are great. A solid app for viewing photos, Google's Photos app, relies on a different cloud service, so you still have to install OneDrive, turn on automatic syncing on OneDrive, and then unless you plan to double back up photographs, turn off automatic syncing on Google Photos.

Bringing the Photos app to Android would not only bring a unified visual experience of viewing media files but also make cross-device syncing and viewing closer to being seamless.

Summing things up

I'm extremely impressed with how much Microsoft has done to bring Android phones together with Windows 10. Many of the features that I've discussed here are either in the works or at least on the radar of Microsoft, so the future for connecting these devices is bright. What ways would you like to see Microsoft strengthen this connection? Let us know in the comments.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

126 Comments
  • Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!
  • And also, Android Apps in the Microsoft Store, Android Apps in the Microsoft Store, Android Apps in the Microsoft Store, Android Apps in the Microsoft Store, and Android Apps in the Microsoft Store!
  • Tried, failed, canceled, never happening....stop asking.
  • Never tried, thus never failed, and never say never. And I'm not asking. I've given up on a future for Windows. AFAIAC, it's dead. But if MS wants it to ever have any relevance again, this is one of two things they can do. The other (which might actually work!) is open source it.
  • Listening from your vision, i know why you're not a CEO.
  • Yes. They did try.
    It was in an insider build of Windows Mobile, using a kind of emulator. Legal issues prevented further development. As you might imagine, Google in not that friendly with Microsoft. That's why you don't find any Google apps in the Microsoft Store.
  • It was performance issues. Slowed down the whole system.
  • > It was performance issues. Slowed down the whole system.
    No. it didn't. I know. I used it. My guess is they decided it would detract from native UWP development. As it turned out, there was nothing to detract from.
  • Hey, at least one guy got it right. Legal Issues? Baloney. Performance problems... most certainly not. Executives at MS were in fact almost worried by how well it performed (no worse than UWP apps).
  • how well it performed? what joke is this lmao, is that why an Android phone seems to struggle on a mere 1gb ram? sounds like the best joke of the centuries to come, gotta be that ignorant to not see your own nonsense and face the reality of why Google was pushing for PWA's in the first place noob..
  • I don't think it was legal issues, Android without all the Google services is open source. I think they didn't want to hurt UWP, but they decided to hurt UWP in other ways. So, now the UWP is finally getting the APIs it needed from the beginning, they will have a harder time getting developers. I would think adding select Android Apps to the Microsoft Store would be great, but only select apps.
  • so how do you think they can access the google play store serivces to log the apps in? jackupsomeoneassport ?, :] ?
  • How does Amazon do it? That way.
  • Amazon uses a forked version of Android, no Windows
  • @rmark66 "I don't think it was legal issues, Android without all the Google services is open source" 'Open source' is an extraordinarily general term. There's nothing magical about 'open source'. In the case of Android there are lots of strings attached. For example, if you want to use Google's Playstore or other Google Play services (which a lot of apps use) you need to adhere to all sorts of restrictions. As someone else pointed out, look at Amazon. They were forced to fork Android for their devices. Also, look at what Google's doing with the next generation of Android--they're forcing OEMs to provide security updates. If 'open source' meant 'without restrictions' they couldn't force OEMs to provide the security updates. But, yes, supporting Android apps would've hurt UWP development, no doubt about it. Look at BlackBerry. They had a good thing going with the PlayBook. It was stable. It was secure. It had a good interface (for the era). Sadly, BB charged iPad prices for the PlayBook in a market where there was room for only two players, one high end (Apple), the other budget (Android). iPad was subtly superior to the PlayBook, and, while Android was distinctly inferior to the PlayBook it was also MUCH cheaper. Late in the game they added support for .apk to the PlayBook. Native development of the PlayBook tanked (of course, the impending demise of the PlayBook likely also played a big role in the exodus of developers). FWIW consider the current state of UWP. UWP software is mediocre, at best. Either you'll develop for win32 which gives you access to the sizable Windows 7 market as well as Windows 10 or you'll develop for the web/iOS/Android which also gives you access to the same two markets. In the long run UWP will grow. Microsoft has deep pockets and can keep UWP alive. Plus, in all fairness, it is "the future". If it weren't for those extremely deep pockets UWP would've been DOA when Windows 10 was released. Now it's on life support. And, again, if it weren't for those really, really deep pockets, UWP would be gone.
  • Getting it running on an insider build is not "trying it." You could say they "toyed with it" or "experimented with it" but that's most definitely not trying it.
  • stop making a fool out of yourself
  • Do you have any kind of knowledge about how android optimization works? lemme explain, it doesn't work cause optimization on android apps doesn't really exist, so yeah emulation is gonna be worse even if they tried a native form, no smart human on this planet needs Android apps anymore cause "Progressive Web Apps" are here "PWA" so since you don't know what the heck you are talking about, I recommend you shut up and get off this webpage cause its not for uneducated noobs, goodbye peasant.
  • Um, do you know what an ODEX file is?
  • **** off dweeb nobody needs Android apps now, we already have PWA's( thanks to Google ) so yeah either get rekt or get educated, which you clearly lack of.
  • I wanted to say yes yes yes...
    Too xD
  • Relay phone calls : Neutral
    Continue on PC/Mobile : Yes
    Universal clipboard : YES!!!
    Mirror phone : not necessary with proper integration
    Photos on Mobile : Yes
  • Dark mode and Live tiles (re-sizable, to boot) , without which it is not a complete Windows experience.
  • Live tiles in the launcher and integration with all Microsoft first party apps on Android. Deep linking as well.
  • UWP apps on android plz
  • Makes no sense.
  • They would run so slow due to emulation.
  • There's Xamarin for that
  • Not needed. All they need to do is deliver live tiles and deep linking in the launcher and integrate both with all their first party apps.
  • Times 1 Million on Photos App. I've been saying this forever. Long time, dedicated user and supporter of OneDrive and Windows Phone. With therapy, I am surviving Android, but I NEED the photos app for unified access to all my photos stat.
  • Such an app would be used by a so little number of people I think. Most of people don't go back looking for old photos so often, and in that case OneDrive app is enough
  • I use piktures which does integrate one drive photos. It isnt nearly as responsive a d quick to load as photos was though.
  • Yep. And the longer I go on without such an app, the more I'm looking towards Google Photos as a photo manager service. I pay for extra OneDrive space, an investment I can make just as easily make on Google.
  • I've already switched to Google photos. Microsoft doesn't care about consumers. That's Crystal clear ever since Nadella took over.
  • I don't use OneDrive or Google Drive for photos I do however use as a Prime member use Prime Photos to get my pictures organized and ordering prints easy as pie though when I started using the service the facial recognition gave me a fright.
  • Can't you access your photos through the onedrive app already though? And I'm not disagreeing with wanting a dedicated photos app, but there is a way to access them. Plus photos can already automatically be backed up to onedrive.
  • If you want to delete a photo, you've to do it 2 times. The beauty of photo app is they link all duplicates in different places together.
  • I thought mirroring your phone was announced as coming to Your Phone already.
  • No, it'll be an "extension" of your phone...a separate UI which will display your SMS messages, Photos & Notifications.
  • I would be happy seeing cloud clipboard integrated into the Swiftkey app
  • Cloud Clipboard is also the way to go for rebooting to a different Operating System! For faster implementation, I wouldn't mind seeing clipboard saving to hard or SSD drive versus the memory for dual booting...
  • I wish Swiftkey didn't suck so badly. The native Windows phone keyboard was vastly superior.
  • You got that right. If Microsoft offered the Windows keyboard layout in SwiftKey, that alone would be a huge improvement.
  • A Microsoft branded android phone.
  • Amen. Microsoft should fork Android like Samsung did so the integration of, and experience with Cortana is better. It's the only thing on my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 that is really missing.
  • @jbrown. I was thinking, I mean I take windows phone over anything and I still use 2 win10 mobiles and nothing else. but since people here fork Android so much. why not make and exact copy of a windows phone in android form. with live tiles and everything. MS apps are mostly already on android. MS is a smart company that can make things like that happen and they can set themselves apart on looks from all other typical icons android phones.
  • I support this idea.
  • Samsung technically didn't fork Android. They still use Google Play Services and follow the OHA. I think forking would mean they use only their own services/app store and Google would not be involved beyond the source code.
  • You mean Surface hw with Android? No way that's happening...
  • You can already install Android natively on a surface pro using Android x86 or Phoenix OS :)
  • Agreed. But the Photos App, hmm ... aren't there alternatives like Piktures, that can also access OneDrive Photos? I tihnk it had that, but the performance was ... well, could be better.
  • And Install windows 10M on any android device 😛
  • New app to manage phone calls, sms and contacts...!! Photos app is overdue. Continue in pc can do better like sending docs.
  • MOVIES AND TV !!! GOD !!! JUST LET ME WATCH MY STUFF !!!
  • 💯 agree
  • Times a gazillion
  • I'm Microsoft's biggest fan but. You really BUY movies from Microsoft? at those prices? Isn't Netflix and torrents enough?
  • Netflix doesn't have new movies. Torrents are illegal, sketchy and time consuming to find a quality version. No thank you, done with this days.
  • This
  • They just need to support Movies Anywhere.
  • ^This
  • PREACH!!!! This or get linked up with Movies Anywhere. Right now I only buy from Vudu because I do not have any problems getting the movies I buy and their disc to digital service to show up on my other connected services. I bought a movie on my Apple TV and it didn't integrate with my other service. I watch prices, especially sales, on the Movies & TV store and would absolutely buy from MS if I could watch on any device, not just my Xbox or PC.
  • Since having no choice but to move to Android. The biggest thing I notice is that the Office Apps are well below what they are on Windows 10 Mobile. Particularly Outlook email and calendar. Would also like to see a Channel 9 app. (I'm dreaming they might bring their inbox Photos, Contacts etc apps across).
  • Really? I find they work better on Android.
  • Well I can give you three things right off the bat: You can only write emails in plain text. The way outlooks treats multiple accounts on android isn't particularly helpful (you can't have separate shortcuts/pins/badges for different accounts) they are mashed into one and switching is buried in the hamburger menu. Threaded messages are ordered latest at the bottom!? (and no ability to change it).
  • They work fine, but they lack some really useful features that Windows phone had.
  • If Cortana would work in my Jeep I wouldn't need android auto at all.
  • I've never seen something as embarrassing as "your phone" on an IT conference. The app does nothing and will do very little when it actually launches. Why even bother to announce something useless with promises that should have been there from day 1 of Windows 10?
  • (1) Bring Bing Maps to Android
    (2) Let us link App notifiactions to different windows apps (like i use Swipe for Facebook on Android, and Edge on Desktop, WhatsApp Desktop …, Windows Mail vs. Android Outlook ….)
    (3) Bring Bing Maps to Android
    (4) Drop that terrible launcher and bring us live tiles (like Squarehome does)
    (5) Did i mention bing maps?
  • I am with you - I just migrated to Android (HP Elite X2 RIP) and I really need my maps collections!
  • ^This. I've been on "Ask Dan" numerous times asking for info on this, or at the very least, what type of mapping app they really plan to integrate into Cortana on Android (what good are My Favorite Places if you can't MAP to them in Cortana???)
  • Man I miss the maps on my Windows Phone. Is there a maps app where I can download an entire state or province for offline mode? Google implementation of selecting an area for offline viewing is terrible. I live in western Canada. I just want to download all the maps and have them update one WiFi. Reception is really sketchy in the rural parts, and having all the maps local on the phone really help.
  • what kind of mapping do you want? Street mapping, co pilot and here are great choices. For backcountry/topo maps Canada maps pro is ideal. All are available from the play store. Here is Pretty well the mapping that was in windows phone. Just like every other good thing Windows phone/mobile had, Nadella sold it off.
  • And Microsoft, please, please, PLEASE bring Movies & Tv to Android!!
  • They just need to join "Movies Everywhere" and you'll have access to those movies from other services.Far less work than building another app.
  • But movies everywhere isn't available everywhere (Not in the UK yet anyway).
  • How about they finish the Outlook App? It still does not integrate with my Calendar or Contacts. I have to connect through the Gmail app (and hide notifications) to see these things.
  • Are you sure you set that up right? Outlook should let you login with your Microsoft account, so as long as your contacts are there, you should see them in Outlook.
  • I've had the sync setting for my Microsoft Account in Contacts get turned off as part of an update or something. The other catch is that Google's apps don't always deal well with contacts that have values in fields that Contacts does not support. Nickname is a good example. And good luck if you have a contact for each person in your household, all of them with the same home number. Because of the aforementioned, "Text my wife" does not work. Instead, my phone insists on texting my daughter.
  • Microsoft should just acquire Google.
    problem solved /s
  • Actually Google is only relevant in my case for Youtube and Youtube Go, other than that Microsoft's ecosystem is my choice since I feel my data safe on Microsoft's datacenters. FYI I don't live in the US so perhaps my personal data is not stored in US Microsoft's datacenters, but with a difference than Google, Microsoft won a case in Supreme Court where they cannot violate international privacy laws.
  • I would like to see a messaging app, contacts and phone dialer so I can remove Google completely. Then add movies and TV app
  • I suppose, if there was a way to COMPLETELY gut every single Google aspect from Android and install everything necessary to have as thorough and seamless and experience as I get from my Windows phones, I'd consider the move.
  • You'll never get 100%, but AFAIC, I hit 90%. Really, the most glaring omission is Live Tiles. There is a launcher with that general look, but I chose Microsoft Launcher instead. Most apps fill that gap with widgets, and often better.
  • YoutubeGo is all I'm waiting on Windows 10 to stop using my smartphone less, and use instead my 2 in 1 portable device.
    Don't get me wrong, but youtube Go is practic, legal and great for students that want to take lectures without using your broadband mobile data connection, all you need to do is download your lectures at home and see them the next day on your phone.
    But what if this could be possible in Windows 10 without using illegal software like YTD (Youtube Downloader) or web service (typing ss instead of https://www.)
  • Microsoft needs an android store. Also, Can they make an android phone, using LineageOS or something? googl doesn't own android do they? Isnt it open source?
  • Then the app gap will be there.
  • They need to bring the WHOLE experience over if they want to win me over. Cortana on Android is basically a non-starter. You can't have a completely hands-free Cortana experience like you can on Windows phones. Also, as someone else mentioned, Live Tiles. Sure, there are some lame 3rd party tile launchers, but if Microsoft wants to keep pushing their horrible-looking Launcher (which is virtually indistinguishable from any other Android icon launcher), then they need an option for actually turning it into Live Tiles (resizable and everything). And their Office apps need a complete revamp. They're horrific, particularly Excel. I don't know how anyone can use this on any smartphone other than Windows phones. Next, OneDrive MUST be configurable to use storage cards, and default locations for documents, pictures, videos, music must have the option to go to and from the OneDrive location. As for Photos, I'm fine with that suggestion, but you might be forgetting that the OneDrive app views photos natively (on all platforms). I don't see any of the above suggestions ever happening, though. And those are things that would entice me to consider Android. But right now, there's nothing that equals the user experience I get from my Lumia 1020 or 950. Microsoft doesn't care enough about the consumer market to do much beyond what weak effort they're making now. Their focus is on the enterprise.