Skip to main content

4 things Microsoft should do to improve PC and phone synergy between Windows 10, Android and iOS

Microsoft's current mobile strategy is all about making your PC and smartphone work better together by allowing users to share experiences and activities across devices, regardless of whether you're using a PC, smartphone, or tablet. Thanks to the Microsoft Graph, features like Timeline let users start an activity on one device, and resume it on another. Everything from web browsing, to Word documents, and more, can take advantage of Timeline and be shared across your devices.

You've also got Your Phone, an app on Windows 10 that lets you see everything that's happening on your phone, including the latest notifications, photos, and even text messages. Your Phone is the next step bringing your PC and phone closer together; however, some notable experiences are still oddly missing that honestly should have been there on day one, especially on Android where Microsoft has a little more wiggle-room for synergy. So, here's four of those obvious experiences that Microsoft should add to its ecosystem.

Microsoft Photos app on Android and iOS

The first missing experience is a dedicated Photos app for Android and iOS. I use OneDrive to backup all my photos taken across all my devices, and honestly, the OneDrive app is a terrible photo-viewer. I'd love Microsoft to build a Microsoft Photos app for Android and even iOS, which would let me see all the photos taken across all my devices. I have hundreds of thousands of photos on my OneDrive, and viewing them all using the OneDrive app is a terrible experience.

A dedicated Photos app would also allow Microsoft to integrate some of its Windows Ink experiences, such as being able to draw directly onto photos with nice animated effects, which would then save back up to my OneDrive and be viewable in the Photos app on PC. It would also be awesome if I could tag photos with people directly on my phone like I can on PC, and have those tags save to the cloud so that it is remembered across my devices too.

Calls on your PC

Another missing PC and phone experience is being able to answer and make calls directly on your PC, powered by your phone. Apple can do this with Mac and the iPhone, and it'd be awesome if Microsoft could achieve the same functionality between a PC and an Android device. This could either be done using the Your Phone app or with dedicated Phone apps for PC and Android built by Microsoft.

An integrated Calendar experience on Android

A Microsoft Calendar app for Android would also be much appreciated. The Outlook app for Android already has your Microsoft Account calendar built-in, but the app itself oddly doesn't play nice when dealing with calendar links outside the app. For example, if someone sends me an appointment, I can tap on that appointment, but Android will try to add that to a calendar app that isn't Outlook. Usually, it adds it to the built-in calendar app, which is often Google Calendar.

Your Phone app OS integration

I would also love for Your Phone to eventually be integrated into the OS more than just being an app that you can pin to your Start menu. It'd be great if we could have a Your Phone applet in the System Tray that gave you quick access to your phones battery, recent notifications, and last text message received, all without having to open the Your Phone app. My People integration would also be excellent, letting you pin a phone contact to your taskbar for quick SMS and more.

Movies & TV apps for phone

Finally, a Movies & TV app on Android and iOS would complete the experience. We already know these apps are in the works, which is great news, but I'm hoping they sync up with the PC app, allowing me to resume a movie from the second where I left it on my PC, for example. Small stuff like that makes all the difference.

What do you think?

Overall, I hope Microsoft gets around to thinking about the smaller details when it comes to PC and phone integration. There's more to it than meets the eye, and to make for a seamless experience, the synergy between devices needs to go both ways. What do you hope Microsoft focuses on when it comes to phone and PC integration? Let us know in the comments!

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

72 Comments
  • My People app on Android and iOS with sync messages like Telegram.
    With all the features of Telegram.
    And that app would work between Windows 10, that is on the W10 system, and mobile!!! :)
  • "I just want to be able to send and receive text messages on Windows. Full featured. Conversation history that syncs between phone and PC, ability to send / receive pictures and videos. Compatible with iOS and android. All using a dedicated messaging app," Have you tried this? It's working well between my Pixel 2 and Win 10 desktop.
    https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/18/android-users-can-now-message-from-the...
  • Honestly better off just using Skype. Or Facebook Messenger.
  • I've never understood the desire to watch movies on my phone (even my old 1520), but if that works for others, OK. For me, Your Phone and My People need to work together and using my phone to make or receive calls via the desktop (presumably by telling Cortana who to call) would be awesome.
  • The issue you bring up about the Calendar is more of an indication how, by design, Android and Google both suck. You can't really configure everyone you want as your default and have it FUNCTION that way all the time. Only a few things can be set as default, and even then you'll see instances where that breaks. Why? Because Google. In then end, Microsoft has no idea what it wants to do because it clearly has no vision. For example, they have been working on making Skype the be-all and end-all for their messaging, yet their SMS integration is horrific and spotty at best. And they seem unwilling or incapable of making their apps and services that already exist on Android and iPhone work or feel as anything more than extra apps on those devices. Every single time I pick up the Android device I'm using to test "expert's" suggestions on how to make the device like a worthy replacement for my Windows phones, I'm immediately reminded that's IMPOSSIBLE. It would take Microsoft actually working to make a Microsoft Android that bakes in the kind of integration we're talking about.
  • Actually, the one about the calendar is on Microsoft. Outlook on Android doesn't even integrate with the device calendar like all other calendar apps do, for some reason.
  • Android devices support EAS. There’s no point in using Outlook unless mandated or you want to keep the account separate. You get a better UX just using yhrvSamsung PIM software, or adding the account in the Gmail app.
  • You say a lot of what i've been saying. MS should make their own Fork or just forget about it. (sadly the latter seems to be the case most of the time lately.
  • I just want to be able to send and receive text messages on Windows. Full featured. Conversation history that syncs between phone and PC, ability to send / receive pictures and videos. Compatible with iOS and android. All using a dedicated messaging app, not Skype. Obviously, I'd like it to work well... fast, smooth, no bugs, but that seems to be a rarity lately. No half-assed initial release either. Get it done right the first time and wow everyone to the point where they'd actually use it regularly.
  • This might work for you. https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/18/android-users-can-now-message-from-the... BTW, work for iOS too.
  • On Android side it only works if you use Google's Android Messages app -- if you are using any other SMS client, do not bother. Don't know about iOS.
  • ...or they could just make Windows Phones again. ;_;
  • I'd love a W10M phone inside a LG G6 chassis.
  • What do you think? Well I think that Microsoft should as fast a s possible make their own phones with their own operating system on and make sure that the most of the Microsoft Store apps are usable on those handsets. Hence a real Windows 10 Phone where the hardware is topnotch. That or Microsoft will be more less redundant in the world of handsets and mobile units within a year or two. Time is ticking and if Microsoft is not getting more aggressive they will, in the world of mobile handsets, simply be software vendors that relies on Apple Store and Play Store in the future. Time to act or realize the cruel facts.
  • Dwarf king, ms will be redundant? Where have you been for the past 2 years, when they became redundant in the world of handsets and mobile!
  • Let me see... In June, 2016 I went from a low end Samsung Android phone to a high end Lumia 950 XL Windows 10 Mobile. I was amazed by how awesome it was. The camera was/is a real gem and takes the best pictures, the screen was/is a real pleasure to behold and the phone feelt/feels so nice to hold in your hand that I always have to force myself to put a protection case on it when I go somewhere. The Outlook and Calendar with the dark mode activated on the whole operating system was/is simply so nice to behold that I was in shock. The live tiles were/are so smart made that I was like "oh man this is smart made. Now I simply skim over the start screen and gets the important info at once". Samsung A3 Android did not give me these features back then. Speeding fast forward I still use it and has been for two years plus now. And the part where I just swoop the battery when it is running low on the run is total evil and brutal man... Two years of happiness even though it lack a few apps for some. So far Windows 10 Mobile is still an option for some(like me) but as we enter 2019 and Microsoft has no new hardware to show us it will be hard for even die hard Windows 10 Mobile fans like me to keep staying around. Microsoft better have something to offer or else I jump ship for good. I have already purchased a Samsung Galaxy S8. It is not a Windows 10 Mobile phone but it is okay for what it is. Google don't eat children either after all. With a Launcher 10 it gets close to the real Win 10 Mobile experience, but that Outlook and Calendar on Android is a real turnoff. Also I like the Lumia 950 XL the best... Perhaps I bought a too small Android phone after all.... Hehe. Actually I find myself to like Windows Phone in some aspects and Android phones on other. It is not a religion for me. However it is clear to me that Microsoft made a huge mistake when they declared that they would pull the trigger in December, 2019. It scared hardware vendors like Alcatel and HP away and who knows how many others? Willyfox went all Android as well with only one Windows 10 phone on sale now. A worthy Android phone that could substitute the might Lumia 950 XL would for me be something like a high end Xperia or Razer phone with Launcher 10, but if Microsoft ships a full Windows 10 phone before December, 2019 I rather want that. The amount of apps in the Microsoft store are still plentiful after all. Where did you spent your last two years?
  • Just because YOU still use one does not make it relevant in the eyes of Microsoft. They dropped it 2 years ago. end of story. They do not want to be in the mobile phone business. They cancelled everything and moved on. They are NOT developing a new PHONE, it's just another tablet device. The amount of apps in the Microsoft store are mainly for desktop use. Apps I use everyday for my phone are non existant in the MS store. I am not talking about snapcrap or pokemon etc. I am talking about banking, travel and other things that make your phone useful on the move. THEY ARE DONE WITH PHONES! It's not a religion for me either. I have android, apple and until a little while ago Microsoft phones. I sold off my MS stuff when MS decided they did not want to support my phone or their system. I went to apple then where it has been mostly great. I have all the apps I want, the phone is fast and fluid and I have ANY accessory I could ever need. I have a bunch of android phones as well. I was all in on MS phones, tablets and computers but MS decided that they did not want to support their phone business. SO I moved on. So, AGAIN, Microsoft dropped windows 10 mobile/phone/windows on mobile/windows phone/whatever you want to call it.
  • And you know what? That is just so totally awesome man. Now pass me the peanuts.
  • Every non delusional person here, including the editors here know that windows mobile/phone/etc is done. MICROSOFT SAID SO Themselves. Just because you are in La la land, and not in reality, does not make me wrong. Only in your clouded version am I wrong.
  • Your attitude steve is what I predicted. Folks are moving out of windows and into android or apple just because it seems more vertically integrated. I am forced to evaluate the Android and Apple environments because MS does not have a presence in mobile and I wonder how long it will be before the trickle that is you and me will become a flood. Only then will Nadella be held to account.
  • The only thing of the four items is making and receiving calls on PC on a Lumia950(XL). All other 3 are already on it.
  • One app you left off is MAPS! While Google maps are good, they don't give a true offline experience. There's no lane assist and or voice direction. HERE we go is ok too, but HERE again it is not truly a solution like MAPS is because if your mobile happens to be in Offline mode, and you add a destination on mobile it will not sync to the website unless you go online on your mobile. The same is true when adding a destination on the website. It won't sync unless you're in online mode on your mobile.
  • A Maps app on Android is such a hard sell though. Microsoft know Google Maps is so entrenched.
  • Here maps was on Android, with offline maps. How did that work out. There are a lot of clueless “new” people here. A history lesson goes a long way.
  • > Here maps was on Android, with offline maps. How did that work out. They still were there this morning... Outside of US they are second to none -- I was able get live traffic in Lima -- try doing that with the Google Maps. Offline maps, synchronizable collections of places, complete offline mode... so they are quite usable, actually.
  • Yep. I used Here maps for 10 days in Nova Scotia on vacation and never had an issue. This was on my iPhone. I also use it for nav in my jeep on my android tablet. NO issues at all for me!
  • I’m talking about user base and incentivizing further development. The app has barely changed since developed. It was just thrown out there to harvest a bit more map data for Nokia. No one on Android and iOS cares about Here Maps. Except a few people on WindowsCentral.
  • Over 10,000,000 people on android alone disagree with you n8ter.
  • I downloaded it about 20x between my devices, years ago to check it out. Those play store install numbers are absolutely worthless.
  • YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!
  • All of these are great ideas, especially the photos one. It does sadly also illustrate that if you try to 'Microsoft' your Android device you're doing this half and half dance where you're left with gaps if Microsoft hasn't created an App. There' no photos solution, the Outlook integrated calendar feels weird in an email client and should have just been left separate as Sunrise, and you're also missing things like a dialer, proper contacts manager (that would integrate with the dialer, sms, outlook, skype etc), maps, music app, an sms messaging solution etc etc. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the people pushed to Android by the demise of Windows Phone just decided to go all in with Google instead, since it's all already there.
  • I have gone to Google. Patiently waiting for MSFT to give me a way to go back.
  • Agreed. It's a nice experience on a PC but on a phone a separate calendar makes sense. Weird when their WIndows 10 Mail/Calendar/Contacts apps are seperate.
  • Yep. EBooks was one thing that drove me to Apple. Their eReader is amazing on both macOS and iOS. Edge as an eBook reader? Pass. They killer Groove music, so you’re de facto going to use Google Play for the free music locker. Google Photos is too good to pass up given how bad OneDrive is for Photos. Cortana can never integrate as well as Google Assistant or Bixby (on Samsung). No Movies & TV app. No Podcast app. No Maps app. Nothing truly comparable to Android or Apple Pay, esp. with how that hardware is locked down for security reasons. Too many task apps. Not sure where they’re going with that. Skype still tries to do too much in one service. Nothing for Heath and Home. Very weak when it comes to media apps (iMovie, GarageBand, Snapseed, iTubes Remote). Higher costs: Office Subscription, etc. where Google and Apple give away Docs and iWork apps. No point trying to ride the fence. Pick a side and go all in, IMO.
  • NO go for me. I cannot stomach MacOS, it's down right ***** for most everything other than imessage and facetime. ChromeOS is meh, not enough software that I use. So for me it's Microsoft for my computing, and bend apple and android around my MS computer to make a complete solution. Which up to this point is working great. My iPhone and ipad is doing what I need, and my Windows computer do what I need.
  • MacOs is Amazing You’re acting like a retard, and your blatant illogical fanboying has gotten old, boring, and is no longer funny. Stop it.
  • No fanboy here, bought a MacBook three times trying to use it, it’s *****. Btw, having a Child with special needs, I find the word “retard” highly offensive. Please come say it to my face. ******* shitstain.
  • I guess the condition is genetic. Retard. Lol.
  • State with facts, what that is in MacOS that feels childish compared to the beloved W10
  • Tell him bro.
  • I went from 950xl to lg g6 last December. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the microsoft integration on android, and it is steadily improving. But these 4 improvements would seriously be awesome... Icing on the cake!
  • Just don't use Outlook. Problem solved. Also, I don't see MSFT doing a photos app any time soon. I think they'll just settle on giving us the Your Phone app to sync the photos. That's the impression I get. It should be super easy though. Even Samsung had the ability to create a UWP app that syncs with their cloud on PC and mimics their android app.
  • Agree. Just pay the $0.99-2.99 to Apple or Google for Photo Storage and move on. OneDrive and any rudimentary cloud storage interface is terrible for Photo & Video storage. And not just the storage itself. The entire UI, the management features, etc. are worse than the competitors. Flickr will be the best option for a cheap price once Smugmug gets them off of the Yahoo! login system; but it’s bad for video.
  • Maaaaaps!!!! Maps maps maps maps maps!
  • How about they add support for tablets? You wouldn't think it'd be that hard but you can't even install the proper stuff to set it up on a tablet. Meanwhile the "continue on PC" features are still there in their apps that actually do support tablets.
  • I believe Microsoft will never add support for Android tablets. Microsoft consider tablets mobile PCs and on those devices they want Windows; be it the current Windows 10 (x86 or ARM) or the upcoming new Windows 10 (Windows One Core).
  • What's wrong with their apps on Android tablets?
  • They often aren’t designed for tablet interface. I know they pulled almost everything for Kindle Fire. No more OneDrive or OneNote there, though it was there before.
  • Not the full app, at least not office apps.
  • I think making calls and full SMS conversations on your desktop would be ideal. I know that Dell and other Windows OEM's already do this, but seriously, this should be baked into windows. Oh, and a single (i.e., one) system for to dos, thank you very much. As if that weren't obvious. Seriously, do any two parts of Microsoft ever talk to each other? Oddly I don't have the author's problem with the Outlook calendar. Things seem to default to Outlook just fine on my Samsung phone.
  • A photos app is essential. OneDrive is fine for backing up photos but it's just unusable for viewing them. Google Photos is just so much better. I too use OneDrive to sync my photos though. I wish when you synced different phone photos folders it didn't just stick them all in the same Camera Roll folder, subfolders microsoft?
  • Why would you want to make phone calls on a PC? Could someone explain.
  • because they do not have a Microsoft phone anymore. this would be the next best thing. I don't see it as a big deal either.
  • There is the heart of the problem Steve. MS dropped their phone, for good reasons or bad, found that it was hurting them and so have gone with this "mickeyed up", let's try to paper over our mistake thing. Nadella screwed up and this is the attempt to hide that fact.
  • Oh I am first to agree, however, we cannot change that. So, this is what we get. I am using iPhone with dell mobile connect and it’s really good.
  • Phone on charger. Rings. You’re at your desk. Voila. Use macOS/iOS sometime. It’s an invaluable feature. It allows you to not have to multitask devices when you’re at your PC. It’s amaIng to have, and extremely hard to give up.
  • Agreed, the only thing that I could add to the list is to keep Groove alive, sure could see some improvements, but generally its still fine.
  • Microsoft should just abandon it's Maps, Calendar, and Mail apps on PC in exchange or Google bringing their apps to the MS Store. As for mail, just like they did with Groove/Spotify force all outlook.com users to switch to gmail. Also it should abandon its Office 365 home & student in exchange for Google bringing docs, sheets, slides to the MS store.
  • Oh god, no. Just no.
  • Here's an idea ..... MS should just sell out everything, lock, stock and barrel to Google. Google could not mess up as badly as Nadella.
  • Your Phone integration into the OS is a big no-no as far as I am concerned. I like the idea of MS being able to add features to the Your Phone app outside of OS updates.
    All the other ideas, I agree wholeheartedly with.
  • You mean like Google Play Services? Play Store or Galaxy Apps app updates? Sorry. You are making -0 sense, here. Right now, Cortana is killing batteries and completely redundant on Mobile. She doesn't have integration with stock apps, and on iOS she's eternally crippled. I don't see a point in using Microsoft services, even as a Windows user, because they are so woefully integrated with the mobile experience. They should have forked Android and built in support for Android apps to Windows 10 from day one, if that's where they wanted to go. Right now, it's just painful to use them over Google on any mobile device - or Samsung/Apple services on those devices. The lack of a Music and Photos app is abhorrent. They don't sell Audiobooks (IIRC). Putting eBooks in the Edge Browser is laughable. Skype still trying to ride the fence between pay-to-landlines/mobiles and IM + VOIP is bad. To Do has been in development for how long? Just clone Wunderlist wholesale on the new platform and announce its retirement already... Outlook is a waste of storage and power, cause all Android/iOS devices support Exchange natively - why waste money developing that? OneNote is languishing, to the point that Samsung Notes is pretty much just as good, if not better, on Mobile... certainly performs ad Syncs faster. No content blockers in mobile Edge is a complete showstopper for many (MANY) users. Office now forces you to give then data like Windows 10 - on every platform... MIXER is turning out to be a massive dud in the game streaming market, and PlayStation is winning the console wars. Microsoft needs their own platform. Their experience is too diverse to really be accommodated as a 3rd party and provide a seamless UX without wasting tons of RAM, Battery, and CPU on a mobile device. I tried it. It doesn't work well. It's like a 20-30% battery life decrease. I'm baffled at the number of people who talk about Samsung's "bloatware," and then install Microsoft's horde of duplicitous software on any smartphone. You pick your ecosystem when you pick a platform. Microsoft doesn't work well as a third party on mobile. It's just messy AF. The entire experience is a compromise.
  • Maps
  • Agree 100% with MAPS! I have favorites saved on windows and then to use google maps on my phone is a pain. Then I have some favorites on my phone now that don't turn up on my W10 devices. Seriously, either go all in and make photos, maps, etc as above - or there will have to be creep away from microsoft services...
  • I don't see it in the article or in the comments... did everybody figured out how to synchronize Contacts between Android phone and Windows PC? Could anybody, please, share any pointers?
  • Use CardDAV for Contacts and Calendar. Sync via service not wire. It’s not 1999 anymore.
  • Sigh... another nonanswer.
  • Microsoft photos and calendar app on android and iOS, high priority, definitely yes! Integration YourPhone in Windows 10, definitely yes! Frankly Contrary to an applet in the system tray I would rather see components of MyPhone integrated with the windows 10 native apps (calendar, photo's, People). An applet, for me, would simply fragment the OS experience even more with more apps. MyPeople and People app doesn't work for me. MyPeople in my exprience should be integrated with the People app and support multiwindow support from there instead of being locked to the taskbar.
  • Surprised not to see one biggie (for me) listed. Two way contact sync between native phone software and outlook. It's the deal breaker for me, and the reason I abandoned Outlook on android (as well as the calendar and Outlooks inability to recognise folders correctly from 3rd party webmail providers). A lesser, but still irritating bug is account name in the outlook app. Although I see the correct MS account name in the accounts page, for some reason it displays as 'dafsdrandom@outlook' at the top of inbox, so I can't tell what account I'm reading.
  • Oh I how I miss the integratration between Cortana and the phone OS. It was seamless in Windows phone. Now, using the Microsoft launcher on Android, it's not nearly as good. Even Google's voice to text (for example) is not as good as Cortana's and W10M.
    What I'd love to see between PC and phone is 1) CONTINUE ON PC, needs to work BOTH ways iwth EDGE. I should be able to send articles to my PC from EDGE and send items from the PC to the phone.
    The reason this is an issue is I might want to share an article via TEXT message with a friend and I'm reading it on PC, so if I could send the same article to my phone I could then share the link. But if we could just TEXT from the PC-- like we were able to with SKYPE and Windows phone all that would be moot.
    Hopefully, they work out the bugs because SMS on PC is a must sending items both ways between phone and PC is critical IMO.
  • I also agree with the Calendar, last I check the "MY FAMILY" calendar doesn't show up in Outlook. I wish MICROSOFT would produce a PHOTOS app, the same app you have on the desktop so you can edit photos on any device.
  • A People app that syncs with Outlook.com and O365; the one with Android is wonky and is not a seamless experience.