Windows 10 Redstone 2 will make jumping between PC and phone even easier

It's no secret that Windows 10 Redstone 2 has a huge focus on productivity improvements, and with recent Insider builds finally packing some new features, it shouldn't be long before we start seeing a lot more of Microsoft's plans come to light. A lot of what Microsoft is working on in Redstone 2 are improvements to work that begun in Redstone 1, such as being able to sync app-states across devices with the "Continue App Experiences" feature.

Right now, in Redstone 1, the Continue App Experience feature is available to developers that allows users to open an app on one device, and then continue exactly where they left off in that same app on another device. Similar to Apple's Handoff feature, which works between iPhone and macOS. Unfortunately, with Redstone 1, its implementation is a little rough, with not real UI or options for the user to configure.

Microsoft has laid out the foundations for this system with Redstone 1, and with Redstone 2 the company plans on expanding its feature set and usability to more than just apps.

Internal Concept

According to my sources, Microsoft is working on bringing a contextual UI to Windows 10 that will pop up a notification telling the user that they are able to sync an apps state from another device and continue exactly where they left off. This will be done with the help of Cortana, which will pop up a notification whenever there's an app available to sync states. This is something I've written about before, and now it appears to be coming to light with Redstone 2.

That's a pretty simple implementation of the feature, but other internal documents appear to suggest the company is also looking at making the same feature be able to restore an entire workspace, all with the tap of a button. Cortana will be able to contextually sync files, tabs, apps and more between devices, with contextual pop ups that require the user to do very little work getting back into a productive state when moving between form factors.

Internal Concept

Microsoft is hoping to build this functionality into Cortana as the Cortana function is a universal entity throughout the Windows ecosystem. What that means is if needed, an app can simply handoff to Cortana for prompts and other tasks, making being able to sync a user's workflow between devices easier for developers and the user, as the user knows where to expect this functionality on every device they use. Microsoft calls these "global actions" internally, and with any luck we'll see them come to light very soon.

Internal Concept

Microsoft internally refers to this new feature as "Pickup where I left off" or "Flow", meaning the flow between any device running Windows 10, whether that be PC and Mobile, PC and laptop, etc. The Redmond giant wants to make it easy for users to be productive on Windows, and by bringing "Flow" to Windows 10, users won't have to think twice about getting setup to do work, as Cortana would've done most of the work for them getting setup to be productive.

There's a lot more coming with Redstone in 2017 that we're super excited about, including Office integration and more. Make sure you check out our Redstone 2 database for everything we know about RS2 (so far).

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.

191 Comments
  • Awesome
  • Only if it happens almost immediately. The 30 minutes to two hours delay of favorites sync and many other types of sync of the past made switching devices much less than ideal. Even if it happens sometimes or most of the time within a reasonable amount of time, never really knowing if or when causes problems. The option of manual sync needs to always be one click away. None of this background only nonsense.
  • There is currently synching? I hadn't noticed, I guess because it never works correctly.
  • I think USA Today does. Haven't used the app in a while though.
  • There needs to be an icon indicating that everything on device A has been synced before shutting off device A and moving over to use device B. Without that indicator or the ability to force a manual sync, the concept will remain a seldom used or trusted realm of the unknown.
  • Readit (app) currently syncs. It uses Flow and remembers info about your accounts and favorites across devices, even when installing the app. It's awesome.
  • The only way fans are gonna care about this feature is if it works between their W10 tablet, desktop, laptop AND SURFACE PHONE!
    .....
    No phone, no deal, for most.
  • Well if it works through Cortana, they will have those features, probably
  • The point is, no phone.. This isn't gonna work with that fake ass Cortana on iDroid.
  • Fans have a 950/xl, x3, nuans, fw6 or 4s/pro... So it is interesting already.
  • The problem is that those phones are not easily accessible.. I can't just walk into att, have those 4 phones in front of me, and add one to my next plan... So, no. Where are the phones, still.
  • As well as the difficulty getting the phones, it's further restricted to regions that have Cortana, and possibly even right down to only limited Cortana regions.....Take for example the Stick Notes Insights, or Hand Writing a reminder in the Cortana UI - These are only in the US Cortana, so just having Cortana in your region doesn't always mean you'll be able to use the feature. I get they are a US company, but Microsoft talk to international audiences without actually mentioning that outside the US you can't use all the features. Cortana in the UK used to feel on-par with the US, but that's changed over the years to the point Cortana in the UK has essentially stalled. We are a small island, but I'd imagine one of the easiest markets for MS to release products in considering the language is so similar.
  • Whatsapp does it perfectly via Cortana and when it does, I wish it was one of those UWP apps.
  • Agreed. Many of us know how reliable Outlook PC's "folders are up to date" is...
  • I've been asking for this on feedback hub for almost two months
  • only? :)
  • Pretty much. I want using edge that much on my phone.
  • and still waiting for basic app like SnapChat .... fail
  • Just buy a cheap android phone. Cheap like your comment
  • Go to Snapchat blog, either tell those idiots to use Islandwood, or start crying, or get a life that is not Snapchat infested. Barking at the moon on a Microsoft news site will change nothing.
  • Booooring :P :D But meh, anyway. If an app, where b*tches post pictures of themselves with dog filters, go android or ios :D Or use Instagram for the same... :D
  • Dude you can go and put a nice little wreath filter on yourself with your corny Snapchat lol
  • Wait who shall we blame here, take a guess, Snapchat?
  • Yeah, but what to do if u want to play fifa17, monster buster or something like that? Snapchat is not at all a dealbreaker (or something that important) as those games are not neighter. Oh and just to tell it... U dont know spectre, right? ...fail
  • We've been asking for this feature mostly with Groove music... Groove needs this YESTERDAY! please let this happen.
  • Let's call it Flow. Pick up where I left off simply doesn't flow
  • Its Microsoft, so they will find some ridiculous way to come up with the most unintuitive name, then rename it a million times after that.....
  • Probably shortened to PUWILO and called that for ever after
  • At least PUWILO sounds funny as hell
  • "Flow" or even "Pick up where I left off" are probably just temporary obscure codenames.
    Marketing will decide on a more catchy and consumer-friendly name later, something like "Microsoft Modern Inter-Devices Apps-States ActiveSynchronisation Personal Edition 2017", you know, something that both flows and describe the feature clearly. If history is any indicator, they'll take advantage of brand recognition and also introduce the "Microsoft Modern Inter-Devices Apps-States ActiveSynchronisation Professional Edition 2017" that will be server-based, using a new feature in SharePoint farms.
    ​They'll both synchronize a different subset of settings and states, use similarly named but completely incompatible clients with completely different UIs.
  • Oh, I love that name already. And expect Cortana to be renamed as "Microsoft's Ubiquitous Cross-Platform Proactive Personal Digital Assistant, Mobile Enterprise Edition" in 2017 /s
  • Wow, what a lucky guess or leaking internal information, that is very close to the name they settled on before the Halo fans ruined months of the marketing team hard work by demanding that the Cortana name stays! Now we're stuck with "Cortana" when we could have had the glorious ​"Microsoft Ubiquitous Cross-Devices ProActive Artificial Personal Intelligent Digital Agent with ActiveNeural® Technology". (/s, in case anyone is wondering. I have no internal insight, assuming the marketing team does have any insight to begin with)
  • I've heard that Microsoft's marketing team uses a magic 8 ball for all decisions.
  • They kind of stopped the nonsense in recent years, and I believe it is related to a single video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUXnJraKM3k From what I heard, that video was meant to be an internal one to show what was wrong with the marketing team, very likely to be the Zune team defending their case for a simpler, elegent, design for their packaging. This seems to have had a huge impact and fortunately simplified the product names and packaging noise. I must admit, while I still make fun of them for their decades of overfilled packaging and too-long-and-descriptive-event-when-using-the-acronym product names, the recent names and boxes are much better.
  • That's not true! They use five, then string all the answers together.
  • Btw, upon reading your comment, I come to remember that Microsoft has a product called "Exchange ActiveSync", which sounds very... Microsoft-ish, unsurprisingly.
  • I'm actually in Microsoft technologies since over 20 years and been a lot in mobile (Windows CE Embedded and Mobile platforms).
    So yeah, I didn't just invent the name our of thin air, in the mid-90's, they were riding the ActiveX wave and decided to put Active* on everything. That's were we got ActiveX, ActiveScript, ActiveSetup, ActiveSync, etc... from.
    Fortunately their ".net" as a mendatory suffix has been short lived so I saved them the embarrasment of putting ".net" after a name of a tech that's not related at all to the .net framework (remember Windows CE .NET and the planned Windows Server .NET ?). ActiveSync was a desktop app to synchronize data between Windows 9X/NT and a Windows CE PDA (Handheld PC, Palm-size PC, Pocket PC, Windows-powered Smartphone,...) it provided filters to pull and convert data from the PC (files, Outlook emails, contacts, appointments, notes, ...) and was extensible to any app that wanted to provide a filter to sync their data between their desktop app and Pocket app. Of course the "ActiveSync" name came from the fact that it was sychronizing data and that it came out of marketing in 1996, one of the "Active"-mendatory years. (ok, maybe also because the filters were COM-based and "Active" was the new catchy name for OLE/COM) Exchange ActiveSync on the other hand is a server-based technology similar in concept but completely unrelated, and designed to synchronize different subsets of data. It was an add-on to Exchange Server (as part of Mobile Information Server) to provide over-the-air (understand untethered from desktop) sync of e-mail, calendar, contacts and tasks with Pocket Outlook on Windows CE PDAs.
    It was supposed to be aptly called Exchange AirSync until the marketing team decided to take advantage of name recognition of ActiveSync and call it Server ActiveSync.
    Server ActiveSync later got renamed to Exchange ActiveSync and integrated into Exchange Server roles and is still a critical piece of the low-bandwidth-optimized synchronisation for Exchange with Outlook Mobile (Store Mail+Calendar and Contacts apps) on Windows Phone and tablets, and licensed for Exchange synchronisation on iPhone/iPad and Android.
     
  • I think a rebranding of SmartGlass or even an expansion of what Continuum means would make sense. Perhaps Continuum Flex for when using a single device and having it adapt to different screens and situations and Continuum Flow for moving between devices.
  • Yeah, Flow sounds catchy and short, thus easy to remember and easy to communicate to others.
  • Honestly, I want to read about actual new features. Let your MS contact know that we would like some real features to come to the platform like mixedview and others. If they aren't going to bring features then just write these off of boring cumulatives!
  • I used to ger excited about little things like this but microsoft's history of failed execution, slowness in inplementation, or abandonment of features leaves me disinterested. Now if they announced something more cool that I've wanted for years such as side-by-side apps on mobile on super large tiles... Color me intrigued
  • Yeah, except this feature is only available for countries with Cortana...
  • And those markets without cortana wont get these new features, awesome! /s
  • You do realise that Cortana works with any region setting since the Anniversary Update?
  • Not on PC. You have to change region and language. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • So it's still available then?
  • It's available, yes. But who wants to not have their native language on the PC? On win10mobile I can enable Cortana as long as English language pack is installed. Should have been the same on PC. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • No, just changing language will enable Cortana for any region.
  • And how about 'Hey, Cortana' voice command? They didn't fix it yet.
  • That's not true. You can enable it just as easily as on phone.
  • Are you absolutely sure about that!!?!
  • That is not true
  • LOL when WM "fans" try to look smart and answers the same question with YES and NO so what? Cortana for everybody? The answer is still NO and a basic user wont change the system language just to get Cortana working
  • Why won't basic users change the system language to get Cortana working? Have you got any explanation for this?
  • Statistics say that. It s math bro.
  • I have my phone with the region set to Portugal and language set to English (US) (that's how I always configure my devices as I like having the UI in english) and Cortana is not available!   I have region set to Portugal because of billing and content (Groove Music subscription,store purchases etc) I have just now tried changing the regional format to English (US) while keeping the region itself unchaged, rebooted and.. nothing. I'm on insider fast, does that only work on the stable branch or something? What am I missing?
  • Yes, you also have to go in to the Cortana app and then Settings to configure which Cortana to use.
  • The other issue is, even if you pick the Lang in the Cortana settings, it warns you that not features are available. Canada here....
  • Thing is, that option is indeed great but should only serve like a workaround, not a permanent solution that everybody has to follow. I think they has to make some Cortana featues be widely available when its not directly relevant to the region. Reminders is one of the big Cortana feature that doesn't need regional locking, so does the new Cortana cross-device notifications. In regards to Cortana, why the regional push felt like it stopped or slow down to halt these days? Google is already pushing hard their digital assistant left and right, thus more and more people giving them a credit and use those. Cortana once praised nowadays pushed into the sideline regardless of new functionality. Did MS cut the budget of Cortana team and the regional push of it? This is why some Cortana features have to be available regardless regional setting such as this new feature.
  • Cortana development in the UK feels like it's almost completely stalled. We have it better than those with NO Cortana at all but it irks me when they talk about Cortana to an international audience and totally ignore the fact many of the features are US only - It's more the fact they DON'T mention the restriction that is most annoying