What you need to know
- Your Phone on Windows is being renamed Phone Link.
- On Android, Your Phone Companion changes to Link to Windows.
- Microsoft cites the evolution of the app, noting it's "more than just bringing your phone into your PC but as a bridge between the two devices."
- In addition to Surface Duo and Samsung partnerships, Honor Magic V, Magic 4 series, and Magic 3 series devices now support Phone Link with deeper integration.
It's been more than three years since Microsoft announced the Your Phone app for Windows. The app paired Android phones (and at the time, Apple iPhones with fewer features) to Windows PCs for essential functions like viewing photos, managing notifications, sending text messages, and making calls. Since then, the app has evolved with many new abilities, including smartphone settings, supporting multiple Android phones, and 'Apps,' which lets users run their phone's Android apps directly on the PC.
Now, Microsoft is further evolving the experience with some new names, announced today, which corresponds to the app's recent Windows 11 design refresh.
The PC app, Your Phone, is now called Phone Link. Correspondingly, the Android app goes from Your Phone Companion to Link to Windows.
As to the reason for the rechristening, Microsoft notes that "we see this experience as more than just bringing your phone into your PC but as a bridge between the two devices." Of course, one could also guess that Phone Link is straightforward in its name and function versus Your Phone, which was always odd: Having two apps, Phone Link and Link to Windows, is simpler. Microsoft also mentions how both apps will now use the same icon.
Ironically, there is no change here for those with Surface Duo or Samsung Galaxy phones. Microsoft always had two experiences on Android, with Link to Windows being reserved for devices with OS-level integration with the service (the app is built into Android and Settings with added functionality). All other Android phones were Your Phone Companion. Now, Microsoft uses the same name, Link to Windows, with all supported Android phones.
The Phone Link design is not changing any further, but Microsoft did mention its redesign for Windows 11, which is now being deployed. The refreshed app features "updated controls, color palette, and overall look and feel to deliver a native app experience on the new Windows 11 OS. New app design changes include rounded corners, fresh illustrations, and updated iconography."
New OOBE experience coming soon
Although today's announcement is mainly focused on renaming, Microsoft did reveal that a new feature is coming to Windows 11: Easier setup with Phone Link.
During the out-of-box experience (OOBE), where users configure Windows 11 for the first time, usually during a new PC setup, Microsoft will have a part where Phone Link configuration is offered. The method will be simple QR code scanning where a user's Android phone will fetch the Link to Windows app from the Google Play Store and link it to the PC with little user effort.
Honor joins the party
Until now, only Samsung and, later, Surface Duo devices supported deeper integration with Link to Windows. The most significant changes are the app being built into the OS with access to the notification shade's quick tools, configuration options in the OS Settings, and Apps support (instead of screen mirroring).
Samsung phones also recently got the ability to more easily launch frequently used apps via the Windows 11 System Tray.
Today, Microsoft is announcing that Honor phones, which are very popular in China, are also getting such integrations. The phones supported will be Magic V, Magic 4 series, and Magic 3 series devices, "with more to come." Presumably, those phones will get this deeper integration with future OS updates from Honor, which is required to bring those features forward to the user.
Phone Link / Link to Windows – What's next?
Although the world waits with bated breath for Google's Fast Pair for select Android phones (sarcasm detected), where does Microsoft take Phone Link next?
Microsoft hasn't talked much about any forthcoming features, which makes sense since it may be hitting a wall with how much it can do with Android and Windows. The app already makes calls, handles SMS, notifications, apps, photos, contacts, media controls, and a few system toggles.
What other features would you like to see come to Phone Link? While support for iPhone would be excellent, Apple won't play ball with Microsoft to allow deeper access to functionality, so that seems unlikely. Let us know where you think Microsoft can continue to improve its "bridge" between your phone and PC.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.