Microsoft Links Windows 10 to Android, iOS Phones

Microsoft's new Phone Companion app extends the Windows 10 experience, including Cortana, to iPhones and Android handsets.

Windows 10

Microsoft's ever-expanding embrace of competitors' mobile operating system platforms continues with a new app for the company's upcoming Windows 10 operating system.

Included with the company's new flagship OS when it launches this summer is the Phone Companion app, which helps extend select Windows 10 functionality to iPhones, Android and, of course, Windows smartphones. "Regardless of the operating systems you choose across your devices—everything important to you should roam across the products you already own—including your phone," blogged Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group.

When the app is launched on a Windows 10 PC, it prompts users to select the type of phone they own. Hinting at Microsoft's unified Windows software ecosystem, Belfiore revealed that Windows smartphones will work seamlessly with Phone Companion while iPhone and Android users will "need to follow a few easy steps to get the right apps on your phone to make it work great in conjunction with your Windows 10 PC."

After the setup process is complete, users' files and content will be shared across their Windows PC and smartphones by enlisting the help of other mobile apps from Microsoft.

"With the OneDrive app setup correctly on your phone, every photo you take on your phone will show up automatically in the Photos app on your Windows 10 PC," Belfiore said. An upcoming version of the company's Music app will similarly make users' playlists available on Android and iOS phones. Finally, OneNote notebooks and Office documents will sync across devices.

Phone Companion for Windows 10 also helps set the stage for Cortana, Microsoft's voice-enabled digital assistant, on rival mobile OSes.

Belfiore announced that the software giant is readying "a Cortana application for Android phones and for iPhones which works as a companion to Cortana on your Windows 10 PC." Phone Companion will guide users to the respective Google Play or Apple App Store listing, he added.

Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Apple Siri and Google Now, made its official debut at last year's Build developer conference. Originally bundled with Windows Phone 8.1, the digital assistant is being built into Microsoft's Windows 10 OS to provide users with a spoken, natural language interface that can search the Web, set reminders and initiate other Windows-related tasks.

Soon, those capabilities will reach across more devices. "You'll be able to track a flight using Cortana on both your phone and your PC, and get the updates on the device that you're on so you don't miss anything," stated Belfiore. "Everything in Cortana's Notebook will show up across all your devices and any changes you make on one device will be reflected when you use Cortana on any of your other devices."

Some of Cortana's features, like toggling settings or launching other apps, won't be immediately available on iOS and Android. "Similarly, the ability to invoke Cortana hands-free by saying 'Hey Cortana' requires special integration with the device's microphone, so that feature will be limited to Windows Phones and PCs," Belfiore stated.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...