Late last year, Microsoft briefly showcased a never before seen ability for Windows 10 that allowed consumers to continue Android applications on their PCs. Then dubbed “app mirroring,” it was not initially made clear when the feature would ship out. Several months later, things are a bit more official as Microsoft is now starting the process of testing out a beta version of the feature with Windows Insiders.
Now named “Phone Screen,” the Android app mirroring feature will only be supported on certain types of hardware and will also require the latest beta Windows 10 Insiders builds to function properly. According to Microsoft’s support documentation, Phone Screen is compatible with select Android phones running Android 7.0 or higher — including the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, S9, and S9 Plus.
It is also necessary for a connected PC to support Bluetooth with Low Energy Perhiperal mode. The Surface Go happens to be one of the devices with this compatibility, but Microsoft does have plans to bring Phone Screen to additional PCs and phones over time.
Once Microsoft enables Phone Screen with its beta testers, it will be found in the Windows 10 Your Phone app. As the company previously demoed in October 2018, you’d be able to use the built-in app on your PC to continue a Snapchat conversation from an Android phone and even type out full conversations. You’d also see a list of all your installed Android apps, and you’d be able to access them just as you would on your phone. It’s not yet clear if this feature will be shipped out as part of the upcoming Windows 10 April 2019 Update, but it could be a possibility.
With Windows 10’s tablet mode currently a non-touch-friendly mess, with no split screen-mode or app switching, this new Phone Screen feature could also give Microsoft reason to save it. Considering the convenience of continuing Android apps on a PC, consumers might now turn to this feature as a way to further leverage the power of touchscreen PCs in order to get the most out of both Android and Windows 10.
Either way, this new ability would build on Microsoft’s previous synergies between Windows 10 and Android. The Your Phone app already allows you to transfer and edit photos and continue SMS texts on your PC. It’s fairly similar to what Dell offers with its Mobile Connect App, so it is nice to see Microsoft following suit by enabling more of your smartphone activities to take place on your PC.