Greatest crossover of all time: Microsoft, Samsung preview Android on Windows via Your Phone app

Continuum reborn? Not quite, and some features are Sammy-only for now

Microsoft and Samsung have previewed Android apps running on Windows – or appearing to, since the apps actually run on a connected smartphone, but are viewed and controlled from the PC, a technique called app streaming.

Famously, Redmond has canned Windows Phone, but it still wants a presence in mobile, and Android is its best chance, given that it has a more open ecosystem than Apple's iOS. The company has its own Android device set to launch later this year, the Surface Duo, but also has a partnership with Samsung to integrate Galaxy smartphones and tablets with Microsoft 365 and Windows 10.

Samsung's Link to Windows, combined with Microsoft's Your Phone application, already lets users mirror a phone to the desktop OS so you can operate it with keyboard and mouse. There is also cross-device copy and paste. At yesterday's virtual Unpacked event, the two companies announced the app-streaming extension to this integration, which gives a look and feel of running the apps on Windows as opposed to controlling the phone remotely.

Users will be able to use the forthcoming Galaxy Tab as a second screen for Windows 10

Users will be able to use the forthcoming Galaxy Tab as a second screen for Windows 10

One potential snag: audio from the apps will play back on the phone, not on the PC. However, there is a handy extra capability. Users can run multiple Android applications in separate windows, as demonstrated at the event by Microsoft communications manager Phillip McClure, though this capability "will roll out later in the year", according to the detailed description. Android apps can also be pinned to the Windows taskbar. This is on top of the usual Your Phone capabilities (which work with any Android device): access to photos, messages, notifications and calls.

Another integration feature, briefly shown at Unpacked, is the ability to use the forthcoming Galaxy Tab S7 as a second screen for a Windows 10 PC.

The Galaxy Note20 Ultra

Clue's in the name: Samsung's next Galaxy Note line captures scrawls with responsive stylus then punts them over to a PC


Microsoft 365 users will be able to synchronise Samsung Notes with OneNote, and Samsung Reminders with Microsoft To-Do. Outlook Mobile will run on Samsung Galaxy watches.

On the gaming side, the two companies also said that Samsung Galaxy will support streaming Xbox games with Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – a subscription to Microsoft's gaming platform. Game streaming is not exclusive to Samsung: a couple of days ago, Microsoft said that this feature, in beta from 15 September, will work across all Android devices running Android 6.0 or higher, Bluetooth 4.0, and with a mobile Wi-Fi or data connection of 10Mbps download speed or higher.

Microsoft showed multiple Android apps running in separate windows, though still phone-shaped.

Microsoft showed multiple Android apps running in separate windows, though still phone-shaped

Some of the new features recall Microsoft's efforts with Continuum, still the subject of a pretty website despite the abandonment of Windows Phone. Continuum exploited the Universal Windows App concept, in which apps running on the phone would scale nicely to run on a large PC display. Continuum gave users the option of using the smartphone as a primary computing device, while still taking advantage of keyboard, mouse and full-size screens.

Integration with Android still falls short of that concept, though for users whose documents and data are cloud-hosted, the idea of a primary computing device should no longer matter.

Partnership with Samsung is all very well, but owners of other Android brands will not want to miss out on major features. It seems unlikely that Microsoft's own Surface Duo, for example, will fall short of Samsung in this respect, even though the current list of supported devices for Link to Windows is, for now, exclusively Samsung. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • UK Home Secretary delays Autonomy founder extradition decision to mid-December

    Could be a Christmas surprise in store from Priti Patel

    Autonomy Trial Autonomy founder Mike Lynch's pending extradition to the US has been kicked into the long grass again by the UK Home Office.

    Lynch is wanted in the US to stand trial on 17 charges of fraud and false accounting. He is alleged to have defrauded Hewlett Packard investors over the sale of British software firm Autonomy in 2011.

    Continue reading
  • Want to buy your own piece of the Pi? No 'urgency' says Upton of the listing rumours

    A British success story... what happens next?

    Industry talk is continuing to circulate regarding a possible public listing of the UK makers of the diminutive Raspberry Pi computer.

    Over the weekend, The Telegraph reported that a spring listing could be in the offing, with a valuation of more than £370m.

    Pi boss, Eben Upton, described the newspaper's article as "interesting" in an email to The Register today, before repeating that "we're always looking at ways to fund the future growth of the business, but the $45m we raised in September has taken some of the urgency out of that."

    Continue reading
  • All change at JetBrains: Remote development now, new IDE previewed

    Security, collaboration, flexible working: Fleet does it all apparently

    JetBrains has introduced remote development for its range of IDEs as well as previewing a new IDE called Fleet, which will form the basis for fresh tools covering all major programming languages.

    JetBrains has a core IDE used for the IntelliJ IDEA Java tool as well other IDEs such as Android Studio, the official programming environment for Google Android, PyCharm for Python, Rider for C#, and so on. The IDEs run on the Java virtual machine (JVM) and are coded using Java and Kotlin, the latter being primarily a JVM language but with options for compiling to JavaScript or native code.

    Fleet is "both an IDE and a lightweight code editor," said the company in its product announcement, suggesting perhaps that it is feeling some pressure from the success of Microsoft's Visual Studio Code, which is an extensible code editor. Initial language support is for Java, Kotlin, Go, Python, Rust, and JavaScript, though other languages such as C# will follow. Again like VS Code, Fleet can run on a local machine or on a remote server. The new IDE uses technology developed for IntelliJ such as its code-processing engine for features such as code completion and refactoring.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021