One of the biggest attractions of Apple products is the way information is shared between devices seamlessly. I’ve always felt that Microsoft is playing catch-up in this regard, with Android being the only competitor in the phone space complicating matters.
However, that started to change with the introduction of “Your Phone” in 2018. This simple app allowed Windows 10 users to access and respond to basic information from their phone without ever leaving the desktop. The initial functionality was limited, but it has become a powerful companion app that can be of value to many people.
Microsoft renamed the app “Phone Link” in 2022, giving it a new design that’s more in line with the aesthetics of Windows 11. But Phone Link works with both operating systems, as well as a wide range of Android smartphones. However, some functions remain limited to select Samsung phones and the Surface Duo & Duo 2.
Here’s everything you need to know about Phone Link, including what the latest updates bring to the table.
What is Phone Link on Windows?
Available for Windows 11 and Windows 10, Phone Link is one of the pre-installed apps when you buy a Windows PC or laptop. As the new name suggests, this provides an easy way to link your Android smartphone and Windows desktop. It’s not quite on the same level as Apple’s hardware, but it’s useful nonetheless.
The current iteration of Phone Link allows you to remotely access many of your phone’s most popular functions. This includes viewing and responding to notifications, making phone calls, and sending texts. You can also control quick settings, manage photos, and launch Android apps, although the latter is supported natively in Windows 11.
However, only a few phones have the Link to Windows feature built right into the device settings. This is intended to make the process of transferring content or using mobile applications on the desktop look smooth.
Samsung’s latest S and Note series phones are supported, along with the company’s foldable devices and both generations of Surface Duo. The full list is available on the Microsoft website.
Does the phone link work with the iPhone?
Unfortunately not. The Phone Link and associated features are not compatible with any Apple devices, although this was not always the case.
Previously, the Microsoft Edge iPhone app allowed users to share web pages with the corresponding app on the Windows desktop. However, this functionality was removed in July 2021.
However, this was just one of the many features available in the phone link. AirDrop offers a similar feature for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but iOS and Windows don’t usually work well together.
How to use Phone Link on Windows 11
The first step involves downloading the “Link to Windows” app to your Android phone, but this will already be installed if you have a recent Samsung or Surface Duo device. You’ll also need to make sure you’re running the latest version of Phone Link – head over to the Microsoft Store on your PC to check if it’s up to date.
Once you take care of that, here’s what you need to do.
- On your computer, search for “Phone Link” and click on the appropriate option
- From the introductory screen, click Get Started
- On your Android phone, paste https://aka.ms/yourpc into your browser. You should be redirected to the Google Play Store
- Download the application if it is not already done. Once done, click on “Open” and then “Link your phone and PC”
- You should see a message saying “Is the QR code on your computer ready?”. Click Continue
- Accept any required permissions, then hold your phone in front of the QR code on your computer to scan it. If that doesn’t work, you may need to enter your PIN instead
- Click Continue on your phone, then Continue on the desktop
This is! Most of the functionality is now available, although you will need to pair via Bluetooth and grant additional permissions to access calls.
How to use Phone Link on Windows 10
The process is almost the same in Windows 10, although it looks a little different:
- From your desktop, search for “Phone Link” and click on the appropriate option
- Click Get Started on the screen that appears
- Under “Sign in with Microsoft”, click “Sign in”
- Enter the email and then the password for the account you want to use
- On your Android device, go to www.aka.ms/yourpc.
- This should direct you to download the app from the Google Play Store. Click install to get started
- Once downloaded, open the app and select “Link your phone and PC”
- From your desktop browser, go to www.aka.ms/phonelinkQRC. This should automatically open in the Phone Link app
- After a few seconds, a QR code will be generated
- Back on your phone, tap Continue and then agree to the camera access permission
- Place your phone in front of your computer to scan the code. The last few steps will be completed on your Android device
- Accept permissions for contacts, calls, SMS, photos and other media
- Click Continue from the next screen
- Choose if you want the app to run in the background. This is more convenient, but it will affect the battery life
- Select Done on your phone and Continue on your PC
The Phone Link app should now be set up. As mentioned above, more permissions and Bluetooth pairing are required for call integration.
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