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3 ways Windows 10 connects to your Android and iOS phones to make a better PC

Connecting your phone to your Windows 10 PC has never been easier—and with the hints Microsoft has dropped as part of the Fall Creators Update, it looks like the phone will be a big deal in future PCs.

Right now, if you own either an Android phone or an Apple iPhone, you can reply to texts right from your PC. In the future, you’ll be able to take webpages you were reading on your train ride and send them to your Windows PC at the office. Passwords? Who needs ‘em? And now, with a dedicated Phone section within the Settings menu, Microsoft appears to be setting up a framework for even stronger connections in the future.

For those of you frantically waving Windows phones—yes, you too can connect your phones to your PC, via the Continuum experience Microsoft debuted a little more than a year ago. Unfortunately, with limited hardware and tepid customer support, Microsoft’s Windows phone aspirations are basically dead. Instead, Microsoft has focused on bringing its ecosystem to the far more popular iPhone and Android platforms.  The best thing is all of these features are live within the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

1. Reply to texts right within Windows

If you’re like me, you probably work best without distraction—and most of your electronic gadgets are primarily designed to distract you, with notifications, popups and audible tones to get your attention. Texts and phone calls are the worst, in part because we’ve programmed ourselves to prioritize those needs above everything else. Now, Windows 10 allows you to treat a text like just another email.

cortana for android 2 Mark Hachman / IDG

Cortana (here, for Android) is the app you’ll need to link your phone’s texting ability with your Windows 10 PC.

Here’s what you’ll need: an up-to-date Windows 10 PC, an Android phone or iPhone—and, most importantly, the Microsoft Cortana app for Android or Cortana for the iPhone. If you wish, Cortana can step in and largely replace your phone’s digital assistant. Even if you refuse her assistance, however, Cortana operates behind the scenes as the connective tissue between your phone and your PC. We’ve used the most popular phone platform, Android, for this article.

The key to connecting your phone and your PC lies within the Cortana app’s cross-device settings (Go to the app’s “hamburger menu” in the upper left-hand corner, then go to Settings Cross device.) Make sure that the top three settings (Missed call notifications, Incoming message notifications, and Low battery notifications) are all toggled on. You can also toggle on App notifications sync, though of the four apps Cortana detected, some were obsolete (my discontinued Basis Peak fitness band app) and others were of dubious value, such as Google’s VR services. 

phone to Windows 10 PC Cortana options Mark Hachman / IDG

Toggle these Cortana options on to get your phone talking to your PC.

A bit strangely, the ability to sync Cortana itself is off by default. If you toggle it on, the app warns that Cortana will have the ability to read all your messages. For now, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to do so, though it’s certainly possible that in the future your spouse might be able to text you a reminder—“pick up eggs at the store” and Cortana will interpret it as a formal reminder. 

As you might expect, the capabilities that the Cortana app toggled on enable the corresponding abilities within your PC. When your phone’s battery drops below a certain point (usually about 15 percent) a low-battery notification will slide in from the lower right-hand corner, and will archive itself within your Action Center notifications. If you miss a phone call, another notification will appear. Texts sent to your phone will also appear as pop-up notifications.

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