While some pundits predicted that mobile phones and tablets would replace laptops and desktop PCs, thanks to lower costs and higher mobility, it doesn't appear to be panning out that way yet. In the meantime, at least, we're getting a steady flow of apps and services that tie all of these platforms together, and the Your Phone app is one of Microsoft's bids in that department.
With this weekend came another Insider release of Windows, which is a beta testing system that allows regular users to evaluate the next version of the operating system before it's released to the general public.
The Your Phone app is currently only available for Android, but the Your Phone app sports some interesting features that let you pocket your phone while still keeping tabs on it. This latest Insider version of Windows 10 combines forces with the Your Phone app to not only let you text with your keyboard but also let you write texts via Microsoft Ink.
Ink is the component of Windows 10 that recognizes drawing and writing with a stylus instead of a keyboard and mouse, and this latest twist means that Ink isn't just for graphic designers or other visual artists. Users can interact via Microsoft's Surface Pen, but others are compatible, such as Wacom's Bamboo Ink or the Lenovo Active Pen. (The Apple Pencil is only compatible with iOS.)
The ability to text your handwriting could come in handy for transmitting a signature on a contract or other legal document. It may be preferable to the text interaction tools that Adobe provides for PDFs (all of which require paying for one version of Adobe Acrobat or another).
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Last but not least, this latest version of Windows 10 will let you dictate a text message using your voice in the Your Phone app, instead of using a keyboard or handwriting. However, if you're using a laptop, its microphone will be relatively far away compared to your phone. Therefore, you may want to use a set of earbuds or headphones that integrate a microphone, or have a mic set up on a stand.
Otherwise, Windows might not hear you clearly enough to take your dictation. Most desktop PCs also don't ship with a microphone, so a trip to Amazon (Android, iOS), Best Buy (Android, iOS), or another gadget store may be in order.
The retail release of this version of Windows 10, codenamed "Redstone 5," is slated for October. Features have come and gone from Insider builds before, such as Windows Sets. But this late in the game, it's a good bet that Your Phone's new features are coming to Windows 10 next month.
- A version of Windows 10 for Insider beta testers has added new functionality for the Your Phone app, which lets you send mobile text messages from your PC.
- Your texting options include typing on a keyboard, writing with Microsoft Ink, or dictating text with an attached or integrated microphone.
- For now at least, the Your Phone app is exclusive to Android phones.
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