With Timeline and Your Phone, Microsoft makes a PC the phone’s second screen

SEATTLE—The PC is, for many of us, no longer the central hub for our digital and online activities; the phone has taken that role. In this new world, the relationship between the two has flipped: the phone is not a companion device for the PC, but rather, the PC is now a companion device for the phone.

At its Build developer conference today, Microsoft showed a pair of applications that reflect this new world. First are updated versions of the Launcher for Android and Edge for iOS that include support for Timeline, the big new feature of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. Timeline gives a historic view of the documents, emails, and webpages that you have visited, making it easy and convenient to go back and resume working on your ongoing tasks. With the updated versions of the apps, the Timeline view is now accessible on your mobile devices.

The company is also releasing an enterprise version of Launcher that will let administrators pre-configure the Android home screen application.

The other application is Your Phone: an app that brings your notifications, messages, and photos from the phone to your PC. The PC can be used to send messages (relayed through the phone), including the ability to drag and drop images into and out of the conversations. Notifications will be mapped, where possible, to corresponding PC applications or websites. The most recently used photos are also synced.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has offered this kind of feature: Windows 10 and Windows Phone were briefly able to perform similar synced messaging and notifications. Apple also offers similar synchronization between iOS and macOS. These new apps, by contrast, span different platforms, reflecting Microsoft’s invisibility in the mobile space.

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