Android notification integration hits Windows 10 Anniversary Update

— 4:28 PM on August 1, 2016

Whether one likes Windows 10 or not, there's little argument that Microsoft is doing its best to keep improving and adding features to the operating system. Tomorrow will mark the release of the "Anniversary Update" for Windows 10, and it'll bring a spate of interesting features with it. Among them, you'll find that the Windows Action Center now allows incoming notifications from Android devices.

This kind of feature is hardly new. Apple more or less led the way with its Continuity functionality connecting iOS and macOS, and there are a third-party options available for Android that purport to do the roughly the same thing, built using Android's Notification Listeners API.

To make use of Windows 10's Android notification integration, you'll need to install Cortana on your mobile device, then sign into the same Microsoft account on both that device and your computer. Then, on the mobile app, go to Settings, click on Sync Notifications, and choose which notification types you want sent. Those types include application notifications, which is probably the raison d'être of this whole deal. After this, you can choose exactly the applications whose notifications will be shipped to your PC.

Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica took the driver's seat in this integration, which is still labeled as "beta." He found that while the feature mostly works as advertised, it's obvious it's still under development. The good news is that the notifications do appear and are correctly labeled, with Reply boxes whenever applicable. SMS replies work pretty well, too.

Applications notifications, however are kind of a mixed bag. Sometimes important information is missing, and other times the reply boxes don't work as expected. Perhaps more importantly, clicking on (say) a Skype notification won't open that application in the PC. Not every Android app has a Windows counterpart, of course, and users can click on a "Request App" button and hit a website so that they can exhort the app developer to make a Windows version.

All in all, despite the flaws, the new feature appears to have a promising start. If Microsoft can improve on it at the same pace it's been releasing Windows Updates, then it'll certainly get better in reasonably short order.

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