Saturday, 19 March 2016

Windows 10 System Apps Review: Phone Companion

Note: This page is a review which forms part of the post Windows 10 System Apps Review 

What’s this app for?

This app will help you become a devoted loyal servant of Microsoft by getting your iPhone, Android or Windows phone to not only sync with Windows 10 but become one with it.

Does it do the job it was primarily designed for?

I think so but I’m not going to risk finding out fully. Having an android phone I’m hardly stuck with Microsoft 24/7, but the thought of connecting my phone to Windows 10 for the odd sync isn’t that freaky to me, although this app did somewhat scare me.

Once you have your phone connected to Windows, the app itself changes from its default page of telling you how all types of phone love Windows 10, and instead focuses in on what you can get your phone to do with Windows. The app is literally chucker block full of ways to Microsoft your phone.
So, what can this app help you do? It’s basically a bridge or portal to Microsoft software that you can utilise on your phone. There’s the offer to you of syncing your photos with the photo app and syncing music with Groove. The rest of the choices are all about getting Cortana, Office, Outlook, OneNote or Skype apps on your phone.

Although this app prompts for you to sign into your phone with a Microsoft account, you can just skip that as it’s a little of a red herring. Sure, you do need it to sync your stuff in the actual apps, but the likes of the skype, office, OneNote and Outlook apps on your android phone don’t need you to be signed into the phone as a Microsoft Account, but instead into the apps, which is a separate login process to your phone’s account. A little confusing perhaps, even for me initially. All of those apps you can get through your phone’s app store without the need for this app but I suppose the app does help those who may not be that tech savvy to get know about these apps and get them on their phone quicker.

The two options in this app that aren’t guides to downloading other Microsoft apps are Photos and Groove Music. Neither of which I ideally want syncing with Windows 10 as I use Google for photos and music which all works quite nicely thank you very much. However, one has to at least try them out, but alas I’ll do it as cautiously as possible.

Clicking on the Photos option launches the Photos app and starts the process of scanning your connected phone for images. Gordon Bennett it does a seriously OTT job as it came back with over 2,000 images on my phone, the majority of which were small graphics from apps, not photos. Eeek. That’s some serious sorting out to be done in the import window shown above to just get photos across.

The music sync is done by way of telling you to make sure your music folder on the PC is within OneDrive so they are all online and thus can be sync’d with OneDrive. Then it’s all about actually guiding you into downloading the Groove App which will also look at OneDrive for music by default.

Away from the guides to going all Microsoft on your phone, the Phone Companion app also provides details down the bottom of the app about the phone that is plugged in to the PC. It’s basic though. There’s battery charging status and storage information as well as links to do importing of photos or other files manually via File Explorer.

What’s the alternative?

To Microsoft your phone you don’t need this app at all. It’s basically a glorified guide of click-through instructions showing you how to download, sync and set things up on your phone and PC. You could just figure it all out yourself rather easily by downloading all the Microsoft apps via your app store.

Hit, Miss, or Maybe?

Hit; there’s no doubt the app does its job in informing you what’s available for your phone from Microsoft and guiding you into setting everything up. It’s a pure click-next guide though, with little to no intelligence or automated help from the app.

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