The line between Android and Windows just got even more blurry with the introduction of the latest Samsung Ativ computers last month – and we’re not just talking about the dual-OS-running Samsung Ativ Q convertible laptop. As promised back in April, new Ativ PCs will be preloaded with SideSync, a little-known software from Samsung that lets you manage your Android smartphone on your computer.
We finally got a chance to see this feature in action, and here’s what we found out…
How it works
When the Ativ device and a compatible Android smartphone are connected with a USB cable, you’ll see a virtual version of your phone appear on your computer screen (you can turn this option off if you want). Basically, everything that happens on your phone is now accessible from your PC, which means you can control your phone with your mouse and keyboard without interrupting your workflow.
Typically, when you want to send your friend a text message with your phone in the middle of the work day, you have to take your hands off your keyboard and poke at your phone that’s sitting on another part of your desk. With the SideSync feature enabled, you’ll be able to switch from whatever window you have opened to your on-screen phone, open your phone’s messaging app, and type a SMS using your computer keyboard.
Other features include the ability to draw lines on mobile maps using your computer mouse, drag and drop files between your computer and smartphone, and easily copy and paste text on your mobile device. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to check out these more advanced features during our brief demo.
Samsung PC required
Eager to find out where and how you can get SideSync onto your computer and phone? If you have a smartphone running at least Ice Cream Sandwich (doesn’t have to be a Sammy phone) with plans to get one of newest Ativ devices like the Ativ One 5 all-in-one, Ativ Tab 3, or Ativ Q, the SideSync software is already included. You just need to download the mobile app onto your compatible smartphone, connect your phone to your computer with a USB cable, and you’ll be able to enjoy your Android on a much bigger screen than any phablet.
For those of you with a slightly older Samsung laptop in the “Series” family, you will soon be able to download the SideSync software, but Samsung will be charging you a fee, according to a Facebook comment posted on June 17. The company has yet to reveal how much this app will cost non-Ativ PC owners.
What if you have a Samsung smartphone like the Galaxy S4 but your Windows-based computer is made by a different manufacturer? You’re out of luck. Samsung is clearly positioning this SideSync feature as a reason to buy a Samsung-made PC to complement your Samsung smartphone, so the company is not budging by offering this software to non-Samsung PC users – at least not yet.
We definitely like the convenience of being able to manage our Android smartphone with our Windows-based computer, but we can’t really justify changing computers (or smartphones) for a bit of software, no matter how useful it seems. We hope Samsung will have a change of heart and at least offer the computer software to its ever-growing empire of smartphone users.