We love platform convergence, because it allows us to sync our devices in newer and more useful ways. Take the growing compatibility between mobile Android devices and Windows 10. Where once the two were barely on speaking terms, you can now make Android notifications and alerts sync.
In practical terms, this means that you can keep track of everything happening on your smartphone while you work on Windows 10 — without glancing down at your phone screen every time. The key is Cortana, the digital assistant on Windows 10 and Xbox One; her capabilities include syncing between devices, and we’ll run you through exactly how to do so.
Step 1: Download Cortana for Android
While there are third party apps available that allow some Android-to-Windows communication, the easiest option is to let Cortana’s official app do that work. To do that, you need Cortana on your Android phone, so head over to the Google Play store on your phone and download the Cortana app. It’s free, and compatible with most modern Android mobile devices. However, if you are using your Android phone in a BYOD scenario, make sure that your company is okay with you downloading a voice assistant and linking accounts this way.
Step 2: Sign in
Once Cortana is installed, you should transition over to a welcome screen. If not, try restarting the Cortana app to kick it into motion. You will see a friendly, “Hi!” from Cortana, and then she will ask you to sign into your Microsoft Account.
You will need your own Microsoft Account and password for this step. If you aren’t sure if you have a Microsoft account or not, remember that it will be the same sign-in you used for past Windows/Xbox services. If you haven’t started using Windows 10 yet and don’t have a history with Microsoft, creating a login is very easy.
After you sign in, you will see an option to allow Cortana to actively listen for her “Hey Cortana” activation line in case you want to give commands to your Android device. This depends on your current use of voice assistants. Most Android devices have an “Ok Google” command option these days, and if you are already used to that, then there isn’t much of a reason to adopt a new voice assistant. But if you prefer Cortana to Google’s voice assistant — and there are reasons to do so — then check away and move onto the next step.
Step 3: Sync basic notifications
Cortana will now begin to access information on your Android device, getting up to speed on your data. Yes, this does mean that Microsoft will have access to your Android data. You can read more about what Cortana does with your data here, and what sort of privacy you can expect.
When this is finished, go to the top left of your screen and select the three-lined button there. Here, look for an option that says, “Sync notifications.” Choose it, and that will take you to a another settings menu that will show you the basic notifications you can enable. Any of these Android notifications that are enabled will also show up on Windows 10 in your little Cortana alert box. The basic phone stuff is all here — low battery warnings, text alerts, missed calls, and so on, so pick which alerts you want to receive.
Step 4: Choose specific syncing for app alerts
If you continue down the Sync notifications list, you will notice an option for App Notifications Sync (or possibly Choose what apps to sync, depending on your setup). Choose this and you can sync the notifications for any compatible Android app from a list. Chances are good that you have a lot of these apps, so take some time to go through them all and make sure only the important apps are selected. You probably don’t want any random browser notifications or additional calendar alerts, but if there are apps you’d like Android notifications from, swipe right to activate them and you will receive those alerts too.
Step 5: Hop over to Windows and restart
Head to your Windows 10 computer and restart it: It’s not always necessary, but it’s a good idea to ensure smooth syncing. After you login again, make sure that Cortana is showing notifications from your Android phone. After that, you are all set! Note that you may be able to increase compatibility with features like the Microsoft Phone Companion.
Reminder: If it isn’t working, check your Windows 10 Cortana settings to make sure that Cortana can access information from other devices.