Windows 11 could make checking your phone from your PC even better – so Apple, take note for macOS Sequoia

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Jun 19, 2024

Windows 11 could put your iPhone or Android device right into the heart of the Start menu, in a manner of speaking – or at least the Phone Link app is apparently headed this way.

That’s according to clues unearthed by MS Power User, which reported on whispers from Windows 11 testers to the effect that Phone Link is set to be made into a Start menu ‘Companion.’

If you’ve missed the Companion panel appearing in Windows preview builds last month, it’s a floating panel that can be docked to the left or right of the Start menu. The Companions it plays host to are a bit like Live Tiles of old, widget-style affairs that display real-time info which is piped through.

In theory, Phone Link will be one of the apps that’ll appear in the Companion panel, as MS Power User took a deep dive into files from Phone Link and found a number of code strings relating to ‘StartMenuCompanion’ settings.

Analysis: Dialing up the work on phone integration

This would appear to be the groundwork for Phone Link to become a Start menu Companion, but of course, this is just work hidden in testing right now – and we can’t take it for granted this will happen. Indeed, the Companion panel itself might be abandoned yet if Microsoft thinks better of it – only time will tell.

Given the rumors, and at least some concrete evidence that Phone Link will get this treatment, it seems more likely to happen than not, on balance. Phone Link would also be a logical and useful app to have in the Companion panel, in order to pipe notifications through from your smartphone, bringing them to your attention when you’re in the Start menu.

Phone Link has been a key part of Windows for some time now, and it’s not surprising Microsoft is pushing ahead with potential features like this – and work on the Cross-Device Experience Host (albeit that has stumbled of late) and other phone-related capabilities besides – given that Apple now has iPhone Mirroring inbound with macOS Sequoia.

Whichever way you dice it, smartphones are becoming more and more deeply integrated into desktop operating systems these days.

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