What you need to know about Android and Windows 10

While Android is likely your go-to for mobile technology, the desktop-and-laptop world is still largely dominated by Windows machines. If you fall into that category, you've probably heard about this big update to Windows by now. There's a lot to like about Windows 10, including the price tag if you're running a fairly modern version of the OS. If you're wondering how this update will affect your day to day usage, particularly the Android parts, we've assembled this handy guide for you.

Spoiler alert — it's actually pretty good.

Chrome apps and notifications work great

Windows 10 Chrome notifications

If you rely on Chrome notifications to keep you informed without having to pick up your Android phone, or you rely on Hangouts and Gmail on Chrome for Windows daily, you'll find little about the experience has changed in Windows 10. Google has been supporting Windows 10 for quite a while now through the Insider Preview, so there's no need to worry about waiting for things to function. You can update today and everything will work as expected, including Chrome Remote Desktop.

The only thing you'll want to do out of the box is avoid activating Cortana if you have no plans on using Microsoft's voice service. The combination of Cortana notifications and Google Now notifications in Chrome can clutter your screen in a hurry, not to mention the additional notification tones. Alternatively, you could give Cortana a shot for yourself and see if your like it more than Google Now, especially once it is officially available on Android.

Better device detection, better sync options

Windows 10 Sync

While the All Google All The Time folks are big on the cloud, a good ol' fashioned microUSB cable and an OS that actually knows what you're connecting to it are great. Windows is usually good enough about accessing USB mass storage modes for Android hardware, but Windows 10 takes things a step further.

Device detection and driver installation is greatly improved, and the new Microsoft sync options are a gentle reminder that Microsoft apps are out there if you're not totally invested in Google. Even if you never use Microsoft's sync tools, the improved device detection and driver installation is great for quick video pulls and confirming the hardware you're playing with when busting out the Android SDK to poke around.

Read more: How to sync your Android to Windows 10

The days of Xbox One Smartglass being the same on Android as Windows are likely over

Xbox One Smartglass

Microsoft did something incredibly cool with its Smartglass system, allowing users to take control of their console through whatever gadget they were using. As a quick remote control it's great, but as a second-screen platform Smartglass and a Nexus 9 make for an incredible combination. The best part was you got the same experience on every platform, and it worked well. Unfortunately, with Windows 10 that is unlikely to remain true for particularly long.

Xbox One Smartglass isn't going away, but Windows 10 is moving to the Xbox One app. It allows users to do a whole lot more, including stream games from your Xbox One to your Windows 10 computer. As incredible as this is, there's no way this functionality is coming to Android. With the Xbox One app taking center stage and fewer companies placing a focus on second screen experiences, you can expect a noticeable feature discrepancy between Android and Windows in the future.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

60 Comments
  • Gimmie that unicorn image NOW! please.
  • You should be able to find it on Windows Central, I can't give you a link since I'm on my phone, but it shouldn't take too much looking Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ask and ye shall receive: Direct link: https://public.bn1301.livefilestore.com/y3pJ7sLUXrKSyqiaqS6wKXf-d6-FPTm2... Article link: http://www.windowscentral.com/here-microsoft-ninja-cat-wallpaper
  • I have yet to plug my Nexus 6 into a computer and I don't plan on doing it anytime soon. Posted via the Android Central App
  • First thing I do with a nexus. How else you gonna unlock the bootloader? Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • I load mine with ROMs backed up onto a PC, have around 2000 so....yeah. Posted via Android Central App
  • there are 2,000 ROMs for the Nexus 6? unlikely. LG G2
    Nexus 5
  • Was talking about emulator ROMs, so yes, easily more, i just have 4 emulators,my NES and SNES ROMs almost total 2000, my DOS and PS1 ROMs put it a little over.
  • Ok, be honest with us. Do you really enjoy playing DOS games? Or do you just enjoy TELLING people you play DOS games?
  • Hahahaha, well played, probably the second thing. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ive been enjoying the Gabriel Knight series this month. Last month I played through the Gold Rush, Manhunter series, and Rise of the Dragon. Dont care if you think im just telling people or actually pIaying. I play using Dosbox Turbo....look it up on the play store. I bought all those games originally as they came out and still own all the floppy disks and cd roms. To me, those are some of the greatest games ever, and I have no reason not to play them when Android gives me the tools to do so.
  • I'm just giving you shit, man. Play on, dude.
  • OK, you have to post a link or tips on how to get started!?! I haven't kept up on the Emulation scene so I need to know!
  • Nice! Do you use a controller? I use a ps3 controller to play roms. It's ok ok to use but sometimes the mapping of the buttons is not correct and it is confusing. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes I enjoy playing DOS games. The Quest series games are hella fun. As for controllers, i have a mini bluetooth keyboard to play the dos emulator, and then for my NES, SNES, PS1, and gameboy emulators Gamestop had a $10 Android controller i bought. Just map the buttons and go. Works great.
  • I think Windows 10 will change the ballgame for Windows 10 Mobile. The only thing keeping Windows Phone from serious market share is the app ecosystem but with the unification of Windows across all devices it will create massive OS market share overnight which will bring developers on board. Windows on mobile is about to explode with the release of Windows 10 and I'm looking forward to seeing it grow. For now I will stay an Android user but Windows 10 sure looks good. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm not as optimistic as you are about Windows 10 Mobile, but that is not because I don't want to believe you are right. While I have very much enjoyed Android the past few years, i would still love to see Windows 10 Mobile's app ecosystem come together and remove the one thing that has kept me from trying a Windows phone. We shall see. I'm not holding my breath.
  • I've used Windows Phone before I came to Android and the only reason I left was because of lack of apps. It is a wonderful user experience. Microsoft reported that 14 million PCs updated to Windows 10 within 24 hours of launch and it wasn't even available to everyone. Their goal is 1 billion installs over the next 2-3 years and if that happens trust me every app you want will be in the Windows Store since all apps will be universal across PC, Phone, Tablets, and XBox One. I'm keeping my eye on it. Even if I stay Android it will be nice to have a 3rd major player. Competition is good. Posted via the Android Central App
  • People don't use apps on Windows though. Windows 8 has had hundreds of millions of users and the app store hasn't benefited at all. Windows 10 is not going to change that. If people don't pay any attention to the app store, which they don't seem to, then developers won't be compelled to write apps at all. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You have to look deeper into the reasons that the app store didn't benefit on Windows 8. Most of the PCs running windows 8 are mouse and keyboard, they don't benefit from touch, which is what almost all the apps are designed for. Also, many people didn't like or want to deal with the start screen, so when the option came to boot up to the desktop in 8.1, many chose that. Because of this, many wouldn't use the app store. There is also the fact, that the many apps in the Windows 8 store, were 3rd party, or clones of the popular apps from iOS/android. Finally, lets not forget that the stores on Windows 8/8.1, Windows Phone 8/8.1, and Xbox were all separate stores. Microsoft did get the ball rolling with Universal Apps in the Windows 8/8.1 market, but since the OS was different on each device, it didn't start to well. With the Universal store found in Windows 10, you will be able to get your apps on all your devices, plus developers only have to program once, and choose if they want the app to go to each type of device (PC, Tablet, Phone, XBOX). Having to program once, should in theory bring the apps over, which will in turn make users pay more attention to the store.
  • I had a windows phone (HTC 8X), just about right when it came out. I was utterly disgusted by the lack of apps. I had come from android, and not having things as simple as navigation drove me crazy. Plus, at the time there was very little support for Google services. I had to run my Google Calendars through Apple just to get it onto my phone. It was ridiculous, and I returned it within a week and got a Nexus 5. On top of that, I'm a total Google guy. I'm almost completely invested in the Google ecosystem, so switching over to Microsoft services was something I wasn't really prepared to do. Especially since I've had a Mac for about 15 years now. That said, I really really really LOVED the interface. My only real disappointment was the lack of apps. However, with the new release of Windows 10, which I really like, I may switch over to Windows for my next computer, and who knows what I'll do with my phone when it's time to upgrade in a year. Maybe I'll look at the Windows Phones again?
  • Unless Microsoft starts offering the similar features to Android, Windows 10 mobile can't hope to be a match for Android. I've tried all 2 platforms and Android is by far the most complete OS I'm saying this as a former iPhone 5s user having switched to Android a month ago. Posted via the Android Central App on my Moto G 4G 2nd Gen
  • What similar features do you mean? Windows 10 does everything assuming you don't want to root the phone. They have all the services Google does also with Edge browser, OneNote, and OneDrive syncing across all devices plus I found Cortana more useful than Google Now. It also has Skype baked in and Office included. Windows Mobile's only downfall is the app ecosystem which will reverse with Windows 10 market share which is inevitable. Don't get me wrong it will be a while before I think about leaving Android but the success of Windows 10 Mobile is just a matter of time. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Windows Phone UI is widely hated and Windows 10 doesn't change that. Windows 8 also proved people hate the tiles. Without the choice of launchers or a different UI, Windows 10 Mobile is dead on arrival. If you use both side by side, you quickly realize the shortcomings of Windows Phone. The browser is horrible and you do not have any choice. The app drawer list means you are scrolling forever. No widgets or actionable notifications makes getting simple things like changing the song a chore. There are tons of other little things that really add up. They say the animations are not smooth in Android, but that is much less frustrating than the loading times when opening an app in Windows. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I haven't used a Windows Phone in ~8 months, and even back then, al the things you said were wrong.
  • I'm willing to agree on the flaws that you listed for Windows Phone 8, but many were removed in Windows Phone 8.1, and no longer relevant in Windows 10 Mobile. Browser - uses Microsoft Edge which is quick, and clean. I'll give you that IE11 wasn't perfect, but it's come a long way.
    Widgets/Actionable notifications- Although "Widgets" aren't there, actionable notifications are now included in Windows 10, plus I find that the Live Tiles do a really great job of giving me at a glance notifications of my important apps. The app drawer- you don't need to scroll. Simply click the letter of the alphabet that your app starts with, and it jumps down to it. Or, if it is commonly used, simply pin it to the Start. I find that the app drawer is actually easier to navigate than Androids side scrolling.
  • I am debating on a Pixel. Been using a Chromebook exclusively for two years until a month ago. Going back to school and was told I needed a Mac or PC for Office. Well Office 365 has all the tools I need. Plus, my school wont let us update to 10 yet as they need to test their online software. On the surface it looks as though the Pixel will do everything required and not have the thirty minute annoying update bull that I am currently enjoying on 8.1. Plus the whole Windows Virus threat is always there. Currently using a pretty great Asus Touchscreen convertible and the hardware is great. And I haven't had a problem yet with the online and Android versions of Word and Excel. Russell, besides the usual of staying away from nefarious websites and attachments. Any tips for maintaining a crash free system on Windows? I am now , of course going to WindowsCentral.com to get some inside thoughts there as well.
  • I'm with you, next on my list is a Pixel LS Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not sure what sites you are visiting but the "Windows Virus" thing is a tired argument. You sound like a competent person. Just be smart about your online activities. That holds true no matter what OS you use. Windows 10 is awesome . Give it a try Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's pretty much what I was thinking. I just wasn't sure.
  • I wish it were a tired argument, but it's still a problem. I was setting up my wife's laptop last year (Sony Vaio with Win8). Went to download Avast antivirus from cNet, and it installed Chinese Adware. Chinese pop-up ads everywhere. Took forever to uninstall, because the uninstall utility was in Chinese (why Windows can't just uninstall a program itself, and instead relies on a utility created by the software maker, is beyond me). I like to think of myself as a very competent user, but I guess I still got duped somehow.
  • This is one of the many reasons why I hate cnet Posted via the Android Central App
  • Screw CNET. I ditch CNET download long time ago. Now I use File hippo to download all my software. The website is clean and less chunky than CNET. Also, try CCleaner for Windows. Posted via the Android Central App by OnePlus One
  • Why not just go direct to www.avast.com and download from there? Download services rarely add any value, and by going directly to the developer's web site you can be sure to always get the latest version.
  • Or just use Window's built in virus scanner. No need for a third party any longer. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If I remember correctly, I used the link provided in a comparison of free antivirus applications. I thought cNet was still a legit place to use, I was proven wrong. But the fact that I would even have to worry about such things, is why I said goodbye to Windows two years ago for my own computer, and never looked back. The minute somebody makes a Chromebook with a 10-key (number pad), my wife will be doing the same.
  • I find that you can get by with Windows Defender, and if you want a bit more of a security bump, get Malware Bytes (Free) and CClearner (Free) just for the monthly/bi- weekly fine tune. Keep in mind that these free versions do not do automatic scans, but Windows Defender does pick up most of the issues. You can get by running the other 2 monthly.
  • And another thing Microsoft must patch things up with Google if they are to have any chance of being competitive against Android and even iOS. I know Google isn't exactly being fair but Microsoft should show that they're the more grown up one and look to strike a deal. Posted via the Android Central App on my Moto G 4G 2nd Gen
  • Windows has been trying to strike a deal but Google doesn't want to play. Microsoft even wrote their own YouTube app which was better than the one Google wrote for Android but they made Microsoft pull it from the store. Google is the bad guy not Microsoft. They won't make any of their services available on Windows. How can you say Microsoft needs to grow up when they are the ones offering all of their services on Android? You will find Office, OneDrive, OneNote, Skype, and even Cortana on Android so why doesn't Google do the same? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Simple. 2.4% market share. There are plenty of other platforms Google also doesn't support because they are irrelevant. They are not singling Microsoft out. The YouTube app Microsoft made did not adhere to the terms of service. Why should Google allow that? Posted via the Android Central App
  • While I don't know what's going on in the background, their CEO has repeatedly expressed interest in partnering with Google more often. I think Google seems to be turning around, thankfully. Their Modern search app has got a few updates recently and Google (on their own BTW) put out the plugin for Office (unfortunately, it doesn't work with my copy of Office 2016, yet). I think once they fired the guy who did the Scroogled campaign, they showed that they're done trying to be petty and are willing to be grown ups about this. Hopefully Google gets the same attitude soon.
  • First thing I did was made Cortana disappear. "a fanboy, DAT that sh...I don't like"
  • Smart move! Posted via the Android Central App
  • After so many years with Android (since the OG G1) I think I'm going to move over to Windows Phone. Windows 10 is awesome on my machines so far and I've been tooling with the Windows Phone 10 Technical Preview on my Lumia 1520 and HTC M8 Windows. Still a Developer build, but I really like what I see. I've used Windows Phone on the side since the Samsung FOCUS (7.5 days) and have always liked it. I think Windows 10 will push me over full time. To manage the app-gap (which isn't all that bad) I have a Tab S around almost always. It's refreshing. No Google Play Services or "Android System" raping the battery, random this and that. It just works and works very well. Photography on the 1520 is stupid good and everything on the 1520 and M8 is smooth as butta. It's ironic, "Think Different" now applies to a Microsoft product..whaddya know Apple? Every time I see another Windows Phone user it's like some strange club that's even more exclusive than the Nexus club, lol. I'm not trolling, just speaking the truth. It will be refreshing to have my PCs, Surface Pro 3 and (eventual) Lumia 950xl all on the same page. Exciting times. Give it a try, you might like it. $79 entry fee for the 640, a solid phone. Return on day 14 (Wallyworld) if you don't like it. While 8.1 is mature, you may want to wait until the official WP10 lands (fall). It's pretty incredible so far with the previews. Identical flow to Windows 10, which billions will be using soon. Microsoft is on to something big.
  • I agree I had a Lumia 1520 before coming to Android. I love everything about Windows Phone except the missing apps which finally made me leave but Windows 10 will change the ballgame. Developers write apps where the users are and by Microsoft unifying Windows 10 across all devices including XBOX they strategically made a brilliant move. Now developers can write for one Windows platform and it will work on anything running Windows 10. Microsoft isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I'm enjoying my Note 4 but I have a close eye on WP. I also have a Windows Insider device but I still need to see more particularly from the Windows Store. Posted via the Android Central App
  • There is no game changer in Windows 10. It will not change anything. Windows 8 had hundreds of millions of users and none of them paid any attention to the app store. That just isn't the way Windows has been used and there is no compelling reason for people to change. The browser and web will continue to be how Windows is used and the app store will continue to suck. Microsoft didn't even have any app launch partners for Windows 10. Not one new app was released along with Windows 10. Even Microsoft did not really put any new apps in their own store! Posted via the Android Central App
  • App store in 8 wasn't universal, they didn't tie in well to Android and iOS till the end, Win8 took a bunch of flak for the UI up front, and the market was fragmented across 7 and 8/8.1. That's not to mention the Surface and Xbox One, which are both rocking right now. MS is firing on all cylinders right now, and there will be a solid bit of carry-over.
  • Adding Windows Phone or XBox One will not increase the numbers much. With the low rate of app useage on Windows, it will certainly not be enough to drive developer interest. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Love the positive attitudes on here for Windows phone :-). Sometimes reading the comments on Windows Central can get annoying. Too much complaining and doom and gloom. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Oh I'm on WC a lot and agree. People are angry about everything it seems. Microsoft has a shitload of work to do, but if they play their cards right, Windows Phone can become more than just another "oh, you mean like a Blackberry lol" OS. I personally love it, but you have to like how it is out of the box as it's pretty locked down. The side benefit is it is like greased lightning and works flawlessly for the most part. No strange things, no strange mysteries, no need to root and janitor a working phone out of the box to fix things. The user experience surpasses any mobile OS available, full stop. But it needs lots of additions and frankly apps, which is the main goal of WP10 and Universal Apps. We shall see, but I'm pushing all of my red chips on Microsoft. It may not take over the world, but there is certainly a lot of ground to gain and they are in the perfect position to do so. Continuum will be a ridiculous game changer. Almost done with your work in the office? No worries, grab your phone, go to the client site, plug your phone into a dock and keep working at a workstation, just as if you were in your office. No lugging anything else but the device that lives on you...your phone. I love Google and all they do, have a Chromebook, etc, but Chrome OS and Android are pretty light in their capabilities. Windows on the other hand runs the world. You can get serious work done and you probably use Windows for your work. If not, most partners you interface with run Windows. The potential for WP's success on the back of Windows 10 is mind blowing. Maybe I'm just getting old, but when I want real work done, I always end up processing said work on a Microsoft product. Light social and home stuff, sure, Google's stuff works, but it's always riddled with tradeoffs. Microsoft isn't going anywhere. The vision for the future of computing Microsoft has is rock-solid. Stay tuned.
  • That is already ridiculously easy using the cloud. Your files are easily available on any machine and it doesn't require special docks. Remember when Motorola already tried this? No one cared then either. It is more hassle than it is worth. The cloud already solved that issue. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Man you have a complex of some sort with your posts. So WP doesn't fit your critical power needs for a telephone. Great! Have fun! Competition rises the tide for all platforms. This is a good thing even though you've sailed an unreleased new OS down the river. Too bad for you. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I can't access any of my company's proprietary software through the cloud, nor can I access a lot of my third party software. File availability is only half the battle- I need software availability. Chrome doesn't have it.
  • "Alternatively, you could give Cortana a shot for yourself and see if your like it more than Google Now, especially once it is officially available on Android." See, this is why I keep coming back to AC time and time again. The content is always about choices, never condescending about alternative options like iMore so unfortunately thrives upon. -Posted via the Android Central App on my G4-
  • Open mind is good. I used Meego Hartman for a while, along with Symbian (for years). I will use the OS I like more, full stop. Sure re-buying stuff is aggravating, but I find I use less and less apps these days (most sit unused after a week). Re: Cortana on Android. It's a good introduction, but the API capabilities are pretty slim on Android. Cortana is much more useful on Windows Phone. I have a Microsoft band paired with my Lumia 1520 and having a keyboard and Cortana voice replies directly from the band (SMSs) is pretty outstanding. I find it more useful [band paired with Windows Phone] than my now sold Moto 360. Hard to believe, but very true. But hey, my SIM is still in my M9 most of the time, so I'm not leaving anytime soon. I enjoy both platforms but really like the direction in which Microsoft is headed.
  • Windows 8 was such a dissapointment. Love windows 10! Streamed some xbox one games to my windows 10 laptop the other day. Worked great. Can't wait to see windows 10 on xbox one... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Every time I open Microsoft apps that are connected to the web on my Samsung Android phone, I get thrown out of Google+ and all the other Google apps. Of course I can restart them, but this happening is odd. Reports have been filed for a good while to both providers, but nothing improves.
  • The first thing you need to do immediately after installing Windows 10 is to go into Settings>Privacy and turn off everything. Then on a need only basis allow certain things. Turn Off Windows Sense as a starting point.
  • I'm STILL waiting to get my copy of windows 10. It says I have a reservation and I'll get a notification when my copy is ready. I mean come on already. I reserved months ago. I don't want to mess up my reservation by downloading it separately. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Tried w8 on lumia, meh it was ok. Upgraded for free to 10 and so far only using it on wifi. LOVE IT. Reason I am still on dohoid is because of waze app. But the Microsoft store is taking off like a bat out of hell. It's 15.oo to switch phones....again. I can live without waze if it means staying loyal to microsoft. Cmon the layout of the start screen and menus is awesome on wp10. Soooo many customizations without having to rip the internal coding apart. Goodbye Google and dohoid. I'm coming home Billy.