Among other more or less major announcements coming out of Microsoft these past few weeks, the company revealed its plans to open up a new Windows 10 app to allow the supposedly perfect integration of Android (and maybe iPhone) apps to the Windows desktop. The application would be the first official, realized mirroring between the phone and any desktop platform, allowing users to access all of their roaming apps, games, and even calling and texting services from their desktop PCs, a wide stride forward in the idea of one unified device.
Alongside the recent reveal of Microsoft’s planned Project xCloud, the Windows 10 Your Phone app seeks to spread the availability of one single core component of a user’s life to the others. Cloud networking with Project xCloud, run via Microsoft’s “Azure” cloud network, would allow users to stream games from their Xbox and potentially a Windows PC straight to mobile devices, creating a data atmosphere akin to that of emulation and running most of the trouble of running these games through the network’s wireless bitrate. This would work similar to the Project Stream service Google announced recently, but seeks to leverage the Xbox experience to a more convenient place for the average user, rather than to approach and change the general PC gaming landscape.
Your Phone was pushed out to test recently--and then quickly pulled from the market, save for Windows Insiders--and according to sources seems to run mostly fine, with the problems one would generally expect from a digital product in the testing phase. However, Microsoft has notably taken the announcement and release in a distinctly gamer-friendly direction, mentioning mobile games as often and in the same tone as they sell the more casual ability to text from your desktop. Tencent’s games have specifically been mentioned often as a key component of the service, once more tying the two companies together in business, a selling point particularly for the Your Phone app since Tencent’s mobile games are some of the most popular and widespread such games in the world, even in the west where they have stakes in large-scale sellers like Clash of Clans and PUBG.
While still seemingly in its infancy, and largely a multimedia app for utility and casual use, the Your Phone app approaches gaming from an interesting direction, once more providing an alternate gaming platform to a different device altogether--which is once again the PC. It’s also a possible boon to mobile gamers in general who often play on either Android or Apple’s iPhone OS and, as a result, miss out on a percentage of games locked to either platform or the other.
If Your Phone fulfils its promise of perfect integration with Android, and Apple relents on allowing access to iPhone systems for Windows PCs, these locked games and every other mobile game in general stand to gain a large sector of gamers. This, and the xCloud service both seem to hint at Microsoft’s new gamer-friendly long-term strategy. But the question remains--will Your Phone let me run Project xCloud on my computer, to seamlessly run Xbox games on my desktop? It seems to be where Microsoft is headed, but as of this writing, it’s only a guess.
Could this trend of cross-platform integration mean more for the industry? Are these building blocks and Google’s Project Stream just the first real signs of the dwindling console platform market and a renewed industry focus on the PC? It’s far too early to say, but either way, Microsoft paints a pretty picture of the near future, for gamers both rooted and mobile alike to share. Hopefully this is a dream that works out for all of us.