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17+ ways Apple is responding to coronavirus

Apple is attempting to do as much as it can to contribute to the global response against the Coronavirus. Teams across the company appear to be focused on what they can do to help. We’ve identified 17 things Apple has done so far, quite apart from work it will be doing behind the scenes to fix its supply chains.

Apple warned its investors

Apple in mid-February warned investors that it would fail to meet its previous estimated revenue targets of $63-$67 billion.

At that time it cited lower customer demand in Greater China, but this now seems to have become a more global problem. The company’s stock continues to decline, though most analysts anticipate recovery toward the end of the year.

WWDC will be held online, not in place

Apple will not hold its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose this year.

Instead of inviting thousands of the most important people in its community to get together in one place, the company will hold its conference online instead. It promises its show will still be packed with excitement.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering said:

“I look forward to our developers getting their hands on the new code and interacting in entirely new ways with the Apple engineers building the technologies and frameworks that will shape the future across all Apple platforms.”

No March event?

Apple had been expected to announce new products during a March special launch event. These were thought to introduce new iPad Pro models, new Macs and the iPhone 9/iPhone SE device. Apple did announce Macs and the new iPad Pro in a March press release, but current speculation claims launch of its new lower-cost iPhone may have been delayed for a little while on strength of soft demand and logistical problems.

Sharing the wealth

Apple has donated in excess of $15 million to help support treatment of the sick and mitigate the economic impact of the crisis. This has included substantial donations in Italy.

The company also supports two-to-one corporate matching for any employee donations that relate to coronavirus. The company is presently sourcing and donating millions of masks to health professionals in the U.S. and Europe. “To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a Tweet.

Siri gets smarter

Siri can now help you figure out if you are suffering from COV-19.

When you ask it a question such as: “Do I have the coronavirus?” you’ll be guided through a series of questions to help you answer the question. You’ll be advised to stay home or to request further help if your symptoms appear severe.

App Store help

The company is promoting telehealth applications in the App Store when customers ask Siri about coronavirus. It is accelerating the reviews process of COVID-19 applications from reputable sources to try to help make sure we are in possession of the best available information, rather than false or misleading information.

Apple News gets proactive

There are lots of conflicting claims around COV-19. This is confusing and at a time when the global message needs to be utterly clear, Apple News has moved to curate the content it provides. It now provides a COVID-19 news section offering what it calls “verified” reporting from what it calls “trusted news outlets”.

On iOS and iPad OS devices you’ll find a hand-picked set of headlines and links to a detailed coverage page.

Staying in? Read a book

Apple’s Books store in the U.S. now offers a small collection of free books (including audiobooks) for adults and children to keep you occupied while remaining isolated.

Oprah has an Apple TV+ show on the topic

Oprah has announced a new Apple TV+ show that will focus on the pandemic.

“Oprah Talks COVID-19” is a new a new free to view Apple TV+ series featuring remote discussions with leaders and others affected by the disease. Oprah wants to provide insight, meaning, and tangible advice to help us through the crisis. 

Apple has closed its retail stores

Apple closed all its retail stores in China.

Those stores are now open, but it has closed its stores everywhere else on the planet.

The idea behind this is to limit contact between groups of people. Unfortunately, some customers whose devices were being repaired by Apple Geniuses may have been told they can’t now pick up their item until the stores open once again.

Apple has committed that hourly workers will continue to receive pay “in alignment with business as usual operations”.

Adopt remote working

Apple has moved to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China. It is urging workers to work remotely if their job allows. It is also urging those who must attend the workplace physically stay at least two meters apart.

There have been reports that Apple’s culture of secrecy is making remote work quite hard to do – but that’s only to be expected, and problems have a tendency of getting solved. The company is also deep cleaning all its sites and offices.

Caring for employee health

Apple is introducing new health screenings and temperature checks across all its offices. The company has also moved to accommodate employees who need to take a leave of absence to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges due to school closures.

Promoting credible information

Apple is promoting official government information videos via iTunes/Apple Music in the U.S., and also on its home page.

Reduce bandwidth demands

In line with other streaming media providers, Apple has committed to reducing the resolution of shows streamed through its Apple TV+ network in Europe.

Curating podcasting content

Apple’s podcasts app now features a row of reputable Coronavirus-related content. The company is also focusing more on personal development topics through its podcasting service.

Maintaining support

MacRumors cites an internal memo to Apple Authorized Service Providers in which Apple says its network of authorized repair shops will receive maximum payouts for qualifying product repairs for the months of March and April.

Apple Card assistance

The consequences of what is taking place are impacting everybody and creating real hardship for many. Apple Card users have been told that if they need help making it through, they can enrol in a new customer assistance program that will allow them to skip their March payments. 

You should pay attention

Apple isn’t doing all of these things out of a sudden attack of altruism or as a contribution to some twisted form of April Fool’s joke.

It is doing them because it knows we face a global problem that, if left unchecked, will overwhelm global health provision services, cost vast numbers of lives, and generate an economic slow-down akin to the Great Depression, or worse.  

Some of those consequences may now be unavoidable.

Apple’s Tim Cook recently said:

“There is no mistaking the challenge of this moment. The entire Apple family is indebted to the heroic first responders, doctors, nurses, researchers, public health experts and public servants globally who have given every ounce of their spirit to help the world meet this moment. We do not yet know with certainty when the greatest risk will be behind us.”

That Apple is applying the full extent of its energies in this attempt should make even the greatest cynic wake up to the need to practise social distancing, hide indoors and wash their hands.

Those small steps seem the least we can do for medical staff across the entire planet who are even now risking (and in many cases, losing) their own lives on the front line of our struggle against this disease.

Are you an Apple, iOS or Mac developer who is offering free services, or augmenting existing ones to help in this struggle? Please drop me a line and I’ll let people know.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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7 Deadly Graphic Designer Sins (And 4 Ways to Atone)

Not growing your design client list? Your personality is more likely to blame than your skill set.

As a designer, you’ve probably wished you could know exactly what your clients were thinking at one point or another. Maybe it was when they were vaguely describing how they wanted their design to “pop”. Or maybe when they were trying to express exactly why the fifteenth revision still wasn’t quite right. Or maybe it was after they refused to do a customer testimonial despite insisting they loved everything about the final product. Whatever it was, you probably left the interaction feeling you had no idea how to communicate with your clients. 

When you consider that 64% of clients cite poor communication as the worst part of working with their designer, it’s clear that the feeling is mutual. 

But that’s far from the only issue standing in the way of designers and clients getting along. To get to the bottom of the biggest problems in the client-designer relationship, we surveyed 100 users on their experiences working with designers. 

The big question: What’s the worst part of working with a designer? 

 

Who Are These Designers Anyway?

Now you might be looking at that 64% and saying, “No way that includes me; I’m not one of those designers.” But it’s more likely than you’d like to think. 

To get some context on who these communication-challenged designers were, we also asked respondents about how they found their designer. Here’s a breakdown of the results:

As you can see online marketplaces are the main source of designers, at 34%, which could explain some of the complaints clients had. Online marketplaces are a notorious gamble for clients, since anyone can create an account, upload a portfolio, and start looking for design jobs. 

But, between referrals from friends and family members and friends and family members themselves, personal connections win out as the main source of designers for this survey, accounting for almost 45% of the designers discussed by respondents. 

What does this tell us? Two things: 

  1. Even with the rise of online marketplaces, like Upwork or Freelancer, referrals and network connections are still the most popular way for designers and clients to find each other;
  2. Just because designers have a personal connection to their clients doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to work together without issue, poor communication isn’t something a personal connection can solve. 

 

The Worst Parts About Working With a Designer

To give customers adequate room to air their designer grievances, we left the response field to this question completely open, allowing them to write as much (or as little) as they wanted. After reviewing the responses, we found that complaints typically fell within one or more of these seven categories. 

Or, as we like to call them, the seven deadly designer sins:

  1. Poor communication;
  2. Missed deadlines;
  3. Difficulty trusting the designer;
  4. Limited revisions;
  5. Business needs not taken into account;
  6. Cost;
  7. Not feeling like a priority.

Due to the free-form nature of the responses, many responses fit into multiple categories. Here’s how those issues add up: 

At 64%, poor communication is overwhelmingly the biggest complaint clients have about their designer. Now, we’ve brought this figure up before, but when you consider other communication-related complaints clients had, the true number is much worse. 

Taking into account adjacent categories like “Business needs not taking into account” (15%), “Difficulty trusting the designer” (15%), and “Not feeling like a priority” (6%), issues that could be resolved with better communication begin to dominate the conversation. 

While “Missed deadlines” (17%), “Limited revisions” (15%), and “Cost” (14%) are important for many respondents, focusing on how fast, often, and cheap you can deliver work won’t fix everything.

The biggest problem clients have with designers has little to do with their technical skills—and everything to do with their people skills. 

This might almost seem a little too intuitive to be groundbreaking. After all, any designer who’s had a few years in the industry is familiar with the endless email chains over small changes and vague directions clients often give. But even though these complaints have become commonplace, designers can’t afford to ignore them anymore—because of the rise of AI-powered design. 

 

Designers vs. Artificial Intelligence

In the past few years, AI-powered or Computer Assisted Design has been making advances in designing everything golf clubs to websites.

There are some aspects of AI-powered design that human designers won’t be able to outcompete. Things like a lower cost, unlimited revisions, and never missing a deadline aren’t the most practical selling points for a human who has to pay rent and sleep. 

But those are only a small part of the complaints clients have. 

If you’re a designer looking to compete against an increasing array of AI-powered design options, it’s time to start taking client relations seriously. When you’re competing against AI, your humanity is your selling point. 

 

Becoming a Better Designer (Without Learning Any New Design Skills)

If you need any more convincing before you roll up your sleeves and start improving your communication skills, here’s another response from our survey, this time to the question: What’s the most important thing about working with a designer?

There it is, straight from the client’s mouth: communication is more important than skill when working with designers. 

But let’s go back to the worst parts about working with a designer. After analyzing customer answers, we found a few common communication-related issues that designers can easily remedy.

Practicing Better Communication

Complaint:It is difficult to accurately express one’s thoughts so that they can understand as needed to create a logo that works and meets our needs and desires.”

Solution: When you’re first trying to get an idea of what your client wants, don’t rush. They typically don’t have the same design vocabulary you do, so take your time to explain the ways that you can bring their vision to life. Focus on closing the communication gap early on and keep clients in the loop with regular updates. The more you communicate what you’re doing, the more they’ll feel connected to the final product. 

Building Trust

Complaint:Building the trust to allow the designer to do his thing.  Letting someone outside make decisions independently was hard for us and we had to learn to accept outside advice and decisions.”

Solution: For most clients, trust comes down to communication. Can you demonstrate that you understand their needs and goals for this project? Can you show them that you care about producing great work for them? 

Demonstrate a deeper connection to your client’s business and how your design fits into their goals. While you might not be on their payroll, you should show the same kind of commitment to the company an employee would have. The more you can invest yourself in a project beyond just collecting your payment, the more likely clients are to trust your judgment when you need to make a difficult design call. 

Taking Business Needs Into Account

Complaint:It felt he was more focused on what would look good on his portfolio rather than what was appropriate for our business needs.

Solution: We all want to produce work that will look good in our portfolios, but you need to remember you’re designing for your clients—not yourself. Put the effort into understanding the context of a project, what a client is looking to accomplish, any trends in their industry, the audience they want to attract, and the metrics they want to achieve. As AI-powered design becomes more powerful, your capacity to act both as a consultant and a designer for your clients will give you an edge. 

Making Every Client Feel Like a Priority

Complaint:My designer had more than one project on the go so we were not always his priority.”

Solution: You’re likely always going to have a few projects on the go at the same time, but your clients don’t need to know that. When you’re on a call, in a meeting, or even just responding to their emails, give them your full attention. While you won’t be able to be at their beck and call 24/7 (however much they might want you to be), showing attention and enthusiasm during your interactions will help clients to feel like you care about them and their project.  

 

Moving Past Your Design Sins

If you’ve made it to the bottom of this article, it’s fair to say you’re ready to remedy some of your designer sins to better serve your clients. But even if you do everything right, you’re still bound to get a few client complaints—and that’s okay. As much as you can improve your designer-client relations by being more human, it’s also human nature for clients to find something to complain about. As long as you’re continuously working on your communication, you’ll be able to stay one step ahead of other designers—both human and AI.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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7 ways Apple can improve enterprise productivity

With iPhones now in use across the Fortune 500, Apple has a good reason to invest in business process automation for iOS. It already has many of the building blocks to make work easier and more productive. Here are some of the ways it could improve its offering with enterprise-focused automation.

What’s up with Mail?

Mail is limited in contrast to other email apps. Apple could add (or simply support) features offered by the excellent Boomerang app, particularly tools that enable you to schedule your response to emails, such as: “Reply at XX O’clock”, “Reply in the morning”, “Send email response 14”.

[Also read: How iPhones can help manage ‘always-on’ work-related stress]

We know email kills productivity, as the expectation mail should be immediately responded to means no one can get things done. It also leads to people answering mail ineffectively when they respond late at night – not to mention the impact on family life.

There are good arguments to invest more AI in Mail, enabling its users to create their own automated responses, rather like a limited sub-set of Shortcuts. Apple AI already looks at email to help populate some shortcuts, why not extend this with enterprise-specific tools?

Put security on the edge

Apple is in a prime position to develop on-device network traffic analysis tools that work around the clock to identify and alert when anomalous data patterns are detected that suggest some form of malware is at play.

Now, I don’t believe Apple has any intention of putting iOS security vendors out of business, but platforms do have a role to play in terms of fostering the development of edge of network security tools.

Far more effective than standard permiter defense security models,, network security watches traffic to identify when exploits are taking place. For enterprise users, AI-led security tools to monitor this on a platform basis would be a blessing.

Think about Messages

Apple Business Chat shows it is possible to automate routine conversations via Messages – but why not introduce a limited set of sub-fields enterprise and other users can create within their own accounts?

Enterprise users might use these to let people know their message has been received and when they are likely to be responded to, to automate standard responses such as “I’m on my way”, or even to let managers know when field service technicians are on site.

(The latter is already possible using Siri, just tell it to “Send a message to [name of manager] when I arrive at [name of place],” so long as both are in your contacts book).

All that I’m arguing is that a little automation could conceivably save every enterprise employee (and everyone else) from the essential tedium of handling routine requests. Just like technology promised us it would do. The Share pane it isn’t.

Time off is productive

There is a growing body of evidence that claims macho 24/7 work cultures are toxic, creating stress, damaging relationships and generating health problems.

What’s a good response to this?

First employers must agree to define just when employees are expected to work, and second they should not discipline any employee who is not available outside of those agreed hours.

Once that’s done, why is it not possible for iPhones to simply refer all emails, messages and phone calls that emanate from those identified in a user’s Work Contacts to an ‘Out of hours’ folder?

Employees would check through the contents of this when they next use their device during agreed work hours – and employers could pay for out of hours cover when it was required. Apple could make an app for that. How many hours are actually productive anyway?

FaceTime for the enterprise

With a focus on consumer users Facetime just doesn’t have the skills it needs for enterprise use. Wither is the document sharing from within the app? Where sits the space for collaboration? What about automated data detectors to pick up when a deadline or other schedule is agreed? Is it really impossible to include Otter.ai-like transcription while online meetings take place? Automated minutes creation, distribution and task assignment?

These are the kinds of features you already find within enterprise-class video collaboration tools, and while it’s nice to turn yourself into a unicorn with AR,

Facetime’s real competition is more GoToMeeting, WebEx, Jabber and Teams than anything else. Apple’s evolving AR vision should exploit this inherent opportunity, assuming the company has hopes beyond AR Arcade. And what about the ability to securely share Health or other data for users who need an online medical consultation. Is it not time for FaceTime Pro?

Learning machines

While adapting Apple’s own on-board AI to work with third-party apps would require distribution and adoption of API’s for such things, the company could look to its own apps in order to figure out how to automate repetitive tasks.

To some extent, Siri Shortcuts tries to do this but only at a relatively trivial level, picking up things like people you call regular, places you visit, apps you open and so on.

I imagine many employees are required to regularly write personalized emails around a specific topic in the course of their working days. Imagine one could ask Siri, “Hey Siri, learn this task” and let the AI monitor what you do until it can repeat it.

At some point Siri would become your digital twin, capable of handling the majority of the work involved in handling trivial tasks – all the enterprise knowledge worker would need to do is check that work, enabling them to focus on more complex and (hopefully) challenging tasks. Give them the right set of API’s and enterprises could develop these as proprietary in-house apps.

Filling and filing

Digital natives spend a lot of time handling and filing digital documents. Apple’s tags feature could perhaps be extended to help automate this.

Imagine you regularly receive invoices or order forms and must file these in a relevant folder. Imagine you must also then send those forms to a relevant third party.

Surely it is then possible on receipt of a document to mark it up with the relevant tag in order to automatically save a copy in the relevant folder (or shared folder) while also forwarding the document to the next person in the chain?

Apple already supports Folder Actions which can fulfil some of these tasks, but both the available commands and interface are extremely limited. The foundations already exist, however – why not realize them?

It’s getting better all the time

I think people’s working days get easier one automation at a time, and that most of us prefer to spend time solving complex problems rather than handling routine tasks.

I’m not alone in thinking this. A whole industry of business process automation now exists, with vendors such as Blue Prism, EdgeVerve, UiPath offering complex tools to help optimize enterprise workflow.

Now that Apple really is in the enterprise it has an opportunity to offer an ecosystem-wide suite of low-level workplace automation tools, and doing so seems a natural direction, given its investments in AI, Siri and Shortcuts. Many of the building blocks are already in place.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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10 ways Android and Windows 10 can work well together

If you regularly use a Windows 10 PC and an Android phone or tablet, there are several Android apps you can install that can seamlessly link the flow of information between the two. For instance, you can start a quick note on your phone, then finish it later on your Windows 10 PC, or you can receive the same alert on both devices for an appointment.

The following Windows 10-friendly Android apps are all from Microsoft — and all free. To get the kind of interoperability described above, you need to be signed into each of the apps on your Android device with the same Microsoft online account you use to sign into your Windows 10 computer.

1. Cortana: Sync reminders between your Windows PC and Android device

The Cortana app for Android lets you create reminders that will sync with, and send notifications to, your Windows 10 PC. To set a reminder in the Cortana app for Android, tap the three-dot icon on the upper-right of the app’s main screen, tap Reminders, tap “Remember to…” on the next screen, and enter a name for your reminder to the right of the circle icon.

Then you can tap “Set a time” to set the time when you want to be sent a notification for this reminder. You can also enter a destination (by tapping “Set a place”) that will trigger the notification when you physically arrive at that location with your phone, or add an image to the reminder (“Add a photo”).

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Reminders set in the Cortana Android app (left) will appear on your Windows 10 PC, including in the Start menu (right).

Once set, this reminder will sync with your Windows 10 PC; for example, if you have the Calendar app pinned as a live tile on the Start menu, the reminder will appear on the Calendar app’s tile. And when you click the time/date icon on the notification area of Windows 10, the reminder will appear listed on a side panel below a calendar.

And, yes, this works in reverse: You can set reminders on your Windows 10 PC (either through the Calendar app or Cortana) that will show up on your Android device via the Cortana app.

2. OneDrive: Access files on your Windows 10 PC with your Android device

You probably already know that Windows 10 comes with Microsoft’s cloud storage service, OneDrive, which is integrated deeply into the OS — it shows up as a folder in the File Explorer. Dragging documents, images or other types of files to it automatically uploads them to the cloud.

The OneDrive Android app lets you view documents or images stored in your OneDrive folder. (If you tap an image file or PDF in your OneDrive cloud folder, the OneDrive app will load it in its own viewer. If you tap a document, like a plain-text file or Word document, the document will be downloaded to your Android device and the default app that you use to view this document format will load it.)

You can also set the OneDrive app to automatically upload photos and videos that you capture with your Android device’s camera to your OneDrive folder. You can then access these photos and videos on your Windows 10 PC.

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The OneDrive Android app gives you access to documents and images in your OneDrive cloud storage (left). You can also have the app automatically upload photos and videos from your Android device to your OneDrive cloud storage (right).

To enable automatic upload from the camera (or to make sure it already is enabled): In the Android app, tap the Me icon on the lower-right of the main screen, tap Settings, and tap “Camera upload” on the next screen. There are also options for uploading only via Wi-Fi, uploading only while the Android device is plugged in to charge its battery, and including or excluding videos from automatic uploads.

3. Outlook: Sync calendar events between your Windows 10 PC and Android device

Obviously, the Outlook Android app is primarily meant for accessing your email from Microsoft services such as Exchange, Office 365 or Outlook.com. (It can be used with your Gmail or Yahoo Mail account, too.) But the Outlook app also has a calendar tool that syncs with the Calendar app on your Windows 10 PC — through it, you can enter appointments and reminders of things to do on days and times you pick. Both your Android device and your Windows 10 PC will send you alerts as event deadlines approach.

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Events that you create in Outlook on your Android device (left) will appear in the Calendar app on your Windows 10 PC (right).

On the Android app, you get to this calendar tool by tapping the third icon along the bottom of the main screen. (It looks like a page from a daily calendar, showing the current date.) Then you tap on a day you want to mark with an event reminder (by scrolling vertically through a list of dates below a portion of the calendar at the top of the screen).

Next, tap the “+” button on the lower-right of the screen. On the next screen for setting a new event, you pick the time, enter a location for the event, and set how far in advance you’ll receive the alert. You can also add the people from your contacts list you want to receive notifications about the event.

Like setting reminders with the Cortana app, this works in reverse. If you set appointments or events in the Calendar app on your Windows 10 PC, you will get alerts on your Android phone through the Outlook app.

4. OneNote: Sync notes from your Android device to your Windows 10 PC

A Windows app version of OneNote is included with Windows 10. Installing the OneNote Android app on your mobile device can be handy for creating notes while you’re on the go that you can edit more thoroughly later on your Windows 10 PC.

With the Android app, you can make notes or to-do checklists by entering text for them through your Android device’s touchscreen keyboard, handwriting with a digital pen, or voice-typing. You can draw doodles on your notes with your finger or digital pen, and add photos to a note with your Android device’s camera.

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Draw on your notes with a finger or digital pen in the OneNote Android app.

5. Your Phone Companion: Manage your Android phone notifications, pictures, text messages, and make voice calls from Windows 10

You can have the notifications and text messages that your Android phone gets automatically forwarded to your Windows 10 PC, and also have access to your phone’s photos from the PC. First, install the Your Phone Companion app on your Android phone. Launch the app and sign in to it with the same Microsoft user account that you sign in to your Windows 10 PC with.

On your PC, launch the Your Phone app. Clicking the Photos button on the navigation toolbar on the left lets you view the photos and screenshots that are stored on your Android phone. You can save an image to your PC by right-clicking on its thumbnail.

Click Messages or Notifications in the navigation bar to read the incoming text messages or notifications on your phone. You can reply to text messages or type new text messages right in the Your Phone app on your PC; the messages will be forwarded to your Android phone to send out. If a notification is an incoming message from a messaging app on your phone, you can reply to the sender the same way.

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Using the Your Phone app on your Windows 10 PC, you can view notifications and reply to text messages that your Android phone receives.

To choose the apps on your Android phone that you want to send notifications to on your Windows 10 PC, click the Settings icon in the lower-left corner of the Your Phone app. In the main panel, scroll down to Notifications and click “Choose which apps notify you.” A list of all the apps on your Android phone that can send notifications will scroll down. You can click the switch by each app name to stop its notifications from being forwarded to your Windows 10 PC.

Finally, you can make a voice call by clicking the bottom button in the navigation bar, Calls. This feature, currently in beta, requires that your phone and PC be linked together through a Bluetooth connection, so that the Your Phone app can route your voice call to your phone.

6. Microsoft Launcher: Access your Windows 10 Timeline from your Android device

In Windows 10, Timeline is a record listing various things that you’ve done on your PC, such as opening documents and visiting websites. Click the Task View button in the taskbar to view this extensive history, which is organized by date. You can use Timeline to find a document or image you were working on or a web page you visited and access it again. (See “5 hidden Windows 10 features you should be using” for details about how to use Timeline.)

You can access your Windows 10 Timeline from your Android phone by installing the Microsoft Launcher app on it. Sign in to the app with your Microsoft user account and set Microsoft Launcher as your smartphone’s default Home screen. Then from the Home screen, swipe left to the first screen.

On the bottom toolbar, tap the Timeline icon. A list of web pages you’ve recently visited on your Windows 10 devices appears. Tap an item to open that web page in your phone’s web browser. If you have Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) installed on your phone, you can also use Timeline to open recently used documents in those apps. And if you open a document in an Office app on the phone, the document appears in the Timeline of a Windows 10 PC that’s signed into the same user account.

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You can access your web browsing history on your Windows 10 PC from your Android phone by using the Microsoft Launcher app.

7. Office Lens: Sync “scans” taken with your Android device to your Windows 10 PC

This nifty Office Lens app by Microsoft isn’t specifically linked with Windows 10 but integrated with OneDrive. It’s for capturing documents, which can include business cards and receipts, with your Android device’s camera. (Microsoft likes to say you’re scanning such items, presumably because you’re capturing text, but all you do is take a photo normally.) You can also use the app to snap images of drawings, handwriting or text on chalkboards, whiteboards or signs.

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When you snap a picture with Office Lens (left), the app automatically aligns, cleans up and crops the image before saving it to OneDrive (right).

Office Lens automatically aligns, cleans up and crops the captured image, and can convert it into editable text and graphics in OneNote, PowerPoint or Word format, or preserve its formatting as a PDF. The captured document image is automatically uploaded to your OneDrive folder (which you can, of course, then access on your Windows 10 PC).

Note: The OneDrive app for Android also comes with a tool that lets you capture documents, but it lacks the ability to change your phone’s camera resolution to capture in a higher or lower image quality.

8. Microsoft Launcher or OneNote: Access, create, edit and manage your Sticky Notes from your Android device

On Windows 10, you can quickly create notes and to-do lists using the Sticky Notes app. There is no official Sticky Notes app for mobile devices. Instead, you can access your Sticky Notes, and also create, edit or delete them, through the Microsoft Launcher or OneNote app.

To use the Microsoft Launcher, install it and set it as your smartphone’s default Home screen. Swipe left to the first Home screen and tap the Glance icon on the lower left of the screen. In the main screen, scroll down through the information cards until you see your Sticky Notes.

In OneNote, there’s a Sticky Notes icon on the lower right of the main screen. Tap it to view a listing of your notes.

Notes that you create, edit or delete through either Android app are synced to the Sticky Notes app on your Windows 10 PC.

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You can use either the Microsoft Launcher or OneNote app for Android to access and manage your Sticky Notes that you created on your Windows 10 PC.

9. Microsoft Edge: Sync your browsing history between your phone and Windows 10

Once you sign in to it with your Microsoft user account, the Android version of Microsoft’s web browser, Edge, will sync your bookmarks, history and other data from Edge on your Windows 10 PC to it. But why bother using Edge at all — especially if you’re primarily browsing with Chrome on your PC?

First, it can be helpful to keep an alternative browser on your phone as a backup in case you encounter an issue with the Android version of Chrome. If you’re already using Windows 10 in coordination with your Android phone, Edge is a natural backup choice.

Second, when you view a web page on your Android phone with Edge, you can forward that page directly to your Windows 10 PC and resume reading it in Edge on your PC. To do this, in Edge for Android, tap the middle icon that’s toward the bottom of the app. A list of your Windows 10 PCs will appear. Tap the one that you want to forward the web page to. Then, on that PC, the Edge browser will automatically launch and load the web page you forwarded.

android win10 09 edge browser IDG

With the Android version of Microsoft’s browser Edge, you can forward a web page directly to your Windows 10 PC and continue viewing it on the Windows 10 version of Edge.

10. Microsoft Solitaire Collection: Play the classic Windows card game on your Windows 10 PC and Android device in sync

The classic Microsoft Solitaire game was rebooted for Windows 10 as a Windows app that includes five card games: Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, TriPeaks and Pyramid. You can connect the app to Microsoft’s online gaming service, Xbox Live, to earn achievements, compete against other players, and share video clips of your gaming sessions.

Microsoft released an Android version of Microsoft Solitaire Collection that has all these features. You can even start a game on this app, stop playing, and resume it later on your Windows 10 PC — your game data and progress are saved and synced to the cloud through Xbox Live.

android win10 10 solitaire IDG

You can start a game of solitaire on your Android phone and finish it later on your Windows 10 PC, thanks to Xbox Live syncing.

This story was originally published in April 2017 and updated in January 2020.

Read this next: How to create a complete Microsoft experience on Android

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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3 Ways to Run Windows on Your Mac

Looking to run Windows on your Mac? There are a few different ways you can do it, each with its own pros and cons.

The best solution depends on what you want to use Windows for. Do you want to play video games? Need to use a specific Windows-based app? Or do you want a portable Windows system you can boot from any Mac?

We’ve explained all the ways you can run Windows on Mac below. Take a look to find out which method is best for you.

1. Dual Boot macOS and Windows Using Boot Camp

Boot Camp installation window setting partition size for Windows and Mac

Boot Camp is a built-in Mac utility you can use to install Windows. It partitions your hard drive into two sections, with Windows on one side and macOS on the other.

We call this a dual boot system, because you can boot into either macOS or Windows. But you can’t use both operating systems at once, which means you need to reboot your Mac whenever you want to switch.

The upside is you get great performance on both operating systems because it only needs to run one at a time. In some cases, a Mac running Windows through Boot Camp is faster than a dedicated Windows computer.

A dual boot system is the best option if you want to play computer games, edit videos, render graphics, or perform any other resource-intensive tasks.

How to Get Windows on Your Mac Using Boot Camp

With a Mac and an internet connection, you already have everything you need to install and run Windows using Boot Camp. Although, if your Mac came out before 2015, you also need to create a USB Boot Camp installer


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.

Before getting started, make sure you have at least 64GB free on your startup disk. You need this much space for the Windows operating system and any content you want to use with it.

When you’re ready, download the latest version of Windows as an ISO disk image from Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 page.

Next, open Boot Camp Assistant. You’ll find it inside Utilities in the Applications folder on your Mac, but it’s faster to search with Spotlight (Cmd + Space) to open it. Follow the on-screen prompts to partition your hard drive, download Windows support drivers, and install your dual boot system.

When the Boot Camp installation finishes, restart your Mac and hold Option while it powers up. It should give you the choice to boot into macOS or Windows.

Boot Camp Windows or macOS option screen

2. Run Windows in a Virtual Machine on Your Mac

Parallels running Windows on a MacA virtual machine (VM) runs Windows inside macOS. There’s no need to partition your hard drive and no need to reboot your Mac whenever you want to switch operating systems.

Using a VM means both Windows and macOS are running on your Mac at the same time, so the performance isn’t as good as a dual boot system. However, the added convenience of using Windows apps alongside macOS apps is usually enough to make up for that loss.

You’ve got a few different VM options if you want to install Windows on your Mac:

Parallels and VMware Fusion are premium services that make it easy to install and run Windows with a bunch of Mac-friendly features. VirtualBox is more complicated to set up and has fewer features, but it’s free.

How to Install a Windows Virtual Machine on Your Mac

Setting up VirtualBox takes a little bit of time and effort, but you can use our comprehensive VirtualBox guide


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to walk you through it.

Otherwise, Parallels and VMware Fusion are quick and easy to set up. Parallels is generally considered the best option for running Windows on a Mac, but both apps offer a range of attractive features. Take a look at our overview of Parallels


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to see what you get.

Buy a license or download a free trial for the software of your choice. Then follow the on-screen instructions to install and set up your Windows VM.Parallels installation on a Mac downloading Windows 10

3. Run Windows To Go From an External Drive Using WinToUSB

Windows To Go booted from USB external drive on a Mac

Windows To Go is a feature that lets you install a Windows system on an external hard drive, which you can then boot into from any Mac. The immediate benefits are that it doesn’t take up any space on your internal hard drive and it offers a huge amount of portability.

Using Windows To Go is similar to a dual boot system, except Windows runs from an entirely different drive instead of a separate partition. That means you still need to reboot your Mac whenever you want to switch operating systems.

Unfortunately, Windows To Go systems are limited by the data transfer and read/write speed of your external drive and the port they’re connected to. They also take a bit of setting up.

Ideally, you should use a USB 3.0 drive with a write speed of at least 50MB/s. You also need to make sure you connect it to a USB 3.0 port on your Mac for the fastest connection.

USB 3.0 micro cable

How to Install Windows To Go for Mac on an External Drive

While Microsoft deprecated the official Windows To Go feature in 2019, you can still use an equivalent setup thanks to third-party software. Nowadays, the easiest way to install Windows To Go on your external drive is with WinToUSB.

This free app is Windows-based, so you need to use a Windows computer or a VM to temporarily install it on your Mac. If you don’t have a Windows machine handy, we suggest you use the free trial of Parallels or VMware Fusion for this.

You also need to download support files from Boot Camp to ensure your Mac hardware works with Windows. Open Boot Camp Assistant in macOS and select Action > Download Windows Support Software from the menu bar.

Download Windows Support Software option from Boot Camp menu bar

When the support files finish downloading, copy and paste them into your VM.

Now connect your external drive and open Disk Utility on your Mac. Erase and reformat the drive as macOS Extended (Journaled) with a GUID Partition Map scheme. Once that’s done, eject and reconnect it to your VM.

Windows To Go external drive format settings in Disk Utility

In your VM, download the Windows ISO disk image and install WinToUSB.

Right-click the Start button to open Disk Management and select your external drive. Here, right-click the primary partition of the drive and click Delete volume, then right-click again and create a New simple volume. Set the file system to NFTS.

Open WinToUSB and select your external drive as the destination for Windows. Choose your boot and system partitions and select Legacy mode for the installation.

WinToUSB installing Windows To Go on an external hard drive

After WinToUSB installs Windows on your external drive, use File Explorer to copy across the Windows Support folder from Boot Camp Assistant.

Finally, restart your Mac and hold Option while it powers on to boot Windows To Go from your external drive. Open the Windows Support folder and go to Boot Camp > Setup.

This installs the necessary drivers for Windows to work with your Mac.

Use Windows Apps on Mac Without Installing Windows

Dual boot systems, virtual machines, and a Windows To Go setup are the best ways to run Windows on your Mac. But these are all a lot of work if you only need to use a single Windows app.

If this is the case for you, take a look at compatibility layers, like Wine or Crossover, instead. They let you run Windows apps from your Mac


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without installing the entire operating system.



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