Using Android Cortana to Enable Alerts in Windows 10

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Getting Started

With the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft made further improvements to their personal digital assistant Cortana. Cortana can now be installed on your Android phone and as long as you are logged into the same Microsoft account, Cortana can pass information back to your PC so you can see things like alerts and battery notifications right on your desktop (Figure 1).

You need to have a few things in order for this to work. First up is Windows 10. Specifically version 1607 or newer – also known as the “Anniversary Update.” You can determine your version by clicking the Windows menu, then type “About your PC.” Select the appropriate shortcut and look for the “Version” row.

As for your phone, you have to have a recent version of Android. We’ll cover Cortana app installation and configuration in the next step. Note – although Cortana is available on iOS devices, iOS does not support the notification integration Cortana needs to be able to synchronize these to your desktop.

Installing Cortana

Let’s start by getting Cortana on your Android device.

  1. Download and install the Cortana app from the Google Play store.
  2. Open the app and accept the license terms.
  3. Enter the credentials for the Microsoft account you use to sign into your PC.
  4. After a few seconds, Cortana will open.
  5. Click the three horizontal bars (settings button) and select Sync Notifications.
  6. By default, missed calls, incoming messages and low battery notifications will be turned on. You can turn these on\off from here. The only option off by default is for App notifications. Any non-system apps such as Facebook and Instagram can also send alerts to your Windows box. You can choose to enable the App notification sync option or leave it off.
  7. If you enable “App notification sync,” you will need to give Cortana permissions to read and control notifications on your phone.
  8. You can then select exactly which applications will be synched to your PC.
  9. Once done you can exit out of Cortana.

Next, we need to double check a few things on your PC to ensure Cortana is set up correctly within Windows.

Configuring Cortana on your PC

Let’s dig into the Cortana settings and verify you are logged into a Microsoft account as well as ensuring sync is enabled.

  1. Click the Windows button and type “Cortana.” Click the icon for “Cortana and Search Settings.”
  2. Scroll through the settings list and look for “Send notifications between devices” (Figure 2).
  3. Click the switch to turn it on.
  4. Sign into the same Microsoft account you used in the previous section (if you aren’t already logged in).
  5. Navigate back to the Cortana & Search settings tool.
  6. Click “Edit Sync Settings”. Make sure that your phone shows up in the list. You can also determine if you want PC notifications are sent to your phone.

Giving it a Try

With those settings in place, you should now start getting alerts for the items you enabled in your Action Center. As notices come in, you will see them pop up a small bubble on the lower right of your screen. You can dismiss the notification or use the link to find a compatible app in the Windows store. Since this functionality is still pretty early, there isn’t a lot of interaction you can do right now, but I would expect Microsoft to improve this functionality over time. If you are seeing notifications for items you no longer care about, you can click the gear icon next to the item and tell Cortana not to notify you about those app items any longer.