Deep Dive: Microsoft’s Continuum For Windows 10 Mobile
Microsoft has released the Lumia 950, you can check out my review here, and one of the flagship features of this device is that it supports Phone Continuum. This feature allows you to connect your phone to a monitor and then use Universal apps on the larger screen much like you would on a traditional PC.
I have been playing with the 950 for a few days and have been using Continuum extensively to see how the new Windows environment performs to get a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the feature.
For starters, you will need some type of hardware to connect the phone to a larger display. Continuum supports Miracast which is the easiest way to connect wirelessly or you can also use the Display Dock (this is how I am setup) that expands your phone to have three USB ports, HDMI and DisplayPort out.
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After connecting the first time, a video will play that goes over the high points of this feature, so make sure your phone volume is not on max, otherwise things get a bit loud. Once you are up and running, the phone turns into a trackpad that supports gestures (two fingers sliding up and down to scroll, tap for a right click).
You also have the option to connect a mouse and keyboard to the phone to use in this mode and it is highly recommended as text input in this configuration is not ideal using the phone.
Right mouse clicks allow you to access the limited context menus and you can re-arrange your start menu in this layout too. By right clicking on a tile, you can resize it or put it in a new position in the same way you can on the phone.
Continuum is a neat addition to the OS because, in a pinch, it allows you to turn your phone into a PC-like device and edit documents on a larger screen. Excel is a notable example of how this feature is useful because creating or editing an Excel doc on any mobile screen is a difficult task but toss in a larger display, mouse and keyboard and you have yourself a portable Excel kit right in your pocket.
Not all apps work in this mode; if it is not a true Universal app, it will not open. For example, the Twitter phone app will not open nor are any of the bundled AT&T apps that ship with the phone. Oddly, the Xbox app would not open either but all of the Office apps and the Edge browser opened and functioned without any fuss.
There are some areas of weakness that I hope Microsoft will address in future versions. For example, you can’t run apps side by side yet, multiple apps can be opened but only one full screen app at a time. Also, you can’t put any icons on the desktop nor is there a recycle bin. Granted, these are not crucial to the feature but once they are added, this experience will feel more like a true desktop instead of a watered down mobile desktop.
In this version, Continuum is still in its infancy but it’s not hard to see where this feature is going and how Microsoft will be able to leverage mobile phones as true desktop PCs in your pocket. While I don’t think it’s possible to replace your laptop yet with a Lumia 950, it’s quite easy to see how, in the not to distant future, a phone may be the only PC you need.