December 20, 2017 // 11:43 a.m.
Microsoft has officially launched the first public trial of its Timeline system, a Windows 10 feature which allows users to switch their tasks between devices - including Android and iOS mobile devices - on-the-fly.
Designed to compete against rival Apple's Continuity system and owing the same debt of gratitude to Linux vendor Canonical's Convergence concept, Microsoft's Timeline feature is designed to make juggling multiple devices as simple as possible. Windows 10 users with Timeline enabled will, the company promised when the technology was first unveiled, be able to be working on a document or webpage on their smartphone, immediately transfer it to a tablet or PC when they reach the office, then pop it back across to the smartphone again when they're on their way out.
Timelime's development hasn't been without its issues, however. Back in July Microsoft confirmed that it wouldn't make it into the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update after having originally scheduled it for the earlier Windows 10 Creators Update in the summer. Now, though, the feature is ready for testing as part of the Windows Insider programme - and Microsoft is claiming it can be of use to users with only a single device to manage, too.
'We know that it can be difficult to get back to stuff you were working on in the past. If you’re like us, you might sometimes forget which site or app you were using or where you saved a file. Now you can finally close apps without worrying—with Timeline, you can get right back to where you left off,' claims Microsoft's Dona Sarkar in the announcement published late last night. 'Timeline introduces a new way to resume past activities you started on this PC, other Windows PCs, and iOS/Android devices. Timeline enhances Task View, allowing you to switch between currently running apps and past activities.
'In Timeline, a user activity is the combination of a specific app and a specific piece of content you were working on at a specific time. Each activity links right back to a webpage, document, article, playlist, or task, saving you time when you want to resume that activity later. App developers are working hard to enhance their apps by creating high-quality activity cards to appear in Timeline. In this Preview release, you can see and resume web-browsing activities in Microsoft Edge, files you opened in apps like Microsoft Office including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and updated UWP versions of Maps, News, Money, Sports, and Weather.'
The feature is live now in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17063, available to Windows Insider members on the Fast Ring release path and those who have opted in to the Skip Ahead programme. Thus far Microsoft has not committed to a launch schedule for full availability on non-preview Windows 10 systems.