Apple has it in its devices, because if you have a Mac — any recent Mac — and you have an iPhone — any recent iPhone — your two devices will talk.
Get a message and it comes through on the computer. Get a phone call and it comes through on the computer. Need to tether? No worries, the Mac knows which iPhone is yours and can start that up easily.
It’s harmony, and in the weeks since I have been trying the Mac environment out for personal use beyond its review period, it’s one of the things I have grown to fall in love with, though it does mean I would need to use an iPhone.
But what if you don’t want to use an iPhone? What if you really like your Samsung Galaxy phone and want this to talk to your laptop in much the same way?
That’s the concept behind “Samsung Flow”, a software and hardware combination that comes with the Galaxy TabPro S, but only works with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge for now, though Samsung has suggested that we could see it working with other devices later on.
The idea is this: your laptop should talk to your phone, and so Flow is a piece of software installed on the TabPro S that makes this handshake more of a hug, with messages and notifications passed through, easy tethering, and even some security.
There’s no Windows Hello here via the camera like on some other laptops, as that would have no doubt played a part on inflicting pain to the overall size and battery life, so Samsung has employed a different tactic.
Since Flow only works with the S7 and S7 Edge thus far and both of these have the fingerprint scanner, Samsung’s app will let you log in by registering your fingerprint on the phone and transmitting this as a key to unlock the computer.
And for the most part it works: you take your computer off standby, grab your phone, run the Samsung Flow app, and then hold your finger on the fingerprint home button, with the app picking it up and sending the unlock code to the tablet. Easy, or easy-ish, anyway.
We’ll admit it’s not quite as easy or fast as Windows Hello’s typical camera pick up whereby it looks at you and says “you’re definitely you”, unlocking the computer in a second. Instead, Samsung’s compromise takes a few seconds and needs a recent phone to work, but it’s not a bad compromise altogether.
And the notifications are surely handy, even if they do relentlessly appear on screen telling, you, of, every, single, notification, requiring you to constantly flick them away.
More useful is the easy tethering which is very easy, informing Windows of a hotspot that you don’t have to setup, and doing it painlessly, much like the messaging side of things, affording you the opportunity to send text messages from your computer easily, too.
But there isn’t a pass through for that phone call side of things, so it’s not a total cohesion, and Samsung Flow isn’t always running either, which means the system isn’t like it is on the Mac.
On a Mac, you could be on the iPad somewhere in the same network and if your iPhone rings, the network patches the phone call through, even if it’s not on FaceTime.
And Samsung has certainly made more strides into the harmony we want from Android and Windows, but it still has a long way to go.