Smartphones and computers were designed in different eras, and they don’t really work well together, forcing us to split our time between them. But Dell is trying to change that with Dell Mobile Connect software, which makes the two devices more interoperable.
Dell showed off the technology at a press event at CES 2018, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas this week. I also saw it working hands-on at a preview event.
You can now make and receive phone calls directly from your computer, and you can also send and receive text messages on your PC screen. This allows you to stay connected on your PC without worrying that you’re missing phone notifications or calls.
And you can use any Android app on your PC. That allows you to bring your small-screen apps like games to a bigger screen. If your computer doesn’t have a touchscreen, you can control the mirrored phone game with a keyboard and mouse.
If you want to get an Uber, you can order it from your PC. You can pause the notifications whenever you wish.
“When you look at Dell Mobile Connect and what that solution offers, it’s centered around reducing the frustration of having to manage two devices every day,” said Frank Azor, Dell’s general manager for XPS, Alienware, and laptops, in an interview with VentureBeat. “When you’re in a PC mode and you’re working or learning or consuming content in that mode, Dell Mobile Connect keeps you in that frame instead of taking you out of it to switch back and forth to your phone. We think it’s a very valuable solution for that reason.”
If someone calls you on your mobile phone, you get a notification on your PC. If you choose to answer, you can talk to the person on your computer audio headset.
It leverages Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct to make it work in a secure and private way. That means the connection between the phone and the PC is point-to-point, and it is not going through the Internet, which carries the risk of being hacked. Your phone data can only be accessed on your paired PC while you are in range of Wi-Fi Direct or Bluetooth.
You are not actually running an Android app on your PC, by the way — you are just viewing it on your PC display as it runs on the Android smartphone, and you can control it through your PC’s input systems via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct.
Dell will preload the software on new Dell consumer and business PCs, and it has a free smartphone app that works on either Android or iOS. While the iOS version allows the phone controls, you can’t use the software to play App Store apps on the PC.
Dell Mobile Connect will be available on all new Dell Inspiron, XPS, Vostro, or Alienware purchased worldwide in January 2018 or later.