The Windows 10 Anniversary Update (AU) contains a new app called Connect. Connect can mirror an Android device’s audio and video onto a PC. The app enables a host of amazing features, such as wireless smartphone presentations, media center streaming options, and more.
But how does it work and how can you configure it?
How Does Android Mirroring Work?
There are lots of potential uses, but chief among them remains presentations. Let’s say you’re doing a presentation with documents from your smartphone. Normally, you copy the presentation file over to a Windows 10 computer, purchase a wireless Air Mouse or presentation remote, and then begin the presentation. Often, the process suffers from configuration issues, the sharing of dirty USB drives, compatibility issues with Microsoft Office, and other woes.
Now you can just wirelessly connect to your smartphone and begin your presentation. It’s amazing. But before getting started, keep in mind a few requirements.
System and Software Requirements
Screencasting Android onto Windows 10 AU requires a combination of software and compatible hardware.
- 3rd generation Intel processor, or newer (Ivy Bridge).
- Compatible Wi-Fi network adapter (list of compatible Wi-Fi cards).
- Windows 10 version 1607 (AU build 14393.82).
- Android 4.2 or newer — Android 4.4+ offers better compatibility.
- Google intentionally disabled Miracast on its Nexus line (CA) of devices in favor of its Chromecast devices. Consequently, Miracast compatibility requires a rooted device. Nexus devices on Android 6.0 require rooting and a custom ROM.
- A Miracast-capable smartphone.
Finding Your Windows 10 Build Version
Even if you meet all the requirements, there’s still a good chance that the Connect app won’t work. However, the biggest stumbling block appears to be your version of Windows 10. To check your version of Windows, type about into the Windows Search bar.
Alternatively, you can hit the Windows key and then type about. You should see About your PC from the options. Choose About your PC.
Check under OS Build. If you’re on the AU version 13393.82 or later, your system includes the Connect app. But even if you meet all requirements, there’s a good chance the software just won’t show up. For example, my computer is on the latest preview build and meets all requirements. Even so, it doesn’t contain the Connect app.
If you aren’t on the latest build, at present, the only way to update is by joining the Windows Insider program. After joining, set your Insider level to Fast or Release Preview.
To update to the latest build of Windows 10, open the Windows Search bar and type in insider. From the following menu, choose Get Insider Preview builds. Then, under Choose your Insider level, select either Release Preview or Fast.
The update process can take a couple of days. If it fails to update, you may suffer from corruption issues. However, Windows 10 Insider builds generally suffer from serious bugs. I recommend waiting until Microsoft rolls out a mainstream build rather than risking an update to an unstable build.
Configuring Microsoft’s Connect Application
To start screencasting, users must first open the Connect application on their Windows 10 machine. Connect only exists inside of the newest version of Windows 10 AU, so if you’re on an older version you will need to update to the newest Windows version.
To open Connect, press the Windows key. Next, type in connect into the Windows Search bar and choose the Connect app from the list of options.
Here’s what the first menu looks like:
After launching Connect, Windows searches for an available Miracast device. On your Android device, tap on the Cast or Miracast option. Menus in older versions of Android refer to screencasting as Miracast. On newer versions (Android 4.4 and later), it is referred to as Cast. It’s located in Settings > Display > Miracast or Cast.
To get started, first select Cast. The following sub-menu displays available Windows 10 machines. Second, tap on the device you want to cast your display onto.
Once you’ve selected a screen to cast onto, Windows and Android initiate a direct wireless connection.
Both devices link to each other using a protocol known as Wi-Fi Direct. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi Direct creates its own hotspot, which may interfere with other wireless signals. In my experience, network speeds can drop by as much as 90 percent! Performance issues might explain why Google dropped the standard on their Nexus line of tablets and smartphones.
For those curious, here’s the rogue network created by the Wi-Fi Direct connection. It’s trampling on channel 44.
Here’s what happened to my download speeds. These numbers continued to plague my internet speeds until I shut down the Wi-Fi Direct connection.
However, when it works, it works great.
How Can I Use Android Screen Mirroring?
Other Android-to-Windows mirroring software exists. They’re excellent methods for screen-sharing, but can require a lot of effort to configure. The Connect app’s advantage: it comes pre-installed and pre-configured on Windows 10 AU (build 14393.82). That means less wasted time and it doesn’t require root access on your Android device. Because of its ease of use, the Connect app works great in three roles:
- Media center streamer — Similar to a Chromecast (7 cool things about Chromecasts), the Connect app allows users to display the browser, including Netflix and Spotify, on a monitor connected to Windows 10. As a media center, the Android device doubles as a remote control.
- Wireless Android Desktop — You can also pair your Android device with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, which turns it into a desktop. Unfortunately, a number of latency issues exist, which can reduce the user-experience.
- Presentation platform — I mentioned this in the beginning of the article, but its importance bears another mention. Not only does it do away with most of the issues associated with slide presentation from a desktop, it also provides you with a free remote control (your phone).
Overall, Connect offers the easiest method I’ve tried (including Miracast adapters) out of all the wireless display mirroring apps.
If you’ve ever wished for an Android device with a larger screen, your wish has been granted.
Should You Connect Android to Windows?
If it works for you, then great! Unfortunately, most users will notice extraordinary amounts of lag, stutter, and reduced network speeds. This is largely the result of serious underlying flaws in Wi-Fi Direct. It’s simply not yet ready for public consumption. However, if it works for you, Microsoft’s Connect app can turn your Android device into a mini-PC.
Have you tried Microsoft’s Connect app? What were your experiences?