Microsoft is giving your Android phone a major upgrade — here's how

Android 14
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Microsoft is looking to expand its smartphone connectivity with Android phones thanks to a new Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature coming to Phone Link in the near future. Basically, the new feature will let you select text from photos synced from your Android phone to your Windows PC. If you're a Phone Link user, this could be a significant upgrade, and if you're not, this might convince you to try the feature when it launches.

It's worth noting, however, that most Android phones (and Apple devices) nowadays have OCR, so you don't need to sync your photos with your PC if you want to extract text from them. In fact, according to testing from The Verge, the phone's built-in OCR actually worked better than the one in Windows.

The feature is currently in beta, so it could get better when it launches to all Windows and Android users. For now, anyone who's part of the Release Preview Insider builds can give the new OCR Phone Link feature a shot and see how it works for them. The biggest convenience I can see is the ability to select text using a mouse and keyboard instead of a touchscreen. 

If you're unfamiliar with Phone Link, it's a feature that lets you sync calls, messages, notifications and images from an Android phone to a Windows PC. You can even mirror your phone's screen to your PC. IOS users, however, have limited access to the feature, as they can only sync notifications, messages, and calls from their phones to their PCs. As mentioned, the OCR feature is only coming to Android, so iPhone users will miss out on another Phone Link benefit.

Of course, iPhone users have access to many syncing features between macOS and iPhone that Android users don't, so it all balances out in the end.

Microsoft hasn't said when the OCR Phone Link feature will officially roll out to all Windows users, but if it's the Release Preview portion of the Windows Insider process, we expect it to roll out in the near future to all Windows users. 

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Dave LeClair
Senior News Editor

Dave LeClair is the Senior News Editor for Tom's Guide, keeping his finger on the pulse of all things technology. He loves taking the complicated happenings in the tech world and explaining why they matter. Whether Apple is announcing the next big thing in the mobile space or a small startup advancing generative AI, Dave will apply his experience to help you figure out what's happening and why it's relevant to your life.

  • PoolPlayer
    Why isn't there any mention that this capability has been available on Chromebooks for many years? Microsoft has been playing catch-up (can't beat em - join em) with Google for quite a while now ;)
  • ryanbrancel
    Phone Link on Windows 11 now supports iPhone and Android. On Windows 10, Phone Link was Android only.