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Intel’s Unison app syncs iOS and Android phones with your PC

Intel’s Unison app syncs iOS and Android phones with your PC


PC owners can finally get texts on their computers, too

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A laptop and a phone on a white background. Both display identical photo galleries.
Unison will sync up photos and more.
Image: Intel

Intel has announced an intriguing new app called Unison, which aims to “seamlessly” connect Intel-powered computers to smartphones — not just Android phones but iOS devices as well.

Following what Intel says is a “simple pairing process,” the Unison app will allow PCs to replicate four key features of the connected phone. They can answer and make calls; they can share photos and files (pictures taken with the phone will show up in a specific Unison gallery on the PC); they can send and receive texts; and they can receive (and, in some cases, respond to) notifications that the phone receives — though if Unison is closed, they’ll go to the Windows notification center.

“The advantage we can bring to a PC user that’s got a well-designed Windows PC is not having to choose their device based on the PC they have. They have an iPhone, they have an Android phone, any device they want to use will be able to connect with this capability,” Josh Newman, Intel’s VP of mobile innovation, told The Verge. “When you’re ... on your laptop, and you get notifications or texts on your phone, you can keep it in your bag and get right back into the flow of your work.”

iOS users, Newman says, may see “subtle differences” from the experience of Android owners using Unison, but most of the core capabilities will be the same. Mainly, Newman says, iPhone users won’t have access to some more advanced messaging features, including full multiparty messaging, while Android users will. The amount Unison users can do with certain notifications from third-party apps may also vary based on the way the iOS and Android versions of those apps behave.

A grid of Intel Unison Current Features and Capabilities, including Phone Calls, File Sharing, Messages, and Notifications with photographs of laptops and phones displaying each.
Here’s what it looks like in action.
Image: Intel

Unison will have a fairly limited release at the start, launching on “select Intel Evo laptops” with 12th Gen processors from Acer, HP, and Lenovo this year. Intel plans to expand the feature to “a much broader range” of 13th Gen designs next year, Newman says.

Some manufacturers, such as Samsung, already have features that can create a fairly seamless experience between their own PCs and mobile devices. But this still seems to be an exciting development for Intel, which has struggled to compete with Apple’s and AMD’s chips in a number of categories recently (and, of course, has been cut out of Apple’s computers entirely). A big benefit of the MacBook to iPhone users has traditionally been the interconnectedness of the devices. The ability to receive texts and reminders on a MacBook can be hugely convenient for an iOS user.

Unison could eat into that advantage by allowing iPhone owners (as well as Android owners who aren’t all-in on one manufacturer) to access some version of those benefits on an Intel-powered Windows computer.