Microsoft Finally Introduced Long-Delayed Timeline Feature

Though it was delayed time and time again, the Timeline feature finally made its entry in the new Windows 10 insider build 17063, along with a host of other features and improvements.

Timeline is considered one of the main features for the upcoming April 2018 Windows 10 upgrade. It allows you to go back in time and open apps you were working on in the past. The best part of Timeline is that it lets you resume your work where you previously left off from all your devices connected to the Microsoft account. Yes, that includes other Windows 10 PCs, iOS, and Android devices.

In a sensible move, Microsoft combined both Timeline and Task View. In the new build when you click on the modified Task View button or press the keyboard shortcut Win + Tab, you will see all your current apps along with a timeline of your past activities stored day by day.

Each activity is shown as a thumbnail of the app and is a combination of a specific app and specific content you were working on at a specific time. The activities within the app can be anything like web pages, in-app content, specific documents, or a specific task within an app. When you click on an activity, Windows will instantly open the app and take you to the task where you last left off.

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As you can guess, all this is powered by Microsoft Graph and machine learning on the Azure cloud. Moreover, Cortana, the Windows 10 digital assistant, will act as a mediator between you and the cloud, proactively accessesing your Graph data and show or prompt you to continue your work from where you left off on all supported devices. Since all your activities are connected to your Microsoft account and stored in the cloud, the data is persistent, meaning you won’t lose your activities when you shut down or switch to other devices.

For instance, if you are working on a document on your desktop and switch to a laptop while traveling, Cortana might prompt with a suggestion to resume your work. You can also access that activity directly from the Timeline.

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Like many things in Windows, if you don’t want to use this feature, it can be easily disabled from the Settings app.

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As good as the Timeline feature is, it doesn’t “Just Work” with all your applications out of the box. As of this writing, most first-party apps like Edge, Maps, Money, Sports, Weather, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, etc., work pretty well with Timeline. However, for the third-party apps to work, developers need to support the feature explicitly by utilizing Microsoft Graph.

Considering the past record, this doesn’t look good for Microsoft. But to make things easier for developers, Microsoft did publish guidelines on how to integrate and utilize the Timeline feature. These guidelines will definitely help developers who want to update, create new apps or port their existing desktop apps to the Microsoft Store using Desktop Bridge (Project Centennial).

Mircosoft is pushing hard to make the cross-device experience as seamless as possible. Timeline will take that effort one step closer to the goal. Since Timeline works across all your devices, including Android and iOS, it is a good little feature, especially for power users who use multiple devices and who are often required to resume their work. However, it would’ve been great if it just worked with all the apps without the need for developers adding support manually.

Needless to say, Timeline has a lot of potential and is very useful for daily Windows users. But unless developers jump in and support Timeline, it is nothing more than a fancy feature utilized by a handful of apps.

So, what do you think of the new Windows 10 Timeline feature? Do you see yourself using it? Share your thoughts in the comments form below.

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