Android is owned by Google, so most of the built-in apps come from Google. However, the Android operating system is open source and quite adaptable to customization.
This customization ability allows you to modify your Android device to your liking. If you’re a die-hard Microsoft user or just got bored with traditional Google or factory Android, it’s easy to replace your phone’s default theme and apps with Microsoft alternatives. Let’s take a look.
Replace the core Google apps with Microsoft alternatives
Microsoft has an impressive selection of Android apps. If you are a Windows user who relies on Microsoft services, you will really appreciate the Android apps.
So here are some solid Microsoft alternatives to the core Google or manufacturer apps that you can use to turn your Android phone into a Microsoft phone.
1. Use Microsoft Launcher
Microsoft Launcher is a great alternative to your default launcher that will increase your productivity especially if you are a Windows user. More customizable than most pre-installed launchers, it offers elegant home screen widgets for Microsoft services like Outlook, Calendar, and News.
You can randomly change your wallpaper with Bing images with a single tap. In addition, the launcher gives you a lot of control over the device’s graphics and animations, such as: B. Screen transitions and icon styles. At the same time, you can easily search for anything on the web with the Bing bar at the top.
Downloads: Microsoft Launcher (free)
2. Type using the Microsoft SwiftKey keyboard
Microsoft SwiftKey is a feature-rich keyboard. Aside from typing, it can also translate text straight from the keyboard and has tons of styling themes for customization.
Gestures let you write text by swiping the screen, while powerful voice input support takes dictation from you and prints the text accordingly. All in all, it’s a solid keyboard alternative to Gboard.
Downloads: Microsoft SwiftKey (free)
3. Install Outlook for email
You can get rid of Gmail with the Outlook app. Deciding which of them is better is another discussion, but if you are an Outlook user, you will most likely prefer the official Outlook app.
Outlook lets you add your Google account, so you don’t have to worry about your primary Android Google account. Fast notifications, faster replies, adding events to your calendar, strong spam protection, and sending large attachments are all seamless with Outlook.
Downloads: Microsoft Outlook (free, in-app purchases available)
4. Use Edge to browse
Edge has become a great alternative to Google Chrome, especially since it switched to Chromium. And since it’s a cross-platform app, you can easily transfer webpages and data to your other devices.
Edge is fast and offers all necessary browser functions. You can link your Outlook account to Edge to sync your history, passwords, saved web pages, and other browsing data. It is a privacy-friendly browser that prevents tracking across websites. In addition, it offers a built-in ad blocker, which most standard Android browsers lack.
Downloads: Microsoft Edge (free)
5. Install Cortana for your AI assistant
Cortana for Android can do almost everything that the Google Assistant offers. With it you can set reminders and alarms, check your schedule, search the web, get sports scores and much more.
The app lets you sync your activity and history across all your devices, keeping you connected to the Microsoft ecosystem. Cortana is no longer available on Google Play, but you can still download an old version if you want to try it out. Here’s our guide to sideloading Android apps for help on the subject.
6. Search with Microsoft Bing
Finally, Google is the default search engine for Android devices, but you can easily switch to Microsoft Bing by installing the official Android app, which offers a widget that you can use instead of the Google search bar.
Bing provides fairly decent search results and also supports multimedia searches, like searching with an image. If you are used to searching the web with Bing on your PC, this app will make a big difference for you.
Downloads: Microsoft Bing (free)
Complete the Microsoft Phone experience
Aside from the above six apps, Microsoft also has several other Android apps that you can use to complete the full Microsoft experience on your Android phone. Let’s take a look.
1. Access your phone with Link to Windows
If you are a Windows user, you should try Microsoft’s Link to Windows app. As the name suggests, it allows you to link your Android device to the Windows device. With this connection, you can sync your notifications, make calls, send messages, and access files and photos on your devices.
Downloads: Link to Windows (free)
2. Stay connected with Skype
Skype needs no introduction as it is one of the best video calling and messaging apps available for both Windows and Android devices. The app enables group calling, file sharing, messaging and many other useful features. You can use it as an alternative to Google Meet or even Zoom.
Downloads: Skype (free, in-app purchases available)
3. Use OneDrive for cloud storage
OneDrive is a pretty decent cloud storage service from Microsoft that also has an Android app available for it. You can easily sync your data across devices by storing it in the cloud while hiding private files in your personal vault.
OneDrive offers 5GB of storage for free, but you can upgrade it up to 1TB with an Office 365 subscription. This app can serve as an alternative to Google Drive and Dropbox.
Downloads: Microsoft OneDrive (free, in-app purchases available)
4. Stay organized with Microsoft To Do
Microsoft To Do is a task manager app that lets you set reminders for your tasks, jot down important things, and schedule your events.
The app also shows flagged messages from your email and makes it easy to add reminders and set deadlines right from Outlook. You can use this app instead of Google Tasks or any other to-do list app you might be using.
Downloads: Microsoft Tasks (Free)
5. Work on the go with Microsoft Office
Probably one of the most powerful document viewers, Microsoft Office is also available for Android. In this app, you get a document editor, presentation viewer, spreadsheet app, and cloud storage. It also has other powerful features like a document scanner, image to text converter and more. This app is an excellent alternative to Google Docs.
Downloads: Microsoft Office (free, in-app purchases available)
How to change the default apps on Android
After you’ve installed your Microsoft apps, you might want to set them as your defaults for handling email, web links, and so on. To do this, go to your phone’s settings and search for “default apps”. An option will appear, most likely under App Management. Tap to continue.
This menu shows you a list of apps that are assigned as default. For example, Google Chrome could be your default browser and Gboard your default keyboard. You can change the default apps from there by tapping on each of them and selecting other apps in their place. Here is our in-depth article on default app change.
How to disable pre-installed apps on your phone
You can also disable the core Google apps that you’ve replaced – things like Chrome and Gmail can’t be uninstalled.
To disable built-in apps, go to Settings and search for “App”. You’ll see an option similar to App Settings under App Management. Tap to continue. The next screen will show you a list of all the apps on your device. Here you can tap on any app and turn it off using the options below. Check out this detailed guide on how to remove preinstalled apps.
Discover more Android apps from Microsoft
Microsoft is constantly working on its mobile apps, and they’re every bit as good as Google’s already installed on your phone. In their Google Play repository you can find an app for almost every important function.
By using these apps and trying more from Google Play, you can create a complete Microsoft ecosystem on your Android phone, essentially turning it into a Windows phone.