iPhones hook up with Windows as Microsoft’s Phone Link dials up Apple's iOS
Windows Phone did this ages ago but flopped
Folks who use both Windows 11 and an iPhone will soon be able to get calls, receive notifications, and see iMessages pop up on their PCs, after Microsoft revealed plans to add iOS support to its Phone Link software.
After previewing it for the last two months, Microsoft this week announced plans to roll out iOS support in Phone Link, between now and mid-May across 85 nations and in 39 languages.
Microsoft has previously allowed Windows to access and mirror files on the iPhone, but hasn't delivered full integration. Tie-ups with Samsung have afforded Android users a better experience.
In February 2023, for example, Microsoft tightened Windows' links to Android by enabling users with a Samsung phone to activate the device's person hotspot through the PC's Wi-Fi network list. In addition, they also can transfer browser sessions from their smartphones to their PCs. They're not going to lose the browser session now when moving from the Samsung phone to the Windows PC.
Redmond has been slower to embrace iOS. In November 2022 the software giant integrated Apple iCloud Photos with the Windows 11 Photos app, making it easier for iPhone users to view those photos on their Windows 11 PC.
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Now comes Phone Link for iOS. The feature will come preinstalled on the Windows 11 PC or – if it can't be found via a search in the Start Menu – can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store.
To use Phone Link for iOS, users will need a Windows 11 device with a Bluetooth connection and the latest version of the app, plus an iPhone running iOS 14 or higher.
Support for iOS support through the Windows app is fairly basic. Users can make and take iPhone calls on their PCs, read and reply to texts, see notifications, and review their call histories. They also can search contacts, according to Microsoft.
The software giant believes this will help business users.
"This means if your phone is tucked away during a presentation or focus time, you'll receive notifications on your Windows PC and can choose which action to take – all on your Windows 11 PC," Ali Akgun, corporate vice president for windows and devices at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.
Phone Link for iOS isn't the only app that connect iOS – or Android devices – to PCs. Intel – which competes with AMD at its Intel Innovation show in September 2022 launched the Unison app that works with devices running either mobile OS.
Chipzilla's app allows users to transfer files, make and receive calls on their PCs, send and receive text messages, and receive and manage notifications.
Intel's software initially works with PCs powered by 12th Gen Core chips from the likes of HP, Lenovo, and Acer, though Intel reportedly has plans to expand the list of PC makers the app will work with after the launch of its 13th Gen chips this year and to package the software into a SDK for developers who want to develop their own apps that take advantage of the capabilities.
That Microsoft is adding iOS support to Phone Link is another reminder that its attempt to create a mobile OS of its own - Windows Phone - cratered. Windows Phone integrated with PCs without the restrictions and workarounds Phone Link requires. ®