back to article iPhones hook up with Windows as Microsoft’s Phone Link dials up Apple's iOS

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 …

  1. xyz Silver badge

    Full hell bingo

    The words Microsoft, iOS, notification and integration all in the same sentence

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Full hell bingo

      It’s only a shame that the sentence didn’t also include “blockchain” and “microtransactions”.

  2. aerogems Silver badge

    I still don't really get why Apple won't release iMessage for Windows. They could limit it to just sending messages to other iMessage users, no SMS bridge or anything, so it's still basically encouraging people to go out and buy an Apple phone or fondleslab, which gets people into the ecosystem where they make the bulk of their money.

    1. trevorde Silver badge

      Why use iMessage when there's WhatsApp and a lot of other alternatives?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        iMessage is great. Like many Apple applications it integrates different accounts from many different service providers and several different technologies into a single portal relevant to the function. For example if calls come in via the voice network, or FaceTime or Teams or Zoom, then they appear in the calls list in the one application. If you get a message by SMS, it appears in the Messages app in Green, same as if it pops up in blue it's sorted out automatically that the sender has an iOS device and shifted the conversation from SMS to Internet with all the associated extensions to the capabilities. What's App requires that both ends have the same application and uses proprietary standards. I end up using a combination of Messages and What's App for some people, Messages and Telegram for others, Messages and Signal, We Chat, KiK etc... it's a nightmare remembering who uses what, BUT it means that FaceBook ISN'T dominating the instant messaging market.

        1. Dave559 Silver badge

          "BUT it means that FaceBook ISN'T dominating the instant messaging market."

          C'mon, pull the other one… iOS has only somewhere between 15 - 30% share of the smartphone market, depending on who you listen to. So that's a lot of people not able to use iMessage, and sadly most of them have been lured in by Facebook's WhatsApp. I try to encourage my friends to use Signal, but only a relative handful do so. Whether we like it or not, WhatsApp still has perhaps the largest share in messaging, although good old (bad old?) SMS still counts for a lot of use where people have no messaging app in common.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            That's 15-30% of the messaging market that isn't in Facebook's control, which is more than enough to prevent them from having a monopoly. Similar to how Safari prevents Chrome from having a monopoly over the browser market.

            Those who hate Apple and wish they didn't exist might not like what the messaging & browsing worlds would look like without them. By standing in the way of messaging and browsing monopolies Apple is doing a service even to those who never own or use an Apple product. Not saying Apple is doing this altruistically, of course not, but regardless the important thing is that it benefits everyone by preventing Facebook and Google from having monopolies on things as basic as messaging and browsing.

            If Google succeeds in getting Android users to switch from third party messaging apps like WhatsApp and use RCS (which isn't without its problems or a measure of Google control, but is far better than WhatsApp) they will further erode Facebook's influence in messaging. And we can continue to hope that somehow Firefox is able to claw back a bit of share and do the same for browsing, but that's looking like a longer shot every year.

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge

          had to come back... 'like lots of apple crap it integrates things that should be separate', and makes apple lusers seem more stupid than they are, they can't comprehend the difference between fb messenger and zoom, for example

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Why use iMessage when there's WhatsApp

        No fucking way I'm ever going to willingly deal with any Faecebook shit.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Yep, if he had said "Signal" or "Telegram" he might have had a point, but suggesting to use Facebook messaging as an alternative on a techie board like The Register is kind of ridiculous!

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge

          apple is worse

      3. NightFox

        It always surprises me how people who wouldn't touch Facebook with a bargepole are quite happy using WhatsApp. Yes, your actual messages may be encrypted, but the traffic data (which is still personally connected to you) is massive. What groups you connect with, how often, who your contacts are, how frequently you message them, what groups they're members of, etc. And of course, all your friends' and contacts' phone numbers that you've shared with Meta without your friends' knowledge or permission.

        1. Roj Blake Silver badge

          I've often wondered whether or not having customer details in a work phone's address book along with Whatsapp would be a breach of GDPR...

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge
      4. Martin-73 Silver badge

        or just sms, which is all the thing is emulating

      5. katrinab Silver badge

        The biggest benefit for me is getting sms on the desktop.

        For example if you get a 2FA code via SMS, you can autocomplete it in Safar.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          There isn't a whole lot of integration that needs to take place for that - just bluetooth communication between a phone and a PC is sufficient given an API both sides agree upon. But AFAIK no one is even trying to do this.

          Obviously we need to move away from 2FA using SMS which is horribly insecure, and Apple supports their own 2FA (I'm assuming Google has their own as well) plus there are various apps for it that might be required for e.g. corporate VPN logins. So a way for that information to be collected from those various sources and passed from the phone to a PC so it can be automatically passed to the browser or application requesting the auth is sorely needed.

          So sure this Windows integration will save you a little trouble when you get a 2FA via SMS. But what about when you use the SecureID app because that's what your corporate VPN or your brokerage requires? You will still need to manually open that app and copy it over. Whereas if there was a standard API the PC would send a bluetooth message to the phone "hey give me a SecureID auth" and that will be passed to the app, and the code sent via bluetooth back to the PC so you don't need to do anything other than authenticate yourself to your phone (i.e. just glance at it if it has Face ID or equivalent) if it is locked when the request is made.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Continuity clipboard is slightly useful here:

            You still have to open the authentication app in your phone. Both Microsoft and Google Authenticator allow you to copy the code from the App, and you can then paste it on your MacBook, which saves a few keypresses, and saves a small amount of time from not actually having to read the code.

        2. UncleDavid

          If you can get a SMS on your desktop, doesn't that blow up 2FA? If someone can log in to my PC with a password guess, and use stored passwords that browsers insist on keeping, surely they can read the 6 digits that get them into my bank account.

          That's why I never enabled the Windows/Android phone link.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            If they can login to your PC

            And have your phone nearby (I assume it has to be nearby for this to work?) so that prevents any remote exploits.

            If this works regardless of where your phone is that's a security issue that needs to be addressed.

          2. katrinab Silver badge

            Your phone needs to be connected to the same wifi network and within bluetooth range for it to work.

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              So the same as Carplay?

              Makes me suspect even more strongly that Microsoft is leveraging that feature rather than both companies swallowing their pride and working together.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "tucked away during a presentation or focus time"

    Kudos to Borkzilla for finding yet another form of distraction specifically during times when there should be none.

  4. AMBxx Silver badge

    Does anyone use this stuff?

    I had this integration on my beloved Windows phones. I now have it on my Moto Android. It's a general nuisance and quickly disabled.

    Is there anyone who actually find this useful?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Does anyone use this stuff?

      I have used it, but only a small subset of the features. The only part I found very useful was the ability to see and send messages from my computer. I'm faster when using a full keyboard to type messages, and there are some people who prefer to communicate by text rather than voice. That's not exactly new, but since SMS, iMessage, and Signal (no WhatsApp for me) have replaced IRC or other text-based communication methods that such friends used to use, it's handy to be able to use a computer to send those messages. It wasn't big enough to keep me using a Mac, but when I was already using one, I found the feature a bit helpful.

  5. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    I wish Apple would do this. I've got apps that send me notifications on my phone (sports scores mainly) and it would be great if they popped up on the Mac so I didn't have to wander off to find out what my phone's beeping about.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      I thought it did? Maybe it doesn't work for generic notifications, only for iMessage and calls?

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        No it doesn't work for generic notifications.

  6. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    I think I used to be able to do this on my old Nokia,.... (maybe even my old 5110?) OK, I had to have it plugged in, but I could defo send and read SMS messages via an App on my laptop (not that we called them 'Apps' then) pretty sure I could start calls, even if I had to use the handset.....

    1. MatthewSt

      Seconded, and I think I even managed to convince my computer to present itself as a "hands free kit" to the phone, so I could make calls too!

  7. Zenubi

    I use PhoneLink

    I use PhoneLink with my Pixel 4a

    Don't use the call function as cannot be bothered to faff about with B-tooth.

    The text function is very useful - it lets me send very long messages complete with correct punctuation that some have said are "very annoying".

    Wonderful !

  8. DS999 Silver badge

    I wish there was some limited support built into Linux

    Just having transparent filesharing without having to execute 'mount' commands etc. would be nice. I have no need/desire to use iMessage or make calls from my PC but it seems to me since Carplay allows that wirelessly that the capability is already built into iOS. It just needs someone to want to implement it in Linux. I don't know but I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft was essentially leveraging Carplay as the way to interface with iOS, though maybe they worked with Apple for the integration.

  9. nightflier

    Soon they will catch up with Airdroid.

    Meanwhile, KDE Connect is all I need and want.

  10. CBR600

    The push to Windows 11 begins...

    I wondered when MS would start doing this? Pushing features that they know people would be interested in onto Windows 11 ONLY. There's still too big a user base with no desire to upgrade at the moment... be prepared for more of this in the near future.

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: The push to Windows 11 begins...

      As much as I like my iPhone and wouldn't mind having these features -- if they're even half as useful as Apple CarPlay -- it's still not enough to make me upgrade to Win 11.

      Or, in short: "Yeah, no."

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: The push to Windows 11 begins...

      Since they've already decided to release it, I'm not surprised when new features are limited to that version. Yes, they lied about not releasing a new version, but now that they've returned to doing it, it's predictable that they're using a pretty typical method of encouraging people to update, and one to which I don't object that much; selling a new piece of software with "it has new and useful features" seems fair. I object more to the generation of ewaste because of their unrealistic hardware requirements they're not using; if they allowed 11 to run on all the equipment where it could run, I'd complain much less.

  11. AaronCake

    Like Always, BlackBerry Did It First And Better

    Wow, they've just managed to implement a worse version of BlackBerry Blend. Since about 2014 BlackBerry Blend allowed access to the phone for PIM data, SMS, email, files, media. Though no call sharing but if paired via Bluetooth you had that. Blend still works. Use it daily.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Like Always, BlackBerry Did It First And Better

      So you're the remaining Blackberry user!

  12. 43300 Silver badge

    I've used the ANdroid version, and it's always been buggy (less so these days, admittedly), and what actually works is limited, and not all of that works fully.

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