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Microsoft has just released a new version of its Phone Link app for Windows that finally includes support for iPhone users. Most notably, this addition includes support for iMessage on Windows, but there are some limitations on how exactly this feature works.
As reported by The Verge, the Phone Link app for Windows is designed to mirror a user’s phone on their PC for notifications, phone calls, and messages. Historically, the app only supported Android devices, but Microsoft is changing that with the addition of iPhone support.
The new version of Phone Link for Windows uses Bluetooth to link a user’s iPhone to their Windows PC. It then “passes commands and messages” to the Messages app on the paired iPhone, allowing users to send and receive all iPhone messages, including text messages and iMessages, through the Phone Link app on their PC.
Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s head of consumer marketing, explained to The Verge, “We send the messages back and forth via Bluetooth, Apple I think in turn sends those as iMessage once it gets onto their system“.
However, there are some limitations to the feature. For instance, users cannot see the full message history in conversations via the Phone Link app. Instead, they will only see messages that “have been sent or received using Phone Link“. Additionally, Microsoft is unable to differentiate between text messages and iMessages, so there are no blue or green bubbles.
Perhaps the biggest limitation is that users won’t be able to send pictures in messages nor will they be able to participate in group messages.
On the official Windows blog, Microsoft explains that after selecting the iPhone option, the guided installation will initiate to pair the iPhone and PC over Bluetooth. The user will then be directed to follow a set of steps that will guide them to pair their iPhone and PC over Bluetooth. Once the pairing is complete, the user will be asked to grant a set of permissions that allow Microsoft to sync their favorite content over to Phone Link.
While there are certainly some limitations to this feature, Microsoft believes it is a worthwhile addition for Phone Link users. The app didn’t support iPhone in any capacity before, so this at least brings basic functionality. It’s also possible that more features could be added in the future.
However, it remains unclear whether this approach is sanctioned by Apple. It seems unlikely, and there’s always the possibility that Apple could roll out a change to iOS that completely breaks this Bluetooth-based workaround that Microsoft is using.
This new feature is available starting today for a “small percentage” of Windows Insiders enrolled in the Dev, Beta, and Release Preview channels. It will roll out to more users over time.