You’ll soon be able to take iPhone calls in Windows

An iPhone near a Windows desktop (Sebastian Bednarek / Unsplash)
An iPhone near a Windows desktop (Sebastian Bednarek / Unsplash)

With Microsoft missing the boat on the smartphone revolution with its ill-fated Windows Phones, the company has settled on making Windows PCs play nicely with mobile devices.

Phone Link — formally Your Phone — lets you make calls, send SMS messages, and browse your photos via a connected device but, historically, it’s only been compatible with Android devices, with the 50 per cent of Brits who use iPhones out of luck.

Until now. After introducing iCloud Photos for Windows 11 last year, Microsoft has rolled out support for iPhones in Phone Link to Windows Insiders — those who test early builds of the operating system before general release. It works in much the same way as it does for Android users, with iPhone owners able to read and respond to SMS messages on their desktop or laptop, and even make or take calls without reaching for their handset.

To function, the phone connects via Bluetooth — something built into even the most basic Windows laptops, but often overlooked on desktop computers, where you may need to purchase a USB dongle.

A screenshot of Microsoft’s Phone Link for iPhone (Microsoft)
A screenshot of Microsoft’s Phone Link for iPhone (Microsoft)

Still, there are some limitations that you should be aware of, as spotted by The Verge. For starters, you won’t get your full message history on PC — only what has been sent and received using Phone Link.

Secondly, while you can send iPhone-to-iPhone messages via iMessage, there are limitations: no pictures and no group messages. Phone Link also isn’t able to differentiate between texts sent via iMessage (blue on device) or traditional SMS from Android (green on device) — all of them are displayed the same way.

In short, the early implementation feels a bit basic and it’s not clear how much better it will become in time. But it’s better than nothing, which is what iPhone users have been offered until now.

If you want to test the feature in Windows 11 yourself, you need to be on the Windows Insiders program, where it will be released via the Dev, Beta, and Release Preview channels — though even that isn’t a guarantee of getting access at first. Microsoft says it’s beginning tests with a “small percentage” of teasers this week, before pushing it out to “more Insiders over time and based on feedback”.

How positive that feedback is will determine how long it is before it’s pushed out to every installation of Windows 11 worldwide. But all being well, it’s hopefully something iPhone users can look forward to seeing on their PC in the next few months.