If you’re an owner of an iPhone and a Windows laptop, you might have darted jealous glances at iPhone owners with a Mac or Android owners with a Windows system. Life must be perfectly harmonious for those folks, receiving updates from their phones straight to their computers. Sure, you could use a third-party app, such as Intel Unison, to get connectivity between your iPhone and Windows system. But not everyone was willing to jump on the bandwagon and download a third-party app.
Finally, the days of being left out are over. Windows 11 is introducing the ability to connect your iPhone to the system in its very own app, Phone Link. So, without further ado, let’s get going!
Note: At the time of this writing, iPhone connectivity in Phone Link is only being previewed in the Insider channels, that too in a slow rollout. So, even if you’re on one of the Windows Insider channels, you might not have the option to connect your iPhone yet. Microsoft is deliberately taking its time with the rollout, perfecting the feature before a wider rollout. Keep an eye out for the feature if you’re in the Insider channel, it’ll arrive rather subtly. Hopefully, the feature will also be rolled to the stable build soon, though.
Connecting iPhone to Windows 11 Using Phone Link
Connecting your iPhone to Windows 11 using Phone Link is quick and easy. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to send and receive messages, make and take calls, and view other notifications from your iPhone straight on your Windows 11 laptop. This will further bridge the gap between the two ecosystems; Microsoft previously integrated iCloud photos in the Windows Photos app to accomplish this endeavor.
Your iPhone and Windows 11 system should be within the range of Bluetooth to work.
Pairing the Devices
To get started, open the Phone Link app on your system by searching for the app from the Search menu.
Make sure you’re using the Phone Link app version 1.23012.169.0 or higher to get the preview (even though the preview itself will be controlled via the cloud). To update the app, go to the Microsoft Store, head to the ‘Library’ tab, and click ‘Update’ next to Phone Link if you have an update pending.
Now, back to the Phone Link app. Click the ‘iPhone’ button to connect your iPhone. Your iPhone must be running iOS 14.0 or later to be able to use it with the Phone Link app.
Next, you’ll need to pair the two devices using Bluetooth. A QR code will be displayed on the screen; scan it with your iPhone’s camera to start the pairing process. The QR code will expire in 3 minutes.
On your iPhone, open the Camera app and point it to the QR code. Then, tap the ‘Pair your devices’ option that pops up.
Next, tap ‘Open’ on the pop-up.
The app clip for the Link to Windows app will open which means you don’t need to separately install the app. On the app clip, tap the ‘Continue’ button at the bottom.
A permission prompt will appear asking you to give access to ‘Link to Windows’ to use Bluetooth. Tap ‘OK’ to proceed; the Phone Link needs Bluetooth to access your iPhone’s calls, notifications, and conversations.
The connection will begin to be established.
You’ll receive a Bluetooth Pairing request on both your iPhone and Windows system. Confirm that the same code is shown on both devices. Then, tap ‘Pair’ on the prompt on your iPhone.
Also, click ‘Pair’ on the Phone Link app on Windows.
The devices will be paired.
Granting Permissions from your iPhone
Pairing your devices was only half the step. Phone Link would need permission to access your messages, contacts, and notifications to show them.
Once you see the ‘You’re almost there’ screen on your system, close the app clip on your iPhone.
Then, if you receive a prompt on your iPhone to grant any permission to your system, tap ‘Allow’ on it.
If you don’t receive the prompt, don’t worry. Open the Settings app and navigate to ‘Bluetooth’.
Then, tap the ‘i’ next to your system’s name.
Next, turn on the toggles for ‘Share System Notifications’, ‘Show Notifications’, and ‘Sync Contacts’.
For your contacts, you can choose which list of contacts you want to give access to.
And voila! You’re all set up.
Using the Phone Link app on Windows 11
Using Phone Link to access your iPhone’s notifications, calls, and messages is extremely easy.
As long as Phone Link is running in the background, you’ll receive any notifications from your iPhone in a banner, just like you receive other Windows notifications. Clicking the notification will open the Phone Link app.
Now, navigating the interface for Phone Link is also simple. All your notifications will be shown in the leftmost panel of the app.
If the app is not full screen, you can view the notifications by expanding the panel by clicking ‘>’ in the upper-left corner.
Notifications will appear in a collapsible panel; click ‘<‘ to close the panel. Of course, clicking the notification won’t do anything unless the notification is for new messages or calls. You can only see the notifications you’re receiving on your iPhone in the Phone Link app so you don’t have to pick up the phone every time there’s a new notification sound.
You can also see your iPhone’s battery and the connection status on the top of the notifications panel. If you’re having trouble with the Bluetooth connection, click the ‘Update’ button to refresh the connection.
Now, to view your conversations, simply click the ‘Messages’ tab. Your conversations will appear. Only individual conversations will sync in the Phone Link app and not group chats.
Then, to start a new message from your system, click the ‘New Chat’ button.
Similarly, to view your recent calls, switch to the ‘Calls’ tab.
You’ll see your recent call there. You can use the keypad on the right or search for a contact to start a new call.
You can also take any calls you receive on your iPhone by clicking the notification banner.
Now, to change any settings for the Phone Link app, click the ‘Settings’ icon in the top-right corner.
Here, you can manage how to receive notifications from the Phon Link app, app startup behavior, link another device with the app, change the theme for the app, etc.
That’s all there is to it. Connecting your iPhone to Windows 11 has just been made the easiest feat ever with the Phone Link app. We’d like to reiterate that the feature is only available in the Insider channels right now; hopefully, that’ll change soon. Moreover, since this is an Insider preview, users currently using the app might find that the app has room for improvement.