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Posts tagged with "windows"

Apple Updates Its Collection of Windows Apps

Today, Apple introduced a redesigned version of its iCloud for Windows app. The updated app, which allows users to access photos, files, passwords, and other content on a Windows PC, has clarified how it works and where synced content can be found. The app also adds physical password keys and other refinements. I don’t spend a lot of time using Windows, but I appreciate that it makes it easy to access passwords, files, and other content when I do, and today’s update makes that process a little easier, which is great.

The other updates today were to apps that have been available as previews on Windows for a while. That’s no longer the case for Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Devices. The functionality of those apps was previously found in iTunes for Windows. Music and TV closely resemble their Mac counterparts, whereas Devices lets users update, backup, restore, and manage their Apple devices on a Windows PC, similar to the way Mac users can do the same in Finder.

iTunes for Windows survives for podcast and audiobook listening.

iTunes for Windows survives for podcast and audiobook listening.

Although today marks the end of many of the core features of iTunes for Windows, the app continues to be available to Windows users to manage their podcasts and audiobooks. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Windows versions of Apple Podcasts and Books in the future.


Apple’s Game Porting Toolkit’s Support for DirectX 12 is a Big Deal for Gaming on the Mac

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Earlier this week, I linked to Tom Warren’s story on The Verge about Apple’s Game Porting Toolkit and gamers’ early experiments with running Windows games on Apple silicon Macs running macOS Sonoma. Yesterday, Christina Warren, writing for Inverse, published an in-depth look at why Apple’s innocuously Game Porting Toolkit has the potential to be a big deal:

…buried in the keynote was a macOS feature that Apple should have called out with more fanfare: DirectX 12 support for macOS. As PC gamers already know, this software support means the floodgates are open for some real games — not that casual Apple Arcade stuff — on Mac. Maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of the end to the old joke that Macs can’t play AAA games.

As Warren explains, Apple’s DirectX 12 support is thanks to a patch to Wine that the company developed:

That toolkit largely takes place as a 20,000 line of code patch to Wine, a compatibility layer designed to bring support for Windows games to platforms such as Linux, BSD, and macOS. Wine, which is primarily supported by the company CodeWeavers (which also makes a commercial version called CrossOver), works by converting system calls made to Windows APIs into calls that can be used by other operating systems. It isn’t emulation, but translation (an important semantic difference).

If this all sounds a lot like what Valve did with Proton and the Steam Deck, it’s because it is:

In some ways, the fate of Mac gaming mirrored another desktop platform: Linux. Like the Mac, and in spite of a very vocal contingent of users, Linux gaming largely remained largely elusive until Valve introduced Proton in 2018, a way to play Windows games on its Linux Steam client and on its Linux distribution SteamOS (which at the time, was primarily used for its failed Steam Machine devices). And notably, the open-source technology at the heart of Proton, is the same technology that Apple is using for its Game Porting Toolkit.

Does all of this mean that the Mac is on the cusp of becoming the AAA gaming platform that has eluded it for years? As Warren rightly notes, it’s too early to go that far, but it is cause for optimism and is a big deal even if it remains a niche way to play DirectX 12 games on a Mac.

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Using ‘Phone Link’ Between iOS and Windows for iPhone Notifications and iMessage

I enjoyed this explanation by The Verge’s Tom Warren on how Microsoft’s Phone Link app – which has long allowed Android users to connect their smartphones to a Windows PC – has been updated to support iOS notifications and sending texts via iMessage. From the story:

The setup process between iPhone and PC is simple. Phone Link prompts you to scan a QR code from your iPhone to link it to Windows, which automatically opens a lightweight App Clip version of Phone Link on iOS to complete the Bluetooth pairing. Once paired, you have to take some important steps to enable contact sharing over Bluetooth, enable “show notifications,” and allow system notifications to be shared to your PC over Bluetooth. These settings are all available in the Bluetooth options for the device you paired to your iPhone.

And:

Microsoft’s Phone Link works by sending messages over Bluetooth to contacts. Apple’s iOS then intercepts these messages and forces them to be sent over iMessage, much like how it will always automatically detect when you’re sending a message to an iPhone and immediately switch it to blue bubbles and not the green ones sent via regular SMS. Phone Link intercepts the messages you receive through Bluetooth notifications and then shows these in the client on Windows.

I got access to the updated version of Phone Link on my PC today, and this integration is pretty wild and it actually works, albeit with several limitations.

First, the setup process is entirely based on an App Clip by Microsoft, which is the first time I’ve seen and used an App Clip in real life. Essentially, my understanding is that this works similarly to how an iPhone can pair with an old-school Bluetooth car system: the iPhone and PC pair via Bluetooth, and you can then provide the PC with access to your notifications and contacts from iOS’ Bluetooth settings. This is the same UI I have for my KIA Sportage’s system, which uses regular Bluetooth to pair with my iPhone and can also display contacts and missed calls.

The setup process based on an App Clip.

The setup process based on an App Clip.

The difference between my car and Phone Link, of course, is that with Phone Link you can type text messages from a PC and they will be sent as iMessages on iOS. This bit of dark magic comes with a lot of trade-offs (check out Warren’s full story for the details on this), but it works for individual contacts. I’ve been able to start a conversation with John, reply to his messages from Windows notifications, and even send him URLs1, and they were all correctly “intercepted” by iOS and sent over as iMessages. I’ve also been impressed by the ability to clear notifications from a PC and have them go away on iOS’ Lock Screen immediately.

The Phone Link app paired with my iPhone.

The Phone Link app paired with my iPhone.

This was then sent as an iMessage.

This was then sent as an iMessage.

The limitations of Phone Link for iPhone users mean you’ll always have to fall back to the actual iOS device for something – whether it’s posting in an iMessage group or sending a photo or acting on notifications – but for quick messages, glancing at notifications, and clearing them, I think this integration is more than good enough.


  1. Fun fact: raw URLs sent from Windows are delivered as rich links from iMessage, but the card’s preview doesn’t load by default on the recipient’s device. ↩︎
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Hands-On with Apple Music for Windows

Apple Music for Windows.

Apple Music for Windows.

Last week, Apple released native versions of Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Devices for Windows. The apps, which are available on the Microsoft Store, are labeled as “previews”, and they’re meant to eventually serve as replacements for iTunes for Windows, which is the only flavor of iTunes Apple still distributes after they transitioned to standalone media apps a few years ago. I suppose the apps are also part of a broader strategy from Apple to establish a stronger presence of their services on Windows, as we saw last year with the launch of Apple Music on Xbox and iCloud Photos on Windows (which joined the existing iCloud configuration panel for Windows devices).

As an Apple Music subscriber and owner of a Windows gaming laptop, I thought it’d be fun to take Apple Music for a spin and see how it compares to Spotify on Windows as well as the existing Apple Music experience for Apple’s platforms, which I know very well and enjoy on a daily basis.

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