iMessage is Apple’s golden goose, ensuring many iOS users never dare stray from the Apple ecosystem, lest we end up a dreaded green text on someone else’s iPhone. Luckily, the times are a-changin’, and it is not longer entirely up to Apple which devices we can use to send and receive iMessages. While Android remains an iMessage-free platform for the moment, you can now blue-bubble message your iPhone friends from your Windows PC.
Phone Link for iOS enables iMessage on your Windows PC
Microsoft announced Phone Link for iOS, an update for its Phone Link app, will allow users to send and receive iMessages and SMS text messages (as well as place and receive phone calls) by connecting their iPhones to their Windows PCs. Before you get too excited, know that as it stands, the feature is fairly limited. While you’ll be able to keep up with individual iMessage and SMS threads, you won’t be able to participate in group chats. In addition, there’s no support for media at this time, so you can’t send or receive photos, videos, GIFs, etc.
Perhaps most frustrating is the fact you can’t access any messages prior to setting up Phone Link for iOS. If you want to reference a message sent even a second before you got the app up and running, you’ll need to grab your iPhone. It’s a far cry from what you’d expect from iMessage on a Mac, and more limited than Phone Link for Android, but, hey, it’s iMessage on Windows.
Phone Link for iOS is in Insider perk for now
The app is its initial stages, and is available as part of the Windows Insider Program. Typically, that’s a fine deal: You enroll your PC in the Insider Program from Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program, and you can try out new features before other Windows users. This time, however, you might need to wait to get in. Microsoft is only rolling out the update to a limited number of Insiders at first, and will expand testing to more Insiders once they receive feedback from the initial rollout.
However, if you enroll your PC in the Insider Program, you could be selected, and your Phone Link app could automatically update to allow you to connect your iPhone to Windows.
How to set up iMessage on Windows
To start, make sure your PC is a part of the Windows Insider Program from Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program. Choose one of the three options here: Dev Channel, which offers you the most cutting-edge features at the risk of the most instability; Beta Channel, which offers a balance of new features and stability; and Release Preview Channel, which leans the most into stability, while offering the most-tested new features. Microsoft says the feature should be rolling out to all three channels, so it shouldn’t matter which you’re in. Pick the one you’re most comfortable with.
If you receive the preview, you’ll see the option to add your iPhone to the Phone Link app’s homepage. Phone Link will then walk you through the steps for connecting your iPhone to your PC, including scanning an on-screen QR code and pairing the devices via Bluetooth. You’ll need to confirm a code that appears in both apps. Finally, you’ll need to grant Phone Link permission to certain content on your iPhone from the Bluetooth menu, including “Share System Notifications” to see alerts on your PC, “Show Notifications” to send and receive messages, and “Sync Contacts” to show your contacts on your PC.
Once set up, you’ll be able to send and receive both iMessages and SMS texts from your PC, as well as place and receive phone calls. So long as you can ignore the group chats, and stick to text-based messages rather than photos or videos, you won’t need to pick up your iPhone to keep in touch with friends and family on your PC.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft added support for Apple devices within Windows. Back in October, the company introduced iCloud for Windows, an easy way to access your Apple photos on your PC. Now, you can iMessage. Maybe soon, we’ll get native FaceTime support (although, to be fair, you can already FaceTime on a PC).