Apple has completely overhauled its Windows app suite, including iCloud and Apple Music

Apple has completely overhauled its Windows app suite, including iCloud and Apple Music

Big news for people who prefer iPhones but also prefer to use Windows PCs: Apple has overhauled its entire suite of Windows apps, including non-beta versions of the Apple Music and Apple TV apps, and devices it started previewing for Windows 11 users over From a year ago. Together, these apps replace most of the functionality found in the iTunes app for Windows; iTunes for macOS was discontinued in 2019. Apple also released a major update to iCloud for Windows with an overhauled design.

All apps are currently available in the Microsoft Store. While the previews released by Apple last year required Windows 11 22H2 or later, the final versions of all four new apps also work in Windows 10 for people who chose not to upgrade or whose PCs don’t meet the system requirements.

Both the Apple Music and Apple TV apps provide access to Apple’s streaming music and video libraries for people with subscriptions, though both apps will also import and play your local music and video libraries from iTunes if you have them.

However, these apps haven’t put the final nail in the coffin of iTunes for Windows yet; iTunes is still used to manage podcasts and audiobooks in Windows, where the app will notify you if you try to play it after installing the Music or TV apps. If Apple eventually plans to release Windows versions of its Podcasts or Books apps from macOS and iOS, the company hasn’t done so yet.

Apple’s Devices app is what you’ll use if you want to back up your iPhone or iPad to your computer or perform system restores for iDevices in recovery mode. It can also be useful when trying to install updates on devices that don’t have enough free space to download and install the updates themselves. This app doesn’t exist in macOS, but it’s very similar to a set of features that arrived in Finder when Apple initially discontinued iTunes for macOS in 2019.

The biggest change in the new iCloud for Windows app is the overhauled design, and while some will lament the reduced information density, it actually does a surprisingly good job of looking like a native Windows 11 app. It supports Dark Mode in both Windows 10 and Windows 11, and in Windows 11, it even uses the “mica” background texture used by Settings and other Windows 11 apps to pick up a tint from your computer’s primary desktop background (Apple is doing something Similar on Mac). The app also features a simplified first-time setup process that asks you what you want to sync and how.

But functionally, the app still does pretty much what it did before. The iCloud app for Windows will sync your iCloud Drive files locally; Provides password synchronization via Chrome/Edge browser extension; Your Chrome, Edge, and Firefox bookmarks will sync; It has mail, contacts, and calendar syncing via the new Outlook for Windows app; It also offers iCloud photo syncing, with the option to download either the original HEIF photos that modern iPhones take by default, or the more compatible JPEG versions.

There are still plenty of iCloud features that aren’t available in Windows, including Notes and Reminders syncing, native versions of the Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps, and a few other things. But iCloud for Windows is gradually becoming more useful and full-featured after being around for many years as a great syncing service for browser bookmarks.

Although it’s still far from as seamless as using an iPhone with a Mac, using an iPhone with a PC has gradually become more enjoyable over the past year or two. Besides adding iCloud photo and password syncing, Microsoft also added rudimentary iMessage support to its Phone Link app in April, finally allowing iPhone users to see and respond to basic text messages via their computers. The app (formerly called “Your Phone”) has already supported Android phone syncing for years.

If you want to know why Apple is paying attention to its Windows apps these days, a look at the company’s revenue offers a likely suggestion: Over the past few years, its Services division has continued to grow at a steady rate even with the company’s revenue. of hardware sales remained at their levels or decreased slightly. The Services section includes all of the revenue Apple generates from iCloud, Apple Music, Apple TV+, and other subscription plans.

Although Apple clearly prefers to buy Apple devices to use Apple services, offering apps that fit competing ecosystems at least ensures that people who use a mix of devices — an iPhone with a PC, an Android phone with a Mac or iPad — have The choice to stay within the Apple ecosystem rather than using widely compatible third-party apps like Spotify or Dropbox.

Listing image by Apple/Microsoft/Andrew Cunningham

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