Today’s Microsoft Surface event was filled with new hardware news, but we did get some Windows 11 updates. The biggest headline? Apple and Microsoft may be (slightly) burying the hatchet by increasing integration between their respective ecosystems.
The most notable immediate change is increased iCloud integration with Windows 11, which could be a huge quality-of-life improvement for iPhone users. iCloud on Windows 11 will now automatically sync with the Windows 11 Photos app, rather than being limited to File Explorer. We did not get a specific launch date, but based on what Microsoft has said we expect this update to occur soon if it has not already been rolled out.
iCloud photo integration on Windows 11
iCloud integration already exists on Windows devices running Windows 11, and even on devices running older versions of Microsoft’s operating system. With iCloud for Windows (opens in new tab) Windows users can sync Photos, their iCloud Drive, Mail (with Outlook) and browser bookmarks. If you choose to sync Photos, the app will create a folder in File Explorer where you can then upload and download photos from.
With this new integration, iCloud users will see these photos directly in their Windows 11 Photos app rather than having to upload and download them via File Explorer. Microsoft’s preview of the integration during the Surface event showed photos instantly appearing in the app, so while not groundbreaking it will save iPhone users some hassle.
What would be really cool is if edits in the Windows 11 Photos app automatically sync with iCloud. This should work, in theory, but Microsoft has yet to confirm if this functionality is part of the integration.
Upcoming Apple integrations in Windows 11
In addition to the iCloud integration, Windows also announced some updates for Apple Music and Apple TV.
Apple Music is getting the biggest updates. The streaming music service is now available on Xbox. We think that there has never been a better time to switch to Apple Music if you are a Spotify user and this provides yet another reason. Apple Music and Apple TV are also both slated to come to Windows 11 as standalone apps in 2023.
Of course, these Windows 11 updates are nice, but the hardware releases are the main headline from Microsoft’s Surface event. Make sure to head over to our live blog for the latest updates on everything Microsoft announced today, including the Surface Laptop 5 and Surface Pro 9 2-in-1 alongside a new Surface Studio 2+ all-in-one desktop.