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Tech Matters: iPhone tips for now and later

By Leslie Meredith - Special to the Standard-Examiner | May 15, 2024

Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

iPhone 15 phones are shown during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023.

While there doesn’t seem to be a reliable statistic on how many people use both a Windows PC and an iPhone, I’d bet that it’s a lot in the U.S. For years, I fell into that group and didn’t know there was a way to sync my phone with my computer. But you can, and it’s really easy.

The benefit of doing so means you can see, send and reply to text messages while you’re working on your PC without having to check your phone. That’s just one of the tips we’ll talk about today. We’ll also look ahead to the next version of iOS that promises to deliver an integrated artificial-intelligence experience that is more secure than other products like ChatGPT.

Apple and Microsoft have worked together to make it simple to pair your PC with your iPhone. You will need an additional app, but it should be pre-installed on your Windows system as long as your version is up to date.

Start by downloading the Microsoft app Link to Windows on your iPhone from the App Store. Open the app and then return to your PC. In your computer’s search bar, type “phone link” and click to open the app that appears in the search results. If you don’t see the app, update Windows. After launching Phone Link, choose your device by clicking “iPhone.” You’ll then see a QR code. Scan it with the camera on your phone — tap your camera and point it at the code. Under the QR code, you’ll see “Pair Your Devices.” Tap “Open” and on the next screen, tap “Continue” and then tap “Pair.” Go back to the open app on your PC and click “Pair.” Tap “Done.”

For the final step, you will sync your iPhone’s contacts and messages with the Phone Link app on your PC. On your phone, open Settings and go to “Bluetooth.” Tap the blue i icon next to your PC’s name. Toggle on “Show Notifications,” “Sync Contacts” and “Share System Notifications.” Back on your PC, click “Continue” in the Phone Link app to complete the sync.

Photo supplied

Leslie Meredith

You only have to do this one time. The sync will continue as long as Bluetooth is enabled and both devices are close to one another.

Now that you can maintain an uninterrupted workflow on your PC, you may have text messages you’d like to send but the timing may not be convenient for your recipients. You may be working late, but your co-worker may not appreciate a work text after hours or over the weekend, or perhaps you want to send a birthday wish the next day but are worried you might forget. What to do? Schedule your messages.

You’ll use the Shortcuts app for this job. Because there may be more than one app with a similar name, make sure you are downloading the one from Apple — tap the app in the store and look for Apple under the title at the top.

Open the Shortcuts app and tap the “Automation” tab at the bottom of the screen and choose “Time of Day.” Select the time that you want your message to be sent. Tap “Monthly” in the “Repeat” section and select the day that you want your message to be sent. Tap “Next” in the top-right corner and hit “Send Message.” You can modify these messages to repeat daily, weekly, monthly or never. This is also a convenient way to send reminders to a group of contacts for recurring events.

Looking ahead, Apple will launch its own AI integration in its next iOS release this coming September with details to be discussed at its developer event in June. Widely thought to be lagging behind Microsoft and Google in the AI space, Apple may just come out ahead of its competition.

The biggest concern about AI products like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which Microsoft’s Copilot accesses, and Google’s Gemini is security. Sharing data — personal or company information — can become part of the material these large language models use for training. Apple is going in a different direction.

Apple is developing its own large language model, or LLM, that runs on-device to prioritize speed and privacy, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported last month. It is in talks with both OpenAI and Google to possibly integrate additional features. Still, the differentiator is that it runs on a user’s device — no sending data to Apple servers, which will significantly increase privacy and security.

The extra privacy dovetails nicely with an expected feature for iMessage that will provide summaries of long text messages. It should also work with any text documents on the phone. Because extra processing power will likely be required, iOS 18 may not work with older phones — giving consumers a real reason to upgrade their iPhones.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for more than a decade. As a mom of four, value, usefulness and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.


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