More Apple apps coming to Windows 11, plus new Microsoft Surface devices

Microsoft Surface Pro 9
The Microsoft Surface Pro 9.

Sharing photos between iOS and Windows devices will soon be much easier, plus the latest range of Microsoft Surface PCs is nearly here.

File and photo management for anyone who owns multiple devices across different brands can be a royal pain. Thankfully, both Apple and Microsoft seem to have a solution for PC users with iOS mobile tech. Plus, several recent Surface announcements came in the form of the Surface Pro 9, Surface Laptop 5, and Surface Studio 2+.

Windows 11 Photos app gains iCloud Photos integration

Previously, the default Microsoft Photos app handled your PC photo library, including OneDrive sharing. Soon, the app will also enable direct access to your iCloud Photos library. Currently in a testing phase via the Windows Insiders program, a recent Microsoft Photos app update lets you sign into iCloud and see your images alongside any saved directly to the PC or OneDrive – all via one app.

Microsoft Apple Windows 11 iCloud Photos support
How iCloud Photos looks through the Windows 11 Photos app.

There’s no word yet on when we can expect the integration to exit Windows Insiders and enter full public release. It’s a neat feature for multi-brand households struggling for an all-in-one photo storage and sharing solution. It also comes alongside the release of Apple Music and Apple TV apps on Xbox consoles. Windows versions of these apps are expected next year.

The new Microsoft Surface lineup

First off is the Surface Pro 9, a tablet-laptop hybrid running on the 12th Gen Intel Core CPU series. It comes with a 2880 X 1920 resolution display that supports a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate. Microsoft says the Surface Pro 9 has a longer battery life, camera and audio feature enhancements, and up to 50% more grunt than its predecessor. The hybrid device starts at $1,649 and brings two new colour choices: Sapphire and Forest.

Next up is the Surface Laptop 5, which comes in 13.5 and 15-inch variants. Similar to the Surface Pro, the Surface Laptop 5 uses 12th Gen Intel Core processors, up to the i7-1255U, and supports Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. You can customise it to house 32GB of LPDDR5x RAM and up to a 1TB SSD for storage. Both the 13.5 and 15-inch models support touch input, with the smaller laptop’s screen offering a 2256 x 1504 resolution, while the larger version has a slightly larger pixel count at 2496 x 1664. Equipped with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for a high-quality media experience, the Surface Laptop 5 also supports enhanced features introduced in the recent major Windows 11 update. Starting at $1,699, the Surface Laptop 5 comes in Platinum, Matte Black, Sandstone, and Sage colours.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 in action.

At the premium end of the scale, the Surface Studio 2+ is a 28-inch touch-enabled device designed with versatility in mind. It’s essentially a large screen connected to a hub via a hinge, housing three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 connections, two USB-A 3.1 slots, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an Ethernet port. 

Compared to the other Surfaces, the Studio 2+ uses the most powerful components it can fit: an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H CPU, a 6GB RTX 3060 Laptop GPU, 32GB DDR4 RAM, and a 1TB SSD. From an audiovisual perspective, it has a 4500 x 3000 resolution Dolby Vision display, stereo 2.1 Dolby Atmos speakers, and a 1080p front-facing camera. It also comes bundled with a Surface-branded pen, keyboard and mouse to get you started. It’s fair to say that on paper, the Surface Studio 2+ is a bit of an all-around powerhouse. For the premium package, you’re looking at $7,279.

Microsoft Surface Studio 2+
At the premium end of the Surface range: Surface Studio 2+.

Each new Surface is available to pre-order now from a range of retailers. Expect to see the hybrid devices arrive from 25 October through to early November.

Impressive as the new hardware may be, I’m most excited by the closer alignment of Microsoft and Apple across several major apps. The photo sharing integration is great news, and you’ll also have more ways to enjoy your Apple Music and Apple TV subscriptions. It’s common for households to use games consoles as a lounge room multimedia hub, so the Xbox apps –with Windows support coming next year – are definitely exciting.

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