Apple improves iCloud for Windows, kills iTunes

If you use Windows for work and an iPhone for everything else, you should know that Apple has changed iCloud for Windows and no longer offers iTunes for the platform —  though none of your media purchases have disappeared.

How has Apple improved iCloud for Windows?

Apple has redesigned the iCloud for Windows application, giving it a more modern look that’s easier to navigate with Photos, iCloud Drive, Passwords, Bookmarks and Calendars/Contacts all easy to access in a click. It’s also easy to check how much storage you have in use.

Beyond the facelift, the software is now a little easier to set up and install and provides better insights into how files and other data are syncing. The latter means you can check whether items are in the process of syncing, and when a sync operation last took place.

You can also check service status — all from within the iCloud app front page. That means Windows users can monitor the sync status of photos, contacts, and of course any work-related documents that might be stored in iCloud Drive.

Users might also notice that photos syncing has gotten faster and and experience better syncing with Microsoft Outlook. Apple notes that contact and calendar syncing problems with Outlook have been resolved, though Windows 11 22H2 is required.

What’s new in iCloud for Windows?

There are some brand new enhancements, including support for physical security keys and dark mode. Users can also track all the devices (Apple and non-Apple) they have signed into iCloud through the Accounts Details page.

To summarize the improvements:

  • A new user interface.
  • Dark mode.
  • Support for physical security keys.
  • Improved insight into sync.
  • Improved onboarding system.
  • Better photo sync speeds.
  • Better Outlook support on Windows 11 or later.

It might seem ironic to note that iCloud for Windows is potentially one of Apple’s most widely used applications. That is because some market share estimates suggest just a quarter of those 1 billion+ iPhones in use today are also running Macs, leaving millions of people on Windows PCs. That’s a large number of potential users of Apple’s updated applications, which also means the replacement of iTunes with standalone Apple Music and Apple TV apps is likely to impact those people, too.

Windows now supports FIDO for Apple ID protection

If you use physical security keys to protect your Apple ID, you can now also use those keys with Windows, as explained by Apple here. The company introduced support for FIDO-certified hardware keys in 2023. These provide additional security, particularly for those needing additional protection from targeted attacks.

Learn how and why to use these keys to protect your Apple ID here.

Farewell iTunes

Apple replaced iTunes on Macs with standalone Music and TV apps with macOS Catalina in 2019. In a process it announced in 2022, the company has now brought Windows users into line with that decision, introducing standalone Music and TV apps for that platform. All existing purchased content will be available from within those apps, and if you subscribe to the company’s media services, you can access those, too.

Apple has also introduced a new version of the Apple Devices app, which lets you manage your iPhone or iPad from the Windows PC without use of iTunes.

Who is it for?

The new applications are only available for Windows 10 and Windows 11. If you’re still working with an older iteration of Microsoft’s operating system, you will need to keep using Apple’s legacy apps.  

Where to get the new applications

The updated apps are available for free through the Microsoft Store at these links:

For more detailed information, check out our complete guide to iCloud for Windows. While this focuses on an earlier edition of the application, it still provides useful guidance.

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