State of iPhone sharing to Mac in 2022

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juannm
State of iPhone sharing to Mac in 2022

Hi, I've been test driving the state of sharing an iPhone 7 with a Mac Mini client with VirtualHere. After several hours of failed attempts at troubleshooting (I'm a software developer myself so I was able to tinker with the systems, sadly to no avail), I think it's time to write here to summarize the situation as I see it (just in case it is useful for future readers), and ask for a bit of official comments here :-)

The details of my machines are:

The server:

  • USB device is an iPhone 7, iOS 15.5
  • Tried with Linux (Ubuntu 20.04) and MacOS (Catalina, 10.15.6)

The client:

  • Mac Mini (Monterey, 12.0.1)

I've seen multitude of posts by Michael, explaining that Apple broke "something" and a fix in the OS was needed before VirtualHere is able to work again as expected.

This comes since as far back as 2017: "at the moment iDevice via virtualhere is broken until apple fixes osx" - https://virtualhere.com/content/windows-10-x64-server-osx-1011-iphone-bi...

A couple years later similar issues were discussed again, and were "No not fixable at the moment" - https://www.virtualhere.com/content/fail-connect-iphone-attached-pc-mac

In any case, it's been 5 years, and I don't think that Apple considers there is any bug to fix. I saw in some other thread a mention that this bug was reported at the old Apple Bug Reporter, which is now no longer available (https://developer.apple.com/bug-reporting/, under "Viewing Older Bug Reports"), so I wonder if the bug report was moved to whatever is the current place where Apple tracks issues.

Lastly, as recently as April 2022, the situation still seems problematic, albeit it's not clear to me if it's because of the same reasons as in previous years - https://www.virtualhere.com/content/mac-server-iphone-connected-not-working

So my question is, is there any hope? Is this "bug" so absolutely blocking that it makes the VirtualHere functionality impossible to achieve? (If so, would that mean none of its alternatives are able to achieve the same, either?)

Lastly I'd like to confirm that sharing the iPhone between an macOS server and macOS client, didn't work either. I had my hopes when I read that it might work (https://www.virtualhere.com/content/iphone-not-working-macos-host) but no, sadly, it didn't. The macOS server complained with "Error binding device 4245880832 [05ac:12a8] to connection 1, BIND_ERROR". While the Linux server always complained about "SURPRISE UNBOUND".

Could we get some insights into what is wrong with this setup, and wether there is anything that can be done to have this working? Or can we assume this is a scenario that won't be supported in the foreseable future and it'd be a better choice to look elsewhere? (if so, I believe this would be something worth noting on the product's cover page, so all this info doesn't end up dying in a corner of a web forum)

Regardless, thanks you for your efforts and your work on this piece of software.
Kind regards

Michael
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Hi Juan, thanks for the detailed post. Yes i don't know the state of the iPhone support at the moment. Its always changing. My guess is it will probably be officially supported at some point. I do notice my competitor eltima has it working recently, but i looked how they did it and they have just found a hack and not passing it through properly and I dont want to support unofficial workarounds etc. To be honest, Ive sort of run out of patience with apple and iDevices. I tested it a few months ago and it does work on some combinations of macos, windows and linux but its just a try it an see approach at the moment. To add to this, Apple actually uses virtualhere a lot themselves, so maybe they will have that use-case and help get it working for their own benefit :)

juannm
Apple actually uses

Apple actually uses virtualhere a lot themselves, so maybe they will have that use-case and help get it working for their own benefit

That's interesting to hear! I guess they might be using it for the Xcode's "Connect via network" feature... if so, they should be in a position to help fixing the issues, however it looks like right now, whatever secret things they use for Xcode, are not working for general use iPhone users.

To be honest, Ive sort of run out of patience with apple and iDevices

As a developer myself, working on developer tools that must work on several platforms (including Apple's), I wholeheartedly understand you. Apple doesn't seem to care about the developers who are devoting resources and time to their own platform. I would just skip working for the Apple devices. It is just the sheer volume of their consumer base the one that keeps us developers hooked to making our software work for their platform... otherwise lots of us would run away! :-)

If Apple is using VirtualHere directly for some of their products, maybe you already have a line of contact with them, that can be used to inquiry about the current issues and maybe they can help? (it's a bit of a long shot given how secretive and non-communicative these big enterprises are...)

Michael
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I'm probably not even meant to mention they use it. I know what they are using virtualhere for, and unfortunately its not passing through iphones. But maybe they may want to do that in the future and that would be great. Ive asked them several years ago for some guidance but ticket was closed "wont fix".

juannm
Well in any case, thank you

Well in any case, thank you so much for your insights and your comments. We'll keep looking for a good solution... maybe Xcode's remote pairing feature is enough for our needs, albeit it seems to be a bit flaky when connecting through a VPN.

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