FaceTime, Shortcuts and AirPlay got a big boost this fall in Apple’s macOS Monterey, the successor to Big Sur.
macOS Monterey, otherwise known as macOS 12, won’t arrive on your Mac until the fall, unless you install the public beta version due out next month. Unlike the current version, macOS Big Sur, Monterey doesn’t change the look of your Mac’s interface, but it can make a big difference to the way you work, especially if you also use an iPhone or iPad.
We’ll post a full practical evaluation of the Monterey public beta as soon as it’s released. In the meantime, based on what Apple has publicly said about the new version, here are 10 of the best and deepest features you can look forward to. (Note that some features will reportedly require an M1-based Mac.)
Combine Macs, iPads into one shared desktop
Universal Control (Image: Apple)
macOS Monterey adds a feature called Universal Control, which allows users to seamlessly transition between three Apple devices using the same keyboard or trackpad.
Hold your iPad or iPhone next to your Mac, and then drag your Mac’s cursor across the Mac’s screen and across the other device’s screen. You can then use your Mac’s keyboard and trackpad to control another device. When you’re ready to transfer a file from your iOS device back to your Mac, just drag it from the iOS screen to the Mac’s screen.
shortcuts for mac
Shortcuts on macOS (Image: Apple)
Apple’s visually oriented Shortcuts automation app is making the leap from iOS to macOS. Shortcuts will come with a selection of prebuilt workflows that can do anything from simple tasks like texting your most recent photos to a colleague to complex ones that take multiple actions when an email from a friend arrives. You can access shortcuts from anywhere in the OS, including the menu bar, Finder, and Siri. For advanced users, shortcuts can incorporate existing Mac automation technologies such as Automator, AppleScript, and Shell Script.
The Mac Finally Gets Some AirPlay Love
Now you can open a video, presentation, or anything on your phone and play it on your Mac, the same way you can use AirPlay to send content from a Mac or iOS device to an Apple TV or AirPlay-compatible TV. Huh. Until now, this feature used to require third-party apps that were complicated to set up.
Clean Up Your Messy Safari Tabs With Groups
Safari adds a dozen new features, including a tab bar that customizes its color from the on-screen window for a smoother appearance. But the coolest feature (borrowed from Google Chrome) is Tab Groups, which lets you organize and save multiple tabs under a single tab that syncs across all your devices. Safari’s sidebar has also been redesigned and can store tab groups.
Improved video conferencing with spatial audio
This feature is both cool and clear. In a group conversation, FaceTime will arrange the voices with a left-to-right step, matching their position in the FaceTime window, so you can more easily focus on the speaker. Portrait mode also comes into play in video chat apps, blurring the background of videos, and further helping to focus on the person talking, a perennial problem in video conferencing. These features will also be available on iOS 15.
shareplay is airplay for facetime
SharePlay is an AirPlay that is shared with everyone in a FaceTime conversation. Like the shared screen in conferencing apps like Zoom, you can share any content on your screen with everyone in a FaceTime conversation—and friends who don’t have an Apple device can participate through the Edge or Chrome browser. . A new grid view in FaceTime also works like Zoom; The speakers are arranged in a grid pattern, with the current speaker highlighted.
share in messages
Photos sent to you in Messages are automatically added to your Photos app—hopefully we’ll even see an option to turn this feature off. You can now pin specific media to Messages just like you can pin your favorite contacts. If someone sends you content from apps like Photos, Safari, Apple News, and more, you can access the Share with you section from those apps.
Monterey will help you focus
A new Focus feature in Monterey is a superpowered version of Do Not Disturb on your phone. You can create custom focus options that set fine-tuned limits on notifications, and you can break other users’ focus restrictions by sending an instant marked message.
Live Text Arrives (Think Google Lens)
Built-in OCR technology lets you select text directly from a photo or screenshot and use it for web searches, documents, or anything else. Choose an address in a photo, and a pop-up will display it in Maps offering to add it to your contacts. If you’ve used Google Lens you’ll recognize the basic technology.
icloud private relay
Private Relay, which will require a paid iCloud subscription, uses two separate relays to hide your IP address from websites, preventing them from creating profiles on you based on your visits. Apple says Private Relay is not a VPN, but it will not be available in the 10 countries where Apple provides other services (and where the VPN crackdown has occurred).
There’s a lot more coming to Monterey as well as iOS and iPadOS. Watch all the highlights from Monday’s WWDC 2021 keynote in the video below. And watch our Monterey deep dive after you get your hands on the public beta in July.