Apple MacOS Monterey: 10 Things to Check Out Right Away
(Image: Apple)Unless you install the public beta version that’s due next month, macOS Monterey, otherwise known as macOS 12, won’t arrive on your Mac until the fall. Unlike the current version, macOS Big Sur, Monterey doesn’t alter the look of your Mac’s interface, but it may make big changes to the way you work, especially if you also use an iPhone or iPad. We’ll post a full hands-on evaluation of the Monterey public beta as soon as it's released. Meanwhile, on the basis of what Apple has said in public about the new version, here are 10 of the coolest and deepest features you can look forward to.Combine Macs, iPads Into a Shared Desktop Universal Control (Image: Apple)MacOS Monterey adds a feature called Universal Control, which allows users to transition seamlessly between up to three Apple devices using the same keyboard or trackpad. Put your iPad or iPhone next to your Mac, and then drag your Mac’s cursor off the Mac’s screen and onto the screen of the other device. You can then use your Mac’s keyboard and trackpad to control the other device. When you’re ready to transfer a file from your iOS device back to your Mac, simply drag it from the iOS screen into the Mac’s screen.Shortcuts Come to the 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 perform anything from simple feats like texting your most recent photos to a colleague to complex ones that take multiple actions when an email arrives from a friend. 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 techniques like Automator, AppleScripts, and shell scripts.The Mac Finally Gets Some AirPlay Love Image: AppleYou can now open a video, presentation, or anything else on your phone and play it on your Mac, in the same way you can already use AirPlay to send content from a Mac or iOS device to an Apple TV or AirPlay-compatible TV. Until now, this feature required third-party apps that were complicated to set up.Clean Up Your Messy Safari Tabs With Groups Image: AppleSafari adds a dozen nifty new features, including a tab bar that adapts its color from the on-screen window for a smoother appearance. But the best 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 is also redesigned and can store tab groups.Better Video Conferencing With Spatial AudioThis feature is both cool and clarifying. In a group conversation, FaceTime will arrange voices along a left-to-right stage, matching their position in the FaceTime window, so that you can more easily focus on the speaker. Portrait mode also comes to the video chat app, blurring the background of a video, 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 Image: AppleSharePlay is AirPlay shared with everyone in a FaceTime conversation. Much 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; speakers are arranged in a grid pattern, with the current speaker highlighted.Sharing in Messages Image: ApplePhotos sent to you in Messages automatically get added to your Photos app—hopefully we’ll also see an option to turn off this feature. You can now pin specific media in Messages just like you can pin your favorite contacts. If someone sends you content from an app like Photos, Safari, Apple News, and others, you can access it from those apps in a Shared With You section.Monterey Will Help You Focus Image: AppleA 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 through other users’ Focus restrictions by sending messages marked Urgent.Live Text Arrives (Think Google Lens) Image: AppleBuilt-in OCR technology lets you select text directly from photos or screenshots and use it for web searches, documents, or anything else. Select an address in a photo, and a pop-up will display it in Maps and offer to add it to your contacts. You’ll recognize the basic technology if you’ve used Google Lens.iCloud Private Relay Image: ApplePrivate Relay, which will require a paid iCloud subscription, uses two different 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 10 countries in which Apple offers other services (and where VPN crackdowns have occurred).There’s a lot more coming in Monterey, as well as iOS and iPadOS. Check out all the highlights from Monday's WWDC 2021 keynote in the video below. And watch for our Monterey deep dive once we get our hands on the public beta in July.
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