Today at WWDC21, Apple announced the next-generation macOS, code-named Monterey. Probably the biggest features to be coming to Macs this fall are:
- A redesigned Safari browser with Tab Groups
- Shortcuts on the Mac, replacing (eventually) Automator
- FaceTime with Spatial Audio, Voice Isolation, Wide Spectrum, and Portrait Mode
- SharePlay to share experiences during FaceTime calls
- Shared With You to highlight items others share with you
- Universal Control, allowing a Mac keyboard and mouse/trackpad to control an iPad
- AirPlay to Mac (“Sherlocking” a number of third-party apps)
Developer betas are available today, a public beta opens in July, and the new OS is expected to ship this fall.
Here’s Apple’s press release on today’s macOS announcements:
(CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA) Apple today previewed macOS Monterey, the latest version of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. macOS Monterey comes with new ways for users to connect, get more done, and work more fluidly across their Apple devices. SharePlay, a new feature in FaceTime, lets users share experiences together, and Shared with You makes it easy to discover and enjoy content shared through Messages right in Photos, Safari, Apple Podcasts, Apple News, and the Apple TV app. A major update to Safari features a gorgeous streamlined tab bar and powerful tab organization with Tab Groups, Shortcuts comes to the Mac to automate everyday tasks, and Focus helps users stay on task and reduce distractions. Additionally, Universal Control and AirPlay to Mac are new Continuity features that offer more ways to work effortlessly across Apple devices. macOS Monterey will support the broadest lineup of Macs in history, including the latest iMac, MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, as well as Apple’s Intel-based Macs.
“macOS Monterey is packed with features that help Mac users get more done, connect with friends and family in amazing new ways, and work across Mac and iPad more seamlessly than ever before,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “We think our customers are going to love browsing the web with Safari’s new tab design, enjoying shared experiences with SharePlay in FaceTime, and using their Mac and other Apple devices together in new ways with Universal Control and AirPlay to Mac.”
Getting More Done with Mac
New tools in macOS Monterey are designed to help users get more done, stay focused, and collaborate:
- Already the world’s fastest browser, Safari now reimagines the browsing experience with a new tab design that lets users see more of the page as they scroll. A new tab bar takes on the color of the webpage and combines tabs, the tool bar, and the search field into a single compact design. Tab Groups offer a new way to easily save and manage tabs — great for planning trips, shopping, or storing the tabs users visit daily. Tab Groups also sync across Mac, iPhone, and iPad, so users can continue their project from anywhere and easily share tabs with friends and family.
- Shortcuts arrives on the Mac to help users automate everyday tasks and achieve peak productivity. Just like on iPhone and iPad, Shortcuts on Mac lets users quickly accomplish tasks with the apps they use the most. With a rich gallery of pre-built actions designed just for Mac, users can instantly share files, make animated GIFs, and more. Power users looking to take things further can use the Shortcuts Editor on Mac to customize shortcuts to match their workflows. Shortcuts is integrated throughout macOS, including the menu bar, Finder, Spotlight, and even hands-free with Siri — making it easy to run shortcuts no matter which app the user is in. Users can easily import existing Automator workflows into Shortcuts and be up and running right away.
- New features in Notes help users stay organized, collaborate, and create notes from anywhere. Quick Note is a new way for users to jot down notes on any app or website systemwide, making it easy to capture thoughts and ideas wherever inspiration strikes. Users can also add links from an app to their Quick Note to create context, even on a website in Safari or an address in Maps. As users work through projects in Notes with friends or colleagues, they can add mentions, see everyone’s edits in the new Activity View, and categorize their Notes with tags to quickly and easily find them in the new Tag Browser and in tag-based Smart Folders.
- With Focus, Mac users can stay in the moment by automatically filtering out notifications unrelated to their current activity. Users can signal their status to let others know when they are focusing and not available. When a user has Focus set on one device, it automatically sets across their other devices and can be customized based on their current activity — whether they are preparing for a presentation or wrapping up an assignment for school.
All-New Ways to Stay Connected
macOS Monterey provides meaningful new ways to connect and enjoy time with friends, family, and colleagues:
- FaceTime now includes a suite of new audio and video features that make calls feel more natural and lifelike. With spatial audio, voices in a FaceTime call sound like they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen, while Voice Isolation ensures the user’s voice is crystal clear and uses machine learning to eliminate background noise, and Wide Spectrum allows all the sound in the area to come through so participants can hear everything. Portrait mode taps into the Apple Neural Engine in the M1 chip to blur the user’s background for a stunning video effect, and a new Grid View shows participants in same-sized tiles.
- SharePlay is a powerful set of system features that enables users to have shared experiences while on a FaceTime call. Users can share their favorite music, TV shows, movies, projects, and more with friends and family in real time — kicking off a shared listening party, watching movies and shows, collaborating in apps through screen sharing, and more. With an API built for easy adoption, third-party developers can bring their own apps right into FaceTime.
- Shared with You makes it easy to locate and enjoy all the great content that’s shared through Messages, including photos, videos, articles, and more, right from a Shared with You tab within Photos, Safari, Apple Podcasts, Apple News, and the Apple TV app.
New Ways to Work Across Apple Devices
Working across Apple devices is now better than ever with new Continuity features:
- Universal Control lets users work with a single mouse and keyboard and move between Mac and iPad for a seamless experience, with no setup required. Users can even drag and drop content back and forth between devices — great for sketching a drawing with Apple Pencil on iPad and placing it into a Keynote slide on the Mac.
- With AirPlay to Mac, users can play, present, and share just about anything — from the latest movies and games to vacation photos and presentations — from their iPhone or iPad right to their Mac’s stunning Retina display. The Mac’s high-fidelity sound system can also be used as an AirPlay speaker, so users can play music or podcasts on their Mac, or use their Mac as a secondary speaker for multiroom audio.
Additional New Features of macOS Monterey
- With the new interactive globe in Maps and an amazing, immersive, and detailed city experience, users can enjoy new ways to navigate and explore the natural beauty of the Earth on the Mac’s large, gorgeous display.
- Live Text uses on-device machine learning to detect text in photos, including phone numbers, websites, addresses, and tracking numbers, so users can copy and paste, make a phone call, open a website, and easily find more information. Visual Lookup also uses machine learning to help users discover and learn about animals, art, landmarks, plants, and more in photos. These features work across macOS, including in apps like Photos, Messages, and Safari.
- iCloud+ combines everything users love about iCloud with new premium features, including Hide My Email, expanded HomeKit Secure Video support, and an innovative new internet privacy service, iCloud Private Relay, at no additional cost.
- AirPods Pro and AirPods Max deliver a theater-like experience with spatial audio on Macs with the M1 chip.
- Privacy features like Mail Privacy Protection let users choose whether emails can collect information about their Mail activity, and the Mac recording indicator now shows which app is accessing the Mac’s microphone.
- New accessibility features let anyone add alternative image descriptions right from Markup, and improved Full Keyboard Access and new cursor customization options provide more flexibility when navigating Mac.