June 2021’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference keynote offered surprisingly little on the next version of macOS. It was introduced towards the end of the presentation, and it took up much less time than you’d expect. Perhaps this is due to the Mac team spending much of their time with the switch-over to the new Apple-made chips, and perhaps it’s because a lot of the new features, such as Quick Notes, SharePlay and Focus, had already been discussed during the iOS 15 presentation. There’s some interesting tidbits on offer, though some of them are only available on the very latest Macs that run Apple Silicon processors; if you’re still on an Intel Mac, you won’t get the full benefit of macOS 12.
As always, the new operating system was named at the WWDC keynote. We already knew it was going to be macOS 12, as macOS 11.1 and 11.2 were taken with Big Sur updates, but we now know it’s to be called macOS 12: Monterey. Again, it’s based on a Californian location, specifically Monterey Bay.
Monterey introduces a new Continuity feature on the Mac. Universal Control lets you use a single keyboard and mouse/trackpad across your Mac and iPad (iPadOS 15 required). Just place your iPad next to your Mac, and you can drag your pointer across from the Mac’s screen and onto the iPad’s via a direct wireless connection. You can move files between the two devices in this way too, and even add a third device. At the keynote, we were shown an iPad and an iMac with a MacBook Pro sat between them, and all three devices being controlled using the notebook’s keyboard and trackpad.
This goes much further than Apple’s existing screen sharing feature, Sidecar, which used the iPad as a second screen for your Mac. With Universal Control, you’re actually operating your iPad as an independent device, not just a dumb screen.
AirPlay to Mac
We’ve long been able to share our mobile device’s screen to our television using Apple TV and AirPlay, but with Monterey, you can also play, present and share from an iPhone or iPad to a Mac’s screen. Today’s Mac displays are high resolution and very capable, so they’re excellent for presentations.
Another enviable feature of today’s Macs are their built-in audio. Again, you can take advantage of them using AirPlay, beaming your sounds directly to your Mac and playing them through its speakers; although we’re not sure why you’d want to. After all, what audio do you have on your iPhone that you can’t just install or stream to your Mac and play it directly from there? Even so, the feature is there if you want it.
Shortcuts on Your Mac
On mobile devices, Siri Shortcuts combine groups of actions into a single command. For example, you might set up a homecoming Shortcut that switches on your Apple TV, turns on the lights, puts the kettle on and activates the heating when you say, “Siri, I’m home.” With macOS Monterey, this feature comes to the Mac too.
Open the new Shortcuts app and you can access a gallery of pre-built Shortcuts, which you can use right away or customise to fit your own requirements using the Shortcuts editor. When you’re feeling confident, you can design Shortcuts from scratch. If you regularly carry out repetitive tasks, or group the same inputs over and again, Shortcuts will prove a real boon; and it works alongside, not instead of, Apple’s previous Mac workflow tool, Automator.
macOS 12: Monterey will arrive this autumn, with its exact release date to be announced.
The following Macs can run macOS 12 Monterey:
•iMac late 2015 and later
•iMac Pro 2017 and later
•MacBook Air early 2015 and later
•MacBook Pro early 2015 and later
•Mac Pro late 2013 and later
•Mac mini late 2014 and later
•MacBook early 2016 and later