Apple announced the next major version of its desktop operating system, macOS Monterey at WWDC 2021 today. According to Apple, the latest software update for Macs is aimed to add new ways to connect with friends and family, stay focused, and work smarter across all Apple devices. The new name follows Apple's California landmark-based naming scheme for macOS releases that started with the launch of OS X Mavericks in 2013.
First up are updates to Apple's de facto browser, Safari, which has been updated to bring a thinner and visually cleaner toolbar alongside more compact tabs. The new tab bar takes on the color of the webpage and combines tabs, the toolbar, and the search field into a single compact design. Active tabs can be combined into tab groups that sync across all Apple devices.
Another feature migrating to Mac from iOS and iPadOS is Shortcuts. The app comes with pre-built actions and also lets users set up custom actions to suit their needs. Shortcuts are integrated throughout macOS, including the menu bar, Finder, Spotlight, and support Siri. The existing Automator app is supported by Shortcuts so as to allow users to import existing workflows into Shortcuts.
Next up are updates to FaceTime. Just like on iOS 15, the service now supports spatial audio and adds Voice Isolation which uses machine learning to eliminate background noise to ensure that the user’s voice is audible on a call. Alternatively, users can turn on another feature called Wide Spectrum that allow all ambient sound in the area without filtering out background noise. Portrait mode video is also being added, a feature that allows the user to blur the background. Grid View has been introduced to show participants in same-sized tiles.
Apple's new cross-device media sharing feature, SharePlay, is also making it to the Mac. It allows users to share their favorite apps, music, TV shows, movies, and projects in real time on a FaceTime call. All Messages, including photos, videos, and articles shared by friends are visible in the new Shared with You tab within Photos, Safari, Apple Podcasts, Apple News, and the Apple TV app.
Just like iPadOS, Quick Notes now allows users to add links from any app, website, or location. It includes collaboration features and supports @mentions with everyone’s edits visible in the new Activity View. Notes can now be categorized with tags and searched in the Tag Browser or found in tag-based Smart Folders. Live Text and Visual Lookup uses on-device machine learning to help 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.
Focus allows users to automatically filter out notifications unrelated to their current activity. Users can display their status to others to let them know their availability via pre-set modes. Focus mode selected on one device automatically syncs across all other Apple devices and can be customized by users based on their current activity or preference.
Finally, Universal Control lets users work with a single mouse and keyboard and move between Mac and iPad without any setup. Content can also be dragged and dropped back and forth between devices.
Other notable features coming to macOS Monterey are iCloud+ which includes Hide My Email, HomeKit Secure Video support, and iCloud Private Relay VPN service. Privacy features like Mail Privacy Protection, Mac recording indicator are also included. AirPlay now allows users to share the display of their iPhone or iPad right to their Mac’s display and allows iMac’s speakers to be used as an AirPlay speaker.
The macOS Monterey Developer beta will be available for the eligible devices later today and the new update will roll out to all users in the fall this year.