Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (offered virtually and at no cost to developers for the second year) with a nearly two-hour live-streamed keynote address last week. Products and technologies covered this time around included iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8, each of which will sport myriad new features.
Two things stuck out for me.
First: Cool new features available across most (if not all) Apple devices
This year there was more emphasis than ever on cross-device features that work more or less the same with most Apple devices.
For example, a new feature called SharePlay lets you watch movies and TV shows or listen to music or podcasts in sync with others Apple users. You can pause, rewind, or fast-forward whilst the content stays in sync for all participants.
The cool part is that SharePlay will appear on most Apple devices later this year, including Macs, iOS devices, Apple TVs, and HomePods.
I’ve had little success with remote viewing and listening using today’s existing apps and tools, so I expect SharePlay to make it easier and more convenient for all involved to view shared content in sync on whichever of their Apple devices happens to be nearby.
In a similar vein, a new feature called Shared with You automatically adds content sent to you in Messages to special new Shared with You sections in the Photos, Safari, News, Music, Podcasts, and TV apps. So, when someone shares a link or image with you via the Messages app, it will appear automatically in the Shared with You section of the appropriate app.
Focus is another new feature you’ll find in your Macs and iDevices later this year. Focus limits your distractions by filtering interruptions based on the task at hand. You can allow or disallow notifications from apps or people with custom Focus settings designed for what you’re doing—like working, playing, walking, sleeping, or driving. And, of course, it works seamlessly among your devices, so when you choose a setting on one device, it’s applied to your other devices automatically.
Finally, a new feature called Universal Control lets you use a single keyboard, mouse, or trackpad to control your Mac and iPad at the same time. When you move the cursor to the edge of the first device’s screen (toward the second device), the cursor magically jumps onto the second device’s screen! It also includes drag and drop between devices and supports up to three devices from the same keyboard, mouse, or trackpad.
Second: My Macs Were ALL Too Old for macOS Monterey!
Moving right along, the second big thing I noticed was that while both of my Macs are still working flawlessly, they’re getting old… So old, in fact, that neither of them—a late 2013 MacBook Pro and an early 2014 MacBook Air—supports macOS Monterey.
So, while I hadn’t planned to retire either Mac this year, I bought a new M1-powered MacBook Air last week so I could start work on macOS Monterey For Dummies (coming this Fall).