Now that you can get your hands on macOS Monterey, here are the first features you should check out.
Monday, June 7th, 2021, Apple introduced a huge number of updates on their upcoming softwares. It amazed many people by the features of macOS Monterey. I am one of them too and in this story, I’ll be sharing my favorite features on this brand new operating system.
I was amazed by the number of new features introduced in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and Watch OS 8.
One of my all-time favorite Apple products is the Apple Watch and with the introduction of Watch OS 8, I was expecting more exciting changes. Having said that, the ones we received for the eighth version are not bad, they simply needed to be a little more than minor changes.
#1. Redesign Safari
In my opinion, Safari was in the top 3 biggest updates for the macOS. Not only did we receive a completely redesigned user interface, but we also received much needed improvements and new features.
For one, the extensions now run on iOS and iPadOS which is basically my wish come true. I imagine tons of developers creating much better Safari extensions that will make use of the great hardware and form factor of iPhones and iPads.
Having tabs take less space, and the group feature is such a productivity hack. I love it. Basically, you can have a bunch of tabs open and set it in a group then access them whenever they’re needed. Speaking of the redesign, I love the minimalistic approach of hiding most buttons under a unified simple button near the URL bar.
Like iOS and iPadOS, you don’t need to press CMD + F to find a text on a page. Simply click on the URL bar and start to type what you need to find.
The Sidebar has gotten a new redesign. It now offers better visuals and more structure for added features like Tap Groups, Bookmarks, Reading Lists.
A remarkable privacy feature for the new version of Safari is its capability to block websites from profiling you using your IP Address. There is also the feature which automatically switches a website from HTTP to HTTPS in order to improve your security.
Overall, the new Safari upgrade is fantastic, and I believe Apple is making it difficult for people to keep using Chrome since it is offers better user experience.
I rate this update a 10/10 simply because of how massive the changes are.
#2. Siri Shortcuts
One of the most useful utilities on iOS and iPadOS is coming to the new version of macOS. I’m talking about the Shortcuts app. The presence of the Shortcuts app was much needed and now not only will we be receiving a fully-fledged version of shortcuts, but also a more advance one.
The Shortcuts app is not a single app — it combines with the automator which allows us to run a world of powerful shortcuts on our macs.
The Shortcut gallery is now updated with those that are specific to macs which makes the app contextually friendly.
All shortcuts you have made on your iPhone or iPad will automatically synchronize across your devices.
Shortcuts can run on multiple places throughout the mac. Places like the Finder, Dock, and the Spotlight Search.
iPhone or iPad shortcuts can run on macs too, albeit most need an Apple Silicon processor.
Apple is preparing us to migrate from Automator to Shortcuts, and it is going to take some time, but I can already see the future of using Apple devices with unified experiences and more power in the hands of users.
I’ll rate this new feature an 8/10 because of how powerful it is making the operating system.
#3. Universal Control
The universal control allows far better integration between Apple devices, Specially between multiple Macs.
I don’t own more than one Mac, but I can easily imagine a professional individual running two or more Macs with side by side.
There is no need to own a specific accessory (like Logitech devices) to transfer files or move the cursor between two Macs or iPads. All you need is an iCloud account and your machines. The rest is done with the operating system.
Based on Apple’s description of Universal Control, we can control to three Macs with this feature.
Lastly, transferring files between your Macs will be super easy. Simply Drag-and-Drop from one device to another. You can for example drag an image from your iPad and drop it onto your Mac without any lags or trouble.
I rate this feature 9/10 as it will be making professionals extremely productive at most tasks.
#4. Better Battery Management
iPhones and Apple Watches had this wonderful feature called low-power mode which basically reduces the clock speed of your device’s chipset and dims the brightness on your display to extend your battery.
I remember reading reddit a couple of months ago, and many people were asking for such feature on Mac. Now, we have it and for times when we really need to extend the battery in a day, it will come super handy.
I imagine this feature working best on Apple Silicon as the chipset is super powerful and reducing its clock speed wouldn’t probably hurt performance. I have a feeling that with low-power mode enabled, the M1 Macs will still be faster than Intel chips.
I’ll rate this feature a 5/10 as it is great to have, but the battery life on latest Macs is already great.
#5. AirPods Improvements
AirPods are getting some upgrades as well. You can now find them in the Find My app on your Mac. macOS Monterey will also bring Spatial audio support for AirPods which is phenomenal.
You can now listen to FaceTime calls with spatial audio and have a much more immersive experience talking to your loved ones.
Spatial audio is great, specially when used to listen to Apple Music alongside the Dolby Atmos support.
I’ll rate this feature a 3/10 because as much as I enjoy immersive experiences, I don’t find it a major update to the software or my devices.
I’ve been waiting for this feature for such a long time. As a content creator myself, I always connect my iPhone and iPad using the USB cable to my Mac in order to take screenshots of my devices. Now, I don’t have to. I can simply AirPlay my device to my Mac’s monitor and go on with my work.
The AirPlay feature doesn’t limit to just streaming your display to the monitor, you can use it to present a keynote presentation and control the slides with your phone. You can stream only the music you like, and I like this feature since the Mac speakers are wonderful.
A possibility that I never though to see is here, you can now extend the display on your iPad to your Mac. This feature would be extremely useful to those who use their iPad as their main device.
I’ll rate this feature a 7/10 because it brought one of my requested features and will simplify my workflow as a content creator.
#7. Recording Indicator
Just like the iOS 14 where you could see if an app is using your mic, you can have the same feature on your Mac. This is a great privacy feature and for me, I don’t have to rely on (questionable) third-party apps to see which apps use my microphone.
There is a section in the control center that will show you which apps have access to the microphone. I’m sure many people looking at the list will be surprised to see the number of apps taking advantage of their privacy by listening to their conversations.
I’ll rate this feature a 10/10 because privacy means the world to me and Apple’s privacy-first approach in design keeps surprising me.
#8. Continuous Dictation
On supported Macs with Apple Silicon which at the time of writing this story will be the M1 processors, you can press the FN key twice (if it is set in such way) and use voice dictation continuously. You are no longer limited to 60 seconds of voice dictation.
This is a feature that will also come to iPhones and iPads (those that have A12 SoC and newer) and we will be having the same feature on our Macs.
As someone who uses voice dictation every day for at least 10 minutes, I’ll be rating this feature a 9/10 since it will improve my workflow without causing interruptions.
#9. Mail Privacy Protection
Email plays such an important role in our lives that greedy companies keep finding ways to invade our privacy and learn more about our habits and behaviors.
The great thing about Apple is its privacy-first approach in designing a feature. Now, with the new version of macOS, you can turn off some feature that will reduce the amount of information third-party advertisers and trackers learn from you.
Mail senders sometimes put on a hidden pixel in the email which will reveal when you have opened their email alongside some other information. This is wrong and Apple is giving us a way to disable such invasion of privacy.
Now, Mail senders can’t track our locations, and the online activity using our IP Address as we have the tools to hide it.
I rate this feature a 10/10 because it helps me stay safer online.
#10. Voice Memos Improvements
I don’t know about you, but I use Voice Memo probably more than I need to. In fact, on my iPhone, I have put it in the control center, so I could capture my thoughts and ideas as quickly as I can.
On the Mac is where listening and editing happens and this year, Apple has brought two amazing features to Voice Memos.
We can now adjust the playback speed and listen to our recordings with increased or decreased speed.
Another outstanding feature is the ability to skip silences while listening to the recordings. With a single click, you can skip over the gaps in your recordings and save seconds of your time that will accumulate to a considerable amount of time.
I hope Apple brings the ability to skip silences into the Podcast app as well.
I rate this feature a 7/10 because it helps me save time and have less excuse to procrastinate.
The macOS Monterey is a fantastic addition to the already great release of Big Sur. I am super excited to try these features in fall and improve my productivity and privacy.