MacOS Monterey public beta is live – TechCrunch


Yesterday, Apple launched a whole bunch of new public beta releases around the world: iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8. Today, the company is back with another big piece of the software puzzle announced at WWDC in June.

After three weeks of developer beta, macOS 12.0 Monterey public beta is now available for download (i.e., it has started a rollout that often takes a bit of time to get to everyone) .

Any beta of an operating system comes with the usual caveats against downloading it to your main machine, but at the very least, it should be more stable enough than what was offered to developers in June. Look, I’m not gonna tell you how to live your life.

Image credits: Brian heating

I don’t always open these kinds of writes with system compatibility, but it should probably be chosen for Monterey. After all, this is the first new full version of the operating system since the company made Apple’s first silicon Macs available last year. Naturally, it will be available for all systems with a proprietary Apple processor.

Intel Macs are more of a purse, although support goes back several years in most cases. A nod to Macrumors, who came up with the following list:

  • iMac‌ – End of 2015 and after
  • ‌IMac‌ Pro – 2017 and later
  • ‌MacBook Air‌ – Early 2015 and beyond
  • MacBook Pro – Early 2015 and later
  • Mac Pro – Late 2013 and later
  • Mac mini – Late 2014 and later
  • MacBook – Early 2016 and later

The dates are shifted about a year from the Big Sur compatibility failure, which makes sense.

Okay so what do you get if you bite the bullet and download today? The biggest changes are Safari, FaceTime, as well as the addition of the Universal Control feature that unifies devices across devices and shortcuts, an iOS feature that will replace macOS’s mainstay, Automater.

Image credits: Brian heating

Some Initial Thoughts – Let’s start with Safari. The browser receives key updates with every major macOS refresh, but this is one of the most important in recent memory. After the opening speech, there were concerns that the updates would only confuse many users. And it’s certainly true that people hate disruption to their workflow – that’s probably one of the few reasons I’ve never seriously bothered to switch to Safari as my default browser every day. Change is difficult, folks. Of course, change is also a necessary part of evolution. Either way, I haven’t used Monterey intimately enough to offer something more definitive about the Safari experience.

There is a pretty drastic difference up front:

Image credits: Brian heating

It might not seem like much, but after so many generations of the taskbar serving as the driving force, it’s admittedly a pretty daring change to the center of the browser. Your mileage will vary, of course, but the idea at the heart of it is to tie the field to individual tabs, rather than having a more constant presence. There is also more control over tabs, in the form of tab groups, which basically allow you to bookmark a bunch of sites together, so you can group them into things like Home and Work (in assuming that these become separate elements again).

If you know anything about how Apple makes software, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these groups are synced across devices through your Safari account. It’s the kind of feature that people might break anyway – it means either being more organized or just creating a whole bunch of new endless tab groups.

Image credits: Apple

The additions to FaceTime are rather welcome pandemic evidence. The biggest addition is code that a lot of third parties have tried to crack over the past year or so, providing the ability to stream movies and TV shows on FaceTime calls with friends, in order to watch them together. Again, this is a very pandemic-friendly product that will likely continue to have appeal, as teleconferencing is certainly not going anywhere.

In addition to Apple products like TV + and Music, it will work with a number of launch partners including Disney +, Hulu, HBO Max, NBA, Twitch, TikTok, MasterClass, ESPN +, Paramount +, and PlutoTV. The company is also opening up its API to developers, because, honestly, this thing really needs YouTube and Netflix.

Image credits: Brian heating

Focus essentially builds on the existing Do Not Disturb feature, adding the ability to create specific notification settings. Apple offers some by default, like Work and Sleep, or you can create your own custom version, allowing some disruptions and blocking others.

Image credits: Apple

From a hardware perspective, Universal Control is probably the most interesting addition. This feature allows you to share keyboards and mics / trackpads wirelessly on compatible Macs and iPads. It’s not exactly a replacement for Sidecar, and it doesn’t specifically rely on that technology. Where Sidecar efficiently turns an iPad into a second display, Universal Control retains the standard iPad functionality, albeit with a slider that moves between devices. Both sound compelling to creatives and frequent travelers, but it will be interesting to see if one effectively cannibalizes the other.

Speaking of multi-device functionality, AirPlay to Mac is one of those features where you wonder why it took so long. Here you can share content from iPhone or other Apple device directly to your big screen Mac. The computer can also serve as an Airplay speaker, playing music from this device to the system.

Image credits: Brian heating

As mentioned above, the arrival of the Mac version of Shortcuts marks the beginning of the end for Automater. Apple will keep the app for a while as it collects user feedback. I appreciate this change from the standard company policy of just ripping off the bandage with new features. Automater was extremely versatile, but could be downright confusing for the uninitiated. For starters, the company offers a gallery (see above) of shortcuts.

They range from basic operating system tasks to things like “Make Gif”, which could ultimately make some third-party Mac applications redundant.

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