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WWDC 2021 – macOS Monterey Gets Forked

WWDC 2021 is over! On Monday the virtual keynote introduced us to the many new features coming to our favorite operating systems, and also showed several new nails in the coffin of Intel-based Macs. 

WWDC 2021 - Monterey

WWDC 2021 Introduces Us To macOS Monterey

macOS is under the water.. diving into Monterey Bay! And, with.. like… ONE.. unique feature. Like, really… NO keystone features to set it apart from iOS. The merging of iOS and macOS continues this year to the point where all new features are shared by the two main operating systems produced by Apple. 

But the one feature that is more unique to the Mac? Something called Universal Control! If you have a Mac set up alongside another Mac, using one keyboard and mouse, you can transition your mouse cursor across to the other device.  This allows you to control two computers with just one IO set, and also allows you to drag and drop content from one device to another seamlessly! The REALLY cool part is that you can throw an iPad into the mix… which means you can drag and drop files directly from iOS! 

macOS is getting some new window management features, making full-screen and split-screen apps easier to use and an option to leave the menu bar visible. You can now pull down on a Safari window to refresh the page. Erase all content and settings reset options from iOS are coming to the Mac, as is Low Power mode for Apple laptops. 

An interesting upgrade for AirPlay shown at WWDC 2021 will allow you to make the Mac an AirPlay receiver, allowing you to case video and audio to your Mac for entertaining. 

WWDC 2021

So, beyond these wee specific features, the major features introduced this year are system agnostic, working the same across both iOS and macOS. Let’s visit each one briefly. 

Live Text

Live text is a feature borrowed, but enhanced, from Google Lens on the Android platform. It’s basically an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for your camera. You will be able to point your camera at any printed or written text, say on a document or a store sign, and tap the LiveText icon to turn it into selectable and editable text. This also works in the Photos app with existing photos. You can instantly select a portion or all of the text and copy it into a Note, or simply copy it to past elsewhere. 

Think about copying a restaurant phone number from its window and being able to paste it into the phone dialer to call them right away, or Googling the name. This OCR also works with the built-in translation, allowing you to tap to translate the selected text. This could be incredibly beneficial to tourists! 

WWDC 2021


A new property of FaceTime is iOS 15 shown off at WWDC 2021 is a new collaborative environment called ShareTime. You can now FaceTime your friends and say, listen to music together, the songs being synced between you in real-time. This also works for movies! You can now watch a movie with folks on the other side of the planet if you want! FaceTime is also getting some voice isolation technologies including spatial audio, a portrait mode, and grid view! Apple is coming for Zoom with the introduction of scheduled calls and non-Apple user access via a web browser. 

Alongside all this, AirPods will be updated to include similar Voice Isolation technologies, allowing you to hone in on a speaker if you suffer from such problems. 

WWDC 2021

Messages at WWDC 2021

WWDC 2021 showed Messages is getting focused on content shared with you by others, to the point a new ambiguous Shared With You menu will appear in many places around the operating systems. If someone shares a web[age with you, you will see it automatically pop up in a new menu in safari, photos shared with you will appear in Photos and even TV shows in the AppleTV app. A nice detail is that in those apps you will see who shared the content with you, and you can easily converse with them by clicking a button, and saving photos is easier as well with a new save button. 

Quick Notes

Any long-time macOS user may miss Stickies, the instant note applet we had for ages. Apple has introduced the feature again with something called Quick Note. By using a hot corner in MacOS, Control Centre, or Apple Pencil in iPadOS, you can bring up an instant note to quickly write something down. The notes are added to your regular Notes app, but if you are using the App you created the quick note in, a small icon comes up to show you that you created a note there before.

 WWDC 2021 Quick Notes

Map Upgrades Shown At WWDC 2021

The Maps app is getting beautiful new upgrades with highly detailed maps for certain cities, things like elevation, roads, trees, buildings, and landmarks. This detail becomes more apparent when approaching things like complex intersections where the perspective changes to see more elevation, and you can see things like individual turn lanes and crosswalks. 

WWDC 2021 showed Maps now also uses augmented reality and machine learning to identify where you are in select cities, then give you AR directions. You can also zoom out to a full globe view as well.

Maps Redesign in iOS 15

Spatial Audio

This new feature was recently introduced into Apple Music gives you full immersion into your music using Dolby Atmos technology. There is a special PlayList to listen to a selection of music that was made specifically for Dolby Atmos, and it really is incredible! You hear instruments coming from all around you, and the vocalist seems right with you. For those with a VERY fine-tuned ear, Apple also introduced Lossless Audio with Apple Music. A much higher bitrate gives you the full breadth and width of the audio waveform. The best part, it’s all included for free with your Apple Music subscription. 

Apple is going all-in with Spatial Audio by looks of it, including it in FaceTime for iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. Now, when you are on a FaceTime call with multiple people, you’ll hear their voice coming from the direction they are on the screen. 


WWDC 2021 introduced us to a new feature throughout iOS and macOS is designed to help you to focus on a particular event by filtering notifications, calls, and more. You can specify say, work, and have only work-related calls and notifications be turned on. People would receive an automated response if they message or call you, and you can set status in Messages now. Just like Do Not Disturb mode, people with an urgent need to get through if they need. 

Alongside this, Notifications are getting a redesign with improved grouping, larger app icons, and a new morning summary page. 


Apple is cementing its leadership in privacy with the introduction of a VPN-like service for Safari and Mail, masking your IP address so it can’t be tracked by other parties. All web traffic through safari is fully encrypted and anonymous as are any messages transmitted through Mail. the latter has neutered a common marketing technique used in mass emailers. Siri is largely losing its leash to the internet, moving much of its voice processing local to your phone. iCloud is becoming iCloud+ thanks to its adoption of the same VPN-like service called Private Relay. Apple will also allow you unlimited email aliases to securely forward mail to your personal address, allowing you to sign up for newsletters without the concern of spam. 

WWDC 2021 Tidbits

Apple is introducing a service to recover the iCloud accounts of deceased relatives. Its Digital Legacy program lets you assign a Legacy Contact who would be allowed into your account in the event you shuffle off your mortal coil. iPhones will be able to be set up to us AR to capture data on a real-world object then make it into a 3D mesh using your Mac. iPad is getting an improved multitasking menu and a progress bar on file transfers. 

Memojis are getting more clothing options, the ability to select two colors for eyes, accessibility options such as cochlear implants and oxygen tubes, and more. Photos are getting big customization options with its slideshows options. Siri is finally able to make combined requests by stringing together questions. 

FindMy network will expand to find things like AirPods and give you the option of a separation alert should you leave one behind somewhere. It will also now work on iPhones that have been powered off! iOS will no longer force you to upgrade to the next version, giving you the option to allow security updates only. And, when you do have to upgrade or transfer to a new iPad or iPhone, Apple will give you temporary unlimited iCloud storage so the process can be done. iOS is finally expanding upon its print options as well, including double-sided option and page range. 

Safari is now tab-focused, but the design is terrible in the betas, folks are hoping to see change before launch. HTTP sites are automatically upgraded to an HTTPS connection as well. 

Safari in macOS Monterey

Compatability Forked

iOS 15 is extending support for the iPhone SE and 6s series another year, iPad Mini 4 and 5th gen. macOS Monterey isn’t as kind, starting with the 2015 era MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, and 2014 Mac Mini. Watch OS 8 will start with Series 3. 

An interesting thing to be noted though, there is a slew of features that aren’t supported on Intel Macs! Only Apple Silicon Macs will be able to do FaceTime Portrait Mode, Live Text in Photos, or the detailed views in Apple Maps. An Intel Mac will allow you to dictate with Siri for about a minute, but on the M1, you can record long as you want. M1 Macs will also listen and speak in more languages including Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish. 

Each of these features not appearing on those Macs is another nail in the coffin of Intel on Mac in general, the inexorable movement to a day we have nothing but Apple silicon in our Apple devices. Until then, macOS will be increasingly forked. 

Any questions about the new OS features coming? Contact us!


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Ryszard (Rick) Gold, From Calgary, Alberta, Canada has over 20 years of experience working with Apple products in a technical capacity. Passionate about technology in general, his natural troubleshooting abilities, curiosity and appreciation of good design lead him into working exclusively with Apple Computer products.
Ryszard Gold
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