Arriving on October 24, 2022, Apple’s macOS 13 for Macs and MacBooks comes with the release name Ventura and looks visually very similar to the previous version. A few new features and improvements are coming, some of which tie in with iOS 16.
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A completely new feature to macOS 13 is Stage Manager, a feature that helps to organize your windows and apps a bit like App Exposé and Mission Control. With a click of the Stage Manager button in Control Center at the top of the screen, macOS will organize all your open windows and apps into groups that you can quickly recall using the icons on the edge of the screen.
The feature allows you to create custom groups of apps in layouts of your choosing. You can also place the app you’re working on at the center of the screen without entering full-screen, so you can still use other apps. While working in Stage Manager, you can click on the desktop to find files and use Mission Control to switch apps.
Use Your iPhone as a Webcam
A new feature called Continuity Camera allows you to use your iPhone as a webcam on your Mac. If you have an iPhone 11 or later with an ultra-wide camera, you can use the Apple’s Center Stage feature that allows you to walk around your environment and have the video automatically follow you. You’ll need a tripod or some sort of clip to keep the camera steady, in a position that works for whatever type of video call you’re taking.
A feature called Desk View uses the ultra-wide camera to mimic an overhead camera, showing off your desk and your face at the same time. Plus if you have an iPhone 12 or later you can use Studio Light mode to “artfully” illuminate your face, or Portrait mode (on iPhone XR, SE, or later) to blur the background just like Portrait mode photos in iOS.
More Powerful Spotlight Search
Spotlight is probably the quickest way of launching apps on your Mac, but with macOS 13 the feature gets even more intelligent with a new design that pulls in more results and actions than ever before. You can now search for images in apps like Notes and Messages, and search for text thanks to the Live Text feature that detects text within images.
Spotlight also gets a little more intelligent in terms of executing actions, a bit like Alfred. You can now do things like run macOS Shortcuts, start a timer or alarm with the Clock app, switch to a Focus mode, and even search the web for images. There’s also a handy new Quick Look shortcut triggered by the Space bar when hovering a Spotlight result.
Passkeys Replace (Some) Passwords
Finally making it into macOS with the arrival of Ventura are Passkeys, Apple’s joint venture with Google and Microsoft. Using public and private key cryptography, Passkeys combine with biometrics like Face ID (on iPhone) and Touch ID (on Mac) so that you can log in without typing a password.
A Better Mail App
The Mail app in both iOS 16 and macOS 13 is getting some useful new features that are normally found in third-party email clients. These include scheduled send for delaying outgoing mail, the ability to undo sending an email for 10 seconds after sending it, and the ability to pin sent mails to follow up on later or use the “Remind me” option to resurface read emails at a later date.
Mail is more forgiving in terms of correcting search terms, reminders to add attachments or recipients to mail messages you’ve composed, and smarter search suggestions as you type.
If you’re used to chatting over iMessage with other Apple users (blue bubbles) then you’ll now be able to edit and unsend messages up to 15 minutes after sending or recall deleted messages within 30 days of sending. You can also issue collaborative invites to whole groups within a message window for documents in Pages, shared Apple Notes, and more—plus get updates on those collaborations within the same window.
SharePlay also extends to Messages, allowing you to sync up shared activities like listening to music or watching movies right from your Mac over iMessage. Lastly, the ability to mark messages as unread is finally here after so many years.
Improvements to Focus
Just like iOS 16, macOS 13 will get all of Apple’s improvements to the Focus feature that helps remove unwanted distractions. This includes the ability to use Focus filters to set boundaries within specific apps, which gives you more control over what appears in the apps you’re using depending on which Focus mode is currently selected. Third-party developers will be able to use an API to integrate the feature into their own apps.
You can also schedule Focus modes depending on the time of day or your current location, plus setting up Focus is easier than ever with a new setup process. Much like Focus on iOS 15 and macOS 12, these settings should sync between devices like your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Shared Tab Groups are new for macOS 13, with the Mac now supporting groups of tabs that can be shared with a group of friends. You can also pin tabs within Tab Groups and set Tab Group start pages. There’s support for a new batch of web technologies, new web extension APIs to allow for more advanced extensions, and installed extensions will also now sync between devices.
Major macOS updates always see the biggest improvements to Safari, with incremental updates providing smaller updates like security patches and bug fixes.
A New-Look System Settings
macOS System Preferences panel has always looked a bit cluttered, so Apple has tidied it up for macOS Ventura. The refreshed design renames the control panel to System Settings and is organized by modern categories with a powerful search engine at the top for picking out deeply-nested toggles.
iCloud Shared Photo Library and Photos Improvements
iCloud users can now start a Shared Photo Library with five members of their family plan, alongside their existing private iCloud Photo Library. You can choose to share everything or pick which photos you’d like to share, in order to contribute to a group effort and receive memories that span multiple perspectives. If you have trouble deciding what to choose Photos will give you smart suggestions.
Photos also gets more improvements to the core app including the ability to copy and paste photo edits, detect duplicate photos, and a new Photos picker in system apps to make importing images into other apps even easier. By default, your Hidden and Recently Deleted albums will be locked behind a password or Touch ID, further protecting your privacy.
Better Gaming with SharePlay and Game Center
While you probably shouldn’t buy a Mac purely for gaming purposes, SharePlay now extends to games that use Game Center for multiplayer. This allows you to easily start gaming sessions together and updates a redesigned Game Center app that lets you track activities and achievements with friends in one place.
There’s also a neat new Accessibility option that allows you to map two controllers together, for parents or caregivers to provide a helping hand should they need it.
New iOS-Style Apps
macOS finally gets a dedicated Clock app with timers and alarms, plus Spotlight integration to boot. There’s also an iPad-style Weather app with detailed weather maps, forecasts, weather warning notifications, and fancy animations.
And Much More
With macOS 13 and iOS 16 now using the same architecture, many of the same improvements are being made to both operating systems within the same year. Some other highlights include Handoff and Live Captions over FaceTime, better Dictation features, a new Home app as seen on iOS 16, and more Memoji poses and styles.
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