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MacOS 14 Sonoma’s public beta is now live.

Apple has released the public beta version of macOS 14. Sonoma. Perhaps you have been navigating these wine country waters for some time. In fact, the company announced at WWDC that anyone with a developer account would have early access to its new operating systems, not just those who paid $99 for the Developer Program.

Obviously, the usual degree of caution applies. Since the developer conference last month, I’ve been running betas on all of my devices and have encountered a few bugs here and there. Nothing significant, but enough to recommend that people wait to install their daily drivers until the final version has been released.

As is the case with all Apple OS releases, there is a great deal of shared DNA between the various platforms; this seems to be the case more and more with each new release. iOS 17 and macOS 14 share a number of features. These will be discussed below, but we’ll begin with the most notable desktop-only additions.

As always, it is a free update, so those with compatible systems are strongly encouraged to upgrade when the time is appropriate. Obviously, if you have older applications and workflows, it’s never a terrible idea to wait a few weeks to see if people are raising red flags in the usual forums. Any significant operating system upgrade carries a very real danger of causing problems. Generally, reverting is more difficult than updating.

The following are compatible with Sonoma:

• iMac: after 2019 • Mac Pro: after 2019 • iMac Pro: 2017 • Mac Studio: after 2022 • MacBook Air: after 2018 • Mac mini: after 2018 • MacBook Pro: after 2018

The most significant update? In a single word: widgets. In particular, widgets are no longer exclusive to the sidebar. They can now be dragged and dropped onto the desktop, a feature borrowed from earlier iOS versions.

It is a dynamic process, and once on the desktop, the widgets will appear as a translucent panel beneath open windows. Intriguingly, if you attempt to drag them on top of existing files on the desktop, they will displace them.

If you have an associated iPhone in close proximity, a pull-to-desktop option for that device’s widgets will appear beneath the sidebar.

Thankfully, the last few macOS updates have placed a much greater emphasis on video conferencing. Along with enhanced webcam hardware and features such as Continuity Camera (which allows you to use a connected iPhone as a webcam), it’s encouraging to see the company maintaining its focus on this aspect of work and life despite the easing of COVID regulations.

In addition to features such as Center Stage, reactions add message animations such as confetti, hearts, and pyrotechnics.

These can be activated with a touch of the mouse or a hand gesture. These are compatible with multiple teleconferencing applications, including Zoom, so you do not need to use FaceTime exclusively to take advantage.

Apple has made a wise decision, as individuals do not use FaceTime for business calls. Windows also includes a new “share on” feature for applications like Preview, allowing you to share directly to a teleconferencing app.

Also available is Presenter Overly, which transforms your presentation into a virtual whiteboard background.

Alternatively, you can transform your cranium into a bubble and allow the presentation to dominate the screen.

With the inclusion of Profiles, Safari’s filing system receives a new upgrade. You can separate bookmarks, tab groups, history, and cookies into distinct locations, such as “Home,” “Work,” and “School,” so you don’t accidentally cross streams.

Additionally, the browser now allows you to save “web apps” to the Dock. Visit a website in Safari, select File > Add to Dock, and the site’s favicon will be saved below for simple access.

New for families is the ability to establish a group of dynamically updating, shareable passwords. You may remove individuals from the list at any time. Safari will also close private browsing windows while you’re away, obscuring the content and making them password-protected to prevent snooping.

As usual, Messages is receiving cross-platform enhancements. This includes the ability to add multiple search filters, the ability to swipe to replay, and (if desired) the ability to share your location via Apple Maps. Autocorrect is also being enhanced, so you can finally type “fuck” with genuine intent.

The final release is anticipated to appear later this year (signs point to September or October). Let’s duck.



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