Apple unveiled the latest version of macOS during the keynote of its 2023 Worldwide Developers Conference. Dubbed macOS 14 Sonoma (continuing Apple’s trend of naming its OS after cities in California), the newest flavor adds and improves key features for business users and individual consumers.
Among the notable enhancements are interactive widgets you can create and place on the desktop, just as with iOS and iPadOS. Another couple of features known as Presenter Overlay and Reactions should interest business users, trainers and other professionals who use FaceTime and similar video conferencing tools. And in Safari, you can create and maintain separate browsing profiles; this is of benefit if you want to keep your personal and professional activities separate.
What is the name of macOS 14?
macOS 14 Sonoma is Apple’s newest operating system; it was announced on June 5, 2023. Designed for the newest lineup of Apple’s MacBook Air and Mac Studio as well as existing Mac computers, macOS 14 brings with it new and improved ways for users to take advantage of widgets, video conferencing and Safari.
“macOS is the heart of the Mac, and with Sonoma, we’re making it even more delightful and productive to use,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, in a press release.
Federighi pointed to the ways people can personalize their desktop with widgets and new screen savers as well as benefit from video conferencing and Safari browsing.
When is the release date for macOS 14?
As of June 5, 2023, macOS 14 is available as a developer’s beta for registered developers. A public beta of macOS 14 will be released in July 2023. The official release of macOS 14 is due in Fall 2023.
macOS 14 compatible devices
- MacBook Pro 2018 and later
- MacBook Air 2018 and later
- Mac mini 2018 and later
- iMac 2019 and later
- iMac Pro 2017
- Mac Pro 2019 and later
- Mac Studio 2022 and later
macOS 14 features
Previously limited to the Notification Center on a Mac, widgets in macOS 14 can now be placed directly on the desktop for quicker and easier access, similar to their behavior in iOS and iPadOS.
You can choose your favorite widgets from a large gallery for the Mac and even tap into widgets from your iPhone via the Continuity feature, all of which can mesh with your chosen wallpaper. Your widgets can be interactive, so you’re able to create ones to check off reminders, play media, or access specific controls and tasks without leaving the desktop.
To improve your video conference experience, macOS 14 adds new features. A video effect called Presenter Overlay displays the image of the presenter on top of whatever content they’re sharing.
Another option called Reactions lets you share how you feel by adding balloons, confetti, hearts and symbols directly into the video (Figure A). Further, the screen sharing feature has been enhanced, so you can click a button in the left corner of an app or window to quickly share it.
With profiles in Safari, you can keep your professional and personal browsing separate from each other. By creating a unique profile, you ensure the cookies, history, extensions, Favorites and Tab groups are unique to that profile (Figure B). You can even sign into the same websites with your work account or your personal account and switch between them for a different experience.
Designed to better secure your browsing activities, the private browsing feature in Safari uses more advanced tracking and fingerprint protections to stop websites from tracking you. Private browsing windows also lock when not in use, so you don’t have to worry about closing their tabs if you step away from your Mac.
Plus, you can create web apps in Safari that work just like normal apps with their own toolbars and accessibility from the desktop or the Dock.
New screen savers
To spruce up your desktop when your Mac is in Lock screen mode, macOS 14 kicks in several new screen savers, including slow-motion videos of the Hong Kong skyline, the sandstone buttes of Monument Valley in Arizona and the hills of Sonoma in Northern California.
You’ll find the new and existing screen savers nestled among the themes for Landscape, Earth, Underwater and Cityscape. The login window now appears at the bottom of the screen, leaving more space for your favorite screen saver.
Improved screen sharing
macOS 14 beefs up the Mac’s screen sharing app. Taking advantage of Macs with Apple’s silicon CPU, screen sharing can now offer low-latency audio and higher frame rates as well as support for two virtual displays.
The goal is to enhance the speed and performance when using CPU-intensive apps such as Final Cut Pro or DaVinci Resolve.
macOS 14 has expanded accessibility features:
- For users with hearing problems, Made for iPhone hearing devices will connect to the Mac during a phone call.
- People who are unable to speak can use a Live Speech option to type out their words during phone calls and video chats.
- People with physical and motor disabilities will see phonetic suggestions when dictating text using Voice Control.
- Those with cognitive disabilities can automatically pause GIFs and other animated images in the Messages app.
- Individuals who are blind or have limited vision can tweak the text size in different apps and use Xcode with the VoiceOver screen reader.
When it’s time to take a break from work, macOS 14 is outfitted with Game Mode, which optimizes the gameplay by delivering smoother frame rates — courtesy of the highest priority on CPU and GPU resources.
Game Made also lowers the audio latency that can occur with AirPods and lessens the input latency that pops up with game controllers for the Xbox and PlayStation. Game Mode supports any game that runs on the Mac.
Additional features of macOS 14 Sonoma
Beyond the major new and improved features are smaller tidbits where Sonoma users will see smaller but still useful enhancements:
- PDFs: You can more quickly fill out PDF forms using an AutoFill feature and see full PDFs and scans embedded in notes in the Notes app.
- Siri: Siri users will be able to activate the voice assistant just by saying “Siri” instead of “Hey, Siri.”
- Passwords: You can create a group with whom you share specific passwords. Anyone in that group can add and edit passwords through iCloud Keychain.
- Messages: The Messages app offers new types of stickers to insert into a text as well as improvements to the search, reply, groups and iCloud syncing options.
- Keyboard: When you’re trying to type, a new autocorrect feature tries to help you by showing suggestions inline with the text and making the corrections more accurate and easier to fix.
- Privacy and security: Geared to block sensitive photos and videos, the Communication Safety feature now supports AirDrop, the Photos picker, incoming calls and FaceTime messages.