Universal Control Shows What Apple Does Best

Not reinventing the wheel, just making it better

Key Takeaways

  • Apple introduced a new feature called Universal Control at the Worldwide Developers Conference.
  • Universal Control will let users seamlessly control multiple Apple devices from a single device within a certain proximity.
  • This new feature is a prime example of how Apple takes already existing ideas and improves upon them.
macOS Universal Control

Apple

Universal Control isn’t the first multi-device control program we’ve ever seen, but it is a good reminder of how Apple takes already existing ideas and tries to improve upon them with great success.

During the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this year, Apple revealed several operating system updates, including a look at many of the new features coming in macOS Monterey—the next version of its computer OS.

One of the most interesting additions with Monterey is the introduction of what Apple calls Universal Control. It’s essentially a built-in system that allows you to move your cursor and content seamlessly between multiple Apple devices. The productivity benefits offered by such a system are already pretty straightforward, but experts say it could also save you money down the line.

"One major advantage of Universal Control is that users should not necessarily have to purchase a separate keyboard and mouse to type on an iPad. This could save millions of people hundreds of dollars," Phil Crippen, the CEO of John Adams IT, told Lifewire in an email.

Working Together

Outside of the possible benefits of saving you money on accessories for your iPad, the overall simplicity of Universal Control is notable.

"One major advantage of Universal Control is that users should not necessarily have to purchase a separate keyboard and mouse to type on an iPad."

Unlike other multi-system programs, Universal Control is designed to be simple and easy to use—making it a program that every Apple user can enjoy. As such, you won’t need to worry about setting up any kind of different options or turning anything on.

Instead, all you’ll have to do is bring your supported Apple devices close together (you can use up to three at once), and then move the cursor on one device past the edge of the screen to trigger the system and make your cursor appear on the other device.

Other programs like Share Mouse and Synergy can offer similar control options for computers, but they have more limited features when sharing between those devices and others, like the iPad. You also have to download and connect the programs, and some even have an additional cost associated with them, as well. With Universal Control, Apple has made everything more manageable, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you can trust the app you’re installing.

It’s also important to note that Apple has made all of this happen without using any cables or connectors. This means you won’t have to worry about extra accessories using up your Mac’s precious few USB ports.

Simplicity

This simplicity is so important because Apple’s devices cater to a multitude of different types of users. Consumers who are well versed in tech use Apple iPads, Macs, and iPhones, but older users and users who just aren’t as experienced with complicated systems use them, as well.

Someone working on an iPad in front of a computer.

Fakurian Design / Getty Images

Considering the over 1.4 billion Apple devices reported in May 2019, it makes sense for Apple to create a control feature that will work seamlessly for all types of users. After all, this isn’t simply something that professionals will make use of—despite WWDC’s heavy focus on developers and the tools that Apple is giving them.

Being able to move the items you’re working on between devices will be useful for professionals and parents who help out with their children’s sports or extracurricular activities. That also isn’t even considering the overall usability that it brings to students, who now will be able to work on school assignments no matter which device they have with them.

"The ability to control multiple computers using the same cursor or mouse will be huge to people who need multiple screen displays to function," Alina Clark, a tech expert and co-founder of CocoDoc, told Lifewire. "Coders, animators, video editors, and gamers are going to have a field day with this feature. For a normal user, this feature means that you can use the same mouse to control your MacBook and iPad or any two Mac device combinations. It’s cool and certainly refreshing."

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