What Can You Do With macOS 12.1 Monterey?

Key Takeaways

  • macOS 12.1 Monterey is out, with a bunch of great new features. 
  • SharePlay looks like it’s going to be the breakout hit of the year. 
  • Apple has delayed Universal Control until 2022. 
Facetime on macOS Monterey

Apple

The big new feature in macOS 12.1 Monterey is SharePlay, but there's plenty more where that came from. 

One of the most exciting things to come out of the Apple Silicon transition is the parity of features between the Mac and iOS. Now that both platforms run on the same chips, Apple treats its computers as one big system with different hardware features. Just like the Mac has desktops and laptops, and iOS has long had phones, tablets, a watch, and so on, now it's more like there's one big Apple OS, with various devices within it. 

And that means the Mac is finally getting the same level of attention as the iPhone and iPad. 

"The most exciting new feature offered by macOS Monterey 12.1 is SharePlay, which lets Mac users watch content together through FaceTime. The feature came to iPhone with iOS 15.1, so it's nice to see it make its way to macOS, especially since its release was delayed," Daria Maltseva, head of product at software developer KeyUA, told Lifewire via email. 

SharePlay

SharePlay on an iPad

Apple

SharePlay is turning into one of Apple's best features overall. It seems a little gimmicky at first—who wants to watch a movie while FaceTiming?—but it's rapidly becoming very interesting. For instance, a new app called Navi, which we'll be covering here soon, adds real-time, automatic live translation and subtitles to FaceTime calls via SharePlay.

"SharePlay supports a wide range of activities, including streaming shows and movies, playing games, watching TikTok videos, and working out using Apple's Fitness Plus service," Mac user and VPNBrains cybersecurity consultant Therese Schachner told Lifewire via email. 

And now, SharePlay is available on the Mac, which will enhance one of its most useful abilities—screen-sharing. If a friend or a family member is having trouble with their device, you can FaceTime them and have them share their screen. You can then talk them through the steps required to fix it or teach them how to use a feature. And because it's now on the Mac, you get to use all the Mac's superior multitasking and multi-window capabilities to research those problems as you chat. 

The Mac is finally getting the same level of attention as the iPhone and iPad.

And if you do want to watch movies or TV shows together? Then now, you can do it on your iMac’s big screen instead of the little iPhone or iPad screens. 

Now that SharePlay is everywhere, we can’t wait to see what apps appear to exploit it. Perhaps there could be a FaceTime/SharePlay podcast recording app that records separate audio streams from all participants and combines them into a Logic or GarageBand project ready to edit.

Disposable Email Addresses

MacBook Air with Hide My Email feature on screen

Original Image by Pexels

Already available in iOS, Hide My Email is now on the Mac and also way easier to use; the feature lets you create a custom, anonymous “from” address right there in the built-in Mail app, in the same drop-down menu where you’d usually pick one of your own “from” addresses. Any mail sent to that new, anonymous address is forwarded to your usual email by Apple. This means you never have to reveal your actual email address, and replies will be automatically forwarded to your inbox. If you no longer need the address, or if it gets sold and used for spam, you can delete it and never worry about it again. 

You can also use the Hide My Email feature when signing up for new services in Safari. Now, along with Safari’s password suggestions comes an email address suggestion. Use both, along with a randomly-generated username, and keep your real identity private. 

This is just like 1Password’s Masked Email, which ties into the Fastmail email service to offer the same thing. 

The downside of any of these options is that if you ever stop using iCloud or Fastmail-plus-1Password, you’ll lose access to these emails. 

Still Missing: Universal Control

Probably the most impressive Mac and iPad feature that Apple demonstrated at summer’s WWDC keynote was Universal Control. Unfortunately, Apple took the opportunity of the macOS 12.1 (and simultaneous iOS 15.2) release to officially delay its launch

Universal Control is both impressive and useful. It lets you use your Mac’s keyboard and mouse/trackpad to type and control a nearby iPad or a second nearby Mac. 

To use it, you push the mouse pointer over towards the iPad, push it against the screen edge, and then it pops through the ether to appear on the iPad’s screen. Thus connected, you can use the Mac’s keyboard and trackpad to type and control the mouse pointer on the target iPad. 

That’s Apple at its best, using its family of devices to bring a handy feature, with a dash of whimsy to make it fun. 

The non-launch of Universal Control is disappointing, but it’s also a sign that Apple is happy to wait until it works instead of rushing it out the door to meet an unrealistic launch date. Until it appears, there’s plenty more to keep us busy.

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