Apple has rolled out the next-gen version of its Mac laptop operating system, macOS Sonoma (version 14), as a public beta. First up on the feature list is a redesigned widget experience for the computer software. While macOS has had widgets for years and years, they’ve always been tucked away in the Dashboard or Notification Center.
With macOS Sonoma, Apple is bringing them front and centre to give you more glanceable information, and quick access to your regularly used features.
You can place widgets on your desktop, which will transform their background based on your wallpaper. From the widgets gallery, you can add as many as you want to your desktop. In true Apple fashion, you can even place iOS widgets on your Mac, without re-installing the app. For example, you can add a widget for your car and control it from your Mac, with everything handled via your iPhone.
For the first time, there’s a new Game Mode on Mac. When enabled, it’ll dedicate maximum CPU and GPU power to your game, cutting out background tasks. It also makes gaming more immersive by reducing AirPod latency, and doubling Bluetooth sample rate for input controls. It works with all games, and Apple reckons developers will bring new titles to the Mac this year, thanks to a game porting toolkit for developers.
In addition to these new features, we’re seeing big improvements to software features. A new video effect called presenter overlay allows you to overlay yourself over screen sharing. You can choose from a full cut-out (with background removal), or a small bubble. There’s also a new reactions effect, that’ll add reactions to your screen. It’s like iMessage effects in real (well, virtual) life. You can enable these with gestures, and they’ll work on all video conferencing apps.
Safari is faster than ever in Sonoma, thanks to updates to WebKit. You’ll notice new typography options while browsing, and private browsing now locks windows when you’re not using them. You can now share passwords between families, all through iCloud Keychain. Profiles are making their way to Safari, just like in Chrome, so you can keep things tied down to each user. Web apps run better than ever, and you can now save these to the dock. When you launch them, they’ll now launch in a dedicated app window, with a smaller toolbar. The best part is that this will automatically work.
Apple is also putting greater emphasis on polishing up features, fixing bugs, and making things run a little more smoothly overall. We’re getting new aerial wallpapers and screensavers, similar to those seen on Apple TV.
The software is available now in a public beta. We expect a public roll-out in September, alongside the usual iPhone and Apple Watch launch event.