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macOS Sonoma: Everything We Know

by Kyle Meranda

macOS Sonoma: The Latest Update for Mac Users

Apple recently released macOS Sonoma, the newest version of its operating system that powers Mac computers. Named after Sonoma, an area in Northern California’s “Wine Country,” known for its wineries, the update brings a range of new features and improvements to enhance the Mac user experience.

One of the standout features of macOS Sonoma is the introduction of interactive widgets to the desktop. Previously limited to the Today view, widgets are now more prominent and useful, with the ability to be placed directly on the desktop. Users can access the widget gallery to find a variety of interactive widgets that can be used for tasks such as checking off reminders, controlling smart home devices, taking notes, and more, all without opening the associated app. Additionally, with Continuity, iPhone widgets can be viewed and interacted with on the Mac.

For frequent video conference users, macOS Sonoma introduces several enhancements. The Presenter Overlay video effect allows users to display their avatar on top of the content being shared, adding a more engaging element to presentations. The update also includes a new Screen Sharing picker, making it easier to share apps during calls. Furthermore, a Reactions feature adds fun elements, such as balloons and confetti, to video calls based on hand gestures.

Safari, Apple’s web browser, receives several improvements in macOS Sonoma. Private Browsing mode now offers enhanced privacy by locking behind Touch ID when the user steps away from the computer. The browser also has improved tracking and fingerprinting protections to prevent websites from monitoring browsing activity. Safari search is more responsive with more relevant suggestions, and the new Profiles feature allows users to separate work-related web browsing from personal browsing. Profiles have separate cookies, history, extensions, Tab Groups, and Favorites, allowing for a more organized browsing experience.

Another notable addition in macOS Sonoma is the ability to save favorite websites as web apps. Web apps work like normal apps and can be added to the desktop or dock for quick access to frequently used websites. They also feature a simplified toolbar for easier browsing.

In the Mail app, one-time verification codes can now autofill in Safari, simplifying the login process without the need to switch between apps. The app also prioritizes travel-related emails and supports big emoji. The Messages app introduces a new stickers experience, where all emoji are now considered stickers and can be used in chats. Users can also create custom stickers from Live Photos. Additionally, Messages search is improved with filters, and group chats offer the option to go directly to the last read message.

Photos in macOS Sonoma includes several enhancements, such as the ability to recognize pets in the People album and support Visual Lookup for videos, food, and recipe suggestions. The Find My app now allows AirTags to be shared with others, and the Home app introduces an Activity History feature that tracks when doors are locked or unlocked.

Other updates in macOS Sonoma include collaborative playlists in the Music app, new features for AirPods like muting with a press on the stem and quicker device switching, and enhanced content warnings and safety features in Messages and other communication channels. The Notes app now supports inline PDFs and document scans, as well as linked notes for connecting related information. Improved PDF functionality includes AutoFill capabilities and smart recipient recommendations. The Reminders app introduces category organization for groceries and a new column view for a fresh look.

macOS Sonoma also includes new Apple TV-like screen savers featuring slow-motion videos of global locations, such as the Hong Kong skyline, Monument Valley in Arizona, and Sonoma in Northern California. The update includes various themes to choose from, which seamlessly transition into desktop wallpapers when the Mac wakes up.

Apple has also made several usability improvements in macOS Sonoma. Users can now activate Siri by simply saying “Siri,” without the need for the “Hey Siri” command. Autocorrect has been overhauled for more accurate corrections, and users can now opt for inline completions for entire sentences. Dictation has also been improved with better speech recognition.

Gamers will appreciate the new Game Mode, designed to optimize gaming performance on Macs with Apple silicon chips. Game Mode prioritizes games on the CPU and GPU, providing smoother and more consistent frame rates. The feature also reduces audio latency with AirPods and input lag with game controllers from Xbox and PlayStation, thanks to a doubled Bluetooth sampling rate.

In terms of accessibility, macOS Sonoma adds support for connecting Made for iPhone hearing devices to Macs for calls and media consumption. Additionally, Live Speech enables nonspeaking users to vocalize their thoughts during calls and conversations. Phonetic suggestions are now available when dictating and editing text with Voice Control, and there are options to pause animated images in Messages and Safari.

Overall, macOS Sonoma brings an array of exciting features and improvements to Mac users, enhancing the overall user experience and productivity. Whether it’s the interactive widgets, enhanced privacy features, improved browsing experience, or better gaming performance, there’s something for everyone in this latest macOS update.

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