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Top 5 2021 Apple OS Features I'm Most Excited About
The annual Apple Worldwide Developer Conference just ended and as always they began with a lengthy Keynote that involved their latest software updates across all of their devices. As a writer, there are many things they feature that don’t really interest me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not just as excited for some of their other features that prove to be invaluable to me in my writing career. So, I want to discuss what those things are, why I’m excited about them, and you should be too (if you’re an Apple-nerd like me, that is).
Because their devices are created with the explicit purpose of working seamlessly together most of what I’m going to discuss works just about the same way on all of them, just with differing screen sizes.
The three main devices I use the most are:
iPhone 12 Pro Max | iPad Pro 12.9” | Macbook Pro 15”
The updated software that all of my favorite things encompass are:
iOS 15 (iPhone) | iPadOS 15 (iPad) | MacOS Monterey (Macs)
The public beta will be released in July and I’ll be able to test out all of these features then. In the meantime, (or at least the next 3 weeks) here are the top 5 dream updates I can’t wait to start utilizing:
SAFARI - GROUP TABS
I’m constantly on the internet with some web browser open. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to re-download Firefox or Google Chrome because there is a feature unique to them that Safari just never has. It’s rare for Safari to be updated to a point where it outshines the other two. But for the first time, I think they’ve done it! I’m not a bit “extensions” person so that didn’t impress me much. What did impress me is their group tabs feature. Because I find myself dragging similar tabs out into their own separate window in order to better organize what I need to see front and center and not get bogged down with 20+ tabs. Trust me, I’ve done that to myself in the past and I now am just trained to create multiple windows to accommodate all those tabs. Or I’ll “pin” certain tabs but there are times when I don’t need to have a pin tabbed visible all the time, like if I’m sharing my screen for work. The idea of group tabs means I can have groups created for work, youtube, research, blogging, etc. This will truly be game-changing!
Raise your hand if procrastination is your middle name…
I am notorious for finding any old reason to not do what I’m supposed to. Even if it’s something I love doing, like reading and writing. I’m easy distracted by the endless scrolling of Twitter, shopping on Amazon for things I don’t really need, streaming a TV show, or deleting the dozens of emails I get every single day cause that seems more important than anything at the time. We all fall victim to this trap but now, if we really want to do something about it, Apple has created this new concept called “FOCUS.” The basic idea is that you create a task you want to focus on, let’s say it’s WORK. You will then tell your devices that when you turn this focus mode on that it should only allow you to get notifications from certain work-related apps, only show you work-related apps, and basically help you to stay focused on that particular task. I’m already thinking of different focus groups I want to make! And I think you can even schedule them to turn on and off at certain times of the day. So instead of relying on yourself to turn on WORK mode or GYM mode or WRITING mode, your iPhone or iPad, or MacBook will do it for you. So when you turn on your phone you’ll only see apps specific to that focus and nothing else.
I really hope that I not only use this feature but that it helps me focus better on what I need to get done each day because Lord knows I need all the help I can get to stop scrolling Twitter!
NOTES - ORGANIZE WITH TAGS
There are a bunch of features that come with notes. Such as the ability to write a note when on any website and have that note magically appear whenever you return to that website on any device. Pretty cool. But what I’m most excited about is the tags within notes feature. Not that I couldn’t simply SEARCH within my notes (which I do often, believe me) to find what I’m looking for. But if I can use tags instead so that I don’t have to type in the search field, I can literally just click the “#TAG” that will be in a convenient bubble view in the right-hand column of the Notes app? Hallelujah! The less typing I have to do, especially when I’m on the go and I just need to be able to access something in a few taps, the better my life will be.
As I’ve said a million times already, I am a proud member of the Apple ecosystem, and as such, that means I have all of their devices. The fact that I will be able to seamlessly move my mouse from monitor, to laptop, to iPad with the same mouse or type using the same keyboard across all of them is insane to me! In the “old days” in order for me to use my keyboard or mouse to type across multiple devices, I would need to click a button to say use “Device #2” that I would need to pre-set to work for X-device and I’d need to remember what number was connected via Bluetooth to which device. And if you go for too long not using the setup then you’ll have to Forget this Device and set it up all over again. Quite a hassle that I hate. I hate that so much I just don’t ever use it. Both my keyboard and my mouse have the ability to switch and use up to 3 devices but who wants to be bothered with all that set-up? Bring on Universal Control!
This one is too cool not to be excited about. Ever since the pandemic happened one of the things I had been trying painstakingly to find (and came up short) was a way to watch movies or tv shows with my family remotely. The closest solution was for both of us to have it “cued up” in our respective living areas and press play at the same time. Which we all know never works seamlessly. But with SharePlay via Facetime, Apple has finally come up with the solution! A little late I think, now that things are starting to normalize again, but hey, better late than never. The fact that this ability has not really been a norm or possible till now actually surprises me. There used to be some “hacks” that could be done (and I’ve used) in the past in order to do this, but who wants to be bothered with hacks and teaching someone else how to do it, etc. There are a lot of bugs that come with it and possible spamming issues. It’s just not worth it. However, I put this feature last on my top five because there are still a lot of questions I have about how it will work, one of them they did answer, in that we’ll be able to share certain streaming services using this feature. [NOTE: Netflix was not one of those services and I was not surprised by that.] But I’m wondering if all people viewing have to have access to that streaming service or does it only have to be one of them actually watching it and that one person is streaming the video to all the others? I think that’s how it works but I feel like there is always a catch you need to watch out for and it might not be an Apple issue but more of an issue with the streaming service who might see this as a way of “stealing” the ability to watch something without paying the subscription price. [Hence why I’m sure Netflix is not on the list of streaming services that are allowing the use of SharePlay.]
What’s also cool about SharePlay is that you can listen to music on a call, though I’m not sure why? Like a Facetime dance party? Also, screen sharing. This was something I know for a fact that Apple had in the past because I would take control of another person’s Apple computer from my own computer to do something for them or I would share my screen with them to walk them through how to do something. I don’t know why or when that ability went away, but I’m glad it’s making a comeback.
MULTITASKING - IPADOS SPECIFIC
Consider this a freebie extra cause unlike the others it’s something that can only be done on an iPad but it’s important enough for me to mention it. Multitasking is something I use more on my iPad than on my laptop, though I wish I’d remember that I could use it there cause I am notorious for having a butt-ton of windows open and just stacked/overlapped on each other. This makes finding things less than ideal. But now on the iPad, they have taken multitasking to a whole new level. I know certain people wanted the ability to do a triple screen split on the iPad but I honestly think what Apple did is better and I’ll tell you why. Our brains are already on overload with all the information at our fingertips that we can call up and see in front of our faces. I think the idea is to help us better focus and not find new ways to overload us just because we can. If you want three windows up side-by-side go ahead and do it on your laptop or 42” monitor. But when you’re on the iPad give your brain a break and don’t overload the system on a 12.9” display with having three windows side-by-side, it’s just not necessary. Instead, Apple is making it so you can have a third window hovering over the split view that can then go into a temporary “shelf” area when you need it out of your way. It’s for moments when you need to open a web page or another app or something but only for a short while then set it aside until you need it again. A great use case I can think of is if I have Scrivener open and in split view, I have Safari beside it on a web page I don’t want to switch away from. Now let’s say I need to look up a word? Sure, I can switch from that Safari page and go to Merriam Webster, but I have the app! I can just open up that app for a moment, look up the word, then boom, put it away. All in the same “multitasking” window I have open so essentially I can still see what I’m working on and I don’t have to swipe any of them away. I dig it!
Below is a list of some things that are cool and useful and I’m surely going to excited to try them out but they’re more everyday things and not really specific to my productivity. They’re just a nice bonus. The icing on the already delicious cake.
ICLOUD+ | Hide your true email and eliminate junk emails? Hell yeah!
WALLET - GOV’T ID | Your driver's license on your phone for quick access through airports (and other places where you need it coming soon I’m sure). I’ve been waiting for this ever since WALLET was a thing.
WEATHER | The graphics and new way of displaying the weather are too cool! It’s an app I probably check more than I realize so I’m excited.
MAPS | We use Google Maps but I’m excited to see what using Apple Maps will be like. Will we officially transition from Google on this one? Only time will tell...
HEALTH | The ability to share my medical information with my doctor via the Health app is not only game-changing but potentially life-changing especially when paired with the Apple Watch (which I have).