Following the release of iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, it's now macOS Sonoma's turn to roll out, and we know the launch is scheduled for Tuesday, September 26. There's a whole laundry list of new features, like new wallpapers and screen savers, improvements to Safari, the ability to share passwords and passcodes with trusted contacts, and everything you love about iOS 17's Messages app moving over to macOS. But for me, there are five key features that dramatically improve the experience: three are nice to have, and two are game changers.
Apple has confirmed the date! Eligible Mac users will receive the macOS Sonoma update starting Tuesday, September 26, 2023! Looking at Apple's history, here's what time Sonoma should go live globally:
I've talked a lot about how I really want Apple to care about MacBook gaming, and the company is starting to turn the corner with Sonoma. It starts on the user side with Game Mode, which gives CPU and GPU priority to games while reducing usage for background tasks. Additionally, latency for audio through AirPods and wireless controllers is also dramatically reduced. From my testing, the improvements in controller latency aren't as noticeable, but the difference in audio latency is night and day. But it also applies to the developer side. We've seen some moves to get titles like Resident Evil Village and Death Stranding native to the Mac with Metal. To get more developers to test its games, Apple introduces the Game Porting Toolkit, and the results are amazing. That's because in addition to the porting capabilities (including the option to automatically convert all existing shaders from Direct This is just the beginning, as I can see Apple really addressing this by offering full PC gaming support for Game Mode in the future. (Image credit: Apple) It's a simple but effective implementation that I had a lot of fun with. You just need to clean up your desktop icons, like it took me a long time to figure it out (seriously, it was chaos). Widgets changed the way I work with my iPhone, and now they do the same on Mac. All your widgets across devices are nicely connected with Continuity, as you can add them directly to your desktop without having to install the associated apps. Additionally, if you're a Stage Manager user, widgets fade into the background for better focus. My use cases included checking my calendar, sticking a quick note on the screen, interacting with my to-do list via reminders, and controlling the smart lights in my home with a HomeKit widget. It has dramatically changed my workflow by cutting out a few corners and reducing the amount of windows on my screen.
(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)
It's a small change. Apple doesn't actually talk about it much at all in its promotional materials. But as is the case with new operating system features, it's always the smallest improvements that make the biggest difference. I'll start with a story that many Mac users will relate to. You use your AirPods Pro 2 with your iPhone, come home and want to switch to the MacBook. The fact that it does this seamlessly is impressive, but it's not necessarily reliable or fast. Sometimes you have to dive into the Bluetooth settings and click on the AirPods a few times to get the Mac to recognize that you've switched. At times when you can make it work automatically, the transition sometimes took up to 30 seconds. In macOS Sonoma, that automatic switching has been significantly sped up, and it's also been much more reliable in my own time with it. For that same situation, I didn't have to force-click on the AirPods, and the switch only takes five seconds at most.
(Image credit: Apple)
The Notes app is regularly opened on my Mac to jot down some quick thoughts, create quick shopping lists, and save some quick links to refer back to. Apple focuses on its usefulness with two key features that I have fallen in love with. First, you can save a PDF directly to Notes and browse through it as you would in a standard PDF reader. Additionally, Apple will enable AutoFill for PDFs sometime later this year, so you can use your saved information to automatically fill in the document's boxes. Second, let's say you're like me and you make travel plans across multiple documents. In macOS Sonoma, you can now link to other notes within a note. This has been super helpful for switching between my gear list and planned locations to visit, plus I can see it being really useful for work too!
(Image credit: Apple)
Both useful and quite fun: Apple has added some nice integrations with videoconferencing apps like Zoom, and baked them right into Sonoma. For work, this includes the Presenter Overlay, which intelligently places everything you present on a screen behind you. If you want to present that same information in full screen, you can also hover your head over the shared screen. Additionally, Sonoma gives you the chance to create visual effect responses with your hands. Just make a gesture (like a thumbs up) and 3D augmented reality effects will activate behind you (like fireworks). It brings a nice dose of fun to your video meetings.
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