Another year brings another update to macOS, with Apple already known to be beavering away on the new features and refinements it will bring to the Mac later in 2021. We gather up all the news and rumours that are currently known about the latest iteration of Apple’s desktop operating system.
When will macOS 12 be released?
Apple has a pretty set pattern when it comes to its software releases. At its annual WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC), which is usually held in June, the company previews the new version of macOS. Then there are public beta versions released for testing, until the final, finished version arrives – or at least a release date is announced – at the iPhone event in September.
We see no reasons for any of this to change in 2021, so look out for our WWDC coverage in the summer to see what Apple unveils.
If you want to get ahead of the crowd and use the early release version of macOS 12, take a look at how to join Apple’s beta program and try out new software.
What will macOS be called?
Since the release of macOS 10.9 in 2013, Apple has switched its naming convention from big cats (Tiger, Lion, Mountain Lion, etc) to names of famous places of outstanding beauty in California. So, 10.9 became Mavericks, followed by Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina, and Big Sur. You can see all the past names and in our complete list of macOS versions.
With the entire state of California to choose from, it’s hard to know where Apple may go next, but some of the Macworld team’s favourite options remain Sequoia, Death Valley, Lake Tahoe and Thousand Oaks.
To see some of the best names we think might be in play, read what will Apple call the next version of macOS?
We’ve also seen that Apple has trademarked some California location names, including Mammoth, Monterey and Skyline, which join the previously trademarked Condor, Diablo, Farallon, Grizzly, Miramar, Redtail, Shasta and Tiburon. So, plenty to choose from there.
What features will appear in macOS 12?
Apple has made no official comments on what we’re likely to see when macOS 12 arrives, but here’s a roundup of what we suspect might be the new features plus a few things from our wish list.
Solidifying the Apple Silicon adventure
When macOS Big Sur arrived, Apple stated that it had redesigned the operating system to work seamlessly with the new Apple M1 chips that were also launched. While this did deliver some truly impressive performance, it wasn’t without its glitches and problems. We saw reports of M1 Mac users being locked out due to a screensaver bug, M1 Macs not connecting to Bluetooth devices, while other users reported problems with external monitors.
These teething problems are to be expected when making such a big shift, but with nearly a year’s worth of data to work with, macOS 12 should benefit from these troubles and hopefully deliver a more stable and efficient experience for users.
More control over font sizes and settings
Big Sur is a very pretty version of macOS, but in some instances the choice of font size can make it hard to read for those who aren’t blessed with 20/20 vision. Unless you go into the accessibility settings there’s no easy way to adjust the scaling and makes things easier to read. Fixing this would be very welcome in macOS 12.
Control Centre options
The introduction of the new Control Centre in Big Sur was great, but one thing we’d like to see in macOS 12 is the ability to remove items that we don’t use. It’s a flashback to the Stocks issue on old version of iOS, but one that can be changed with very little effort from Apple.
Bringing the Shortcuts app to the Mac
While it’s true that you can already create shortcuts and macros on macOS via AppleScript and Automator, the Shortcuts app on iOS makes the whole process much easier for those not technically minded. It was rumoured that the app may have appeared in Big Sur, but that didn’t happen, so we’re hopeful that is might be one of the new features in macOS 12.
Time for a clock
The Clock app on iOS and iPadOS boats plenty of features, including multiple alarms, timers, stopwatches and more. With M1 Macs now able to run various iOS and iPadOS apps via the Catalyst feature in macOS, it’s possible to use that on a Mac. But, in macOS 12, we’d like to see the Clock app converted onto an optimised version that’s built-into the system. Let us set alarms on our Mac Apple!
The Apple Health app is an excellent way to monitor your fitness and activity levels, plus if you have the lastest version of the Apple Watch then you can benefit from seeing your blood/oxygen saturation levels. This is important because it can be a useful indicator of your respiratory condition – something that’s become more essential in these days of coronavirus.
It’s frustrating then that Apple keeps the Health app on the iPhone and doesn’t allow you to view or use the data on the Mac. We hope this should pave the way for the app to make the transition to macOS.
Time Machine backups in the cloud
One thing we’ve been wanting for ages is the ability to create Time Machine backups directly to a cloud storage service. This would ensure that if your Mac was every lost in a fire or flood at home, then the chances are that the Time Machine backup wouldn’t be destroyed at the same time. The same can’t necessarily be said for a physical drive, which most of us keep very close to where our Macs live.
If this idea appeals, then here’s a selection of the best cloud storage services for Mac.
Unlocking your Mac with your iPhone
You can already use your Apple Watch to automatically unlock your Mac, so why not use your iPhone to do the same thing? Android phones can unlock Chromebooks, so we think it’s high time Apple introduced this feature, especially when you consider a lot more people own iPhones than they do Apple Watches.
If you want to use a third-party app to achieve this, read our guide on how to unlock a Mac with an iPhone.
Touchscreen controls for Mac
Yes, we realise that this is more of a hardware upgrade then software, but with the M1 Macs now running on the same basic platform as iPhones and iPads (or at least a highly compatible one) we think the convergence between the apps and services that’s been discussed for so long might be on the verge of becoming a reality.
If Apple plans to update its Mac line to feature touchscreens, then macOS will have to have the capability to accept these touch commands alongside keyboards, mice and trackpads.
To see what the company has in store with its hardware in the year ahead, take a look at our guide to the new products Apple will announce in 2021.