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macOS 12: Everything we know (and want)

Since 2011, Apple has released a new major version of macOS every year, so we know one is coming this year [...]

But since macOS Big Sur 11 was such a big change for Mac users, it may well be that Apple will decide that the next version (most likely called macOS 12) will focus primarily on bug fixes and minor feature updates - no unlike Snow Leopard , Mountain Lion and High Sierra. That doesn't affect our macOS 12 wish list, except perhaps to give us a better understanding of why our wishes might not be granted this year. So when macOS 12 is revealed, here are a few features we hope will make it on the list.

macOS 12: beta and release

Apple hasn't deviated far from its release schedule since launching OS X Mavericks in October, so it's a safe bet that Apple will unveil macOS 12 at WWDC, starting developer and public beta releases within a couple of weeks and then the final version will be released sometime in the fall. The release dates vary quite a bit: Big Sur landed on November 12th, Catalina landed on October 7th, and Mohave on September 24th.

macOS 12: Expected new features

We don't have a lot of information about macOS 12 yet, but it sounds like it will be more of a maintenance release along the lines of High Sierra. In a recent Bloomberg report, Mark Gurman wrote that Apple is also planning a minor update to macOS after redesigning it last year.

macOS 12: What we want to see

Interface and ease of use

Bug fixes and optimizations

Apple doesn't wait for a major update like this to release bug fixes; they are usually addressed in point release updates. But there always seems to be problems that are not fixed. For example, there is the problem with excessive SSD activity that was discovered in February. Even if it's not as bad as you might think, it still seems like an issue that needs fixing.

As for Macs with Apple silicon in particular, can macOS get even faster than it already is? Big Sur has been optimized for Apple's M1 system on a chip, but there's always more to do in terms of performance and battery life, as we've seen with every version of iOS. Big Sur on M1 Macs is very impressive, but there are many small issues that cause our MacBooks to drag, lag, and even crash on a semi-regular basis. Honestly, if the next version of macOS is mostly focused on bug fixes and tweaks and nothing else, that's good enough for us. Everything else is a bonus.

Time Machine iCloud backups

Our friends at Macworld U.K. have this on their wish-list and we have to agree. One of the best features of the iPhone is iCloud backup, and we would like it to work just as effortlessly on the Mac. An offsite backup is good practice in preparing for the worst, and while there are many third-party cloud backup services out there, nothing beats the ease of use of Time Machine. Connecting an external drive to your Mac is easy enough, but setting it up with iCloud and forgetting it would be wonderful.

Bring back the delete icon in Messages

Okay, that wish is extremely insignificant in the bigger picture. Some might even say he's silly. But it's an example of how macOS and iOS merge in many ways, but it should be remembered that macOS UX and iOS UX don't always overlap.

Big Sur brought macOS Messages on par with the iOS version, which is great for things like stickers, pinned messages, and memoji. But there's one change that we hate: Apple removed the X button for individual messages next to the conversations. If we want to delete something now, we have to right-click on it and then select "Delete conversation", or select the message and then go to "File"> "Delete conversation". Or, if you're using a trackpad, you can use two fingers and swipe left to see the trash can icon.

All of these options are good. But we miss the ability to quickly hover over a conversation and click the X (see above) to delete it in the blink of an eye. (And yes, we know we can create our own keyboard shortcut, but that's not the point.) Removing such simple and intuitive functionality was a mistake and we would like Apple to bring it back, please.

Appearance

control center

Big Sur's control center - which mirrors the same functionality in iOS / iPadOS - helps clean up the cluttered menu bar in an intuitive way, but it has very few customization options. Seven of the buttons are permanent, which means that those you may find unnecessary (keyboard brightness, display settings, music, etc.) cannot be removed. And there are only three other optional modules that you can add.

The Control Center should be at least as customizable as it was on iOS, where it had more controls, the ability to remove all modules, and support for home controls. Allowing third-party apps in the Control Center may be asking too much at this point, but most of our menu bar icons are for third-party apps, and the option to put them in the Control Center would be a nice way to tidy things up. But at least allowing more macOS modules is a step in the right direction.

Desktop widgets

Big Sur brought the same customizable widgets to the Mac that brought iOS 14 to the iPhone, and we love them. Apple brought them to macOS too, but they're stuck in the Notification Center. We'd love if Apple took them out, like they did with the dashboard widgets from before.

Apps

Shortcuts

Apple released the Shortcuts automation app for iOS over two years ago, and it has become a really powerful tool for getting things done. But on the Mac it would be indispensable.

The Mac already has the powerful Automator (the icon in your Applications folder with the cool-looking robot), but it's old and not as easy to use as Shortcuts. Shortcuts would be a fantastic addition to Automator that would open the world of automation to a lot more users who are not looking for the kind of performance Automator offers. Plus, it would bring Mac and iPhone even closer together, as Shortcuts on Mac would be able to perform the hundreds of shortcuts already available on iOS. Which is a good segué for the next feature on this wish-list ...

Improved iOS support

Apple is fine-tuning iPhone and iPad app support under Catalyst with every Big Sur update, but there is still some work to be done. Mainly, the UI still often feels like we're using mobile apps on the desktop, especially with apps like TV and Music, and there are also some performance improvements that can be made. We'd also like to see a lot more apps find their way onto the Mac, especially with shortcuts popping up. Without interoperability with all of these iOS apps, it's nowhere near as useful.

Wallet

I used to be an old-fashioned guy who paid with cash, so I didn't use the iPhone Wallet app very often. Then Covid came along and many shops no longer accepted cash, but switched to contactless payment. So it took a pandemic to get me into the 21st century and realize how cool the app wallet is.

When I shop online, I do it on my Mac, and it would be nice if there was a central place to organize payment accounts, not to mention a place that's more robust than the rudimentary system settings window that can store boarding passes and event tickets from a place where I can pay my Apple Card bill without going to card.apple.com or picking up my iPhone.

Apple Health and Fitness +

Apple's newest training service is available on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, but not on Mac. For anyone who doesn't have an Apple TV, Fitness + is a far better experience on, say, an iMac or Mac mini plugged into a widescreen monitor than on an iPad or iPhone. While we're at it, we'd love to see a Mac version of the Health app too. It's a mystery why it's not available yet.

Siri

Siri enhancements are a long-running hit on every Apple OS wish list we write. Apple makes a lot of ado about Siri updates every time a new version of macOS or iOS is released, but they never seem to be enough. It takes constant attention and updates to compete with the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, and we haven't got them yet. We can't even set simple alarm functions on our MacBooks. It's time Siri took a giant leap - and that starts with the Mac.

* Roman Loyola has been reporting on technology since the early 1990s. His career started at MacUser, and he has worked for MacAddict, Mac | Life, and TechTV.

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