macOS Ventura WWDC 2022 Stage Manager
Image: Apple

Apple releases macOS Ventura with Stage Manager, Continuity Camera, and more

The update also includes upgrades to the Mail app, Tab Groups in Safari, SharePlay in iMessage, and more.

Apple has started rolling out macOS Ventura (a.k.a. macOS 13) to the public, after a beta period that began back in June. The new system upgrade doesn’t overhaul macOS or anything, but it introduces a slew of quality-of-life improvements that add up to a worthy upgrade. Users of compatible Macs should see the update in next few days, if not today.

macOS Ventura features

Image: Apple

One of the biggest new features is Stage Manager, which is also being carried down to iPadOS 16. The way it works is relatively simple: it allows you to organize all the floating windows you have open and move the ones you don’t need off to the side, while keeping the ones you must have access to in the foreground. You can access the non-necessary ones by clicking on them in the left-hand pane, and you can even group apps together so they all spring to life when you call on one of them. It’s sort of like separating app windows into different desktops while not having to actually create a bunch of different desktops.

The feature can be enabled through Control Center, so you can turn it off if you want. It’s been a controversial part of iPadOS 16 during the beta process because of its poor layout and functionality, so here’s to hoping users respond better to it on macOS Ventura.

macOS Ventura Continuity Camera with iPhone MagSafe Belkin mount
Image: Apple

The other big new feature is Continuity Camera, and it’s only big because of how whacky it is. The way it works is simple: if your iPhone and Mac are near one another and you open an app on your Mac that requires a camera, Ventura will automatically connect to your iPhone and use its cameras instead of your Mac’s built-in webcam. This lets you use your iPhone as a webcam and take advantage of its much higher-resolution lenses. You’ll also get to use Center Stage, Portrait mode, and a new Studio Light feature that brightens your face and darkens the background.

There’s also Desk View, which uses the ultra-wide lens to capture what’s in front of you on your desk and bends the image using AI to make it look like an overhead camera. The result is a shot that could be useful for creating DIY videos or crafting with your friends over FaceTime.

Apple and Belkin partnered on a new MagSafe mount for iPhones that can be strapped to the top of your MacBook or iMac to give you a place to hold your phone while on a video call, and they’re starting to ship to customers now. Continuity Camera seems like it’ll be useful for anyone who has a less-than-stellar webcam on their MacBook or don’t have one at all with an external monitor, but boy is it a little strange. I’m looking forward to checking it out once my MagSafe mount arrives.

The rest of macOS Ventura feels a lot more like a traditional macOS update. Safari is getting a new shared Tab Groups feature which lets you group a set of web pages together and use SharePlay to share them with your friends in real-time over FaceTime or iMessage. Speaking of which, you can also collaborate on files in other apps like Pages and Keynote right through iMessage, as well as enjoy content together in real time with SharePlay. In addition, the Messages app gets an edit button for iMessages, the ability to recover recently-deleted messages, and mark threads as unread.

Safari also gains access to Passkeys, which allow you to set up new web accounts by using Touch ID or Face ID in place of a password. The feature works cross-platform and will fall back on QR codes if you aren’t using an Apple device. Mail app users are getting the ability to cancel sent messages, schedule emails to go out, get reminded about an email at a later date, and enjoy a much more robust search experience.

Spotlight gets a substantial upgraded with a new design, Quick Look for peaking at documents, and Live Text integration. You can now search for photos by location, people, scenes, or objects, and it’s now much easier to find said photos whether they’re in your library or on the web. Spotlight also now lets you take actions like start a timer or create a new document, while search results for things like media and businesses are now much richer.

The Photos app is upgraded with iCloud Shared Photo Library which lets you share a single photo library with your family that automatically uploads pictures and videos of selected people, places, and things. There’s also improved gaming support with more responsive graphics and accelerated performance thanks to Metal 3.

Live Text is updated with support for videos, Visual Look Up is now compatible with more subjects like animals and statues, there are new Weather and Clock apps for the Mac, Live Captions are available for all audio content, and System Preferences gets renamed to System Settings along with a refreshed UI that’s simpler and easier to navigate.

Image: Apple

Which Macs are getting macOS Ventura?

Apple is releasing Ventura to the following Macs:

  • iMac (2017 and later)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (2017 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2019 and later)
  • Mac Studio (2022)
  • Mac mini (2018 and later)
  • MacBook (2017 and later)

To install the update, head over to System Preferences > Software update. From there, you should see the update ready to be installed. Make sure you keep your MacBook plugged in during the process so you don’t run into any early shutdowns.