Apple Releases First macOS 12.2 Beta to Developers | Here’s What’s New

macOS Monterey 2 Credit: Apple
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Less than a week after the public release of macOS 12.1, Apple has already seeded the first beta of macOS 12.2 to developers, with a public beta expected to follow soon.

While the release of macOS 12.1 was fairly significant thanks to the addition of SharePlay, it also tied up a few other loose ends from the corresponding iOS and iPadOS releases, with support for the new Apple Music Voice Plan, Communication Safety in Messages, and Digital Legacy contacts.

Despite all this, Apple has yet to deliver on what’s arguably the biggest feature expected to hit macOS Monterey: Universal Control.

Following this week’s macOS 12.1 release, Apple updated its macOS Monterey page again, changing Universal Control’s tagline to “Available this spring.”

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any indication in the first macOS 12.2 beta that Universal Control is coming in this release, either. While that could change in later betas, it sounds more likely that we won’t see it arrive until at least macOS 12.3

After all, Apple’s beta cycles for point releases don’t typically last more than a few weeks, which means the final release of macOS 12.2 should be hitting the streets by February, at the latest, which is still well before spring.

For all intents and purposes, it looks like macOS 12.2 is intended more to polish things up than introduce any more new features at this point, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack in a few interesting changes.

A Native Music App

It appears that Apple is rebuilding the Music app in macOS 12.2 from the ground up to provide a smoother user experience.

Two years ago, Apple made a big transition away from iTunes when it debuted standalone Music, TV, and Podcast apps. Audiobooks were fully transitioned into the Books app, which had already existed on the Mac since 2013, and iPhone, iPad, and iPod device management functionality was moved into the macOS Finder.

Despite this big shift, however, the spirit of iTunes lived on in the new Music app, quelling fears that Apple was going to release a much more simplified version. For instance, you could rip your own music CDs into your iTunes library, import your own MP3 files from other sources, build smart playlists, tag tracks, and more. Basically, almost anything that you could do in iTunes before could still be done in the new Music app.

It turns out, however, that Apple also retained another key aspect of the iTunes experience. The new Music app still relied on the same old iTunes backend, meaning that sections like the iTunes Store and Apple Music pages were basically just web content loaded into the app.

This has been the way that iTunes has handled things since its inception in 2003, and while it works, it doesn’t provide the smoothest user experience, especially for those with slower internet connections.

With macOS 12.2, however, Apple is finally rebuilding the entire backend to use its new “AppKit” framework, meaning it will now have a native interface instead of showing embedded web pages. Of course, the content is still going to come from Apple’s servers, but all the presentation and rendering that you see will be done natively on your Mac instead of showing up as a glorified web page.

The change was first spotted by @lumingyin on Twitter and subsequently confirmed by 9to5Mac, which found that the Music app is now using Apple’s own JET technology, designed to turn web content into native apps.

Of course, sections of the music app that involved purely local content, such as your music library, were already native, so there won’t be any changes there. However, searching and browsing through Apple Music and the iTunes Store should now be considerably smoother and faster since the Music app now simply downloads the results and presents them in a local user interface, rather than trying to display a full web page within the app.

9to5Mac also notes that Apple’s macOS TV app got a similar treatment in macOS 12.1, which makes sense considering that it got a noticeable redesign, with a new layout that features a dedicated Store section, among other changes.

Smoother Scrolling on New MacBooks

The other big improvement in macOS 12.2 is that users with Apple’s newest 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models should experience much smoother scrolling, as Apple appears to have improved support for the new 120Hz ProMotion displays on those models.

Multiple users on Reddit and elsewhere that have already taken the plunge and installed the first beta have reported that the scrolling in Safari is much smoother on the new MacBooks.

Technically speaking, the versions of Safari in macOS 12.0 and 12.1 don’t support 120Hz scrolling at all. Apple did release a standalone Safari Technology Preview that purportedly added smoother scrolling. However, most found the results of that to be hit-and-miss, likely because there also needed to be some fixes made deeper in the operating system.

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