macOS Monterey 12.1 Adds SharePlay | Universal Control Remains Absent

macOS Montery SharePlay Credit: Apple
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Alongside the release candidate of iOS 15.2, Apple also pushed out the final release candidate of macOS Monterey 12.1 to developers and testers this week, introducing features that bring it into alignment with the last couple of iOS releases.

To be fair, the official release of macOS Monterey came a month after iOS 15 was released, so, understandably, it may have had some catching up to do. Most notably, even though the delayed SharePlay feature came to the Phone and iPad with iOS 15.1 the very same day macOS Monterey debuted, it appears that it wasn’t quite ready for Apple’s desktop operating system.

However, the good news is that the upcoming macOS 12.1 release will finally rectify that omission, and with the release candidate out now, we won’t have to wait too much longer to see it arrive.

In fact, it looks like macOS 12.1 is shaping up to be an even bigger release, since it not only includes support for iOS 15.1 features like SharePlay, but also packs in all the relevant features from iOS 15.2, like Communication Safety in Messages, support for Apple Music’s new Voice Plan, and more.

Sadly, however, it appears that Apple is going to keep us waiting for one of the biggest macOS and iPadOS features promised for this year: Universal Control.

Universal Control

In what’s basically an extension of the Sidecar feature introduced in 2019, Universal Control promises to take things to the next level, letting you much more seamlessly connect your Mac and iPad for a shared experience across both macOS and iPadOS.

Sidecar was simply a way to use your iPad as a second screen for your Mac — it effectively became another display. On the other hand, Universal Control lets you stay in iPadOS and drag and drop content between the two platforms as if they were all just one big happy interface. It also works with up to three devices, which can include multiple Macs, each running their own separate macOS desktop environments.

There’s just one problem, however. It doesn’t work — at least not yet — and Apple is running out of time to fulfill its promise of when it will be delivered.

As the official macOS 12.0 release neared in October, Apple updated its macOS Monterey page to note that both SharePlay and Universal Control would be “Available later this fall.” While it’s clearly poised to deliver SharePlay within that timeframe — macOS 12.1 should be out within the next week or two — Universal Control remains missing in action.

With no evidence of Universal Control in macOS 12.1 or iPadOS 15.2, it’s fair to say that Apple is going to have to push that deadline back, meaning we likely won’t see Universal Control arrive until early 2022 — likely sometime in February or March, based on Apple’s usual operating system release cycles, particularly over the holiday season.

What Else Is Coming in macOS 12.1

Other than the aforementioned SharePlay, which should basically work the same way it does on iOS/iPadOS, the release notes included with the macOS 12.1 RC list several other interesting new features:

  1. Support for the Apple Music Voice Plan, which is expected to include a simplified Music app interface that will require subscribers to search using their voice instead of their mouse.
  2. Support for the new iOS 15 Memories features in the macOS Photos app, including the new interface, animation, and transition styles, and the ability to generate better memories for international holidays, kids, and pets.
  3. Communication Safety in Messages to parallel the feature being introduced in iOS 15.2.
  4. The ability to set up Digital Legacy Contacts from your Apple ID settings in System Preferences, much like you can on an iPhone or iPad with iOS 15.2.

macOS 12.1 also falls into lockstep with most of the other new features coming in iOS 15.2, including on-the-fly Hide My Email addresses in the Mail app, a new Store tab in the TV app, and other corresponding changes to Stocks, Reminders, and Notes.

More importantly, however, as the first “.1” version, some pretty important bug fixes are coming, especially for the new MacBooks. Apple says it will resolve the problem with MagSafe charging on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, along with issues that users have been having with unresponsive trackpads, external USB-C and Thunderbolt display crashes resulting from HDR video playback on YouTube, and menu bar extras being obscured by the notch on the newest MacBook Pro Models.

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