Apple removed the wrappers from macOS 13 Ventura, the next major version of the Mac operating system, during its WWDC keynote Monday. A beta test version of Ventura is now available to developers, with a public beta coming in the coming weeks. The official release to the general public will take place this fall.
Ventura has a lot of new stuff, but we’ll highlight the most important features here.
Mac users tend to work in multiple apps and files at once, leading to dozens of windows open. You can use Mission Control to sort your windows, but it’s still overwhelming to find the one you need. The new Stage Manager helps you take control of those windows.
Stage Manager can be activated in Control Center and it places your active window in the center of the screen, with thumbnails of your other windows in a vertical row to the side. When you click on a thumbnail, the open window changes to the thumbnail row and the clicked window takes center stage. If an app has multiple windows open, you can browse through them in the thumbnail.
If you have a group of windows that go together for a task you’re working on, for example a Safari window for a store, Notes with a mailing list, and Maps to get directions to the store, drag thumbnails to the center of the screen and create a group. You can also drag files from the desktop to an app thumbnail to open those files in that app.
iCloud Shared Photo Library
iCloud Shared Photo Library is one of the many collaboration features Apple is introducing in macOS Ventura. You can now create a photo library and share it with up to six family members to create a shared collection of photos.
Members can choose which photos and videos to add to the collection, decide to share all the photos and videos they take, and edit and delete items. The Photos app will make suggestions about which photos to add to a collection based on a group’s members.
Continuity Camera: The iPhone Webcam
Apple gets a lot of grief from the quality of the FaceTime camera that comes with Macs. The company’s solution to this is not to upgrade the camera, but to introduce a new feature called Continuity Camera. But to use this feature, you need an iPhone 11 or later with iOS 16.
Continuity Camera is like Universal Control, in that you can pair an iPhone to the Mac, and macOS Ventura will automatically detect the device and connect to it wirelessly. You can then use the iPhone camera in FaceTime and other apps.
Continuity camera has features like Center Stage (which keeps you in the center of the frame) and portrait mode. The new Studio Light feature uses the iPhone’s flash for better lighting, and the new Desk View creates a two-shot view, one of the person and another of the desktop for the Mac. Studio Light requires an iPhone 12 or later with iOS 16.
Passwords in Safari
Passkeys is a feature in Safari that basically lets you use Touch ID instead of a password for a website. A unique digital key is created for the specific site you want to access, and when you log in, the key is sent to the site and you authenticate it using Touch ID on a Mac or Face ID on an iPhone or iPad.
Apple said a Passkey can’t be phishing because you can’t accidentally hand a Passkey to a hacker, and since Passkeys aren’t stored on a web server, they can’t be revealed in a leak. And Passkeys are synced across Apple devices.
Apple said it is working with the FIDO Alliance to ensure Passkeys work on non-Apple devices. (More specifically, Passkey Apple’s implementation of the FIDO passwordless authentication standard). From the keynote, it looks like you need to scan a QR code displayed on a non-Apple device to access a Passkeyed account.
Spotlight, the built-in search tool for macOS, has a refined interface so that it is more uniform across all platforms. The other new features help make Spotlight a more viable way to interact with the Mac.
Quick Look, the feature that provides a great preview of an image, finally works in Spotlight and can finally find media in your Photos library. Spotlight also supports Live Text (which was introduced in macOS Monterey), which allows users to search for text in an image. Actions can now be performed within Spotlight, so you can use Spotlight to start a timer, run a shortcut, or create a document.
In a move that appears to compete directly with Google, Spotlight will provide more robust results when searching for information on things like movies, TV shows, personalities, businesses and sports. Spotlight will fill the results window with more information for you to view.