About macOS Monterey 12.1

macOS Monterey 12.1 is the first update patch for the latest major macOS release (Monterey) and one of its main goals is to introduce a number of new features that were announced with the initial release of Monterey (12.0.1), but were not yet added to the system. Additionally, this patch introduces some slight new improvements to Monterey and also fixes some issues and bugs present in 12.0.1.

macOS Monterey 12.1 SharePlay

The first one of those features is the already mentioned in this article SharePlay feature that lets users watch movies or TV, or listen to music together, over the FaceTime app. The feature also provides shared controls, so that all participants of the call can pause, play, rewind, or change the volume levels of the film or music track that’s being played. Also, three is a smart volume function that automatically adjusts the volume levels when participants of the call are speaking, so that they could hear one another.

Apple Music Voice Plan on macOS Monterey 12.1

Voice Plan is a new subscription tier for the Apple Music app – it lets the user access all stations, songs, and playlists through the Siri virtual assistant. When subscribed to the Voice Plan, the user can also tell Siri to play suggested music tracks based on his/her individual listening history and liked and disliked songs.

Changes to the Photos App

The Memories section of the Photos app has been redesigned and now has new animations and transitions, an interactive interface, and several image collages. There are also new Memory categories, including more international holidays, past trends, and improved memories for pets.

Changes to Messages Update

A Communication Safety setting has been introduced that lets parents enable warning notifications when photos containing nudity are being sent from or received by their children’s devices.

The Safety warnings shown by this feature also provide the child that uses the device with helpful resources if a nudity-containing photo is received on the device.

Changes to Siri and Search Update

Siri, Safari Search, and Spotlight now provide expanded guidance for children and parents to help them stay protected on the Internet and avoid and neutralize unsafe scenarios.

Apple ID changes

A feature called Digital Legacy has been added that lets the user designate other people as Legacy Contacts, who would be able to access the user’s iCloud account and other personal data, in the event of that user’s death.

TV app changes

A Store tab has been added to the TV app – through it, the user can browse, rent, and buy files and shows from the same place/section.

Additional Updates

  • The Hide My Email feature announced with the release of macOS Monterey 12.0.1 is now available for iCloud+ subscribers. The feature allows the user to create a unique and randomly-generated email address that can be used to keep hidden the name of their real email address (while being linked to the latter).
  • Mac users can now delete and rename tags in Notes and Reminders.

Bug Fixes

The following bugs have been fixed in macOS Monterey 12.1:

  • Screen Saver and Desktop appearing blank after the user selects photos from the Photo Library.
  • Trackpad unresponsiveness to clicks and taps
  • External displays failing to charge some MacBook Air and MacBook Pro computers when connected to them via USB-C or Thunderbolt.
  • 2021 MacBooks experiencing issues when HDR videos are played on YouTube.
  • Camera housing obscuring extra Menu bar elements on 2021 MacBooks.
  • MagSafe suddenly ceasing to charge 2021 16-inch MacBook Pros if the computer’s lid is closed or if the computer is shut down.

macOS 12 Monterey Updates

macOS Monterey 12.0.1 is the latest major macOS release – it is the successor to macOS Big Sur and was released on 25th October 2021. macOS Monterey brings an array of new features and improvements to macOS, including Universal Control, Live Text, Focus, Visual Lookup, and more.

While Monterey is a smaller update compared to its predecessor, Big Sur, there are a lot of interesting changes and welcome improvements that Mac users would get to enjoy once they update their devices’ operating systems to Monterey. Here, we will quickly go over the most important changes that come to macOS with its 18th major release.

MacOS 12 Monterey App changes and new app features

A number of apps have been improved and have received new features with the release of Monterey:

macOS 12 Monterey FaceTime Update

The FaceTime app has received a major overhaul not only for macOS but also for iOS and iPadOS. A noteworthy improvement here is the addition of the SharePlay feature – a function that enables you to watch TV or movies or listen to music together with whomever you are speaking with over FaceTime. For example, if you are currently on a FaceTime call, you can play a movie on your Mac and that movie would automatically play on the devices of other participants of the FaceTime call session. The other participants would also have direct controls over the playback and, in addition, the playback sound settings would automatically adjust so that you could talk to the other participants, while still hearing what’s being played.

Also, when music is being played, the queue of songs would be shared and the other participants would be able to add new tracks.

With macOS Monterey, you could also share your whole screen or just the GUI of a particular app while on a FaceTime call, so that other participants of the call could see what you are doing on your Mac.

Concerning the SharePlay feature, Apple has announced that the SharePlay feature will not be initially available with the initial version of Monterey (12.0.1) and will be added later this fall, with one of the upcoming Monterey patches.

In addition, you’d now be able to create a link for your FaceTime calls and send it to Windows or Android users, who could then use that link to join your FaceTime call through Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

Here are the other notable improvements that are introduced to FaceTime with macOS Monterey: 

  • Portrait Mode blurs anything in the background, leaving only the person in front of the camera in focus.
  • Spatial Audio – the individual voices of participants in the conversation would sound as if they are coming from the direction of that person as they are shown on your Mac’s screen.
  • Voice Isolation/Wide Spectrum – Voice Isolation filters out ambient sound, so that the voice of whomever you are talking to comes clearer, while Wide Spectrum highlights all the voices of the different participants in a group call.
  • Grid View – arranges the call participants in a grid-like pattern in the FaceTime interface, making it easier to get a good look at everyone at the same time.

Admittedly, some of those features are anything exceptional that hasn’t already been done by other communication and online conversation platforms, but it’s nice to have it in FaceTime, so that you wouldn’t have to resort to third-party options to get the more expanded functionality. Also, worth noting, Portrait Mode is only available for M1 Macs.

macOS 12 Monterey Messages Update

Messages receive the Shared with You feature, which lets the app automatically save content other users send you in Messages by putting it in relevant apps. For instance, if somebody shares a song with you in Messages, that song would be put in the For You section in the Apple Music app, or if you get sent a link, the link would be added to the Shared with You section in the starting page of Safari.

The Shared with You feature of Messages works with Apple Podcasts, Apple News, Apple Music, Apple TV, Photos, and Safari. You are even given the option to pin certain pieces of content so that you don’t miss them later when you visit the respective app in which that content has been saved.

Shortcuts for macOS 12 Monterey

The iOS and iPadOS Shortcuts app has now been made available for macOS as well. The app comes with a number of preset Mac-specific shortcuts, but you can add new ones to it or remove those that you don’t need. The app has been integrated into Monterey on multiple levels – it can be accessed through the Dock, the menu bar, through Siri, through Spotlight, or Finder.

Safari on macOS 12 Monterey Update

The most notable change that got introduced to Safari is the addition of tab groups. The feature would allow you to create and save groups of tabs that can be accessed through a single click at a later time. In the meanwhile, the tabs from a given group won’t be shown in the tab bar and won’t take up unnecessary space while you are browsing for something else.

In relation to the new feature, Safari’s sidebar has also been modified and now accommodates a section for the user’s tab groups as well Shared with You, Bookmarks, and Reading List sections.

macOS 12 Monterey Maps Update

Some changes have also been introduced to the Maps app, which now offers a more detailed look at major cities such as New York, London, and LA. The new 3D view feature gives the user the option to get a closer and more accurate look at local landmarks, and the added interactive Globe function allows for enhanced exploration of Earth.

The new driving map now provides more detailed information about crosswalks, turn lanes, bus and bike lanes, current traffic levels, road incidents, and more.

macOS 12 Monterey Notes

The Notes app has also had some improvements introduced to it, including the Quick Note feature, which enables you to quickly type a note at any time, regardless of what app you are using at the moment – you simply need to move your cursor to the bottom-right corner of your screen and a note icon will appear, which, when clicked, will open a Quick Note window. Such quick notes are saved in a separate section in the Notes app and can be accessed from your other devices.

macOS 12 Monterey Universal Control

Universal Control is one of the highlights of macOS Monterey – this newly-introduced feature lets users control multiple Macs and/or iPads through a single Mac’s controls. For instance, if you have two MacBooks and an iPad, you can use the keyboard, mouse, or trackpad for one of the Macs to control all of the three devices. Switching between the control focus between the different devices is as simple as moving the mouse’s cursor beyond the border of the screen of one device, and it will automatically move on to the next one. In a similar way, you can quickly and easily drag and drop content from one device to the other. What’s more, no setup is required – the feature begins to function automatically once Monterey is installed, so long as the devices are close to one another and connected to a network. Note that the Universal Control would become available on macOS Monterey later this year and is currently not part of the initial public macOS Monterey version.

macOS 12 Monterey AirPlay

AirPlay comes to macOS with the release of Monterey, so that now one could play content from their iPhone or iPad (or another Mac) on their Mac. AirPlay allows users to extend or mirror the screen of an Apple device onto their Mac, and with the support of AirPlay connection between two Macs, this means that you can use one Mac as an external display for another one. Through AirPlay, you can also turn your Mac into a part of a multiroom audio system by pairing it with speakers spread throughout your house.

The feature can work both Wirelessly and through a USB-C cable, with the wired connection typically providing a more latency-free experience.

macOS 12 Monterey Focus

Focus is a more advanced variation of the Do Not Disturb Mode that Macs used to have. The idea behind it is generally the same – it’s supposed to help you focus on your current tasks by blocking out distractions such as irrelevant notifications.

For instance, the Work Focus mode, when enabled, would block notifications coming from apps that aren’t work-related, thus ensuring you don’t get needlessly interrupted and distracted. There are other readily-available Focus modes such as Sleep and Driving. Of course, you can create your own custom modes, choosing which apps and people could contact you and at what times. If someone tries to contact you but Focus blocks the notification, that person would be informed that you are currently using a Focus mode and that you’d receive the notification at a later time.

A given Focus mode would sync by default with all your other devices once it’s enabled on one of them.

Live Text and Visual Lookup on macOS 12 Monterey

Live Text and Visual Lookup are two interesting features introduced to Mac with macOS Monterey. Live Text enables your Mac to recognize text in images and allows you to select and copy it. Through the use of on-device machine-learning, the feature is even able to recognize handwritten text and supports hyperlinks, phone numbers, addresses, etc.

Similarly, Visual Lookup uses on-device machine-learning technology to recognize what’s shown in an image and then allow you to quickly find out more information about the object. For now, the feature mainly works with landmarks, plants, works of art, and certain types of animals, such as different dog breeds. For instance, you can take a picture of a plant that’s unknown to you and use the Visual Lookup feature to find out what that plant is and learn more about it.

Translate on macOS 12 Monterey Update

The Translate feature that’s present in the Safari browser is now integrated with the entire macOS – you can select any text on your Mac, right-click the selection, and use the Translate option from the context menu to translate the selection into a different language.

macOS 12 Monterey Privacy Update

macOS Monterey offers a number of updates, improvements, and new features related to macOS security and privacy:

Mail Privacy Protection – this feature hides your IP address from email senders and also blocks invisible tracking pixels in email letters.

Recording Indicator notifies you whenever a certain app is using your Mac’s microphone.

iCloud+ Private Relay encrypts your Safari traffic, ensuring that, in case it gets intercepted by third parties, no one would be able to see what data is being transferred. It also helps you hide your location and IP address, much like a VPN.

Hide My Email lets you create randomly-generated email addresses that link back to your real email address, thus keeping the latter hidden whenever you don’t want to share it publicly.

Child Safety Features – Monterey introduces a number of security and privacy features specifically oriented towards child safety and protection. One such feature is Communication Safety – a feature that uses machine learning to block out sexually-explicit images on devices used by children and whenever such an image is sent or received on such a device, the parent would be notified. Scanning Photos for Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), and CSAM guidance in Siri and Search are two more child safety features that are designed to help fight sexual child abuse by automatically reporting CSAM materials to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children NCMEC) non-profit organization.

macOS 12 Monterey M1 Exclusive Update

Some of the new features introduced with Monterey are only available on M1 Macs, so Macs with Intel CPUs don’t have access to them. Here is the full list of Monterey features that won’t be available for Intel-based Macs.

  • FaceTime Portrait Mode
  • Live Text
  • Maps’ interactive 3D globe feature and the more detailed maps of major cities
  • Text-to-speech in Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, and others
  • Offline on-device dictation and unlimited keyboard dictation

macOS 12 Monterey Compatibility

With the release of Monterey, Mac continues dropping its support for older devices. Below is a list of the Macs that can be updated to macOS Monterey. If your Mac isn’t among them, you won’t be able to install on it the latest macOS release.

  • iMac – Late 2015 and later
  • iMac Pro – 2017 and later
  • MacBook Air – Early 2015 and later
  • MacBook Pro – Early 2015 and later
  • Mac Pro – Late 2013 and later
  • Mac mini – Late 2014 and later
  • MacBook – Early 2016 and later