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macOS Sequoia

macOS Sequoia

macOS Sequoia introduces several new features designed to help integrate Apple's new artificial intelligence project, Apple Intelligence, into the operating system. In addition to AI-based updates, new features like tiled window management and iPhone Mirroring have been added.

● iPhone Mirroring
● New system-wide writing and editing tools
● Tiled window management
● AI-driven improvements to Notes, Calculator, Safari, Siri, and more
● Several features from iOS 18

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At WWDC 2024, Apple announced its usual slew of operating system updates, including macOS Sequoia. Unlike its predecessor, macOS Sonoma, a fairly tame update, macOS Sequoia introduces several significant new features.

Apple has continued the tradition of naming macOS after California locations. For macOS 15, Apple has chosen Sequoia National Park for its namesake and even included a new national park database for hiking trails in Apple Maps.

Since Apple Silicon was introduced, Apple has been slowly implementing UI changes that make macOS more like iOS in certain aspects. For example, the System Settings app has been reorganized so it is more consistent across platforms.

Apple Intelligence features for macOS Sequoia 

Many of the updates announced this year focused on Apple Intelligence, Apple's foray into the artificial intelligence space. Apple's ultimate goal with Apple Intelligence is to make their devices slot seamlessly into users' lives without compromising security.

Apple Intelligence Apple Intelligence

These features will be available in some capacity on all Macs running M-series processors. Apple Intelligence will launch as a beta feature in the fall and hasn't appeared in the developer beta yet.

Writing Tools and Image Playground

Across macOS Sequoia and Apple's other platforms, users can write, summarize, and proofread text almost system-wide with Writing Tools. There's also Image Playground with the ability to generate sketches, animations, or illustrations.

The Image Playground app as a modal in Pages on macOS Create generated images with prompts in Image Playground

Writing Tools can act as a grammar and spell checking tool thanks to a proofread function. It has an AI function that can help change the tone of a piece to be more friendly, professional, or concise.

The image generation tool is what powers things like generative emoji, or "Genmoji," in iMessage. Users can also create all new images based on prompts about people, locations, or actions.

Notes, Calendar, Calculator

Apple Intelligence is utilized in the updated Notes app for transcription assistance. For the first time, Notes can record audio, and after the recording is finished, Apple Intelligence will generate a summary of it.

Notes now includes a new calculation feature, where typing in an equation allows Apple Intelligence to solve it. The newly redesigned Calculator app has an option to show previous calculations in the history.

A computer note detailing group expenses for passes, kayaks, snacks, gear, sunscreen, and water totaling $475, divided by 5 people to $95 each. Notes includes automatic calculations when you write in text like a budget

In addition to Notes and Calculator, additional enhancements have been made to the Calendar. Apple's Calendar app now displays tasks from the Reminders app, which can be edited or marked as completed directly within the calendar.

Safari Highlights, Reader improvements, Viewer Mode

Apple has added Highlights to Safari, an AI-driven system that provides relevant information about people, music, movies, TV shows, and locations.

When planning a trip, for instance, users can get the most relevant details about a location. This can include the phone number and address of a hotel the user might be interested in.

Safari 18 also features a redesigned Reader view, which includes an AI-generated table of contents as well as summaries of news articles. The same summaries will also be available within the Highlights UI inside Safari.

The updated web browser also features a new Viewer mode, which immediately detects video on a page - and offers the option to move the video to Picture-in-Picture or switch to fullscreen mode.

Siri improvements, ChatGPT integration 

As expected, Siri has also seen what promises to be a significant improvement because of AI. By itself, Apple Intelligence is said to make working with Siri more natural and conversational, but users can optionally enable calling out to ChatGPT for some prompts.

The Siri orb surrounded by a colorful waveform representing Apple Intelligence Siri will get significant improvements thanks to Apple Intelligence

When Siri determines that ChatGPT may provide a better answer to a query, it asks the user's permission to pass their request on. ChatGPT gets the query if the user agrees, and the response comes back through Siri.

Interacting with ChatGPT is free and private. No data is stored from the interaction nor is it tied to a user or IP address.

ChatGPT integration with macOS will likely not launch until later in 2024. The Siri upgrades are rumored to not be ready until spring 2025.

Other notable macOS Sequoia Features

Indeed, WWDC 2024 focused heavily on Apple Intelligence, but a fair amount of more standard updates were also announced. 

Overview of new macOS features like easier window tiling, text effects, password management, Apple Pay on third-party browsers, and iOS notifications on Mac, among others. Apple's "bento box" of features for macOS Sequoia

Many new features come directly from the rest of the ecosystem, like upgraded Tapbacks in iMessage or hiking routes in Apple Maps. Thanks to Apple Silicon, the communication between devices is more intertwined than ever, too.

iPhone mirroring

Expanding on continuity features it's built in the past, Apple has introduced a new feature called iPhone Mirroring. It allows a user to control their iPhone remotely from within macOS Sequoia. 

Laptop screen with a colorful background, displaying an iPhone interface. The iPhone shows a photo of a dog with icons for various apps. With macOS Sequoia, Mac users can see and control their iPhones on screen

Users can connect a mouse, trackpad, or keyboard to their iPhone to access apps from the desktop. The iPhone screen remains locked while mirrored.

iPhone mirroring is also possible over a wired connection to ensure there aren't any issues or dropped frames while using the feature. However, some features don't work in this mode, like editing the Home Screen.

Tiled window management 

Apple's new window tiling feature lets you drag a given window to a certain spot on your screen and automatically reposition it. For example, if you drag a window to the left, it expands to occupy the whole left side of your display.

A laptop screen displaying four open applications: an accommodation website, a notes app with expenses, a map, and a hiking trail information app. Window Tiling makes it simple to arrange apps

Window management has been such an important feature for Mac users that it created an ecosystem of powerful window management apps. While Apple's basic implementation might replace some of the more lackluster options, power users will still likely rely on dedicated third-party apps.

A new, dedicated Passwords app

Apple has rolled out a new, standalone Passwords app. The app has a more user-friendly interface than macOS had previously for the function, with Reminders app-style sections to the left and an option to easily share passwords with Family members.

Password manager interface showing categories on the left, list of passwords in the center, and detailed information for an Etsy account on the right. Apple's new Passwords app looks similar to existing rivals such as 1Password

However, not all password elements are now in the Passwords app. There is still a section within System Settings for managing the Login Password and if the Apple Watch can unlock the Mac for you.

Those comparing 1Password to Apple's option will note there isn't a place to store secure notes, software keys, or other types of information. The Passwords app is purpose built for storing and managing passwords, and that may not be enough for some power users.

Tapbacks, message effects, and video conferencing

Like iOS 18 and iPadOS 18, macOS Sequoia will gain a few new features for the Messages app. Tapbacks, which give users a quick way to respond to a message, are getting an expansion. 

Previously, users were limited to thumbs up, thumbs down, "Haha," heart, question mark, or double exclamation points when selecting Tapbacks. Now, Apple will allow users to respond with any emoji. 

Text conversation: MAJOR news, Rockstar (with rockstar, guitar, and hand emojis), Blown away New text formatting options allow for animation of text in Messages

In addition to expanded Tapbacks, Apple is also adding expanded text effects. Users can format text in Messages using bold, italics, or underlining words. New animated text effects are also available.

With video conferencing, Apple has added a feature to replace backgrounds. It also includes Presenter Preview, which means that before sharing a screen in video conferencing, users can see a preview of what you will be showing on the call.

Shuffled System Settings

Apple has rearranged the positioning of items in the System Settings sidebar. The options appear to be organized in a way that groups similar systems, placing them in an order based on importance.

The network and connectivity trio remain at the top, joined by a shifted-up Energy Saver and a broken-out VPN section. These features are likely the ones users access the most in Settings since they are in flux.

The Notifications, Sound, Focus, and Screen Time blocks have been moved further down the settings but are still grouped together, while General, Appearance, Accessibility, and Control Center have shifted up. Again, the ordering makes sense considering a user might change their system customization more frequently than system sounds.

Two macOS System Settings screens are shown, one in dark mode and one in light mode, displaying various system settings options with icons on the left sidebar. macOS Sonoma's System Settings [left], and in macOS Sequoia [right]

That group is joined by the Desktop & Dock, Displays, Screen Saver, and Wallpaper segments, with the Notifications block following after that. 

Privacy & Security drops down to join other related items, including Lock Screen, Login Password, and Users & Groups. The lower placement of security-related features suggests that users tend to "set it and forget it." There's no need to access these features unless there's a problem.

Siri & Spotlight goes down to join Internet Accounts, Game Center, and Wallet & Apple Pay, but now in separate Siri and Spotlight sections.

At the bottom is the peripherals section, including Keyboard, Mouse, Trackpad, Game Controllers, and Printers & Scanners.

macOS Sequoia compatibility

Every year, Apple announces new features for the Mac. Often, these features push the hardware to its limits. As a result, some older Macs may be unable to run the new macOS or, at the very least, will not have access to all the latest features.

At some point, even the Intel Mac Pro will no longer be able to run the latest macOS, but it seems that Apple will continue to support Intel-based Macs for at least another year.

This year, any Mac capable of running macOS Sonoma can run macOS Sequoia. 

Below are the Mac models that are compatible with macOS Sequoia:

  • iMac — 2019 and later
  • iMac Pro
  • MacBook Air — 2020 and later
  • MacBook Pro — 2017 and later
  • Mac Pro — 2019 and later
  • Mac Studio — 2022 and later
  • Mac mini — 2018 and later

It is worth noting that Apple Intelligence requires an Apple Silicon Mac, so any Intel-based Mac will not have access to several features. macOS Sequoia may be the last update with support for Intel-based Macs.