Skip to main content

These clever features paved the way for Universal Control

Universal Control is one of the best things about Apple’s ecosystem. It allows you to seamlessly use two or more Apple products with a single input device, whether that means dragging files across devices or typing on both with one keyboard. It works like magic, but as a recent interview suggests, Apple was secretly laying the groundwork for years.

Speaking to AppStories, Apple’s Vivek Bhardwaj described how Universal Control is a natural progression of some other key Apple features, including AirDrop, Handoff, and Sidecar. These tools were the “building blocks” of Universal Control, said Bhardwaj, providing a foundation for Apple to extend their capabilities.

Apple demonstrating Universal Control with a MacBook Pro and iPad next to each other on a desk.
Apple

“When you think of technologies like Bluetooth low-energy, know where devices are, all of these low-level technologies, as well as kind of this Handoff experience, Universal Control is really just the next step for continuity,” Bhardwaj explained.

If you’re unfamiliar, AirDrop lets you quickly share files between two Apple devices without resorting to email or messaging apps. With Handoff, meanwhile, you can start work on one device and instantly pick it up on another by simply opening the relevant app, while Sidecar essentially turns an iPad into a second screen for a Mac (or into a drawing pad if you have an Apple Pencil).

Once Apple had those technologies nailed down, it was able to move on to something even better — in this case, Universal Control. It’s an apt demonstration of how Apple builds its devices to work together in pretty seamless ways.

Bhardwaj went on to outline Apple’s thinking when creating the Universal Control system: “We designed Universal Control with Mac and iPad in mind. So think of it more of pairing these two devices together and then taking full advantage. Lots of Mac users have an iPad, so extending this capability to them is a really powerful experience.”

While that may be the case, you can actually use Universal Control between up to three Macs at once if you like, without requiring an iPad to be present. In that instance, it works like a built-in KVM switch, except one that doesn’t require any fiddly setup. You can’t use it to control an iPhone, though.

Still, it’s easily one of our favorite features in MacOS Monterey and iPadOS 15, and it shows how Apple’s tight-knit ecosystem can create some pretty amazing experiences.

Alex Blake
In ancient times, people like Alex would have been shunned for their nerdy ways and strange opinions on cheese. Today, he…
The Mac just became a true ‘AI PC’
Disney Plus on a MacBook Pro.

Apple has unveiled a significant overhaul of its macOS operating system at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The move -- long an expected topic for WWDC -- infuses the Mac with artificial intelligence (AI) across multiple apps, tools, and systems, revamping almost the entire Mac experience in the process. Put together, it has the potential to transform the Mac into an AI PC of the highest order.

Dubbed Apple Intelligence, the new system works across a host of apps -- including third-party ones -- to take them up a level. For example, Apple unveiled tools that can summarize or rewrite text in apps, such as rephrasing an email response for a new context. Apple also showcased some generative AI capabilities similar to those found in rival products like like Midjourney. Apple's spin, though, is that its system has more contextual knowledge. You can ask it to create an image of a friend for their birthday and it will take a photo of them that you have tagged and redesign it in one of several styles. In this case, Apple Intelligence knows who your friend is without you needing to specify a photo first.

Read more
Here’s why people are fearing for the future of this beloved Mac app
bartender app changes ownership mac

Bartender, a popular menu bar customization app for macOS with a long history, was quietly acquired by new developers sometime in the past few months. With no word from the app's original creator or the new owners about the transition, MacUpdater sent out the following alert warning users of the situation.

"The company and developer behind Bartender was replaced in a silent and dubious manner -- updates to version 5.0.52 and newer are your own risk and responsibility."

Read more
Some updates coming to macOS 15 aren’t just about AI
Apple's 15-inch MacBook Air on a desk, with macOS Sonoma running on its display.

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is coming up soon, and everyone's expecting a huge announcement around AI. But don't worry, according to a report from AppleInsider, there are some practical tweaks coming to macOS 15 that are in the works. Notably, the System Settings app is set to receive the biggest changes, with other menus and app UIs also expecting some rearranging.

The last update to the Settings app happened with macOS Ventura, changing the name from System Preferences to System Settings and shifting to an iOS-style design, a change that ruffled the feathers of diehard Mac users. This time, the organizational system will reportedly be based on "priority and overall importance."

Read more