During WWDC 2023, Apple presented the outline of macOS 14 Sonoma, the new version of its operating system for Mac. A more user-friendly edition, which is even closer to iOS. In this article we will look at all the new features and when you can get your hands on it.
Apple continues its tradition of naming new versions of its macOS after iconic locations near its headquarters. This year, the chosen name is Sonoma, a renowned wine town in Northern California's Silicon Valley. Sonoma will now also be associated with macOS 14, Apple's operating system tailored specifically for its lineup of computers, including Mac mini, iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Studio, and Mac Pro. While there may be occasional confusion with iOS (for iPhone) and iPadOS (for iPad) due to their increasingly similar appearances, this naming inspiration is well-founded as it reinforces the coherence among all Apple systems. New users who own both a Mac and an iPhone or iPad will find it easy to navigate between the devices and quickly adapt to the shared user experience.
What are the features of macOS 14?
The return of Widgets
macOS 14, that was unveiled during WWDC 2023, is getting closer and closer to iOS and iPadOS, aligning with their emphasis on widgets. These versatile components allow users to arrange up-to-date information or control applications directly on the screen, eliminating the need to open them individually (for more details, refer to our article on iOS 17 and iPadOS 17). This marks a return since these handy modules were initially introduced in macOS' Dashboard until version 10.14.6 (Mojave) in 2019. Although they disappeared from the system, they now make a comeback in a more flexible and dynamic form, mirroring their counterparts on iOS and iPadOS. Users can place widgets directly on the Desktop and even resize them, while the widgets' transparency automatically adapts to the wallpaper. Additionally, Apple's APIs are accessible to developers, empowering them to design widgets for their applications.
Users who already own an Apple TV box will quickly notice the similarity between the captivating screen savers featured in macOS Sonoma and those showcased on Apple TV. macOS 14 introduces animated screensavers that display stunning high-definition landscapes, with colour tones that dynamically change with the passage of time. Furthermore, macOS wallpaper can now be animated, adding an extra touch of life to the desktop environment. The screensavers will slowly come to halt, giving you a fixed image.
Safari has been revisited
The Safari web browser, included in macOS 14, receives an update with several notable enhancements. One such improvement is the introduction of user profiles, allowing users to define different profiles for work, personal use, children, and more. This option proves valuable as it separates the storage of cookies and browsing history, preventing any unwanted mixing of data. Additionally, Safari now incorporates a feature similar to Chrome or Edge, enabling users to create web apps. This functionality transforms websites into standalone applications, ensuring quick access with just a click. These web apps can be conveniently stored in the Dock, and users will receive notifications from the original websites, enhancing their usability and convenience. This original and practical feature is likely to be well-received by individuals who frequently utilise online services.
Video game optimisation
The latest macOS goes beyond mere superficial alterations. With Apple Silicon chips demonstrating exceptional performance, the operating system had to optimise their capabilities, particularly in demanding scenarios like video games. While the Mac has not historically excelled in this realm, with a relatively limited game catalog compared to the PC ecosystem, Game Mode aims to change the landscape. This feature encompasses various tools that prioritise specific tasks that leverage the processor and graphics circuit as soon as a game is launched. These optimisations have the potential to significantly enhance performance by improving display fluidity (frames per second) and responsiveness (latency). However, whether these improvements will be sufficient to attract publishers and gamers is yet to be determined.
User-friendly video calls
macOS 14 introduces an exciting feature that aims to make video more engaging. In FaceTime discussions (as well as with Zoom, Teams, or Webex, for now), the image captured by your Mac's webcam will no longer be limited to a small box. Instead, you have the option to integrate it directly onto your Mac Desktop with clipping or even display it as a medallion while sharing your screen with others. Furthermore, the update offers various animations and video effects to add a touch of fun and creativity to your video conferences.
What are the macOS 14 Sonoma compatible Macs?
Apple has once again raised the bar for Macs eligible for the new system upgrade. Fortunately, the upcoming macOS 14 Sonoma will not be exclusive to models equipped with Apple Silicon chips, such as the M1 and M2 in their various iterations. It will also be compatible with relatively recent Macs powered by Intel processors. Here is the official list of Mac models that can enjoy macOS 14 Sonoma:
- Mac mini (2018 and later models)
- iMac (2019 and later models)
- MacBook Air (2018 and later models)
- MacBook Pro (2018 and later models)
- iMac Pro (2017 and later models)
- Mac Pro (2019 and later models)
- Mac Studio (2022 and later models)
When is the macOS 14 Sonoma release date?
As promised by Apple, macOS 14 will soon be made available in beta for developers. In the coming weeks, a public beta version will also be released, allowing access to all interested users. The specific timeline for the final version's release is yet to be disclosed, but it is anticipated to arrive in the fall, potentially in October or November, aligning with the launch pattern of previous Apple system versions. While it remains uncertain if a dedicated event or keynote will accompany the release, it appears unlikely, unless Apple seizes the opportunity to unveil new Macs featuring highly anticipated chips such as the rumoured M3.