Apple announced the next release of their desktop operating system, macOS Mojave, at WWDC 2018. The new release has a number of new features like a system-wide dark mode, desktop stacks, updates to Finder, Quick Look, a new Screenshots tool and a beautiful new design for Mac App Store. Apple also announced their plan to enable easy porting of iOS apps to macOS (Marzipan), and start off, they have created macOS versions of Stocks, News, Home and Voice Memos apps.
New features in macOS Mojave
Apple announced the new system-wide Dark Mode as the first feature for Mojave. Once enabled, Dark Mode works for every built-in app that ships with macOS, including new and updated ones like Safari, News, Mac App Store and more. The dark theme is similar to the one that Final Cut Pro and iMovie have, and it works really well. Apple says that it is aimed at professional users who spend long hours in front of their screens. It is certain that not just professional users, but most Mac users will be using Dark Mode, rather than light mode, once Mojave goes public.
Mac App Store
It was expected that Apple would update Mac App Store, after the design refresh for iOS App Store. Taking queues from their mobile effort, Apple have updated Mac App Store to improve discoverability, added editorials, videos and much more. The new design sports a sidebar which links to different app categories as well as the updates section. Every app page also surfaces more detail about the app.
This is perhaps the biggest change to Mac App Store ever since it was launched. Along with the design updates, Apple also announced that apps like BBedit, Transmit, Adobe Lightroom and Microsoft Office 365 would be available in the Store, which points to developer friendly policy updates. Along with Marzipan, these changes should help in attracting more developers to the Store.
After what seems like eternity, Finder has received some love from Apple. Along with the system-wide dark theme, Finder has received some new features which includes a new Preview section and Gallery view. The Preview section shows meta data about the selected file, which usually was accessible only by opening Get Info. It also shows a large preview of the file, if you don’t have the Gallery view enabled. If you enable Gallery view, Preview shows just a small thumbnail for the file and the meta data moves up.
Under the meta data, there are a few new contextual buttons, which change based on the select file type. For example, selecting a ZIP archive will show a ‘set password’ button, while selecting an image will show a ‘rotate’ button. The more buttons gives quick access to Services and Automator scripts. It also houses ‘Open with’ options so you can open your file using a non-default app. Basically, most of the options that will show here are accessible via the right-click menu.
The Gallery view replaces the beloved Cover Flow view and aims to give a better media browsing experience. However, it falls short in many places. It doesn’t show file names so it would be better to use this view in conjunction with Preview.
Quick Look Updates
Quick Look is yet another part of macOS that has gotten some attention this year. Markup, a feature that Apple introduced with the Mail app, is not available via one-click from the quick look window.
Based on the content you open in Quick Look, it would give you an appropriate editing option. Opening an image shows image editing tools, similar to what you find in the Preview app, while opening a video will show the trimming tool.
Stacks are a great way to organize cluttered desktops. Think of stacks like virtual folders that are created based on the file type, date or tags. Whenever a new file is saved on the desktop, it is automatically sorted into the correct stack. Clicking on a stack opens up all its contents and pushes away other stacks. Files in a stack can also be previewed by scrubbing over the main thumbnail.
Screenshots and Screen Recording
macOS always allowed users to take screenshots in different ways, using keyboard shortcuts, while screen capture was possible with QuickTime. In macOS Mojave, a new menu can be invoked using a new keyboard shortcut: Shift + Command + 5. This allows users to do the following:
- Capture entire screen
- Capture selected window
- Capture selected portion
- Record entire screen
- Record selected portion
Under Options, users can also change the location to where they want to save the screenshot, use a Timer and show/hide the mouse cursor.
After a screenshot is captured or video recording is complete, a thumbnail shows on the bottom right of the screen. This is similar to the screenshot thumbnail functionality introduced with iOS 11.
The thumbnail can be swiped away to discard the capture or recording. Right clicking on it shows more options related to save location, opening in app, editing using markup and more.
Group FaceTime video calls
Group FaceTime video calls work just like iOS 12, except that users cannot use any filters, text overlays or other effects. Users can add up to 32 users, and they can connect using either a FaceTime video or audio call.
News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home Apps
Apple has created some new never-before-on-macOS apps for Mojave. These apps include Apple News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home (used to control HomeKit devices). Apple has created these apps to test porting iPhone/iPad UIKit apps to macOS, with minimal change in code. At the same time, Apple aims to ensure that the experience seems native to the Mac. In terms of features, these apps are not all that different from their iOS counterparts.
Apple has focused heavily on privacy with their WWDC 2018 announcements. One of the major ones is how Safari handles social media widgets, like/tweet buttons and comment sections. Whenever Safari detects such a page, it will block the scripts and ask the user if they want to allow them. These scripts track user data across the website, so Apple aims to curb it with this privacy feature.
Safari will also protect users from tracking by sharing a generic system profile with services, rather than complete details of user’s systems. This will thwart the ‘fingerprint’ phenomenon that advertisers use to track users across different websites and apps.
macOS Mojave also has iOS like permission dialogues for microphone, camera and other data/input sources. When an app tries to access the microphone or camera for the first time, a permission dialogue box will pop-up, requiring the user to manually allow access.
macOS Mojave also has a number of other features which include:
- Siri can now control HomeKit devices and find passwords. Siri could already control HomeKit devices in iOS but it wasn’t possible via Siri on Mac.
- Mac now supports more languages: UK English, Australian English, Canadian French, and Traditional Chinese for Hong Kong.
- Safari tabs now show favicons! But, this feature has to be manually enabled.
- Continuity Camera lets users use iPhone to scan documents or take photos, without having to manually transfer them to Mac. This new feature is available system-wide from Edit > Insert from your iPhone.
macOS Mojave compatible devices
While Apple listed iOS 12 compatible devices on their website, they did not put the compatibility list for macOS Mojave because a lot of devices will be left out. As per Apple’s press release, the following Macs will be supported:
- iMacs, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini models introduced in mid-2012 or later
- MacBooks introduced in 2015 or later
- 2010 and 2012 Mac Pro models and later, with recommended Metal-compatible graphics cards
- iMac Pro, 2017 and later
To check whether your Mac is supported, click the (Apple) menu on the top left of your screen and click on About This Mac. This will show you the model of your Mac and its year.
macOS Mojave release date
macOS Mojave is currently available as developer beta, while the public beta will be available by the end of July. Apple normally goes through multiple beta releases before the final version is made available to all. As per tradition, Apple would be releasing the final version in fall, which should be around September. The update would be available to download for free, from the Mac App Store.