Apple’s Updates to MacOS: Game Mode, Increased Privacy and Security, and Adjustable Widgets

Apple’s Updates to MacOS: Game Mode, Increased Privacy and Security, and Adjustable Widgets

At this year’s WWDC, Apple announced a number of exciting new updates for its operating systems and there’s plenty to be intrigued by.

While we covered a few of these throughout the rest of our coverage, here’s a quick look at this year’s announced software updates for Apple computers and tablets.

Software updates announced at WWDC

Behold: Sonoma!

Apple employees’ apparent love of California wine country is on full display with the newest Mac operating system, which is named after the Norcal city known for its bountiful vineyards. Sonoma promises increased convenience, flexibility, and efficiency for MacOS 14 users, so read on below for a quick look at the highlights.

Game Mode

One of the coolest new features included in Sonoma is Apple’s newly introduced “Game Mode,” which will surely give Mac gamers reason to get excited. When engaged, the mode significantly reduces the amount of computing power spent on background tasks, thus ensuring that the game gets the highest priority of CPU and GPU power while it’s in session. Apple says that the mode also dramatically reduces audio latency as well as reduces input latency with Xbox and Playstation controllers by doubling the Bluetooth sampling rate. In short: Game Mode promises a quicker, more responsive gaming experience — and, as Apple says, promises to “give players’ an edge when performance is measured in precious milliseconds.”

Move widgets wherever you please!

A small new update that some will surely find to be quite convenient is the ability to adjust your widgets and place them wherever you want on your desktop. Whereas widgets were previously only available inside a Mac’s notification centre, they can now be placed wherever you want. This change has also been designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. Widgets will fade into the background when you choose to focus on another application or program.

Safari’s privacy and security updates

With Sonoma, Apple has also updated its Safari browser with a number of new privacy protections that you might want to take a look at.

For one thing, you can now lock your Safari browser windows when you’re not using them, ostensibly making them inaccessible to people who aren’t you. At the same time, Apple says that Safari now “completely” blocks the loading of known web trackers on the pages you visit and “removes tracking from urls as your browse in private browsing” — certainly a good thing to have if you want to avoid the roving eye of data brokers and surveillance capitalism’s worst offenders. While the particular details of some of these protections haven’t really been made super clear yet, Apple is clearly gunning for a beefed up privacy posture that should make the most paranoid among us quite happy.

Meanwhile, in the security department, passwords and passkeys — the anointed heir to the password — will now be securely shareable within select groups of users via iCloud keychain. With this new feature, everyone in a select group will now be able to add and edit passwords in a shareable setting to keep security codes up to date, Apple says. Pertinently, iCloud keychain is protected by end-to-end encryption, which means that your precious codes should be relatively secure.

Presenter Overlay

MacOS 14 also brings with it a new feature for video conferencing that promises to make office Zoom calls a little bit less cringey and a little bit more fun. “Presenter Overlay” uses video layering techniques to superimpose video of a user over the content they need to share with co-workers — like a slideshow or Powerpoint presentation. There are two options for this: “small” overlay (where your face appears as a moveable bubble) and “large” overlay, wherein you’re featured more prominently in correlation to your presentation. Apple says the feature is compatible with “any” video conferencing app, including Zoom, Facetime, Teams, and Webex.

But wait, there’s more: iPadOS updates

Having officially dispensed with the most mouth watering updates to MacOS, let’s now take a quick look at the host of new features and updates for Apple’s iPad operating system.

Fun new iPad Lock Screen options

The new iPadOS is letting you customise and personalise your lock screens to a much greater degree. You’ll have a variety of wall paper options to choose from — including photo slideshows, local weather, something called “kaleidoscope,” and, for the space nerds out there, astronomy (which allows you to pick any planet in the solar system as your background).

At the same time, you can also make these backgrounds more productive by integrating widgets. There’s also a new feature called “live activities,” where you can keep track of stuff like active food orders, travel plans, or ongoing sports games.

Centralise your health data

Another notable feature that comes with iPadOS is a personal health app designed to maintain your personal stats and give users access to “rich details at a glance.” Surely a blessing for the gym rats among us. The app can be securely synched with your other Apple devices for interoperable viewing and can also be paired with compatible third-party apps and devices. The health app allows you to keep track of your health trends, medications, and other pertinent personal details.

Head over here to see a summary of everything Apple announced at WWDC 2023.