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How does Universal Control on macOS Monterey work?



The best moment of this year’s WWDC keynote was a straightforward demonstration of the macOS feature, Universal Control. The idea is simple enough: It lets you use your Mac keyboard and trackpad to control your iPad directly, and It also makes it easy to drag and drop content between those devices.

What makes the demo so impressive is the ease and smoothness of all of this. In the classic Apple movement, no settings are required at all. (Inaccurate as it appears) just as the Mac can determine the iPad’s location in space, so it knows where to put the mouse pointer.

After Zaprudering the clip and asking Apple a few questions, I now understand more of what̵

7;s going on here. It turns out that the whole system is much simpler than it first appeared. It’s basically a new way to use many of the technologies that Apple has developed. It’s not uncommon for Universal Control — sometimes the best software features are the result of smart thinking. Rather than technological improvements that require brute force.

This is what happened in the example.

First, you need to keep your iPad and Mac close. Universal Control is built on the same Continuity and Handoff features that have long been part of iOS and macOS. When the devices are close enough, the Bluetooth modules notify each other. Of course, all devices here must be on the same iCloud account to work.

You then start Universal Control by dragging the mouse pointer all the way to the left or right edge of your Mac’s screen, then slowly. over That edge. When you do that, your Mac assumes you’re trying to drag your mouse to another device, in this case an iPad.

So no UWB location detection is just a good old assumption. One observation is If you have a lot of compatible devices, Monterey assumes you’re dragging it to the last iPad or Mac you interact with.

At this point, there’s a Wi-Fi Direct connection, and the iPad shows a small bar on the side with a slight bump. It’s an indicator that iPad knows you’re trying to drag your mouse in. Continue to drag and poke The bumps will break into circular mouse pointers. When the mouse is on the iPad screen, both the mouse and keyboard on your Mac control the iPad, move it back to the Mac, and you control the Mac.

But there’s a clever little cost built into that weird bar with a few arrows inside. It’s a hint that you can move it up or down before it bursts onto the iPad itself. This is how you arrange the iPad’s screen to your Mac so that dragging the mouse between screens doesn’t affect it. causing strange jumps

You follow the same procedure to set up a second device with universal control — up to three. If all of this automatic setup sounds cumbersome, You can go to system settings and set the device to be the Universal Control gadget buddy of your choice.

However, how do you set it up? You can drag and drop content between devices, and it will use Wi-Fi Direct or USB to transfer files. Of course, if you’re dragging files onto your iPad, make sure you have apps (such as files) open that accept them.

Its relatively long and short. There are still some details to hash, Apple told me, and weren’t available in the first developer preview. It is unclear whether all these settings will work.

What’s interesting to me about this system — as I mentioned in the video above — is that it really does. That’s all because there’s a long-standing suite of software improvements to iPad over the years, including:

  1. Continuity, Handoff, and AirDrop Universal Control are not technically AirDrop, but the basic concepts are the same. All of these are the basic ways Apple devices communicate directly with each other. instead of communicating through the cloud
  2. Multitasking, I don’t mean split screen. But it supports drag and drop that comes with enhanced window options on iPad.
  3. Keyboard and mouse support That’s an obvious prerequisite. But it’s not always clear whether Apple will support the mouse in the iPad.
  4. Sidecar. Sidecar is a tool that lets you use your iPad as a second Mac monitor. I don’t think Universal Control uses the same bit of software as Sidecar, but I think there might be a tutorial on latency that will prove helpful. here

I have a hunch that there’s going to be a similar evolutionary story on the Mac side of this story. I think all iPad and iOS technology is finding its way onto the Mac, with the few recent releases playing a big part. The Catalyst app has become. The native iPad apps for the M1 Mac Control Center, Shortcuts, and Focus mode are all iOS built into the Mac as well.

Good idea, but wrong. Apple tells me the foundation on the Mac side is as simple as it sounds. based on continuity and handoff

I hope Universal Control works as well in the real world as it does in the demo shown here. And I know that’s not a sure thing. But what I love about this feature is that Apple has reinvented its existing technology for a different purpose.

Within the Apple ecosystem, you would expect trades you make only using Apple devices to be integrated in this manner. They’re harder to find than I’d guessed a few years ago, but as more and more Macs and iPads start exchanging features, I expect we’ll see more of these features in the future.


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