Mac OS Monterey vs Big Sur: What’s The Difference And What’s New?

macOS Monterey is finally here and it brings some major updates to some core macOS systems and some totally new cool features too. This includes an overhaul to FaceTime and the addition of Shortcuts, Live Text, Universal Control, Focus, handy privacy enhancements, and tweaks to fan-favorites — Notes, Maps, and Safari. A lot of these new features are courtesy of the new M1 chip. The new features in the new macOS operating system are focused on connection to others and productivity. Now we live in a world where communicating through the internet is vital, Apple had concentrated its efforts on building out features like Facetime and Live Text. Monterey also focuses on efficiency and streamlining your workday.

Key feature enhancements

Facetime

Lets’s look at FaceTime more closely. FaceTime now has enhanced sharing capabilities. You can also choose whether you want to view it in grid view or portrait mode which is something that Bug Sur lacked. This is great if you want to bring on a group of people onto a FaceTime chat at once. FaceTime on macOS Monterey also introduces spatial audio (a ‘sound field’ that helps to contain the conversation) and SharePlay which gives you the options of joint viewing movies or TV shows when you want to spend time with friends like you would in the real world.

Another new feature is the ability to share your FaceTime call with others that don’t use FaceTime. There’s no longer any need to sign up for Zoom or Microsoft Teams if you’re a Mac user. You can now access these services through FaceTime! This is a big improvement and a very welcome one for those who join a lot of meetings in their working week.

Introducing Live Text

Live Text is a very interesting feature that is sure to save millions of people a lot of time. This feature was not available with macOS Big Sur. Live Text has the AI ability to scan photos and pictures and extract embedded text. So, if you’re looking at a PDF invitation, all you need to do is use Live Text and extract all the important written information and copy them to your notes with ease.

Universal Control

Universal Control is one feature included in the new macOS that really streamlines things to the maximum. With Monterey, you’ll be able to use your Mag Mouse, Keyboard, and trackpad across devices. This is a big step up from Big Sur that still limited you to using your control systems for specific Apple devices. 

Enhanced Maps

macOS Big Sur allowed for 3D cities when using maps however Monterey now allows users to see a detailed 3D globe with rivers, seas, mountain ranges, forests, and more. The idea is to give you as close to a real image as possible. With the new Maps, you’ll be able to see your favorite city as if you were there yourself! It’s worth pointing out that only M1 users will be able to enjoy this feature for now but as Apple continues to phase out the Intel processors, more and more people will have access to improved apps like this over time.

macOS

Notes

If you’re a workhorse that uses Notes a lot, you’ll be pleased to know that it has been improved yet again. Whilst Big Sur added quick styles, top hits, and enhanced scanning, Monterey gives Notes a Quick Note feature. This new feature makes it easy to jot down notes whilst you’re working on another app. Activity view now allows you to see changes in your history for your notes.

Shortcuts

Another new app in macOS Monterey to streamline your work, even more, is Shortcuts. This is essentially an automation app that allows you to create shortcuts and workflows for different actions you regularly take on your Mac. This new feature will surely save you a lot of time and help to keep power and memory demands down. So, if you find yourself using two or three apps a lot, Shortcuts will allow you to start them up when you turn on your Mac and then switch between them using shortcuts.

Safari

Users were happy to hear that Big Sur made some big changes to Safari by adding a customizable start page, faster performance, favicons in tabs, website previews, Privacy Report, amongst other things. Monterey adds even more cool features that they couldn’t squeeze into the last update. This includes the ability to group tabs, share your grouped tabs, and sync them across your devices. Safari also takes your privacy a step forward.

Privacy

Big Sur added Privacy Report to the Safari app and self-reported privacy practices on the App Store however macOS Monterey comes to us with even more privacy features. You can now hide your IP and location in Mail with Intelligent Tracking Prevention that helps to prevent tracking of your IP. iCloud now features Private Relay which allows for more secure browsing. Another cool feature with macOS Monterey is the recording indicator that will pop up on your screen when an app has access to your mic. This is great because most people don’t know that most apps have access to your mic and camera. This is also going to be very handy for streamers who forget to turn off their mic!

Compatibility

Below is a list of Macs that support the new macOS Monterey and last year’s Big Sur.

macOS MontereymacOS Big Sur
iMac, late 2015 and laterMacBook (2015 or later)
iMac Pro, 2017 and laterMacBook Air (2013 or later)
Mac Pro, late 2013 and laterMacBook Pro (2013 or later)
Mac mini, late 2014 and laterMac Pro (2013 or later)
MacBook, early 2016 and laterMac Mini (2014 or later)
MacBook Air, early 2015 and lateriMac (2014 or later)
MacBook Pro, early 2015 and lateriMac Pro (2017 or later)

The new M1 chip-based Macs will feature all of macOS’ new features but some of the Intel-based Macs won’t. This is Apple’s effort to try and get people to sign up for the new generation of Macbook’s with their own M1 chip.

Here’s a list of new features that come with macOS Monterey but that don’t work on Intel-based Macs.

  • Portrait mode for FaceTime
  • Keyboard dictation updates
  • 3D interactive globe view in Apple Maps
  • Detailed maps of San Francisco, LA, New York, and London, etc
  • Addition of neural text-to-speech voice in these new languages: Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish

Should you upgrade to the new macOS Monterey?

So, taking everything into account, you may still be left wondering if it’s worth it for you to upgrade to the new Apple OS. As we’ve mentioned, you won’t be able to upgrade and get your hands on many of the new features if you’re using an old Intel-based Mac or Macbook that’s not listed on our list. This is going to be the biggest hurdle for a lot of people who have so far held on to the older Intel-based Macs.

If you do decide to upgrade to one of the new Macbook’s with the M1 chip, you’ll be looking to pay out $1999 right out of the gates. However, we believe this is worth it if you use your Mac for work and if communication is important to you. Big Sur brought in some new and exciting features and macOS doubles down on that and includes some more recent features that focus mainly on privacy and human connection.

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