MacOS Sonoma Brings Boosts to Gaming, Customizable Widgets and More
At WWDC 2023, Apple showed off its latest desktop software, which includes more customizable widgets.
Andrew LanxonEditor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
At its WWDC 2023 keynote event Monday, Apple took the wraps off MacOS 14 Sonoma, the latest operating system for the company's line of Mac desktops and MacBooks. MacOS 14 Sonoma comes with a number of new features, including new video screensavers and more customizable widgets. The new software will be available as a public beta in July with a full release slated for the fall.
Named after the Northern California winemaking region, MacOS Sonoma offers some key upgrades over MacOS 13 Ventura. Widgets are more customizable now. They can be placed anywhere on the desktop and resized, depending on how prominent you want them to look. They're interactive, too, allowing you to pause music, reply to messages or access smart home controls right from your desktop. You can now also drag over any widgets you have on your iPhone and use them on your desktop.
Apple also introduced a new game mode that prioritizes CPU and GPU usage for whatever game you're playing to increase frame rates. Gamers will also appreciate the lower latency for both Bluetooth audio with AirPods and inputs from Bluetooth game controllers.
Sonoma also brings a neat new video-conferencing feature that displays you as the presenter on top of your shared screen. It allows you to make your presentations a bit more immersive, almost as though you were in front of a white board in a meeting room giving the talk in person. It's a small tweak, but I can see this being helpful for those of us still working via Zoom calls.
Other features include new video screensavers showing drone footage over various landscapes (much like we've seen on the Apple TV), updates to private browsing in Safari and a host of overall tweaks to messaging, interface and security.
The company showed off the new software alongside updates to iOS 17, a new 15-inch MacBook Air, an updated Mac Studio and a new performance-focused chip, the M2 Ultra. Apple's top-end desktop, the Mac Pro, also got a big update that now includes the new M2 Ultra chip, rather than being based on Intel chips.