Today at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, the company revealed (Apple Demo) its new version of macOS, which includes a feature called Universal Control that allows you to control the cursor on an iPad or another Mac using your Mac’s mouse or trackpad.
While it may not seem that impressive on paper, Craig Federighi did something really cool during the demo: he dragged a photo from an iPad onto two other computers to insert it into a Final Cut timeline by just moving his cursor.
It’s not so easy to jump between computers in real life – Logitech’s Flow and other programs such as Synergy sometimes require special hardware, don’t support actual dragging and dropping, and are difficult to set up. I like the smoothness of Apple’s app.
However, Apple’s website states that Universal Control has a few caveats – it works with just three devices (i.e., Apple demonstrated its full suite of capabilities in this demo), and it will not work on every device that gets the new Mac and iPad OS versions.
Macs capable of initiating Universal Control include:
- MacBook Pro (2016 and newer)
- The MacBook Pro (2016 and newer)
- MacBook Air (2018 and newer)
- The newer iMac models (2017 and later)
- Apple MacBook (5K Retina 27-inch, Late 2015)
- A Mac mini (from 2018 onwards)
- iMac Pro
- Mac Pro 2019
It will be compatible with the following iPads:
- iPad Pro
- iPad Air (3rd generation and up)
- Apple iPad (6th generation or later)
- iPad mini (5th generation and up)
While the iPad-based feature is available, you must initiate it from the Mac – if you wanted to move files and the Apple Pencil over to your Mac, you’re out of luck as fun as those sounds.
Although Apple says there is no setup required (except to have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff enabled on your two devices), we won’t know how fast and reliable the feature will be until we try it out.
Do you have to tap your fingers on the desk every time you set your iPad down next to your Mac, or will it work every single time?
In the Apple demo, Federighi brought computers very close together and hopped between keyboards, mice, and screens. We’ll have to wait to see how Universal Control works in real life, but it looks like everything just worked – as the saying goes, everything just worked.
Nevertheless, it makes for an intriguing demo which suggests what computing would be like if all devices could just work together, regardless of their form factor or operating system (though non-Apple devices are overlooked in this version of the dream).