It's a big firmware day for Apple. Not only is the company rolling out updates for iPhone, iPad and HomePod, macOS Monterey 12.1 is now available. Perhaps the most notable new feature is SharePlay, which allows up to 32 people to enjoy the same TV shows, movies, music and livestreams and more in sync with each other on FaceTime calls.
Along with Apple services like TV+, Apple Music and Fitness+, a bunch of third-party apps support SharePlay, including Paramount+, TikTok, Twitch and NBA. Anyone on the call can pause, play, fast forward or rewind the content and Apple will automatically lower the volume of the music or video when someone speaks. You'll be able to share your screen through SharePlay as well.
Apple released SharePlay on iPhone and iPad in October. The company rolled out macOS Monterey on the same day, and said it would bring SharePlay to desktops later in the fall.
Many features Apple brought to iPhone and iPad today have landed on macOS Monterey too. They include support for the $5 per month voice-only plan for Apple Music and a safety setting that warns children when they send or receive an image containing nudity in Messages. The Digital Legacy program lets users denote a trusted contact who can access their iCloud account and personal information when they die, while iCloud+ subscribers can generate unique, random email addresses with the Hide My Email feature in the Mail app.
Elsewhere, Apple has redesigned the memories feature in the Photos app with a new interface, fresh transitions and animations and "multiple image collages." There are more memory types as well, such as extra international holidays, trends over time, ones centered around kids and improved memories for pets.
The company also squished some bugs in macOS Monterey 12.1. It said that, previously, "HDR video playback on YouTube.com could cause 2021 MacBook Pro computers to panic." That shouldn't be a problem anymore. An issue that prevented external displays from charging some MacBook Pro and MacBook Air systems via a Thunderbolt or USB-C connection should be resolved too, while some menu bar options will no longer be obscured by the dreaded notch on the latest MacBook Pro.