Tech Answers: Do I Need to Update to macOS Monterey?

Tech Answers | January 11, 2022

All good things come to an end – including operating systems. The latest macOS, Monterey, was released back in October of 2021, but do you really have to say goodbye to Big Sur – or El Capitan, Catalina, Sierra, etc. – just quite yet? 

From the good to the bad to the ugly, here’s what you need to know about updating your mac to Monterey and beyond: 

Updates, In General 

macOS Monterey might be what’s on our mind today, but before we delve into the ins and outs of Apple’s latest release, let’s go over the basics.  

Software updates do more than just provide shiny new features, especially when we’re talking about operating systems. In addition to high-powered add-ons and improvements, many of these updates also offer security improvements, bug fixes, increased data storage or speed, and a whole host of other benefits, too. The little notification that pops up on the corner of your screen announcing that it’s time to update isn’t just an advertisement for cool new stuff – it’s a recommendation for the health and safety of your device.  

Of course, there are downsides to updating your operating system as well. A new OS may not be compatible with other software on your device (like older plugins and programs) making it difficult to transfer work and data. The same is true for your current hardware, which could ultimately make updating impossible. Unforeseen bugs are also relatively common in new releases; Those that aren’t discovered until the update is made public are likely to cause stress and concern. What’s more, many of us much prefer to work with UX designs we are already familiar with, and any OS that offers revolutionary experiences might chafe with user’s expectation.

With all this in mind, it’s understandable that you’d pause to weigh your options when a new OS is released – it’s good practice, even! But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should forego updating. It’s imperative to keep in mind that Apple’s developers clearly see room for improvement in their previous operating systems, so, the question becomes: are those changes helpful and/or necessary for the efficacy of your machine? Let’s find out.

What’s New in Monterey? 

Monterey is the 18th version of macOS and, as such, comes with some nifty new features. As an entity, Apple has always paid special attention to the style, feel, and quality of user experience in addition to general functionality; This latest iteration of their operating system is no different.  

Some of the biggest changes you can expect when updating to Monterey include: 

  • SharePlay – Social distancing isn’t going anywhere any time soon. This new feature from FaceTime allows you to watch content (shows, movies, videos, etc.) together in real-time, share music on calls, share your screen, and more. Hoping to compete with industry giants like Zoom and Teams, FaceTime’s current capabilities get some other serious upgrades in Monterey and SharePlay is just the tip of the iceberg.  
  • Live Text – Previously introduced on iOS 15, Live Text allows your device to capture text and numbers in pictures for easy saving on your notes app or messenger.  
  • Focus Mode – This new feature allows Monterey users to limit notifications based on current activities. Users can create different focus modes for different tasks (reading, working, watching TV, etc.) and filter alerts according to your specific presets. Focus Mode will also respond to iMessages to let your contacts know that you are unavailable. 
  • Shared With You – Shared With You automatically saves a record of all the content & links shared with your profile in a log organized by the sender’s name, meaning you never have to go digging for a link again. 
  • Tab Groups – Safari on Monterey allows users to group tabs based on interest, freeing up space in your browser.  
  • Digital Legacy – The Digital Legacy Program gives you the option to select a legacy contact in case you pass away. This contact is sent a key to store on their device that would allow them to access your Mac in your absence.  
  • Mail Privacy – iOS 15 users will also be familiar with this Monterey update. New mail privacy settings can hide your IP address and keep pixels from tracking whether you’ve opened a message.  

Other updates include:  

  • Shortcuts for Mac 
  • iCloud+ 
  • Quick Note 
  • Spatial Audio with AirPods 
  • Visual Lookup 
  • Low Power Mode 
  • And more! 

Before you get too excited, it should be noted that not all of these features are available to every Monterey user. Some more advanced options – like FaceTime’s new portrait mode – are only accessible on devices that use an M1 processor, meaning those devices released in 2020 or after. Older devices that use Intel processors should still be able to access the majority of the features, however.

Apple devices that are compatible with macOS Monterey include: 

  • MacBook, early 2016 and later 
  • MacBook Air, early 2015 and later 
  • MacBook Pro, early 2015 and later 
  • Mac Pro, late 2013 and later 
  • Mac Mini, late 2014 and later 
  • iMac, late 2015 and later 
  • iMac Pro, 2017 and later 

The Reviews are In 

Now that Monterey has been out for a few months, the reviews are pouring in! In total, many users seem pleased with the quality of the updates and overall functionality.  For most, Monterey feels like a natural progression from its predecessor, Big Sur, which included major changes to the user interface.

If you haven’t updated to Big Sur, then, updating to Monterey might come with some major changes to the overall experience of your device. For what it’s worth, Apple has made it clear that more is coming to Monterey. If you do choose to update, be on the lookout for patch fixes and releases along the way.  

EMPIST’s Recommendation

If we’ve said it once we’ve said it a thousand times: updating your software is crucial to your device’s health, your efficacy, and your overall security.  

Now that Monterey has been out on the market for a few months and most of the bugs have been sussed out, we can say with relative confidence that you should likely go ahead and update your OS. Caveats, of course, include machines that use incompatible hardware or software and any device that lacks disk space, as Monterey is a fairly large download.  

From Now On, Leave IT to Us 

A bit overwhelmed? We don’t blame you! 

When it comes to your business’s technology, keeping track of what changes should and shouldn’t be implemented can easily start to pile up. EMPIST’s IT Managed Services works diligently to ensure that your entire tech ecosystem stays current, compatible, and competitive for you, leaving your team time to focus on the big stuff.  

We can take IT from here. To learn more about partnering with EMPIST for all your IT needs, visit us online today!