iPhone Mirroring on Mac is the real Apple intelligence we needed

OPINION: iPhone Mirroring in macOS Sequoia is nuts and bolts small ‘i’ Apple intelligence that will save users time and taps so they can use them more productively and creatively.

WWDC 2024 was dominated by Apple Intelligence, which will give users access to all manner of generative artificially intelligent tools that could change the way they use Apple products in a profound way.

However, my favourite announcement from the WWDC keynote, had nothing to do with generative AI. It’s the product of some good, old-fashioned intelligence from Apple software engineers.

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As revealed during the keynote, this year’s macOS 15 Sequoia will introduce iPhone Mirroring. Personally, speaking this is perhaps the most useful feature Apple could have introduced this year.

An extension of Apple’s Continuity features, iPhone Mirroring will show the iPhone screen on the Mac enabling people – in most cases – to interact with the handset as if it were in their hand, using the Mac’s trackpad and keyboard.

That means interacting with apps and notifications. With iPhone alerts now integrated within the Mac’s notifications centre, you’ll be able to click the alert and open the iPhone app right there on the Mac.

It means dragging and dropping content between iPhone and Mac and vice versa. You can open the Photos app, for example, and bring it into your Mac to be edited in Pixelmator Pro or Photoshop, or to be included in an email you’ve been typing out.

No more using AirDrop to transfer files between the two devices, which I do all the time. No more picking up my phone to look at a notification, or check an iPhone-only app only to put it down five minutes later after checking all the social feeds… which I do all the time.

Apple’s Continuity features have edged towards this eventuality for quite some time. You can already use a Universal Clipboard to copy and paste between devices, you can accept iPhone Cellular/FaceTime calls on a Mac, you can Handoff a web page or an email you’re composing to the Mac and pick up where you left off, and you use your iPhone’s camera to enhanace the webcam experience on a Mac via Continuity Camera. Universal Control enables you to use your keyboard and trackpad across a Mac and iPad, thus extending the display. Sidecar, for instance, lets you draw in Mac apps with an Apple Pencil on the iPad screen.

While other platforms have enabled full phone mirroring for a while now, having a full realisation of the iPhone and its functionality on the Mac screen is a giant leap forward for people deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem of devices.

This is the kind of Apple intelligence the company is renowned for – the ability to add usability wizardry that simplifies experiences for users and empowers their productivity. It doesn’t come with any of the inherent turn-offs we saw from the company’s GenAI announcements yesterday.

Apple Intelligence is creative unfriendly

Apple launched Image Playground, an entire app dedicated to generating images that threatens the work of professional graphic designers around the world.

It launched deep integration with ChatGPT in Siri that’ll generate a children’s bedtime story in a few seconds, which threatens the work of children’s authors.

It debuted a tool that will generate or hone a cover letter for a job application, potentially negating any advantage that skilled, trained communicators have in making their application stand out from the crowd.

I’d hoped, perhaps naively, that Apple’s take on AI would take a creatives-friendly approach and not place a large emphasis on artificial on words and image generation. I was sadly mistaken, for the most part. However, there were flashes to look forward to.

The new Focus mode for surfacing priority notifications, the ability to reference your emails to detect schedule clashes, and contextual awareness in Siri and the ability to use it across apps in the same conversation. These are all significant leaps forward for users that don’t threaten other people’s careers.

As the quote, accredited to author Joanna Maciejewska (which you’ve probably seen on social media lately) says: “I want AI to do my laundry and dishes so that I can do art and writing, not for AI to do my art and writing so that I can do my laundry and dishes.”

The best of Apple’s intelligent new tools – whether artificially generated or crafted by talented coders the old fashioned way – are designed to save user’s the time they need to create themselves.

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