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Apple's latest iPadOS, MacOS Betas include Universal Control and it looks amazing

The first beta of iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 and MacOS 12.3 add several interesting features.
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Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer on
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Image: Apple

Apple's just announced its first-quarter financial results, and while investors and Wall Street may be impressed, I'm more impressed by something else Apple did on Thursday. Just one day after releasing updates for all of its hardware products, all of which received several security updates, Apple released the first developer previews of iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 and MacOS 12.3 (along with updates for HomePod, Apple TV and Apple Watch).

After hoping yesterday that after the release of iOS 15.3 as a security-focused update, we'd hopefully see some new features come in iOS 15.4 and the respectable updates for the rest of Apple's hardware, my wishes have come true. 

Specifically, Apple has given developers the first public taste of Universal Control. The feature was first announced last June at WWDC 2021 and promised to give you complete control over your Mac and iPad using a single keyboard and mouse. To be clear, you use the keyboard and mouse that's connected to your Mac, and you're able to move the pointer off the edge of the screen, where it will then show up on your iPad's screen. While it may sound like Sidecar, an already available feature that turns your iPad into a second display for your Mac, Universal Control simply gives you just that -- control over all of your devices from a single spot. 

Also: The best iPad deals available right now

Below you'll find a short video of the feature in use today, in its current beta form, thanks to MacStories' Federico Viticci, who posted it on Twitter. 

As you can see in the clip, Viticci uses his MacBook Pro's trackpad and keyboard. When he moves the pointer off the right side of his screen, it switches over to the iPad Mini where he can type and even use gestures to get around iPadOS. When the cursor moves to the left side of the MacBook Pro's screen, it jumps over to the iPad Pro's display, and he has complete control. Oh, and he's even able to drag and drop files and folders between the devices. 

Dear reader, my mind is blown. 

As someone who regularly moves between an iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, I can see a few places where Universal Control will streamline the process (editing photos is one) and, hopefully, make me more productive. 

I usually have a pretty hard rule that I'll install etas on my iPhone and iPad, but I leave my Mac alone just so I have at least one reliable device available. But I just may break that rule to give Universal Control a try. It looks great. Truly. 

Also included in the first developer etas is a new Face ID option for iPhone users that allow you to register your face while wearing a mask, forgoing the need to have an Apple Watch nearby to unlock your phone while wearing a facial covering. 

There are also several new emojis, along with the new biliary to copy text that's on a nearby object, like a sign or business card, into the Notes or Reminders app using the camera. 

Are you going to wait until Apple officially releases these updates before giving them a try, or are you tempted to jump on the beta bandwagon? You can sign up for Apple's Public Beta Software Program here; just make sure to create a backup before you do. 

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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