iPad and Mac users are getting this brilliant free upgrade at last

Universal Control is finally coming out of beta and feels a little bit like Apple magic

MacOS Monterey
(Image credit: Apple)

There's good news inside iPadOS 15.5 and macOS Monterey 12.4, which Apple is getting ready to release: when you get the free updates on your iPad and MacBook, iMac or Mac mini, the really clever Universal Control feature will finally come out of beta – which means Apple reckons it's solid enough for everybody to use rather than just brave beta testers. I've used it with my M1 MacBook Pro and my iPad Air, and it's one of those technologies that feels a little bit like magic.

As MacRumors reports, the beta label on Universal Control has been removed in the release candidates of the two OS updates. Release candidates are the near-final versions that Apple uses to find any last-minute bugs or glitches after it's worked its way through the bigger stuff, so the updates should be arriving very soon.

What is Universal Control and why should you care?

Universal Control is a new feature that enables you to use a single keyboard and mouse/trackpad with multiple Apple devices, so for example I'm typing this on a magic keyboard in front of my Mac; with Universal Control I could use that keyboard and my mouse with my iPad too. The devices remain independent, so my Mac is still a Mac and my iPad is still my iPad, but I can switch between them as easily as I can switch between open apps.

It's a bit like the seamless switching between devices that Apple's AirPods, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max do, but for your eyes instead of your ears.

It's a great feature but unfortunately it's only available to users of relatively recent hardware: if your Mac can't run or you don't want it to run Monterey or you've got an old iPad that can't run iOS 15 then you're out of luck. You can still use Sidecar to extend or display your Mac desktop to your iPad, though: that supports Macs running macOS Catalina and most iPads running iPadOS 13 or later.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).