Ventura, aka macOS 13, was released on October 24, 2022. It came with a few new features. The most notable is a redesign of what was System Preferences into Settings, which look a lot like settings on an iPhone or iPad. The implementation is a bit rough so far. Another feature that some may find useful is Continuity Camera, which lets you use the camera from your iPhone as a webcam on your Mac.
This week (Dec 13, 2022 to be specific) brought a further update, macOS 13.1. This delivers a few more features, including a sing-along feature in Music and adds Freeform, a new whiteboarding app that I don’t see most folks needing or using. Probably the most important advance in this release is Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which encrypts most of your data on iCloud so that even Apple can’t access it. However, that’s not on by default, and adds some more responsibility to the user. I think most users will eventually want to enable it, but it will take some work, including adding someone as your Recovery Assistant to recover your data in case you lose access, a process similar to specifying a Legacy Contact that I previously described.
There are corresponding updates to iOS and iPadOS that bring the same features and updates.
Should I Upgrade?
I was ambivalent on the upgrade to 13.0. The new 13.1 release has worked out most of the bugs, refined things a bit, but most importantly included a bunch of security updates. So, yes, I recommend updating to the latest available OS version before the new year, if you have the time.
I absolutely recommend updating iPhones and iPads to the latest version they support, as well. Updating a Mac always has a bit of risk in some software not fully supporting the new version, or even a loss of data. That’s much less likely with iOS or iPad devices, since all the apps come through the App Store.
Before you upgrade, make sure you have a current backup (Time Machine or other), and that you have at least 37 GB free on your main drive.
What if My Mac Isn’t Supported?
Models up to 5 years old are mostly supported (though only 4 years for the MacBook Air), but this drops quite a lot of models compared to Monterey, the previous macOS version. If you can’t upgrade, it doesn’t mean your Mac doesn’t work anymore. But it does signal that an end is near. Apple supports the previous two OS versions with bug fixes, though not as assiduously as for the current version. After that, you’ll really want to consider replacing and retiring the old Mac. Do apply the latest OS updates that just came out if you are running Big Sur or Monterey.
There are alternatives for the technically inclined. There is an open-source project called OpenCore Legacy Patcher that will allow the brave soul to force a Mac to use a later version than Apple has approved. But I don’t suggest doing that for a primary computer.