Windows 11 and MacOS are both designed for the future of remote working

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  • New software updates from Apple and Microsoft bring big changes to their video calling applications.
  • Other novelties hope to help us better manage work-life balance.
  • Updates are a sign that the way people use their computers has fundamentally changed over the past year.

The world may be opening up again, but remote working is here to stay for many people. It’s the sentiment that apparently shaped the new updates coming to Windows and Mac computers later this year.

Apple and Microsoft are both introducing new features that dramatically improve conference calls and the way we deal with work-life balance, updates that will come as the majority of working Americans continued to work remotely in 2021, according to Gallup.

Some of these new features are a response to remote working, but they are also a sign that the two largest operating systems are seeing a fundamental change in the way we will use computers to work and communicate.

Microsoft unveiled Windows 11 Thursday, its first major Windows update in six years. The free update will bring a slew of cosmetic changes to Windows PCs this holiday season, but closer integration with its Teams video chat app is one of the biggest updates. With Windows 11, Teams will install right into the taskbar so you can start a text chat, video call, or voice call without having to launch the app.

Apple also announced big changes coming to FaceTime at its Global Developer Conference earlier this month. This includes some

Zoom
-similar features, such as grid view for group calls and the ability to link to join FaceTime conferences from any device, marking the first time Apple has extended FaceTime beyond its own products.

The iPhone maker is also launching a new feature called SharePlay that lets you watch movies and TV shows in sync with someone else via a FaceTime call – a feature that surely would have been appreciated over the last year. year, because many have sought to co-watch shows with friends and family.

But videoconferencing is only one aspect of working remotely; there is also the actual work. Apple’s macOS Monterey update and Microsoft’s Windows 11 will both have new tools to help us better separate our digital work lives from our personal affairs. Windows 11, for example, will allow you to create separate areas called Desktops suitable for different themes like work, personal, or games.

Apple is launching a new Focus mode that allows you to block notifications based on your activity on all devices. This means that no Facebook notification during the working day and no

Soft
alerts after 6 p.m. if desired. Such features could be particularly useful as American workers grapple with burnout, especially in the past year or so. A survey by Insider and SurveyMonkey that surveyed 1,093 American workers at the end of April found that about 60% of those polled felt at least somewhat exhausted. Almost half of those polled who said they felt a bit exhausted said this had happened in the past few months.

The launches also come at a time when there is a desire to continue working remotely even after the pandemic. A national survey conducted in April 2020 by GetSummary found that 43% of those surveyed said they wanted to continue working remotely more often in the future.

Yet software updates are just the latest example of how tech companies are adapting their products to long-term behavioral changes. New laptops that debuted at the annual CES show in January feature technologies meant to improve video calling and security, such as sophisticated microphones and sensors that could lock your device while you’re away.

It is possible that many of these features have arrived on Windows and macOS, whether there has been a pandemic or not. But what is certain is that over a year of working remotely has changed the way we use computers both professionally and personally. Now we have a feel for the trends that big tech companies think are here to stay.


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