Apple Executive Explains the Thought Process Behind Universal Control’s Creation

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 29 Mar 2022

Universal Control

In a recent podcast, Apple’s software product marketing executive Vivek Bhardwaj explained what went on behind the curtains to create macOS Monterey’s (and iPadOS 15’s) headliner feature — Universal Control.

On the latest episode of the AppStories podcast, Bhardwaj interacted with hosts John Voorhees and Federico Viticci. He works on Apple’s flagship software offerings, including iOS, macOS, and iPadOS. The executive explained that he experienced “friction” working on his iPad Pro and Mac, saying, “it was clunky,” especially while switching between the two devices.

The ideal solution was to build upon features such as Universal Clipboard that existed at the time. This approach helped the brand strive for continuity, reflected in other features such as SideCar, AirDrop, and Handoff. So, “Universal Control is really just the next step for continuity.”

For the uninitiated, Universal Control allows you to control your iPad and Mac with the same input devices, such as keyboards, trackpads, and mice. For the feature to work, at least one device has to be a Mac, and you cannot benefit from Universal Control if you have two iPads. Bhardwaj explained that Universal Control was developed with the Mac and iPad in mind because Apple believed many Mac users already had an iPad which was viewed as an extension of the computing experience. In comparison, fewer people own two iPads they would use together with Universal Control.

The discussion then shifted to Shortcuts. John Voorhees asked Bhardwaj about the new feature that allows users to choose not to be notified when a Shortcut runs. Voorhees elaborated that even when the option is selected, users get a summary of the Shortcuts that ran in the background, seemingly defeating the purpose. Bhardwaj clarified that for Apple, privacy is paramount.

“When we design features like this, privacy and security are paramount for us. We just want to make sure users are in control, and the system and the device are transparent. This is something you can turn off, but we still want to make sure that users get notified, they’re made aware.”

If you have around an hour to spare and listen to the insightful conversation, we suggest you tune in to AppStories’ latest podcast on Apple Podcasts. Additionally, if Universal Control benefits your workflow, tell us how in the comments section below.