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iPhone Mirroring looks equal parts fantastic, frustrating and distracting

One of Apple’s biggest WWDC24 iPhone-related announcements wasn’t technically about the iPhone itself, but about the Mac. In macOS Sequoia, the Continuity feature will introduce iPhone Mirroring, which lets you use your iPhone directly on your Mac’s screen.

It sounds like technical wizardry – and it is. Your iPhone appears with all your icons intact. You can swipe between Home Screens, launch apps, and even play games. Audio is piped through your Mac, and your iPhone remains locked, so prying eyes won’t see what you’re doing. As long as both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, you can have your iPhone show StandBy while you interact with its apps on your Mac.

This isn’t a new concept – Android devices have offered something similar for a while. But it is new to Apple, and so instantly elicited gasps of excitement from the Apple faithful. However, I’m wondering if something that gave a great demo could become as detrimental as it is beneficial.

iPhone Mirroring

There’s potential for increased distraction, because iPhone notifications will appear on your Mac and allow you to respond to them on a mirrored version of your iPhone. Of course, you won’t be forced to, but you might feel tempted. While useful and convenient for apps lacking Mac equivalents (a doorbell or baby monitor, say), it could be a productivity killer for everything else.

There are also usability concerns. Initially, drag and drop won’t feature. It’s unclear how much you’ll be able to resize the mirrored iPhone window. And using touch-optimized apps on a non-touchscreen Mac will be clunky at best.

It also further highlights Apple’s strategy: seamless device integration, but with the crucial caveat that Apple absolutely wants you to buy all the devices. Note that there’s no iPad Mirroring for Mac, nor the means to turn your iPhone into a PC-like device by connecting an external display and keyboard – something that also exists on Android.

So an iPhone that appears on your Mac’s display? Fine. An iPhone that could replace your Mac? Not a chance – despite the current generation of iPhones being more than powerful enough and the App Store having all of the apps you’d ever need.