I’m wrong about a lot of stuff.

I was totally wrong about the Apple TV. Embarrassingly so, actually; it is now one of my most favourite Apple devices ever.

I was also comically wrong when I decided to guess what Apple might do with the next 16” MacBook Pro. Here are a bunch of things I wrote about it back in January:

  • “I would be amazed if the M-powered 16″ MacBook Pro looks any different from its current form.”
  • “We won’t see an SD card reader on the next 16″ MacBook Pro, nor will there be any other type of port made available. Oh, and MagSafe ain’t coming back either — sorry.”
  • “No Touch Bar-free version: Apple will stand by this ultimately pointless feature on their Pro line for as long as they can.”
  • “A thinner screen bezel: nope.”

Brilliant.

As it turns out, I was wrong about something else, recently: the new Tab Groups feature in Safari.

What I said about Tab Groups

In my round-up of macOS Monterey, I described Tab Groups as “practically useless” due to the fact they preserve the last state in which they’re left.

This is a significant downside, I said. How are we supposed to maintain these carefully curated tab groups if you have to remember to leave open the tabs in question and close any that you open and which aren’t related to the group’s main theme?

You see, I thought that Tab Groups were a bit like bookmark folders. I got the impression that they were designed to create collections of open tabs to which you regularly refer for specific tasks.

So, I created one for blogging, news, and statistical analysis. And then got all angry when they ended up in an unfathomable mess of unrelated websites.

I was wrong. Again.

How to use Safari Tab Groups

As always, I can nod to my wonderful Discord crew for help on this one.

“I think you’re misunderstanding the purpose of tab groups,” said Forinil. “Tab groups are meant for, well, grouping currently open related tabs, so you can quickly switch between them.”

Aha. Now, this is starting to make sense. Are you taking note, Tim?

My podcast co-host, Rob, also chimed in.

“They’re for short term grouping of open tabs, as opposed to bookmark folders which are groups of sites you want to open on a regular basis, indefinitely,” he said. “Let’s say you’re doing some research, and you don’t want to keep the websites you’ve found forever, but you do need to refer to them for the next day or so, and you want to organise them in some way. For example, looking up holiday destinations, you might want to categorise as ‘shortlist’ and ‘alternatives’. Then, when you’ve booked your holiday, you close the tab groups and it’s not clogging up all your regular bookmarks.”

Rob also described Tab Groups as “temporary holding pens” that you can easily share with someone else and sync across your devices.

Boom. Now I understand Tab Groups. More importantly, I can think back to several occasions where this functionality would have been pretty useful.

But why did I grasp the totally wrong end of the stick in the first place? I’m not the only one, either; I’ve received a couple (yeah, not exactly a flood) of comments on my macOS Monterey YouTube video from people who are equally perplexed about the Tab Groups functionality.

Apple needs to improve its high-level explanations

When Apple introduced their Voice Plan for Apple Music, I genuinely had no idea what they were talking about.

Their press release is equally misleading. It tells us that we can enjoy 90 million songs, activity playlists, genre stations, and Apple Music Radio – all through Siri – for just £4.99 per month.

That’s just Apple Music, isn’t it? But cheaper. So, why is it cheaper?

Apple then rambles on about how Apple Music and Siri are “natural partners and already work seamlessly together”. Ok, great. This still sounds like Apple Music to me. So, what is the Voice Plan?

It takes serious digging and an inevitable delve into review websites and tech opinion pieces to finally work out what it’s all about (which is, quite simply, access to Apple Music only via your voice on Siri-enabled devices).

Exhausting.

Back to Tab Groups. Apple devoted a single paragraph to the new feature on its macOS Monterey landing page. As any marketer will tell you, this means you have less-than-an-elevator-pitch to get your message across. It’s no mean feat.

Here’s what Apple went with:

Save and organise your tabs in the way that works best for you. Name your Tab Groups, edit them and switch between them as you go from one interest to the next. You can even drag your groups into an email and the links effortlessly appear as an easy‑to‑share list.

There’s no mention of ‘short term grouping’, nor any inkling of how they differ from bookmarks.

Can you see why I got confused? Or am I just a bit stupid?

Don’t answer that.

Regardless, I wish Apple was better at high-level descriptions of features and products. Too often, they’ll waffle on about how great something is without telling us why it’s great, or how it’ll make a difference to our lives. This is curious for a brand that has, without question, some of the best copywriting talent on the planet.

Perhaps they need to employ the services of my Discord dudes.

Was it just me and a handful of others that completely misunderstood Tab Groups? Get involved in the comments!