The iPhone, iPad, and Mac are all different devices with different interfaces, but they can and should provide a seamless way for people to move between them and use them together. That's the idea Continuity is built on. There's Instant Hotspot for sharing cellular connections, AirDrop for transferring files, relay for sending and receiving SMS/MMS and making or taking phone calls, and Handoff for continuing your activities even when you switch devices.
Although these features are all grouped under the same name, they all have different requirements and all work in different ways. Luckily, they're also easy to set up and easy to use once you know how!
How to set up and use Handoff to transfer activities between your iPhone, iPad, and Mac
Handoff lets you transfer your activities between iPhone, iPad, and Mac. For example, you can be writing an email on your iPhone as you come in the door, sit down with your Mac, and keep writing the exact same email. You can be reading iMore.com on Safari on your Mac, get up, grab your iPad, and keep reading right where you left off. You can even finish up a Keynote presentation on your iPad, throw it in your bag, realize you need to make some edits, pull out your iPhone, and get them done as you walk out the door.
As long as you're signed into the same Apple ID (iCloud account) on all your devices, and within Bluetooth LE range, it's easy to do!
How to set up and use call relay to make and take iPhone calls on your iPad or Mac
Call relay lets you answer and place calls from your iPhone using your iPad or Mac. It means that if your iPhone is in your pocket or bag, across the room or in another room entirely, you no longer have to worry about getting to it just to take or make a call. As long as you're logged into the same Apple ID (iCloud account) and on the same Wi-Fi network, you can take or make those calls right from your iPad or Mac. It uses the same phone number, carrier, and plan as your iPhone, so the person on the other end won't know the difference. Call relay also provides all the features you're used to from your iPhone as well, including the caller's number, contact picture, and more. That makes it not only convenient but easy to use!
How to set up and use SMS/MMS relay to send and receive texts on your iPad or Mac
SMS/MMS relay lets you send and receive standard texts — the "green bubble" kind — through the built-in Messages app on your iPad or Mac, just like you've always been able to do on your iPhone. As long as your iPhone, iPad or Mac are online, as soon as your iPhone receives an SMS or MMS message, it will relay it through Apple's messaging servers to your iPad or Mac. Whenever you want to contact a "green bubble friend" from your iPad or Mac, Apple's messaging servers will relay that to your iPhone, and from there, out over the carrier network. That means if you're at your iPad or Mac and you need to text, you'll never have to go fishing or running for your iPhone again.
- How to set up and use SMS/MMS relay to send and receive texts on your iPad
- How to set up and use SMS/MMS relay to send and receive texts on your Mac
How to set up and use AirDrop to instantly share files between iPhone, iPad, and Mac
With AirDrop you can quickly, easily, and securely share files between iPhones, iPads, and Macs. You need to be within Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) range, and have Wi-Fi turned on, but when you do, the transfer is fast and there are virtually no file size restrictions, which can make AirDrop even more convenient than mailing, messaging, or online sharing as well.
How to set up and use Instant Hotspot
Instant Hotspot lets you share the data connection from your iPhone or cellular iPad with your Mac or Wi-Fi-only iPad. Unlike a Personal Hotspot, which can connect to any device owned by anyone, Instant Hotspot doesn't require a password. Instead, it uses your Apple ID for authentication, Bluetooth LE for rapid connection, and Wi-Fi for data transfer. That makes it faster and more convenient, but limits it to just your devices.
How to use Continuity Camera in macOS Mojave and iOS 12
Continuity Camera is a new feature in macOS Mojave and iOS 12 that allows you to open your iOS device's camera from your Mac, then immediately transfer the photo that was taken over to a document that you're working on. For instance, if you're working on a Pages document, and you need a photo of something that's nearby, you can activate Continuity Camera, take the photo with your iPhone, then immediately see that photo pop up in the document on your Mac.
Read through our guides and still have more questions about Continuity? Let us know in the comments below!
August 2019: Updated for iOS 13 and macOS Catalina.