After being announced at WWDC 2019 in June, earlier this year, macOS Catalina has finally stepped out of its beta phase. Users of MacBook and Macs have finally got the update of what is the 16th major release of macOS. As tradition goes, the new release is also named after a location in California; the Santa Catalina island.
To put the release, in a nutshell, the macOS Catalina update further pushes Apple’s lot of subscription services and enables the ability to use your iPad as an extended display/accessory with your Mac. But that’s not all that the new update is about. Here are 10 things that you need to know about the macOS Catalina update.
Apple TV makes it to Mac
The all-in-one iTunes application on macOS has now been split into a trifecta of applications that consist of Apple Music, Apple TV and Podcasts. The new Apple Music app will sync with your library and will offer a similar experience. The dedicated TV app will also host the new Apple TV+ service that is set to go live on November 1. The app will support 4K and Dolby Atmos on all models released in 2018 or later.
On earlier iterations of macOS, devices like the iPhone and iPad were synced and backed up through the iTunes app. But with iTunes now gone for good, there is a new way to do so. Users will now be able to back up and sync their devices via Finder where a similar UI has been transposed.
With Mac Catalyst, Apple is now enabling iPad app developers to launch apps on macOS. These apps will run natively alongside existing Mac apps which means you will be able to drag and drop content between them. Twitter, American Airlines, TripIt, Crew, and Morpholio amongst others are some of the earliest applications to be made available on Macs.
Apple’s gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade, is now also making it to Macs. So, if you’ve already subscribed to it on your iPhone, you’ll be able to enjoy all the games on your Mac too. To further improve the experience, Macs will now also support wireless game controllers like the Playstation DualShock 4 and Xbox Wireless Controllers via Bluetooth.
If you’ve found a solid use of an iPad with the Apple Pencil, Sidecar is going to enhance your productivity by enabling the use of the iPad as an extended workspace. You can now use the iPad display for input to draw, sketch or write. It works both on wired and wireless connections.
Introduce in iOS 12, Screen Time let users discover how often they used their phones and which apps were used the most. This feature now makes it to Mac for the first time. This will enable users to get insights on how much time they’re spending with apps and websites. You’ll also be able to set App Limits and Downtime.
Apps will now require permission to access storage
With the world becoming more conscious of security in times of data breaches, macOS Catalina enhances protections for Mac. Apps will now require permissions to access files, take screengrabs or and even capture keyboard activity. Gatekeeper is now also enhanced to check all applications before they are installed, for security issues. There’ll also be periodic automated checks within the application after its installed.
All Macs with the T2 Security Chip (2018 model onwards) now also support Activation Lock which means that only users will be able to erase and reactivate their Mac. Find My also finally makes it to Mac. Even if the laptop is offline and sleeping, it can send out Bluetooth signals that can be picked up by other Apple devices. Lastly, you can now use your Apple Watch to authenticate transactions, approve app installations, unlock locked notes and view your passwords by double-clicking the side button.
If you can’t or don’t want to use traditional input methods, the new macOS now enables control via voice. By superimposing a grid and by labelling numbers next to clickable items on screen, users will be able to navigate within applications, select, zoom and even drag by just giving verbal commands.
Apple Music will now handle native music playback
The new update also brings a wave of disappointment for all music professionals who relied on iTunes. With the unbundling of the iTunes app, all native music playback on Macs moves over to the Apple Music applications. This means that users will lose XML file support which is a popular organizational feature for DJs who use it to sort tracks into playlists and use it to transfer music data between applications. Apple has also put out a statement saying that users who rely on XML file support shouldn’t update to the new OS until developers push out fixes for their applications.
Dashboard, a prominent feature that was first introduced with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger in 2005, is now finally being dragged into the trash can. Dashboard was a secondary desktop that hosted a lot of widgets like Stick Notes, Calculator, and Weather amongst other widgets. While there has been no official clarification on why Apple decided to do so, the fact that most widgets have now made it to the Notification Centre is most likely the reason why.