Since the WWDC 2019 launch, macOS Catalina is available for download to anyone using MacBooks and Macs. With this OS upgrade, Mac users get access to a lot of great new features that weren’t available in previous versions of macOS.
macOS Catalina has unfortunately dropped some cherished features such as iTunes. Instead, Apple has introduced some great apps to close the gap, such as Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, Apple TV, and Apple Books. The operating system comes with a slew of other updates and features that improve the Apple experience, including Sidecar, which lets you use newer iPads as secondary screens, and ‘Project Catalyst’, which lets you iOS 13 and iPadOS developers easily transfer their work to the macOS 10.15.
We’ve gone through all of the major features that make macOS Catalina one of the best updates Apple has brought to its operating system in a long time.
After going through all the features and not being sold on using macOS Catalina, maybe because of some issues that still exist, consider macOS 11 Big Sur. It’s an even bigger update than Catalina, with its own collection of impressive features to take your Apple computing experience to the next level.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? macOS 10.15 Catalina, successor to macOS 10.14 Mojave
- When is it out? Out now
- How much is it? Nothing. Software updates from Apple are always free
release date of macOS Catalina
Apple held its iPhone 11 event on September 10, but the show came and went without macOS 10.15 being mentioned so often. Still, Apple’s macOS 10.15 Catalina page has been updated with an “October 2019” release window. Apple didn’t share more details about the release, so when it launched, it surprised us all.
Fortunately, this means that you can now download macOS Catalina, as long as you have a compatible Mac. You may want to wait until the next update comes out to make sure any serious bugs are squashed. You see, updating your operating system is definitely a big undertaking, and you could potentially break something and lose a lot of valuable data. So if you don’t absolutely need the new software, waiting may be the way to go.
We will update this hub as soon as we know a new update is on the way, but if you want to live on the edge, go ahead and hit that download button. We’ll show you how.
macOS Catalina compatibility
If you want to use the latest macOS update, make sure your Mac can actually support it. Fortunately, if you already have macOS Mojave installed, you are probably free. Unless, of course, you circumvented Apple’s restrictions.
- 12-inch MacBook (2015 and later)
- MacBook Air (2012 and later)
- MacBook Pro (2012 and later)
- Mac mini (2012 and later)
- iMac (2012 and later)
- iMac Pro (2017)
- Mac Pro (2013 and later)
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Goodbye, iTunes – Hello, Apple Music, Podcasts Books and TV
It’s official, iTunes is gone. From its ashes, however, will emerge a unique collection of beautiful apps for macOS: Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Podcasts, and Apple Books – and they will be polished versions of those already found on iOS.
Apple Music allows macOS Catalina users to access their entire music libraries whether the songs are downloaded or streamed. This includes music ripped from CDs and contained in the same libraries.
Apple TVOn the other hand, it is home to the app’s channels and offers over 100,000 iTunes movies and TV shows that you can watch to buy or rent. And content is available in 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos audio wherever it is offered. Apple TV + can also be accessed courtesy of this app now that the service has been rolled out.
At the same time, Apple Podcasts brings the service’s more than 700,000 podcasts, as well as new episode updates, to the Mac in a completely new interface. This view of the app also offers better search features that can bring up episodes from hosts, guests, or even discussion topics.
And last but not least, Apple Books is the portal for all the audiobooks you would like to buy, download and listen to. As with the other new apps, it also has a familiar interface for anyone used to iTunes.
Worried about all of your existing music and playlists, as well as iTunes gift cards and credits? Do not worry. All your music and playlists will be transferred to the Apple Music app in macOS Catalina. In addition, any iTunes gift cards or unused iTunes credits are still valid for use in these new apps.
In macOS 10.15 Catalina, the iTunes Store, which can be accessed from the sidebar in the Apple Music app, is still available to purchase new music. And of course you can also subscribe to the Apple Music streaming service using the app – if you do, you can hide the iTunes Store from a cleaner, more minimalistic interface.
With iTunes shut down, it now takes care of device syncing in macOS Catalina courtesy of the Finder app. It can backup and sync those devices. According to Apple, it will also be easier to drag and drop files for fast transfers.
Sidecar turns your iPad into a different screen
This is arguably the most exciting update macOS 10.15 Catalina offers: the ability to extend your Mac’s screen to a nearby iPad, both wired and wireless. Many MacBook users already own an iPad, so this essentially means that a significant number of mobile workers have just gotten a free second screen.
Perhaps even more striking for designers is that this connected iPad can also be used as a drawing tablet with specifically supported apps. Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Illustrator and iWork are the first apps to support this capability.
The sidecar function is supported by those models that are also the new iPadOS, especially the iPad Pro (all models), iPad (6th generation or later), iPad Mini (3rd generation or later), and the iPad Air (3rd generation).
Apple says the following Mac apps support Sidecar’s Apple Pencil input and other enhanced features:
- Adobe: After Effects, Illustrator, Premiere Pro
- Affinity Designer & Affinity Photo
- Cinema 4D
- DaVinci Resolve
- Final Cut Pro & Motion
- Fabric designer and painter
Screen Time is coming to macOS
One of Apple’s most significant changes to iOS 12 was Screen Time, an app that tracks the usage time of your iPhone or iPad and provides insight into trends. This time, this feature not only comes to macOS with Catalina, but also offers a new “Just One More Minute” feature, giving you more time to save your work or finish a game.
This information is also synced with your other Apple devices, so you have a full profile of how often you look at your collective screens and get tips on what to do with that information. Plus, it also includes parental controls for the time spent using a Mac, and who kids can communicate with on those devices.
Thanks to Apple’s new Project Catalyst initiative, macOS 10.15 Catalina will soon be populated with a slew of iOS and iPadOS apps. There are a few available at launch, but the real potential of this initiative is that it opens the floodgates for all kinds of apps to come to the Mac.
For developers, it all seems to start with simply checking a box in the Xcode app in macOS 10.15 Catalina. A range of new features and protocols will then become available to the app in development phase, from which the developer can choose to add to their apps – presumably with additional but lighter coding.
It seems the process is smoother and even faster, with even Twitter users using the tool to effortlessly bring the native app back to macOS from iOS.
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Other nice improvements
Safari browser now has a new homepage that uses Siri Suggestions to display frequently used websites, bookmarks, iCloud tabs, and more.
Mail now allows users to block messages from senders, mute message threads to give push notifications, and send unsubscribe requests from the app to mailing list providers.
And last but not least, Memories gets a visual interface overhaul to make it easier for users to create, track and organize their reminders.