On October 7th, Apple released the sixteenth major release of their desktop operating system – MacOS Catalina.
MacOs Catalina comes as a free upgrade and is compatible with most Mac models released after 2012.
The final curtain for iTunes
It features some genuine game changers, the most obvious of which is the long-heralded demise of iTunes.
There are, actually, three new apps to manage media: Music, TV, and Podcasts.
The Music app is where you go to stream Apple Music, manage your library, and buy tracks from the iTunes Store.
The TV app is the new home of all things video. You still have access to the 100,000 iTunes movies and TV shows to buy or rent. but users can now also access all the content from Apple TV+.
Last, but probably least, as the Podcasts app won’t exactly fire anyone’s excitement, you can now manage subscriptions, download, and find new podcasts outside of iTunes.
With over 700,000 podcasts on iTunes alone this can only be good news.
Catching up with iOS 13
Catalina also brings a range of features that we saw with the release of iOS 13 and iPadOS earlier this year.
Photos has been restructured to highlight the best images, the Apple Arcade gaming subscription service has arrived in the Mac’s App Store, and the new Find My app for tracing both friends and devices is now on the Mac.
Among other core apps that have received an update is Mail.
This has some new unsubscribe and mute features giving you greater control over what you receive and helping to prevent your inbox getting filled up by mailing lists and unwanted newsletters.
A catalyst for consistency
A new tool called Catalyst, allows developers to bring their apps for the iPad onto the Mac, so they won’t need to spend time and money writing code for two different apps.
This is also good news for Mac users because they will see an increase in apps available on the Mac platform.
Although you still can’t run iOS on your Mac, or macOS on your iPhone or iPad, it means you can finally run most of the apps you use on each device – as long as the developer ports them over.
Another innovation is Sidecar, which can turn your iPad into a second display.
It works with any iPad that supports the Apple Pencil and works wirelessly or via USB.
Security and Screen Time
In a bid to make your Mac more secure, Catalina comes with various built-in security measures.
One of these is Gatekeeper, which will check apps for known security issues when you install them and periodically thereafter.
Another novel security feature allows you to approve many security prompts on your Mac simply by pressing the side button on your Apple Watch.
Finally, for those who want to keep an eye on how long they spend on their machine – or equally importantly how long their children spend on their machines – there is now a Screen Time section in Settings where you can track your usage, set limits, and schedule downtime.
Is the fuss justified?
These and the other changes in Catalina are clearly are less far-reaching than those of its predecessor, but it does introduce some welcome makeovers and should streamline some of the more everyday tasks undertaken by Mac users.
Of course, as with all updates, Mac users must hope that Catalina’s performance is considerably smoother than its rocky Pacific island namesake.