macOS Catalina is Now Available

Announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) back in June this year, macOS Catalina is the sixteenth major release of Apple’s flagship operating system, and is now available to download for your Mac.

One of the biggest updates to Apple’s OS is the removal of iTunes. The app has been completely purged from macOS Catalina, and split into three new apps: Music, Podcasts and TV. The apps function in much the same way as iTunes, but are split into tasks. Device management can now be found through the Finder rather than in an app, and music, podcasts and TV can be synced to your connected devices using the new media apps. The Music app is almost identical in features to iTunes; it contains your full music library, and the iTunes Music Store can be accessed within it, too, as can Apple Music. The Podcasts app allows users to access their Podcast library, and podcasts can also be browsed and downloaded. The TV app is similar to the Apple TV app on Apple TV devices, offering access to multimedia content like TV shows and films. The TV app also supports 4K video content with Dolby Atmos on Macs released in 2018 and beyond. Apple are launching their long-awaited Apple TV+ streaming service in the coming months, also available through the TV app. The move away from iTunes – which has long been called for – is a welcome one.

Mac Catalyst is a long-awaited tool that makes it much easier for developers to port their iPad apps to Mac. With over a million apps available on the iPad, Apple is hoping more of them will become Mac apps thanks to Catalyst. The most notable Catalyst app so far is probably Twitter. The social media giant has a bizarre on-off relationship with Mac, with no desktop app available for more than a year now. Twitter discontinued their Mac app, citing issues with maintaining the same features across both that and the iOS app. Now, they have been able to use their existing iOS codebase, and while it isn’t an exact port of the mobile app, it’s certainly very similar. Other iPad apps that have seen Mac versions launched through Mac Catalyst include GoodNotes 5 and Rosetta Stone, with more to follow as developers get to work. One of the downsides of Catalyst is that apps that are paid for will need to be purchased again – owning the iPad app doesn’t entitle you to the Mac app.

A new Find My app is also available, for the first time on Mac, very much based on the iPad and iOS versions. The app allows your Mac to be tracked in the event of it becoming lost or stolen, and it doesn’t even have to be online – Find My can leverage Bluetooth connections of nearby devices to give a rough location of your Mac. There are updates to a few of the standard macOS apps, like Mail and Photos. In Mail, you can now block emails from specific email addresses, and you can mute email threads as well. The Photos app features a new interface that organises your photo gallery by day, month, or year, and intelligently chooses the photos you will want to see, cutting out junk like screenshots. Be aware that macOS Catalina does not support 32-bit apps, meaning some of your older apps that are no longer being updated will not work; Apple will warn you regarding this when you begin the update.

One final notable update is the new Sidecar feature, which allows you to use your iPad as a second display for your Mac, or as a mirror image. Apple Pencil can also be used in Sidecar on your iPad, allowing you, for example, to edit a photo with it in the Mac version of Photoshop.

macOS Catalina