In addition to major pro hardware announcements at WWDC, Apple also introduced the next generation of its macOS operating system. Dubbed ‘Catalina’, macOS 10.15 features iPad app support, a new native Sidecar app to connect your iPad as a display or input tablet to your Mac system, voice control, and the retirement of the long-running iTunes app.
The End of the iTunes App
A major focus during the Catalina reveal was Apple’s changes to media and music management. iTunes is being replaced with three new apps that are meant to simplify the way users can browse for music, TV shows, movies, and podcasts:
The new Music app will help users discover new music by featuring over 50 million songs and playlists. Users will have access to their entire library, whether their songs were downloaded, purchased, or pulled from CDs.
The brand new Apple TV app allows users to find and watch over 100,000 movies and TV shows, featuring Apple TV channels and personalized recommendations. Apple TV+, Apple’s video subscription service, will be available through this app in the fall.
The Apple Podcasts app will offer over 700,000 shows in its catalog and can provide notifications of new episodes as they arrive. The app will also include editor-curated collections and search options allowing users to find episodes by host, guests, or discussion topic.
All three of these apps will allow for syncing between devices. Any devices connected to the Mac will immediately show up in the Finder sidebar, allowing users to backup, update, or restore.
Perhaps the most relevant new feature for creative professionals, the new Sidecar functionality allows the iPad to be used as an extended display for Mac. While advertised for portability, Apple stresses that the iPad can be used to draw or sketch in stylus-supported apps via the Apple Pencil. This turns the iPad into a miniature Cintiq drawing tablet, giving artists working in Photoshop, Illustrator, and other creative programs additional flexibility. The iPad will connect wirelessly, removing the need for power or data cables between tablet and Mac.
Furthering Catalina’s iPad integration, Apple introduced “Project Catalyst”. Previously known as “Marzipan”, Catalyst represents iPad app support on macOS. It represents a new way for developers to port existing iPad apps over to Mac devices. While it remains unclear how many developers will make use of this technology, Twitter has announced a plan to bring its iOS Twitter app to the Mac, and Atlassian is also bringing the Jira app to Catalina.
Catalina adds a powerful new accessibility tool to Mac via the new Voice Control function. It enables users who can’t operate traditional input devices to control their systems via voice commands. On-device Siri speech recognition technology drives this feature, while ensuring that personal data still remains private. Apple’s demonstration showed off new labels and grids that will allow users to interact with most any app. Voice Control is available on iOS and iPadOS in addition to macOS, bringing this accessibility option to the range of Apple products.
Another emphasis at this year’s WWDC is security, and Catalina is no exception. With macOS 10.15, the Gatekeeper function will check apps for known security flaws and require apps to get permission before accessing user documents and information. All Macs with the T2 security chip will support Activation Lock to make devices more difficult to access in the event they are stolen, and the new Find My app allows a lost or stolen Mac to be located even when it is offline by securely and anonymously relaying the device’s location through other nearby Apple devices.
Overall macOS 10.15 Catalina brings with it some new features for better media management and increased accessibility and security. The most attractive addition for creative professionals is likely to be the Sidecar function allowing greater integration of the iPad with Mac workstations, though Sidecar offers little if you don’t already own an iPad device. Still, it’s clear that Apple is committed to greater cross-connect between its workstation and mobile devices, giving users greater flexibility across platforms.
The beta for macOS 10.15 Catalina releases Monday. The public seed goes live in July, with full general release in the fall. The following Mac systems will be compatible with the new version:
Macbook (2015 or later)
Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, Mac Mini or iMac (2012 or later)
iMac Pro (2017 or later)
Mac Pro (2013 or later)
For Apple’s official announcement covering the new OS and its features, check out their preview here. For more information about Catalina and when or how to upgrade your systems, feel free to contact Nodal!