macOS Catalina 10.15 – features, compatible Macs and release date

Apple has announced the latest major release of macOS, titled macOS Catalina. This is version 10.15 of Apple’s popular desktop operating system and brings new features and apps to the Mac like Music, Apple TV and Podcasts apps, upgrades to Photos, Reminders, Safari and Notes apps, Mac-to-iPad desktop extension using Sidecar, ScreenTime, Voice Control, privacy improvements and much more. Here is all you need to know about macOS Catalina’s new features.

macOS Catalina Features

iPad apps for Mac

Perhaps the biggest feature that is not going to be obvious immediately is that Apple is allowing developers to easily port their iPad apps to the Mac. These apps will work natively on Mac and will support native macOS features. Apps like Twitter and JIRA and games like Asphalt 9 will be taking advantage of this new functionality. It is expected that a lot of new apps like Netflix, Facebook and others might make their way to the Mac App Store after macOS Catalina goes public. While Apple did not give an official name to this project, it was previously known as Codename Marzipan in the media.

macOS Catalina Twitter App

RIP iTunes – Hello Apple Music, Podcasts and Apple TV

With macOS Catalina, iTunes is finally dead. The demise of iTunes was long awaited as it was doing too much. The app was originally made to sync iPods but over time, it got the iTunes Store for music, movies and TV show purchase, followed up with Podcasts and App Store. Last year, Apple had removed the iOS App Store from iTunes, which signaled what was about to come.

iTunes has been broken up into many apps now: Apple Music, Podcasts and Apple TV. The Apple Music will provide the same features as its iOS counterparts like browsing and streaming music and creating playlists. The iTunes Music Store will also be available in the Apple Music app. Apple Music was previously available in the iTunes app so this is kind of a role-reversal.

The Apple TV app for macOS was first announced during Apple’s March even where they unveiled their plans for Apple TV+. The app will be release with macOS Catalina, with support for iTunes movies and TV shows with support for 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos content. The app will also support Apple TV+ subscription when it is launched later this year.

macOS Catalina Apple Music app

Podcasts has a huge library of content that users can subscribe and listen to. The app also syncs with the iOS Podcasts app so all subscriptions will be automatically kept up to date on all devices.

macOS Catalina Podcasts app

iPod and iOS device sync functionality has also been moved from iTunes to Finder. When you connect a compatible device, Finder will show it in the sidebar so users can update or restore firmware as well as sync it with their Mac.

Sidecar

Sidecar allows users to use their iPad as a secondary display to mirror or extend their Mac desktop.  Sidecar also converts iPad into a drawing tablet, so users can use Apple Pencil to draw in apps which support stylus input. Apple has announced that apps from developers like Adobe, Maya and Affinity, as well as first-party apps like iWork and Final Cut Pro will support Pencil input via Sidecar.

macOS Catalina Sidecar

Photos

The new Photos app has an improved grid layout for photos and videos. The app highlights important photos and events to bring forward memories.

macOS Catalina Photos

Safari

Safari has an enhanced home page which now uses Siri Suggestions to show most visited websites, bookmarks, iCloud tabs and even links shared in Messages.

macOS Catalina Safari

Notes

There is a new Gallery View which shows different type of content stored in Notes like links, photos and so on. Search is also more powerful than before.

macOS Catalina Notes

Revamped Reminders app

A brand new Reminders app replaces the old one. The new app has an interface organizes reminders in different categories which include Today, Scheduled, All and Flagged. Creating new reminders is possible by just typing or speaking to Siri. Reminders can also have notes, URLs, dates, location, priority, subtasks and images linked to them.

Screen Time

Screen Time is finally available on Mac and it syncs with all iOS devices using iCloud. Just like its iOS counterpart, Screen Time on Mac tracks your usage across different apps and websites and lets you set restrictions. Family sharing is also supported and parents can keep track or their kids and restrict their usage to certain apps, websites or even contacts to communicate with.

macOS Catalina Screen Time

Privacy

Apple has restricted Desktop and Documents folders which means that apps have to request access before they can read/write files to them. macOS will also ask you if any app wants to capture your keyboard input or screenshot your screen. A new Find My app lets users find their Apple device, even if it’s offline, by having it anonymously share its location through other Apple devices using Bluetooth. This information is completely encrypted and can only be shared to the original user.

Voice Over

Voice Over is a new accessibility feature which lets users use and control their Mac, using just their voice. Apple has created a smart system which overlays a grid on the screen or places numbered labels on buttons and other controls, to help users control the operating system with their voice. Using Voice Over, complex actions like zoom, selection and drag are possible.

Is your Mac supported by macOS Catalina?

Most Macs which supported macOS Mojave will support macOS Catalina, except for Mac Pro. Apple has removed support for 2010 and 2012 Mac Pro models, which means that only 2013 and later models are now supported.

  • iMacs, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini models introduced in mid-2012 or later
  • MacBooks introduced in 2015 or later
  • Mac Pro, 2013 and later
  • iMac Pro, 2017 and later

When will macOS Catalina release?

Apple will be beta testing macOS Catalina with developers and public beta testers for a few months. The final version will be available to the general public this fall, around September. The update will be available for free via Software Update.

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