It’s official: The next version of Apple’s operating system for the Mac is macOS 10.15 Catalina.
The new software update for Macs was announced at WWDC 2019 and will ship in the fall. As predicted, macOS 10.15 Catalina doesn’t reinvent the 18-year-old operating system – it’s still the same macOS everyone knows and loves – but instead augments it thanks to iPad apps.
Yes, get ready for iPad apps to flood macOS and hopefully revitalize Apple’s desktop computing platform.
First, the name: macOS 10.15 Catalina. The name follows the previous nomenclature and is named after yet another scenic locale.
Catalina will work on all Macs released in mid-2012 or later. A developer beta is available immediately, the public beta comes out in July, and the consumer release in the fall.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk new features!
Welcome aboard, iPad apps
We knew iPad apps were coming to the Mac because Apple announced plans to bring them over to the platform at last year’s WWDC.
But a year ago was still too early to get a good picture of what iPad apps (especially third-party ones) would look like running on macOS. Apple’s own iPad apps ported to the Mac – Home, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Apple News – didn’t exactly look or work like native Mac apps. Instead, they’re mostly just iPad apps – big buttons designed for touchscreens and all – running within a window on the Mac.
At WWDC 2019, Apple showed how iPad apps could easily be ported and developers could add native Mac UI and UX elements without having to rewrite any significant amount of code. Turning an iPad app into a Mac app is as simple as checking off a box in Xcode.
The new feature is called “Project Catalyst”. Catalyst will be available to developers starting today in Catalina.
Another notable change in macOS 10.15 Catalina: no iTunes. Eighteen years after its introduction, Apple’s finally killing the seemingly-does-everything-media-player.
The app was once an essential piece of software that connected iPods, iPhones and iPads to peoples’ Macs. You used iTunes to buy music and videos and eventually stream Apple Music.
But as the updates rolled by and Apple kept bolting on new features (who remembers Ping?), iTunes morphed into an app that everyone dreaded opening. It became impossible to figure out where certain features were located and the app notoriously slowed Macs down by eating up tons of system resources.
In place of iTunes, macOS 10.15 Catalina comes with three standalone content apps for Music, TV, and Podcasts. If this looks familiar, that’s because they essentially mirror the same apps on iOS devices.
The new standalone apps are more elegant-looking and simpler to use. Of the three new media apps, Podcasts is the only one that’s built using Project Catalyst, meaning it’s an iPad app that’s been converted into a Mac app.
But what happens when you plug in your iOS device into your Mac if there’s no iTunes? Good question! All of the device-syncing features previously found in iTunes shows up in the sidebar inside of Finder on Catalina.
Ever wanted to use an iPad Pro as a secondary screen for your Mac? Now you can with a new “Sidecar” feature in Catalina.
With Sidecar, users can use an iPad Pro as a second screen (extension or mirror) for their Mac, just as you would a regular desktop display.
Of course, Sidecar will support touchscreen and Apple Pencil input on the iPad. Controls for keyboard buttons such as Command, Option, and Control, and Touch Bar controls (even if you don’t have a computer with one) also show up on the left and bottom of the iPad’s screen.
Sidecar works in both wired and wireless mode.
Voice Control is an accessibility feature that lets you control your Mac with just your voice. gives you full control of your Mac with, well, just your voice.
Apple showed a demo of Voice Control to let you edit text, tap buttons, launch apps, etc. All voice controls are processed on-device and never sent to the company according to Apple.
One important thing about Voice Control: It’s not based on Siri so you can’t use natural language with it. As an accessibility feature, users will only be able to pick from a list of pre-programmed commands. There’s a solid amount of commands and once you get the hang of things it seems like you’d be able to breeze through it without having to pause all the time.
While probably not as addicting as your smartphone, Apple says it wants people to be more aware of how much time they spend on their Macs and, you know, maybe take a break if you’re glued to the Retina displays for too long.
Last year, Apple introduced Screen Time to help people curb their iPhone and iPad addiction and now it’s bringing similar settings to macOS. With Screen Time, users will get daily reports on their Mac activity that also show them which apps they’re spending the most time in, and how long they’re spending in them.
Just like on iOS, Screen Time on macOS will also let users set limits to restrict how much time they spend in an app. Parents will find this feature particularly useful for limiting their children to a specific amount of computer time.
Find My app
The Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps are being consolidated into one “Find My” app.
Additionally, the new app includes a “Find Network” feature lets you locate devices even if they’re not connected to a WiFi or cellular network.
All of the rest
The above features are the highlights of macOS 10.15 Catalina, but there’s so much more that Apple didn’t have time to run through in detail during the keynote.
For example, the default Mail app will let you block email from a specific person, mute threads, and unsubscribe from mailing lists. The Reminders app is redesigned with a new look. Safari’s using Siri Suggestions to surface frequently visited websites and bookmarks, and more. And the Notes and Photos apps have been tweaked with new features as well.