Most important MacOS Catalina features coming to Mac this fall

Your Mac laptop is getting a huge refresh this fall, thanks to Catalina, the next version of MacOS that Apple will ship this fall. With it, Apple replaces the iTunes app with three separate apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV — yes, for Mac. The update will also let Mac users run iPad apps they can download through the Mac App Store, and use an iPad as a second screen, much in the way you might use a monitor. MacOS Catalina also gets several security improvements — some visible, some under the hood.

Apple may have unveiled MacOS Catalina at its annual WWDC event for developers, but the implications touch nearly every Mac owner around the world.

MacOS Catalina is also coming to the MacPro, the $6,000 tower computer for pro users, which pairs with a $5,000 Pro Display XDR monitor and an optional $1,000 stand. (You can see what the Mac Pro and Pro Display look like on your desk for free.)

Apple’s yearly update shakes things up with a renewed focus on services, an important part of the way that Apple keeps its user base loyal. The Silicon Valley bigwig may pale in comparison to Microsoft users globally, but Apple has always used its apps and services ecosystem to create an aura of cult status. The excitement of Mac owners in using Apple’s new tools is key to the company retaining its reputation among app-makers and fans.

At its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple unveiled the next major revision to MacOS.

James Martin/CNET

iTunes will be no more

The death of iTunes is a big one, but Apple isn’t leaving you in the lurch when MacOS Catalina launches. Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV will replace nearly all of iTunes’ functions. Syncing your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch won’t happen within iTunes, but the tools are still there in the Finder app. 

Project Catalyst will bring mobile apps to Mac

Using the new Project Catalyst development tool, third-party iPad developers will be able to bring their iPad apps to the Mac. Apple’s goal for developers is to help them build apps without a lot of extra effort that can run on the new iPadOS and MacOS devices. Mac users will benefit by getting access to an expanded collection of MacOS apps.

At last year’s conference, Apple announced it would bring a handful of its own iOS apps to MacOS Mojave — the iOS News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home apps — and then give third-party iOS developers the tools they’d need to bring their own iOS apps to the Mac App Store in 2019. We’re still waiting for the iOS element to arrive.

Apple Sidecar will bring a second screen for your Mac

In MacOS Catalina, Apple Sidecar will let you use an iPad as a second screen and a drawing tablet. The update will also come with a new accessibility tool called Voice Control that will let users drive their Macs with their voice.

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Apple previews MacOS Catalina


When and how to use MacOS Catalina

App-makers can start using the MacOS Catalina developer beta now. Public betas will come in July, with the final version coming in fall.

To run Catalina, you’ll need a MacBook 2015 or later; MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini or iMac 2012 or later; iMac Pro 2017 or later; or Mac Pro 2013 or later.

 See everything Apple announced at WWDC 2019.

Originally published June 3, 11:48 a.m. PT.
Update, 3 p.m.: Add system requirements.
Update, June 5 at 2:25 p.m. PT: Added more details.

Update, June 8 at 7:28 a.m. PT: Added more details.

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