3 min read

Apple released macOS Catalina today as the next major update to the company’s Mac operating system. With macOS Catalina, iTunes is now broken into separate apps for Apple Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV. Catalina also features Apple Arcade game subscription service and Sidecar, which extends Mac desktops to a second display. For developers, Catalina has Mac Catalyst to build versions of iPad apps compatible with Mac.

macOS Catalina was officially revealed in June at the WWDC 2019 and the public beta was released later in June.

What’s new in macOS Catalina


Sidecar basically extends your Mac workspace by using an iPad as a second display-  both wirelessly and when plugged in. Sidecar also supports the Apple Pencil, letting you work on any Mac app or third-party Mac app that supports stylus input.

According to an Apple white paper, the only laptops that Sidecar works on are:

MacBooks from 2016 or later, MacBook Airs from 2018 or later, and MacBook Pros from 2016 or later. All of them use Apple’s butterfly keyboard.

Addition of Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade game subscription service is available at $4.99 per month to play games on Mac. Apple Arcade subscribers get the full version of every game including all updates and expansions, without any ads or additional in-game purchases. The service is launching with a 30-day free trial and a single subscription includes access for up to six family members with Family Sharing.

iTunes replaced with new entertainment apps

iTunes saw it’s long-awaited death and was replaced by three new apps, Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. Music app features over 50 million songs, playlists, and music videos. Apple Podcasts offers more than 700,000 shows in its catalog. Apple TV+, Apple’s video subscription service, will be available in the Apple TV app for Mac starting November 1

Removal of iTunes, however, is a problem for DJs who rely on XML files to sort through file libraries and quickly find tracks while performing. According to Apple, along with Catalina’s removal of iTunes, users are also losing XML file support as all native music playback on Macs moves over to the official Music app, which has a new library format.

Additional features

  • You also have Screen Time on macOS and stricter privacy protections. Apps will have to ask for permission to access the desktop, documents, iCloud Drive, and external storage.
  • With activation lock, any Macs that have a T2 security chip cannot be erased and reactivated without Apple ID password.
  • ‘Find My App’ combines ‘Find My iPhone’ and ‘Find My Friends’ into a single, easy-to-use app on Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
  • Mail in macOS Catalina adds the ability to block email from a specified sender, mute an overly active thread and unsubscribe from commercial mailing lists.

The macOS Catalina update is a free download, and it can be installed by clicking on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen, choosing system preferences, and then selecting software update.

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Content Marketing Editor at Packt Hub. I blog about new and upcoming tech trends ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development.