MacOS Catalina: Back to the ProfessionalsApple has finally expressed renewed interest in its Mac products, and the results are impressive.
For years, Apple’s Mac devices have played second fiddle to their mobile devices. Even amongst angry rants by creative professionals complaining about performance and features, Apple focused on their iPhone and iPad devices, refining the iOS while also developing the iPad OS. Mac OS for many years remained an afterthought for Apple but recently, Apple has shown renewed vigor in working on the Mac. They released a powerful new Mac Pro that addressed many of the issues that many professionals had been complaining about while also releasing the ultra-expensive Pro Display XDR to cater to the needs of creative professionals. With the release of these devices, Apple has reiterated the Mac as a professional device with price tags to match. But hardware alone can’t exist in a bubble which is why Apple has released their new MacOS Catalina to support their new hardware upgrades.
MacOS Catalina is currently a free upgrade for all Mac-users, for computers as old as ones from 2012. Thankfully, the new OS feels more like a full-fledged desktop OS rather than an upscaled version of iOS. The operating system also comes loaded with features that help productivity while also creating a more synchronous relationship with other devices within the Apple ecosystem. But while MacOS Catalina offers some interesting new features, it also comes with its own caveats. Here we look at some of the most important features as well as the downsides that might push you to hold back from upgrading right away.
This might be the most important feature to come out of Catalina. Bridging the gap between Macs and the iPad, Sidecar lets you use your iPad as an extension of your Mac by utilising it as a secondary display. This is a very handy feature if you don’t have a secondary display and working with sidecar with your editing videos or even streaming can be monumentally useful. I used an iPad as an external monitor during my video-editing sessions, leaving the 13-inch display of my Mac open for an expanded view my video timelines. Similarly, having an external secondary device makes it really easy for users to compare and contrast data and information while working on articles or even data entry jobs.
Furthermore, the iPad can also be used as a drawing tablet for creative professionals. If you don’t have a Wacom, sidecar lets you pair your iPad with an Apple pencil for precise design and digital illustration work. With iPad OS and an improved Apple pencil, the latency between the two devices has dropped to a mere 9 milliseconds, making both of these offerings by Apple a competitive option for creatives.
No more iTunes
iTunes has remained a pain point for both PC and Mac users for years. With more and more features added to the application, it just got more bloated over the years, turning into a major resource hog on both devices. Finally, in Catalina, Apple has decided to let it rest by diving all of iTunes features into smaller applications that are much easier to manage. All device controls have now been delegated to the Finder and Podcasts and Books now have their own dedicated applications. Traditional music handling has been bundled with Apple Music for a more streamlined experience without all the clutter of the older iTunes.
While it was in Apple’s best interest to separate iTunes into different applications, the applications itself has been a major part of MacOS. Its removal will cause many issues for applications dependent on the iTunes library. Many music production programs are still dependent on iTunes libraries and with the removal of iTunes altogether, many of these applications might run into problems and might even stop working altogether. Regardless, all the new applications are snappier and conform more to Apple’s UI design aesthetic that bring it closer to the experience on their other devices.
Windows PCs have been the go-to devices for gamers for a very long time. Apple could never compete with Windows’ DirectX gaming platform and thus many game developers release their games for Windows refraining from acknowledging Mac as a viable device for gaming. This changes with Catalina. Apple Arcade is a monthly gaming service that currently offers more than 100 games across their platforms including the computers. While a 100+ games is still pretty limited, when compared to the vast library of games on Windows, access to an official Apple platform for gaming might push future developers to consider Mac for its potential gaming appeal. Also considering how Apple’s ecosystem is more comprehensive than Microsoft’s with Apple TV, iPad OS and iOS, cross device support might further propel gaming on all of these devices.
Apart from these major updates, Catalina also brings support for their mobile apps on the OS, bringing the same apps that you love on your iPhones and iPads to the Mac. These applications aren’t haphazardly put together as applications that scale to a larger screen, however, rather they conform with the larger UI aesthetics while retaining the familiarity offered on mobiles. Currently, Apple offers News, Voice Memos, Home and Stock on Catalina with more apps like Twitter, TripIt, Rosetta Stone and GoodNotes in the pipeline. Popular mobile racing game Asphalt 9 also seems to be getting to port to Catalina. Project Catalina seems to be a great effort to push for continuity between all of Apple’s devices and should further consolidate and harmonise its ecosystem.