Skip to main content

MacOS Catalina takes one more step toward merging the Mac and the iPad

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

WWDC 2019 is here, and it kicked off with a few announcements about Apple’s next version of its MacOS, now called Catalina.

It wasn’t the most substantial update we’ve seen in a while, but the biggest theme to pull from the update regards how MacOS interacts with the iPad. From second-screen support to the next evolution of app support, MacOS Catalina takes some big steps toward making these two platforms work together better. Here’s everything that’s new with MacOS Catalina.

Sidecar brings second screen support for iPad

MacOS Catalina is also slated to offer second screen support for iPad. Officially known as Sidecar, the second screen support feature allows you do to set up your iPad next to your MacBook and use it just like you would another display. From the stage, Apple showed seamlessly dragging windows from the Mac screen over to the iPad screen. It may be as close to a touchscreen MacBook as we’ll ever get.

The second use is perhaps more interesting. Apple went on to mention that support for Apple Pencil within the Sidecar feature extends to “all apps that support tablets,” which included applications such as Adobe Illustrator. It’s all done wirelessly, so you can lean back with your iPad or pull it away from your MacBook without worry.

Project Catalyst helps bring iPad apps to the Mac

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It is official: Apple is moving forward with Project Catalyst (formerly referred to as Project Marzipan), further unifying the iOS and MacOS app ecosystems. Project Catalyst is a step towards building a “universal app framework” for iOS and MacOS apps, to help encourage and facilitate the development of new apps for Apple devices. In the past, app developers had to submit different versions of their apps to each of the app stores for iOS and MacOS devices. But now, with Project Catalyst, app developers would only have to submit a single, merged version of their app that is compatible with both Apple operating systems.

Project Catalyst was officially announced to be available for use by developers starting today. The biggest feature regarding Catalyst is that it offers support for developing apps for Macs. In the quick demo shown during the keynote, enabling support for Mac app development was as simple as just checking a box next to the word “Mac.” Doing so seems to open up a Mac app-friendly template of features for developers to consider and build upon when making their apps.

iTunes is dead and three apps will take its place

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Yes, the rumors are true: Apple’s beloved and long-running iTunes app will end its run with the launch of MacOS Catalina. iTunes will be replaced with three apps: Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Podcasts. The three new apps are expected to be based on Apple’s new app development framework, Project Catalyst, indicating that the apps will be similar to the ones already on iOS.

The Apple Music app was described as “blazingly fast” and as offering personalized music recommendations from a library of 50 million tracks. It was also noted that the Apple Podcasts app would feature machine learning-driven searching, to help users find the specific podcast they want, even if they don’t have very many details on it. MacOS Catalina also offers the Apple TV app, which features support for 4K HDR playback and Dolby Atmos audio.

Accessibility and voice control

The biggest accessibility feature to hit MacOS Catalina is the new Voice Control feature that allows users to control and navigate a Mac entirely just by using voice commands. The WWDC 2019 keynote presentation included a video demonstration of a Mac user utilizing the Voice Control feature to send messages and coordinate a trip with a friend (using Apple Maps).

The demo not only showed that the entire Mac user experience could be controlled with voice commands, but also showed that elements like on-screen menus could be labeled with numbers to make voice commands easier to manage. Instead of having to fully describe the photo you want to click on (which can be time-consuming), those who use Voice Control can just look at the number label next to it and say something like “Select number 32” instead.

New privacy and security features

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

MacOS Catalina is also coming with two new privacy and security features: Find My and Activation Lock. Find My is a combination of two apps: Find My Friends and Find My iPhone. Find My allows users to find their Macs if they’re lost or stolen, even if the Mac itself is offline. In fact, when it’s offline, a Mac with Find My will still send out a secure, Bluetooth beacon to help you locate it. The beacon is also anonymous and encrypted end-to-end. The Activation Lock feature basically renders your Mac useless (to thieves) if it ever gets stolen. Activation Lock is available for all Macs outfitted with a T2 security chip.

The developer beta will be available later today, which is free for anyone to download. As always, when it’s released this Fall, MacOS Catalina will be a free update for Macs.

Editors' Recommendations

Anita George
Anita has been a technology reporter since 2013 and currently writes for the Computing section at Digital Trends. She began…
I love Macs. But here are 5 reasons I keep coming back to Windows
Windows 11 set up on a computer.

Thanks to the massive success of Apple Silicon, Macs have become increasingly tempting. Plenty of folks are heading back to the Mac for the first time in years, and in doing so, making the dramatic switch from Windows 11 to macOS.

When it comes to these operating systems, though, they're not equal across the board. And in the end, here are the five things that keep me coming back to Windows 11.
Device support

Read more
This genius app turns your iPad into a Mac drawing tablet
Apple Sidecar press photo

For years, Apple fans have been able to use an iPad as a drawing tablet for their Mac thanks to a piece of software called Sidecar. That’s made by Apple, but now a rival app from Astropad has emerged, and it’s aimed squarely at digital artists and illustrators.

The app, dubbed Slate, allows you to draw on your iPad with an Apple Pencil or your finger and see the results replicated on your Mac’s display. That means your iPad essentially doubles up as a Wacom tablet, which is perfect for creative work on your Apple devices.

Read more
Common macOS Sonoma problems and how to fix them
Apple's Craig Federighi presents new features in macOS Sonoma at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2023.

Apple’s latest operating system, macOS Sonoma, has launched, and it brings with it a bunch of great new features for your Mac. But upgrading your Apple computer could lead to problems, and while this won’t happen to everyone, it can be frustrating when issues arise.

Fortunately, there’s help at hand. We’ve put together a list of the most common macOS Sonoma problems and how to fix them. Just follow these tips and they could help you out of a tricky spot. We’ve added links to Apple’s official guidance throughout, so be sure to check them out for more assistance.
macOS Sonoma won’t download

Read more