macOS Catalina: macOS 10.15 release date, news and features

macOS Catalina
Image Credit: Apple
(Image credit: Apple)

macOS Catalina – the official name for macOS 10.15 – is almost here, having been showcased at Apple's WWDC 2019 conference in San Jose, California. From what we've seen, there are some brilliant new features coming to macOS Catalina – such as the nifty ability to use an iPad as a second screen. 

To start, macOS Catalina allows app developers to more easily port their iPhone and iPad apps to Mac. Apple has introduced a new feature solely for developers known as "Project Catalyst," which allows them to seamlessly port their iOS 13 and iPadOS apps to the macOS environment.

Apple's head of software, Craig Federighi, also confirmed at WWDC that macOS 10.15 Catalina is saying goodbye to iTunes and giving way to new apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. Each of these new macOS Catalina apps gain enhanced features that aren't available in the existing versions running on other devices.

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macOS 10.15 Catalina, whose public beta is now available to download, also adds into the mix Sidecar, a new built-in tool for using an iPad as a secondary display for your Mac or MacBook device. This feature works both wired and wirelessly.

Hardware-wise, Apple showed off the new Mac Pro 2019 at the event, which we expect will launch with macOS 10.15 Catalina already installed.

There's also been recent rumors that a new MacBook Air 2019 and MacBook Pro 2019 13-inch will launch alongside macOS Catalina later this year, thought that might be less likely considering that Apple just refreshed both the MacBook Air 2018 and the MacBook Pro 13-inch base configuration.

Here's every major change coming to Apple's OS for Macs and MacBooks in 2019 with macOS Catalina.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? macOS 10.15 Catalina, the successor to macOS 10.14 Mojave.
  • When is it out? Apple says "this fall," so in Q3 2019.
  • How much will it cost? Nothing. Apple software updates are always free.

macos 10.15 Sidecar feature

Image Credit: Apple

(Image credit: Apple)

macOS Catalina release date

For anyone who isn't an app developer or willing to step into the beta, macOS 10.15 Catalina will be made available to the public "this fall," as Apple promised on stage at WWDC 2019. For those folks not on the northern hemisphere, that means some time in Q3 2019, most likely late September, if we were to look at previous macOS releases.

The public beta of the OS is now available for free however, and is available for anyone to try out at this link. If you're feeling particularly adventurous and have 100 bucks or quid just sitting around, you can even test out the special developer preview beta right now.

For more detailed information regarding just that, we’ll show you how to download the macOS Catalina beta test right now. Otherwise, keep this page bookmarked as we will be updating it as more details regarding macOS 10.15 Catalina come to light.

macOS Catalina compatibility

Of course, one of the first questions that come to mind must be: can the Mac or MacBook I own right now work with this new hotness?

Luckily, every piece of Mac hardware that could upgrade to the current macOS 10.14 Mojave will be able to receive the new macOS 10.15 Catalina update. Here's the full list of devices:

  • 12-inch MacBook (2015 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2012 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (2012 and later)
  • Mac mini (2012 and later)
  • iMac (2012 and later)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • Mac Pro (2013 and later)
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macOS Catalina

What Apple Music will look like. (Image Credit: Apple)
(Image credit: Apple)
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macOS Catalina

What Apple Podcasts will look like. (Image Credit: Apple)
(Image credit: Apple)

Goodbye, iTunes – hello, Apple Music, Podcasts Books and TV

WWDC 2019 and macOS 10.15 Catalina make it official: iTunes is no more... it has ceased to be. And, from its ashes will rise the new apps for macOS: Apple Music, Apple TV and Apple Podcasts – they’re going to be enhanced versions of those that appear on iOS.

Apple Music will allow macOS users access to their entire libraries of music regardless of whether the tracks have been downloaded via streaming. This is also where music ripped from CDs will live, incorporated into the same libraries.

On the other hand, Apple TV will feature the app's channels, plus more than 100,000 iTunes movies and TV shows to browse, buy or rent. All of this content will be available in 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos audio wherever offered. Finally, Apple TV+ will be available through this app as soon as the service launches later this year.

Apple Podcasts will bring the service's more than 700,00 podcasts, as well as new episode updates to the Mac in a new interface. This version of the app will feature enhanced search functions that can pull up episodes by hosts, guests or even discussion topics.

Finally, Apple Books will be where you can purchase and listen to audiobooks, and as with the other new apps, will feature a familiar interface for anyone who is used to iTunes.

Apple has revealed more information about the apps that will replace iTunes following WWDC and how they will work.

If you’re worried about all your existing music, playlists, and iTunes gift cards and credit, don’t be. The company confirmed that all your music and playlists will be ported over to the Apple Music app in macOS 10.15 Catalina, and any iTunes gift cards or unspent iTunes credits can be used in the new apps.

In macOS 10.15 Catalina, the iTunes Store can still be used to buy new music, and can be accessed through the Sidebar in the Apple Music app. And of course, you can also subscribe to the Apple Music streaming service through the app – and if you do, you can hide the iTunes Store for less clutter.

macOS 10.15 iPhone management

You'll sync your devices via Finder in macOS Catalina (Image credit: Apple) 

(Image credit: Apple)

With iTunes gone, Apple also explained that syncing devices in macOS Catalina will now be handled by the Finder app, which will be able to backup and sync those devices. According to Apple, it will also be easier to drag and drop files for quick transfers as well.

macOS 10.15 Sidecar feature

Apple Sidecar at work in macOS Catalina. (Image Credit: Apple)

(Image credit: Apple)

Sidecar turns your iPad into another display

This is probably the most exciting update to macOS with macOS 10.15 Catalina: the ability to extend your Mac's display to a nearby iPad, both wired and wirelessly. Since a fair amount of MacBook users are likely iPad owners, this means that a sizable amount of mobile workers just received a secondary display without having to spend extra.

Perhaps even more importantly, this connected iPad can also be used as a drawing tablet with various specifically supported apps. Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Illustrator and iWork are the first apps mentioned to support this feature.

We currently don’t know which iPad models will work with Macs using the Sidecar feature, but it'll most likely be those models that can run the new iPadOS, which is also getting released later this year.

Apple says that the following Mac apps will support Sidecar's Apple Pencil input and other enhanced features:

  • Adobe: After Effects, Illustrator, Premiere Pro
  • Affinity Designer & Affinity Photo
  • Cinema 4D
  • CorelDRAW
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Final Cut Pro & Motion
  • Maya
  • Painter
  • Principle
  • Sketch
  • Substance Designer & Painter
  • ZBrush

macOS 10.15 screen time

Screen Time for macOS has a special "One more minute" feature. (Image Credit: Apple)

(Image credit: Apple)

Screen Time comes to macOS

One of Apple's most impactful changes to iOS 12 was Screen Time, an app that tracks your iPhone or iPad usage time and offers insights into the trends. This functionality will not only  come to macOS with Catalina, but also feature a new “One more minute” feature, which gives you more time to save your work or finish up a game.

This information will be synced across your iPhone and iPad, giving you a complete profile of how often you stare at your collective screens as well as guidance on what to do with that information. The feature will also include parental controls on time spent using a Mac as well as with whom children are able to communicate with.

macOS 10.15 Project Catalyst

Twitter's return to macOS was made possible by Project Catalyst. (Image Credit: Apple)

(Image credit: Apple)

Project Catalyst – is this Marzipan?

It appears that what was formerly referred to in rumors and leaks as "Project Marzipan," Apple's master plan to bring more apps from the iPhone and iPad to the Mac, is now known as Project Catalyst. For developers, it all seems to start with simply ticking off a box within the Xcode app in macOS 10.15 Catalina.

A series of new features and protocols then become available to the app in the development phase, from which the developer can choose to add to their apps – presumably with additional yet lighter coding. It seems to make the process rather seamless and speedy, with even Twitter using the tool to quickly bring its native app back to macOS from iOS.

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macOS Catalina

A new desktop theme for macOS Catalina. (Image Credit: Apple)
(Image credit: Apple)
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macOS Catalina

The new Photos app organization features for macOS Catalina. (Image Credit: Apple)
(Image credit: Apple)
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macOS Catalina

The new Safari launch page in macOS Catalina. (Image Credit: Apple)
(Image credit: Apple)
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macOS Catalina

Notes has a whole new look and feel in macOS Catalina. (Image Credit: Apple)
(Image credit: Apple)

Other fun improvements

Safari browser will have a new startup page that uses Siri Suggestions to surface commonly visited websites, bookmarks, iCloud tabs and more.

Mail will allow users to block messages from senders, mute message threads from issuing push notifications and send unsubscribe requests from within the app to mailing list providers.

And lastly, Reminders will soon get an overhaul in visual interface so that it will let users more easily generate, track and organize their reminders.