Apple announced macOS Catalina, the next and newest Mac operating system, all the way back in May at WWDC 2019 and as of today it’s finally available to download. Any Apple computer that runs the current OS, Mojave, (with the exception of Mac Pros from 2010-2012) can download the macOS Catalina update right now, and there are a bunch of neat new features that you’ll want to try.
Behold, the end of iTunes.
Arguably the biggest thing with macOS Catalina is that it is officially killing off iTunes. In its place, Apple is actually giving you three different apps. The direct replacement for iTunes is the new Music app, which Apple says is designed from the ground up for Apple Music. If you don’t subscribe to Apple Music but you had a huge iTunes library, all your old music will be found in this Music app.
The other two apps are Apple TV and Apple Podcasts. The new Apple TV app is where you’ll be able to buy and rent movies, as well as find content from your Apple TV+ and Apple TV channel subscriptions. The Apple Podcasts app is where you’ll find podcasts.
Use your iPad as a second monitor.
Sidecar is one of the standout features of macOS Catalina, but it really only applies to those who have a Mac computer and an iPad running the latest iPadOS 13. It lets you use your iPad in tandem with your Mac computer so that it can function as a second screen (aka an external monitor). It’s also kind of a “pro” feature because it lets you seamlessly use an Apple Pencil with your Mac (via the iPad as a drawing tablet), which is something Apple has never allowed you to do; this is a big upgrade for those using “pro” Mac apps, like Adobe Illustrator.
A smarter Dark Mode.
Dark Mode was a standout feature of last year’s macOS Mojave and while it’s obviously still available on macOS Catalina, there’s a little more you can do with it. Specifically, you don’t have to always have it on. Instead of going into System Preferences and turning it on/off, macOS Catalina allows you to set specific times to turn Dark Mode on and off. For instance, you can set Dark Mode so that it’s off from 7AM to 5PM each day and on for the rest of the time.
Screen Time is now on Mac.
If you’ve been using the Screen Time feature on your iPhone, which arrived as a new feature with iOS 12, basically the same feature is now available on your Mac. Screen Time shows you how much time you’re spending on your Mac, and which apps you’re using most (as well as how much time you spend using each). You can also combine all your usage data across all your devices (iPhone, iPad and Mac).
Since many families share computers, Screen Time also can track usage stats of individuals. You can set app limits and schedule “downtime” for your children, just like you can on an iPhone or iPad.
Play Apple Arcade games on your Mac.
With macOS Catalina, you’ll get the Apple Arcade app, which you’ll need if you want to play the service’s games on your Mac. As a reminder, Apple Arcade is Apple’s new gaming subscription service that just launched on September 19. It costs $5 per month and gives you (and your family) access to dozens of games. No ads.