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Apple is taking its Mac platform out of the desert and to the California coast with the next version of its Mac operating system: macOS Catalina. The next-generation version of the Mac software will make Macs more secure, accessible and convenient — and it also means that iTunes is finally being replaced.
The End of iTunes
One of the most important changes in macOS Catalina is the retirement of iTunes in favor of several new cross-platform apps.
The new version of macOS will have standalone Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV apps, just like its iOS counterpart. Previously, all of these functions were handled by the iTunes app.
All three standalone apps will echo many of the features of their iOS counterparts, but will feature their own specialized features like machine-learning searches in Podcasts and support for 4K HDR and Dolby audio in TV.
In a fairly surprising move, Apple said that iOS device management, one of the more important jobs that iTunes had, will now be handled by Finder.
iPad as External Display
As was previously rumored, macOS Catalina will introduce a new feature called Sidecar, which will let users leverage their iPad as a secondary display for their Mac.
That means users can spread out their workflows across two displays, but it will also let users use an Apple Pencil to essentially draw or illustrate on their Mac apps (using their iPad’s touch display).
This is, of course, similar to currently available third-party options line Luna Display. But, presumably, Sidecar will feature much tighter integration between the two operating systems.
‘Find My’ App
Additionally, Apple announced an all-new Find My app that combines the existing capabilities of the Find My iPhone and Find My Friends app with some clever new features. Most notably, the new Find My app can also find Apple devices that are offline.
It works by leveraging the T2 security chip in newer Macs. Even when locked and offline, a Mac will still send out a Bluetooth signal that can be detected by other Apple devices, which will relay a location back to the network.
As is typical with Apple, this Bluetooth signal is secure and encrypted — so it won’t compromise the privacy, security or battery life of a user’s Mac device.
Other App Updates
As far as other miscellaneous updates, macOS Catalina now sports a new Reminders app, a gallery view in Notes, a redesigned start page in Safari and a full version of Screen Time specifically made for Mac.
New in macOS Catalina is a new developer API called Project Catalyst, which will let app creators quickly port their iPad apps over to the Mac platform. While not really a consumer-facing feature, the API could expand the number of third-party apps available on the Mac App Store.
macOS Catalina will also sport a new accessibility-focused feature called Voice Control, which lets any user control every function of their Mac (and iOS devices) with just their voice.
Macs will also be more secure with Activation Lock, which will allow a complete lock down of a T2-equipped Mac if it’s lost or stolen. Like the existing feature on iOS, the security setting will essentially make a lost or stolen Mac useless until the owner deactivates it.