Second macOS Catalina and tvOS 13 Public Betas Released: Here’s What’s New

macOS Catalina Credit: Neo Life
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Earlier this week Apple released a new round of developer betas for all of its operating systems, including iOS 13, watchOS 6, tvOS 13, and macOS Catalina. While it was unclear when public beta versions would follow — it took a week for the public betas to appear after the last round of developer betas — Apple has already released the latest betas of at least macOS Catalina and tvOS 13 to the public. Note that watchOS 6 isn’t part of the public beta program at all, although some people have been invited to a private beta program.

Sadly, a new iOS 13 public beta has not yet appeared, and with the July 4th holiday it now seems unlikely to arrive until next week, but at least those running the public betas of macOS and tvOS will be able to get their hands on the latest fixes, along with some small new improvements.

Technically speaking, Apple rolled out all of its original public betas a week early; the company had said initially that they wouldn’t appear until July, which was in line with what’s usually happened in previous years as well. So last week’s first round of public betas were a bit less polished than they’ve been in the past, since they corresponded to only the second beta build that Apple has put out to its developers. These newest public betas should hopefully offer some stability and performance improvements, making it more worth the plunge for those who have been on the fence up until now.

Drifting into Catalina

There’s not a ton of new stuff in the latest Catalina beta as compared to the prior one, although it does offer one gem in the form of a rare new screensaver, Drift. As 9to5Mac notes, Apple doesn’t update its collection of stock screensavers very often, so this is significant in itself, and the new screensaver is actually quite nice, featuring “a multi-colored 3D array of light trails, with each particle moving in a wave-like motion.” There are also several colour theme options — Spectrum, Red Hues, Green Hues, Blue Hues, Silver, Space Gray, and Gold — as well as the ability to base the colours off your desktop wallpaper.

Note that your mileage may vary in terms of getting it to work at this point. In our own testing, the “Drift” option is there, but the screen saver itself doesn’t actually render. According to 9to5Mac, it’s rendered directly by the GPU on the fly, so it may not yet be optimized for all of the various Mac hardware configurations.

What Else is New?

Unlike iOS 13, which includes a lot more new features overall, both macOS Catalina and tvOS 13 likely already include most of the features they’re going to have, and Apple seems to be focusing at this point on providing better stability and performance than the prior betas, which is significant enough by itself.

Overall, tvOS 13 provides a new home screen design, multi-user support for better family sharing, along with a new control centre for quickly swapping profiles, new undersea screensavers, and the foundations for Apple Arcade when it debuts this fall, including full game controller support. macOS Catalina’s headline changes are the transition to dedicated Music, TV, and Podcast apps, better external display management via a new “Sidecar” feature, and support for Screen Time, including managing kids’ iOS devices from the Mac.

How to Install the Latest Public Betas

If you’re already part of Apple’s public beta program, the new builds should automatically be offered as part of the normal software update process in the same way as any other macOS or tvOS updates.

If you haven’t already jumped into the public beta program, you’ll need to head over to beta.apple.com to sign up to participate in the program, after which you can install the necessary Public Beta Access Utility on your Mac, allowing it to access the latest public beta seeds through the normal Software Update utility. For tvOS users, the process is even easier as you won’t need to download or install anything; once you’ve registered for the public beta program, just make sure your Apple TV is signed into iCloud and iTunes with the same Apple ID and then open the Settings app, and then select System and Software Updates and toggle on the option to Get Beta Updates.

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