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By Jason Snell
October 7, 2019 10:00 AM PT
Sometimes software upgrades just fuzz together, all part of a continuum of changes over time. Others are more momentous, when there’s a clean break from what has come before. After a few years of fuzzy updates, macOS Catalina is one of those clean breaks.
Among the reasons are a major redesign to macOS security, the long-promised deprecation of older software, the replacement of a nearly two-decade-old core app, and the introduction of the ability to run software born on iOS on the Mac for the first time.
The Mac is entering a new era, but for a while things are going to be bumpy. macOS Catalina creates incompatibilities, alters workflows, and ends what has been a period of relative stability. This is a huge update that shows the direction Apple is taking the Mac and all its platforms. We are headed into a future with more unified apps and interfaces and an increased security focus. But as for the present? This is an update that users should be wary of installing because of all the changes it brings.
But Catalina isn’t all about breaking things. There are also major new additions to parental controls and device management, a huge upgrade to accessibility, the ability to use an iPad as an additional display and input device, a new machine-learning-driven facelift for Photos, and big upgrades to many other built-in apps.
By Jason Snell
June 24, 2019 10:00 AM PT
There’s a lot going on in macOS Catalina, version 10.15 of the software that runs the Mac, which arrives today with its first Public Beta release. This begins the era of third-party developers bringing their iPad apps to the Mac for the first time—and Apple’s bringing a few iOS apps of its own to the Mac as well. iTunes is being broken into individual applications, including Music, Podcasts, and TV, with a small piece being spun into the Finder.
There are also major new additions to parental controls and device management, a huge upgrade to accessibility, the ability to use an iPad as an additional display and input device, and a raft of new security and privacy features. Photos gets a new machine-learning-driven facelift, and many of Apple’s other apps—including Mail, Safari, Notes, and most especially Reminders—have gotten upgrades.
With this much going on, it’s not surprising that most people should generally not upgrade to the public beta; it’s a work in progress that will be officially released sometime this fall. But for now, the public beta of Catalina shows the direction Apple is taking the Mac and all its platforms. We are headed in to a future with more unified apps and interfaces and an increased security focus.
As for the present, Catalina definitely has its bumps. With any luck, many of them will be smoothed out by this fall—though I fear that at least some of them are poor decisions on Apple’s part that we’ll be living with for longer than this summer.
And this is a key point of being on the public-beta train: using the Feedback Assistant app to tell Apple about bad stuff you see, and things you don’t like. Users of Apple betas should use the Feedback Assistant app to let Apple know if things just aren’t working right. After all, this is a beta. Things will change and improve over the summer. And if you’re up for the challenge you can help.
Before you run to install the beta, some final words of advice: Consider if you really want to go down this path. If you do, back up all your data. Don’t install this on your main Mac’s main hard drive—either use a secondary computer or a separate partition or an external drive. And never work with data that you aren’t also backing up somewhere else.