Every summer for as long as I can remember I’ve done the same thing. First, I write a column warning you of the dangers of running beta versions of Apple operating systems on any device you rely upon (for anything). Then, I proceed to spend the rest of the summer running beta versions of macOS and iOS and update MacOS Catalina for Dummies (formerly MacOS Mojave for Dummies) and iPhone for Dummies (13th edition this year).
Which is to say I spend most of the summer bursting with desire to share the best of the new operating systems’ features with you, gentle reader. And while Apple doesn’t disclose when it’s going to actually ship this year’s crop of OSes, if history is any indication, Catalina will become available on your Macs at no cost sometime in the next month or so.
Before I tell you about some of Catalina’s features, I’d like to (once again) remind you that I don’t advise installing the very first release of any major operating system. The first release will be version 10.15 (or 10.15.0), but don’t be tempted to install it. As a guy who has been on this riverboat many times, I assure you that waiting for the first or second bug-fix release — versions 10.15.1 or 10.15.2, respectively — before you upgrade will probably save you some grief.
The first bug fix usually comes along within a month or two of the first release. Spend that time looking online for reports of bugs, incompatibilities, apps that fail, or anything else that might affect your workflow after you upgrade.
Sorry for all the weasel words, but if I omit them, I always get email chastising me for “making me install that darn beta.” You’ve been warned, so now allow me to tantalize you with several Catalina features I like a lot (so far).
At the top of my list is the demise of iTunes, which is replaced by three new apps and the Finder in Catalina. So far, I find working with the Music, TV and Podcasts apps less confusing than when all those features were crammed into iTunes. And using the Finder to manage syncing with iOS devices just makes sense and is easy to get used to. Bottom line: You won’t miss iTunes a bit.
The other major Catalina feature I’m already in love with is Sidecar, which allows you use an iPad as a second (or even third or fourth) display for your Mac. The nifty twist is that you can also use the iPad with an Apple Pencil as a high-precision drawing tablet with supported Mac apps.
Last November I wrote two columns about how much I liked Duet Display (software) and Luna Display (software/hardware combination), two products that let you use an iPad as an external display with your Mac. Now, Catalina will do that and more for free (and wirelessly if you so desire).
You’ve got to love that (and I do).