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macOS Catalina: A view from the top

Apple’s release of macOS® 10.15 Catalina is not simply another OS X® refresh, but instead a robust version packed with new features that continue to push the OS forward. Catalina is now available at no cost through the Mac® App Store but, as always, check with CranstonIT first to see if your current Mac products can run the new OS.

Three all-new dedicated apps — Music, Apple TV® and Apple Podcasts — are central to Catalina’s resume. After 18 years as a fixture on the Mac, iTunes® as we know it is dead.  The three new apps, designed from the ground up, combine to replace iTunes in impressive fashion.

Apple Music is where all your iTunes music will be stored, but now offers the ultimate music streaming experience on your Mac.  Access a library of 50 million songs and then discover your favorites in your music library on all your devices.

Apple TV is your app for your favorite movies and shows and, soon, for Apple TV+. Now you can watch everything directly in the app while you discover the best of what’s on in the Watch Now tab.

Apple Podcasts lets you tap into more than 700,000 of the best news, entertainment and sports podcasts now available on the Mac. Subscribing is easy.  Searching is even easier.  And in the Listen Now tab, you can always pick up where you left off on any of your devices.

There’s more.

The Reminders app has been overhauled.  It’s driven by a completely new interface that lets you create smart lists that collect tasks from multiple lists; add attachments to tasks; and click buttons to instantly add dates, times, locations and flags to your reminders.  

The Notes app gains a new gallery view that provides thumbnail instead of a scrolling list.  More practically, you can now share entire folders as well as notes and even limit collaborators to read-only modes.  If you use lists in Notes, you’ll like the new checklist features for reordering list items, moving checked items to the bottom and easily unchecking all items to reuse the list.

The Photos app redesigns the hierarchal viewing structure.  Photos now uses a more sensible Years, Months, Days hierarchy, with Years and Months using a large, easily viewed grid, and Days showing selected thumbnails of different sizes to focus attention on the best images.  The app better understands who is in each shot and what’s happening — helping Photos to highlight important moments and create better memories.

macOS Catalina has replaced Parental Controls with Screen Time.  It offers greater insight into how you — and your kids — are spending technology time.  You can monitor usage, schedule downtime and set limits for both apps and websites across all your macOS and iOS devices.  The new Screen Time pane of System Preferences offers all the controls you need … to take control.

Apple® continues to improve macOS security and privacy controls in a variety of ways.  

For example, in Catalina, the OS runs in a dedicated read-only system volume that prevents anything from overwriting or subverting critical files.  Kernel extensions, which are often required for hardware peripherals, now run separately from macOS, preventing them from causing crashes or security vulnerabilities.  All new apps, whether from the App Store® or directly from developers, must now be “notarized,” meaning Apple has pre-checked them for known security issues.  And, any Mac featuring the T2 security chip now supports Activation Lock in Catalina so, if stolen, there’s no way to erase and reactivate your computer’s hard drive.

Catalina offers many more new features, tools and surprises.  But before you blindly upgrade, we recommend caution.  CranstonIT is invested in the success of your company’s technical environment, and we don’t want potentially harmful issues to compromise your IT’s performance.  For more information on this new macOS opportunity, contact us first at 888-813-5558 or support@cranstonit.com