Apple unveils macOS Catalina and cross-platform apps at WWDC
Plus voice control, Sidecar, security features, and moreBy Cal Jeffrey
Something to look forward to: The next version of macOS is nearly here. Apple showcased the newest features that Catalina will bring to Mac users including Sidecar, voice control, new security features, cross-platform applications and no more iTunes.
Three new apps will be replacing iTunes --- Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV.
Apple Music will be the new home for everything music. Think of it as iTunes, but more focused and without all the bloat. All your ripped and purchased tracks will reside here and Apple Music subscribers will be able to browse and listen to streamed music as well. Plus, without all the extras it will operate faster than iTunes.
Apple Podcasts has much the same interface as iTunes, so aesthetically it is familiar, but the experience is improved with AI. What's new with Podcasts is a powerful search feature that uses machine learning to be able to find content even if you only know a few snippets of what you are trying to find. So let's say you heard a portion of a podcast but cannot recall the title. If you search for what you remember from within the episode, Podcasts will be able to track it down for you.
Lastly, the Apple TV app will queue up all your video needs. As long as you have an Apple TV subscription, you'll be able to watch content right from your laptop or desktop wherever you are. It will also support 4K resolutions so long as you have the display for it.
Speaking of displays, Apple also introduced Sidecar for Catalina. Sidecar will allow Mac users to sync up with their iPad to use it as a secondary display. It will be compatible with any apps that have tablet compatibility. It will also have Apple Pencil support.
The next macOS will also have enhanced accessibility support. In particular to this is Voice Control. Users who cannot use their arms will be able to easily and efficiently control their Macs using only their voice. It utilizes an improved Siri voice recognition algorithm and can do anything from transcription to full computer control.
Apple has also improved some existing security features. The Find My iPhone app has been redesigned to integrate the formally separate app Find My Friends. The new tool's name has been awkwardly abbreviated to just "Find My." In addition to having the functionality of both apps in one, Find My can now locate your Mac even if it is offline or asleep.
The way it works is it uses the Bluetooth signal of nearby Apple devices to pinpoint your Mac (or presumably any other Apple product). It does this anonymously, so nobody's privacy is violated. For Macs with the T2 chip, there is also an activation lock for added security in the event you cannot find your laptop or know that it has been stolen.
Finally, Apple confirmed that it is working on app unification. We reported on a project called by insiders as Marzipan back in 2017. It was an effort by Apple to make apps for iPad, iPhone, and Mac inter-compatible. In February, Apple revealed that it wanted to achieve this by 2021.
Today it announced that it is rolling out tools to developers to help them make their apps compatible across all Apple devices. The utilities are built into Xcode and all developers need to do is check a "Mac" box to get started.
Catalina is being released in beta to developers starting today. Users will have to wait until July for the macOS update, and the new and improved apps will land this fall.