macOS 10.15 Catalina Sparks Catalyst For Cross-Platform iPad Apps, Sidecar Enables iPad As Secondary Display

macos catalina
iOS might get the bulk of the attention when it comes to Apple's operating systems (like the newly announced iOS 13), but we can't forget its big brother: macOS. Apple today announced macOS 10.15 Catalina, which is the latest refinement to an operating system that dates back to 2001's Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah.

Perhaps the biggest thing to be announced with macOS Catalina is Project Catalyst, which previously carried the codename Marzipan. In essence, it's a framework for developers to quickly and easily bring their iPad apps over to the macOS desktop platform. Apple has already been using Catalyst internally, and that's how iOS apps like Apple News and Stocks made their way over to macOS 10.14 Mojave last year. All of the heavy lifting for conversion is done in Xcode, with most of the fine-tuning left up to individual developers to make sure that their apps actually look good and are optimized for the desktop platform.

macos catalina catalyst
iPad apps on macOS Catalina using Catalyst

In a way, this kind of cross-platform app development kills two birds with one stone. On one hand, it should allow Apple to greatly expand the number of macOS apps available in the App Store. Secondly, it gives developers an easy way to expand their reach to the macOS platform and potentially increase their revenue potential.

Apple also confirmed news that we've been hearing about for the past few days: iTunes has been given the boot after 18 years of service. Apple's Craig Federighi even poked fun at iTunes saying that Apple software developers actually wanted to add more to iTunes including a calendar, a web browser and even a dock; commentary that acknowledged the fact that iTunes has grown into a bloated mess over the past two decades. Now, iTunes has been broken into three separate apps: Apple Music, Podcasts and Apple TV. The functionality of each app is pretty much self-explanatory at this point.

macos catalina sidecar

Another big addition is Sidecar, which allows you to project your desktop onto an iPad. Although there are third-party apps that have allowed you to do this in the past, Sidecar functionality is built right into macOS Catalina. You have the option of expanding your desktop or mirroring your content to an iPad. You can even use your iPad along with an Apple Pencil as a makeshift Wacom-esque pad for drawing on your Mac. Apple says that Sidecar functionality works either wired or wirelessly.

macos catalina sidecar 2

A new Find My app makes it easy to find one of your devices (even it is asleep) by using Bluetooth. Screen Time, which was introduced last year for iOS 12, has now come to macOS Catalina. Security and privacy have been stepped up across the board, and you can now authenticate certain actions in macOS Catalina using your Apple Watch (like approving app installations and viewing passwords in Safari). This seems to be more of a feature to accommodate Macs that don't have Touch ID incorporated (which allows you to authenticate the aforementioned tasks).

macos catalina apple watch

macOS Catalina is available now for developers, and will roll out in a public beta starting next month. The full release of the operating system is scheduled to take place this fall. You can see the list of supported Macs below:

macos catalina support macs