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5 New Features That Make the MacOS Catalina Update Worth a Download

October 7, 2019, 11:14 PM UTC

Whether it’s on a handheld or a desktop, Apple is making its devices play nicer with each other, at last. Well, that’s the goal, at least, with Monday’s macOS Catalina release, which gives Apple computer users an updated, more cohesive ecosystem boasting features that make iPhones and iPads work better with Macs.

Apple’s new operating system, Catalina, replaces macOS Mojave, which was released last September. The company first revealed macOS Catalina in June at WWDC where it also touted new features like Apple TV+, iPadOS, and updates to iPhone’s iOS.

These five features make the macOS Catalina update worth the download:

Screen Time gives a full picture

After launching on mobile devices last year, Screen Time is coming to Mac. The new feature, which formerly tracked how iOS users spent time on iPhones and iPads, now accounts for desktop computer usage too. It’ll also can limit app use, work across devices, and let parents monitor their children’s device usage with Family Sharing.

Similar to how it operates on iPhones and iPads, Screen Time on Mac will allow users to set App Limits and and schedule “away” time from devices.

Apple Arcade give Macs a gaming power-up

Apple’s recently announced game service Apple Arcade has already rolled out to the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. But now the $4.99 subscription gaming service comes to Mac users. Apple Arcade’s games can be played across the range of Apple’s devices, and progress is synced so players can pick up where they left off, regardless of how or where the game was last played.

Addition by subtraction: The end of iTunes

As Apple has expanded over the years, so too has its longstanding iTunes app. What began as a way to sync and purchase music for iPods, eventually became a bloated online warehouse of podcasts, movies, shows, and audiobooks. Apple determined iTunes was getting too unwieldy, so it split those various mediums into their apps. Now, instead of iTunes, macOS Catalina will offer Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV apps. iTunes absence will undoubtedly make iPhone users wonder how they can sync their phones to their computers. And to this, there’s now two answers: The macOS Finder and iCloud syncing.

Sidecar makes your iPad a secondary display

While there have previously been third-party apps for turning iPads into a secondary computer display, Apple has now launched the feature as a free tool with macOS Catalina, called Sidecar. While it’s a great feature to use wirelessly, Sidecar also works with a wired connection, so instead of draining the battery, it will charge the iPad.

Siri, can you say voice control?

In a move that increases accessibility for Apple users, Catalina is bringing improved Voice Control to Macs. The new feature uses Siri speech recognition to register Mac controls, transcribe speech, and edit text. Catalina also offers Hover Text and Zoom Display interactions, to make reading, editing, and general computer use easier for those who are visually impaired.

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