Apple’s newest Mac operating system is most rewarding to users heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem. The most dazzling new addition to the Mac is Sidecar, which turns an iPad into a second display, allowing you to draw with an Apple Pencil in apps like Photoshop. Sidecar is already faster to use than any third party iPad app that extends a Mac’s display, which is remarkable considering it is still in beta.
It should be noted that you cannot use the iPad as a touch interface for macOS. Apple is determined to keep a firm line between click-based macOS and touch-based iOS.
If you own an Apple Watch, you’ll find more opportunities to skip typing your password on the Mac, as software installations and purchases can now be approved from your wrist, in the same way you can already unlock your Mac with a Watch.
iOS and macOS have improved communication with Personal Hotspot from an iPhone. In Catalina, you can ask your Mac to always connect to your iPhone’s hotspot without prompting, if no known Wi-Fi networks are available. While this faster connection saves just a few clicks and at best thirty seconds, it removes all friction to getting your Mac online. Your Mac finally feels like it has its own dedicated data connection, and because of this I’ve used Personal Hotspot more in the last few weeks than I have all year.
Catalina, like Mojave before it, continues to secure the Mac operating system by borrowing concepts that have worked well on iOS. Most of these changes are hidden, and very few users will even notice, such as the operating system now residing in a read-only partition.
The biggest change users will notice is every app will now need to request to access the Desktop, Documents and Downloads folders, just as apps in 10.14 would ask nicely to access your calendar, photos, microphone, or to use accessibility features. While I appreciate Apple’s security stance, I’m worried some users will experience pop-up fatigue, and just start hitting allow whenever they see an alert, otherwise known as the “Vista effect”.