Ever because the introduction of the iPod in 2001, Apple has needed to navigate the intricacies of a multi-device ecosystem. Within the earliest of days, that meant coping with the iPod as an ancillary media machine, reliant upon a Mac (or later a PC) for all the pieces from activation to syncing media.
Over the past twelve years, the Apple ecosystem has gotten solely extra advanced, with the addition of iPhones and iPads, the Apple TV, the Apple Watch, AirPods, the HomePod, and extra. And whereas the Mac would be the elder statesperson of this assemblage, it’s discovered its duties decentralized. Now not does the iPhone or iPad require a Mac simply to operate; newer units just like the Apple Watch and HomePod by no means have.
However the Mac nonetheless stays a member of the ecosystem in good standing, and Catalina continues to adapt to this new actuality. As a substitute of being depending on the Mac to outlive, these different units have grown up and at the moment are able to carry their very own specific abilities to bear on supporting their predecessor.
The inherent contact interface of iOS units has at all times offered a technique to work together with content material not accessible by default on the Mac—one which’s significantly helpful in relation to drawing, sketching, and annotating. Sure, the Mac’s trackpad offers some meager skill to do the identical, however the ergonomics of it have by no means labored fairly as effectively—it’s merely not constructed for these duties. Exterior tablets, corresponding to these from Wacom, can present comparable options, nevertheless it’s an costly and never very moveable resolution. And with the addition of the Apple Pencil, the iPad has taken these talents to the following stage.
With Catalina, Apple has leveraged this benefit of iOS and built-in it extra seamlessly into the Mac. Sure, you possibly can markup a PDF instantly in your Mac, however why not use the machine with the large touchscreen and stylus that you could be have already got? (You should utilize the iPhone as effectively, however clearly, the dearth of Pencil help and smaller display current limitations.) And, simply as you have been beforehand capable of reap the benefits of the digicam in your iPhone or iPad and insert that image instantly into Notes—reasonably than wrestle with utilizing the mounted digicam in your Mac—Catalina enables you to use the iPad to insert a sketch or markup a PDF.
Apple has been clear that it doesn’t intend to easily merge all of its units, arguing as an alternative that every has totally different strengths. By tying these units extra intently collectively, it affords a possibility for every machine’s power to enrich one another. Or, in different phrases, let your toaster be your toaster and your fridge be your fridge.
Apple dipped its toes into the concept of a “net of authentication” when it added the flexibility to unlock your Mac along with your Apple Watch, however Catalina takes that to the following logical step by permitting you to authenticate through the Watch every time macOS prompts you on your administrator password. (The Safety & Privateness desire pane suggests that you just’ll have the ability to use it to unlock apps as effectively, although it’s unclear if that function might be accessible to third-party builders.)
This, too, is an instance of Apple leveraging the particular capabilities of its different units. The Apple Watch is uniquely suited as a multi-factor authentication machine, since entry to it’s protected by PIN or by authentication along with your iPhone’s Face ID/Contact ID/or passcode and it will probably inform when it’s really in your wrist. To make certain, there are methods to bypass this and use it for malicious functions, however there’s at all times a steadiness between safety and comfort.
The password/passcode has change into a each day truth of our life, however, regardless of that, it’s not a very good safety technique: individuals overlook passwords, choose simply guessed ones, or write them down someplace insecure. And for many who don’t have the choice of built-in biometric authentication on their Mac through Contact ID, the Apple Watch is the following smartest thing. Plus, it actually doesn’t harm as a promoting level for the Watch both.
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There’s loads of alternative for Apple to make its units work collectively, however the flip facet of that chance is accountability in how its merchandise are getting used. The corporate rolled out a Display screen Time function to iOS final yr, giving customers an image of how a lot time they spent with their units. However it had an enormous gap on the Mac—till Catalina rolled round. Now Display screen Time is on macOS as effectively, that means that the corporate can really paint a extra complete image of how we’re utilizing our units.
That’s additionally essential for options like content material restrictions, which beforehand weren’t synced between Apple’s two largest platforms. (There’s nonetheless no Display screen Time possibility on Apple TV, which can show a sticking level, particularly with the addition of Apple Arcade there.) However particularly now that Apple has rolled out multi-user help for tvOS, it wouldn’t be too stunning to see a Display screen Time function expanded to that platform in tvOS 14.
Apple’s units have at all times performed effectively with one another; that’s an enormous a part of the corporate’s attraction. However with Catalina, we see that the long run goes to, greater than ever, be in regards to the methods every of Apple’s merchandise can fill within the gaps for the general ecosystem, bringing all of it collectively as a unified complete.