Apple unveils macOS Catalina, and an ultra-fast, ultra-expensive new Mac Pro
Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is up and running for another year, and as well as iOS 13 and iPadOS announcements, Apple has also been previewing the next edition of macOS – as well as the most powerful Mac computer it's ever built.
The macOS refresh arriving in September is called macOS Catalina, and there are a lot of new features on the way. As rumored, iTunes is going to be broken up into separate apps for music, podcasts and video (movies and TV), with device syncing functionality put in Finder instead.
Then there's Sidecar, a new macOS feature that lets you use an iPad as a wireless second screen or graphics tablet. If you're often hooking up your MacBook to an external display, Sidecar promises to be a handy alternative.
Apple is also adding some intuitive new Accessibility features to macOS, including the ability to control virtually every aspect of the operating system with voice commands. There's a new Find My app for locating a lost or stolen MacBook too, as well as extra options for locking laptops remotely and finding them even when they're in sleep mode.
The macOS apps get a host of improvements with Catalina too, most of which match those in iOS 13: more detailed Apple Maps with a Look Around feature that apes Google Street View, AI-assisted sorting to bring out the highlights of your Photos library, a revamped and redesigned Reminders app, and more. Screen Time is coming to macOS too, so you can set limits on how much time you spend inside different apps.
WWDC is traditionally a software event but Apple has sprung hardware surprises before, and so it was this time around. The company unveiled a juggernaut of a desktop computer in the shape of the new Mac Pro, replacing the cylindrical design that made its debut back in 2013.
It's easily the most powerful Mac Apple has ever put out, with processor options going up to a 28-core Intel Xeon, RAM options going up to 1.5 TB, and graphics options maxing out at no fewer than four Radeon Pro Vega II cards (with 32 GB of memory each). The Mac Pro case is eye-catching too, with an aluminum and stainless steel case, a modular internal design, and the option of wheels for moving the whole setup around.
At the same time Apple unveiled the Pro Display XDR display, a 32-inch, 6K Retina display with superior HDR technology, up to 1,600 nits of brightness and an impressive 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. It's been built to tick every box that a professional user could need, and it can work in portrait or landscape orientation too.
The new hardware can be ordered in the (Northern Hemisphere) fall, Apple says, but it won't come cheap: the least powerful Mac Pro spec will set you back US$5,999, and you'll need an extra $4,999 for the Pro Display XDR – and another $999 just for the Pro Stand.