My take: macOS 10.15 Catalina Released

I wasn’t expecting to be released for at least a week or two but Apple released macOS 10.15 Catalina today. I woke up, rolled over to check the time and then my emails plus some top headlines and voila there it is. As noted before, all big upgrades I always do a clean install – wipe the whole of the internal storage clean then do a clean install. I’m not going to write up a big review because I think that Arstechnica does the best job at covering all the nooks and crannies (link) but I will point out a few things that I’ve noticed.

1) Safari 13.0.2 has addressed the issue with Twitter but I guess that’ll become less of an issue once the official Twitter client Applications comes out for macOS hopefully within the next few months. It also fixed up a strange bug that I was dealing with when visiting YouTube using Safari 13.0.2 on macOS 10.14.6 where as on Safari 13.0.2 on macOS 10.15 the bug has appeared to be fixed.

2) The Music application is missing the column browser option so unfortunately when you’ve got a large music library like I do the scrolling through tiles is hugely inefficient. The browsing by artists is slightly better however it still makes the process difficult when there are large numbers of albums one has to scroll through. I hope that this is just an oversight and it will be something that they will roll out maybe in a future update in much the same way they did retiring iPhoto in favour of Photos where the first versions were sparse in terms of features but eventually those gaps were filled in.

3) Both my iMac and MacBook Pro have had their BootROM and SMC updated – not too sure whether it has impacted the performance given that a combination of a new operating system install plus a firmware update has resulted in a more responsive experience. Part of the BootROM includes microcode patches for CPU bugs so I wouldn’t be surprised if it addresses recently found vulnerabilities as well as optimising previous fixes to have a lesser impact on performance. I also wonder whether macOS has adopted Retpoline (link) which has been adopted by Linux and Windows 10 1903.

4) Apple have updated their first party applications, Final Cut Pro X, Compressor and Motion, to utilise a new Metal powered engine along with it being optimised for the new Mac Pro that will be launching soon. The Mac Pro will have an optional expansion card called ‘After Burner’ which uses a FPGA. It’ll be interesting to see what it is like when it hits the market. Rumour has it that with the launch of Mac Pro that there will be a MacBook refresh along with a few other announcements but I guess we’ll need to wait to find out.

5) 32bit compatibility has been removed but so far I haven’t had any issues so far with it – everything appears to be working buttery smooth. The move to a 32bit system along with the deprecation of OpenGL and OpenCL then addition of System Extensions to replace kernel extensions gives the appearance that Apple is preparing the developer community for when they make that change to their own CPU. There has been a lot of speculation so it will be interesting to see whether it eventually turns out to be the case of whether the move to ARM is just wishful thinking by some enthusiastic Apple fans.

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