Catalina, Apple’s latest update to macOS, rolled out to the public this week and it has been living up to the rocky island of Santa Catalina it was named after. For consumers who are following the Apple way and only using their Mac in the way that Tim Cook and his team intended, all is well.
But for those who have strayed away from ‘the one true path’, who require legacy applications for their workflow, or who have a slightly different way of doing things, Catalina is proving to be a headache.
Apple wants all of its developers to use 64-bit applications. In its view this is obviously a better solution, and to push that through Apple has removed all support for 32-bit applications in Catalina. That means that countless legacy applications and previous versions of popular apps will no longer work.
What warning do you get during the installation? A nondescript dialog that pops up to say your 32-applications will not work. And if you get all the way through the installation of the OS update and find out that your key applications are 32-bit and no longer run, well, you’re out of luck.
Unlike Microsoft, which continues to work hard to allow legacy Win32 apps to run under Windows 10, Apple has decided that now is the time to ‘cliff edge’ support and abandon the old. With many apps charging for updates, users are let with little choice but to pay out to reclaim the functionality they had last week. Then there are smaller developers where the move to 64-bit is simply a cost too far and the apps have been effectively killed by Apple’s decisions.
Even with developers that are on top of the updates, there are issues with Catalina and users are being advised to not upgrade (or if they are technically mixed to partition their computer to a dual booting system and check compatibility – not an option for most users). One such example is Adobe, which is fighting to address many of the compatibility issues. You can find the list of known issues here, which includes issues with the ’Save As’ dialogs and installing new plug-ins.
Apple has a responsibility to bring new technology and new tools to users of its desk-bound operating system. But it also has a responsibility to the existing users to maintain a system that is fit for the purpose that the computer was purchased for. Is it enough to say that ‘things are going to change so you should be ready?’
Perhaps Apple believes it has balanced the warnings and alerts about the changes to macOS to accommodate its own vision of the future against the various difficulties that are being experienced by its own user base. But this arrogant view is damaging trust in macOS.
Apple reassured developers of music software that relied on XML support in iTunes that the new Music app replacing iTunes would be able to export an XML file. That feature is not present. For individual users looking to roll back to Mojave, they will need to have a backup of their MacBook in a pre-Catalina state, and go through a complicated process than involves wiping their hard drive.
Tim Cook and his team have a vision of the Mac in its future plans and that vision has changed in the last few years especially towards one that supports both the mobile devices and the cloud based services that Apple hopes to derive more revenue from in the coming years. That’s a solid vision, but it’s one that is different to what many Mac owners bought into.
Catalina works for many users, but it is also leaving some distraught and worried that their personal computer will no longer work for them. Should Apple be supporting those older Mac users who are happy with how things are, or should it use its dominant position to drag those users towards a business model different the one then bought into with their first Mac?
Apple has a vision for the Mac, but it’s not the only vision for Mac. If you don’t share Apple’s, then it’s hard to recommend the update to Catalina.