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Apple to Revise Mojave’s Catalyst Apps in macOS Catalina

When Apple launched macOS Mojave last year, it included four built-in apps that had been ported from the iPad using what we now know as Project Catalyst. Home, Voice Memos, News, and Stocks have been regularly criticized for not being very Mac-like, and some users assumed they would be updated in the forthcoming macOS Catalina, since it includes a newer, more feature-rich version of Catalyst that’s powering new apps like Podcasts, which does feel more Mac-like.

However, until now there’s been no sign of Apple giving its first wave of Catalyst apps a second pass. They haven’t changed in the first two developer betas of Catalina, and Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi, in our interview with him on AppStories, diverted blame for those apps from the Catalyst technology on to intentional design decisions Apple’s team had made.

While Federighi still stands by that message, he also, in a new interview with Jason Hiner at CNET, has shared that Home, Voice Memos, News, and Stocks will in fact be getting updated in Catalina.

Craig Federighi confirmed that the four iOS apps for Mac released last year will get major updates based on the new technology in Project Catalyst. But he also revealed that the apps will get new designs to make them more Mac-like.
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“We’ve looked at the design and features of some of those apps and said we can make this a bit more of a Mac experience through changes that are independent of the use of Catalyst, but are just design team decisions,” Federighi said. “When I read some of the initial reviews of those apps, people were saying, ‘Obviously this technology is causing them to do things that don’t feel Mac-like.’ Honestly, 90% of those were just decisions that designers made … People took that as ‘this feels iOS-y’ and therefore they thought it was a technology thing. Actually, it was a designer preference. So part of the upgrade is we said we’ve got to co-evolve with our user base around the aesthetics of the Mac experience. And so we made some adjustments to the apps.”

It’s unclear how extensive changes will be, or if they will bring new functionality where it’s currently missing – such as the ability to open News articles in separate windows – but Federighi told CNET these upgraded Mojave apps will be available in the public beta of Catalina. If that means the first public beta, we should expect to see them next month.

WWDC this year clearly demonstrated that Apple listens to feedback from the broader community of users, so it makes sense that the company would give its Mojave apps a second pass. As long as they exist in their current form, they’ll be used as a punching bag to denigrate the merits of Catalyst. But if the updated apps truly do offer a better Mac experience, then combined with the new Podcasts app they’ll make a strong case for developers to get on board bringing their own iPad apps to the Mac.