Sidecar is the closest we’ll get to a touchscreen Mac, and it’s good enough [Opinion]

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Ableton on Mac and iPad.
Ableton on Mac and iPad.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

We will never see a touchscreen Mac. Apple has made this clear over and over. Whenever one of its executives is asked about a touchscreen Mac in an interview, the answer is always the same: macOS is for trackpads, and iPadOS for is for touch. Combining them would compromise both.

I agree. While I do catch myself tapping the Mac’s screen from time to time, there’s no way I’d want the Mac redesigned for touch. For one thing, you’d lose all the accuracy of the mouse, because clicking targets would have to be big enough for your fingers. But it doesn’t matter, because Apple has already made a touch option for the Mac. It’s Sidecar, and it’s amazing.

How to arrange your iPad’s window in Catalina’s Sidecar

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Yes, that's Logic Pro X 'running' on an iPad.
Yes, that's Logic Pro X "running" on an iPad in Sidecar.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Sidecar, which lets you use an iPad as an external display for your Mac, is an unexpectedly amazing new feature in macOS Catalina. You just move any window to the iPad, and there it is. You can either mouse over to that window with the Mac, just like using any other external display, or you can pick up an Apple Pencil, and use it in the Mac app, directly from the iPad’s screen. And, like any regular external display, you can choose where the iPad’s screen exists.

Today we’re going to see how to move the iPad’s screen from left to right in the Sidecar setup.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is amazing, but it’s still a Mac [Review]

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MacBook Pro review
The MacBook Pro, on the very edge of a table.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

There’s a great Steve Jobs story that somehow seems relevant in a 2019 MacBook Pro review. You probably know it, but I’ll tell it anyway. After the iPad launch, Jobs supposedly walked into a meeting with the Mac team, carrying an iPad. He woke up the iPad, which happened instantaneously. Then he woke up a Mac, which took a while to come out of sleep. Then he asked something like, “Why doesn’t this do that?”

Today, he might take the iPad Pro, and the brand new top-of-the-line MacBook Pro, start them both editing a few images, and wait for the fans to spin up on the Mac. While it cranks up to leaf-blower levels, he’d point at the silent iPad, and make some scathing quip.

The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is an incredible computer that’s let down by the red-hot Intel chips inside. Apple’s cool, fast, super-powerful A-series ARM chips can’t come to the Mac soon enough. Using this Intel machine after using an ARM-powered iPad for several years, the Mac feels like there’s something wrong with it. And yet, barely 24 hours into owning one, I absolutely love it.

macOS Catalina is out with new apps, Apple Arcade, Sidecar and more

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macOS Catalina is here. But proceed from Mojave with caution.
macOS Catalina is here. But proceed from Mojave with caution.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s big update for Macs, macOS Catalina, is finally out today bringing with it a host of new features, apps, privacy improvements, and much more.

Developers just received the gold master version of macOS Catalina last week, but today’s launch was a bit of a surprise. Anyone that has a compatible Mac can grab the new update from the Mac App Store for free.

How to prepare your Mac for macOS Catalina public beta

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Catalina looks pretty good, but should you install the public beta already?
macOS Catalina is coming soon.
Photo: Apple

The macOS Catalina public beta is here, so if you’re feeling brave, you can go ahead and install it on your Mac. But should you bother? Is early access to Project Catalyst apps, Voice Control, the Photos app redesign, Sidecar and Screen Time worth the risks?

Probably not. Or not yet, at least. But if you want to go ahead and install macOS Catalina on your Mac, here are a few tips and warnings.

Luna Display not giving up in the face of Apple’s Sidecar

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Luna Display easily converts an iPad into a second screen for your MacBook Pro.
Luna Display promises to be better than Apple Sidecar at making an iPad into a Mac’s external display
Photo: Astro HQ

macOS Catalina enables an iPad to function as a second screen for a Mac, but one of the companies that already offers a solution for this job isn’t throwing in the towel. The founders of Astro HQ promise that their Luna Display and Astropad will offer a superior experience to Apple’s Sidecar, especially for creative professionals.

There’s also a new version of their software out today that offers better image quality on a connected iPad.

Only a small number of Macs will support Sidecar in macOS Catalina

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Luna Display easily converts an iPad into a second screen for your MacBook Pro.
Third-party solutions are far from dead.
Photo: Astro HQ

Not many Apple computers will be left out in the cold when its big macOS Catalina upgrade rolls out this fall. But even if your Mac is compatible, it might not be able to take advantage of every feature.

Sidecar, which lets you use an iPad as a second screen, will only support a limited number of machines. If your Mac is getting a little long in the tooth, you’re probably going to be out of luck.

iPad is a whole new beast after leaving iPhone behind

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Ipados
The iPad is now almost as capable as the Mac. Almost.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

At first look, iPadOS — Apple’s new operating system designed specifically for the iPad — doesn’t seem to have added so much. If you discount the iOS 13 features that the iPad shares with the iPhone, the iPadOS extras look rather pedestrian. But these small changes show a big change of direction for the iPad. Apple is turning it into a new kind of mobile computer, instead of a big iPhone.

Imagine that you saw somebody roll a rock a few feet away from another rock. Maybe it crests a small bump in the grass. But then, when you take a step away, you see that the rock is now perched on the edge of a canyon. To mix metaphors, iPadOS is like Wile E. Coyote floating over the big drop. Only the drop goes up instead of down, or something.