Exercise Caution with macOS Catalina

The Key Message Below Is:

Look Very Carefully Before You Leap!

Upgrading to macOS Catalina will be more fraught with peril than most macOS upgrades - and in particular with respect to hardware like calibrators, printers and scanners.

Around October 2019, Apple will release version 16 of what was once called OSX, and is now known as macOS.

After several years of neglect, this seems like an effort from Apple to play catch up and re-focus on the Mac as opposed to all those shiny toys Apple now make their real money from.  This is exciting as it may finally bring some real solid advancements to the Mac which has been largely stagnant as a platform for years now.  SwiftUI should allow for an exciting new wave of applications with substantially improved interfaces.  And who can't be happy about the death of iTunes, which must surely be the worst software ever written?

However - in their usual progressive style -  Apple have decided to end support for all 32 bit apps. 

This will mean a great deal of software will not work with Catalina without an update being made available.  And as when Apple dropped Rosetta support (Lion and above), this will likely result in a lot of old software being made end-of-line - and probably older hardware too.  Software must often be quite substantially redeveloped just to work on 64 bit systems, and so often the manufacturers use this as an excuse to draw a line under older, no longer profitable products and systems.

What Won't Work? Assume Everything!

The most obvious will be any hardware that needs a driver.  So this puts at risk all older calibrators, printers, scanners etc.  Indeed, even current models should be checked (once Catalina has launched) - to make sure they support Catalina if you're thinking of buying anything new once that time comes.

You may well simply find that there is no upgrade path for your existing/legacy equipment.  Sometimes there may be workaround (e.g. DisplayCAL is legendary for supporting older calibrators on newer hardware)...but you may well find you are out of luck.  This is classic in the Apple world - there are literally thousands of legacy Macs out there still running older versions (like 10.6, and some of them even System 9!) - used purely as dumb boxes to run older hardware.   There may also be more complex solutions possible via virtual machines and the like, but often there is no other option than using an old Mac.

(Fair to say the Windows world is vastly better/more stable in this regard - most Windows systems will still happily use device drivers going way back to Windows 95!).

The Key Message Is Look Very Carefully Before You Leap!

Do your research - make sure to check all your hardware by visiting the manufacturer web pages and see what they offer for Catalina _before you upgrade_.

What WILL Work? Assume Nothing!

Before Catalina actually comes out, and the various manufacturers start reporting compatibility, it's probably safest to assume ALL hardware and a fair bit of software won't work. 

Significant apps, like Adobe apps and Capture One - will almost certainly be made compatible and announced before the general release of Catalina.  And we know for sure right now that BenQ, Eizo etc. are working on updates - but the timing of these updates will also depend on the calibrator makers releasing driver updates for their particular devices..and history has show this can sometimes happen only after the full general release.

We'll be updating this article with a listing, below, of confirmed compatible systems as we receive reports from the manufacturers, so check back here regularly.

Catalina Compatibility Information from Brands

Overall the manufacturers seem better prepared than with other previous big updates.  Looks like Apple has done a good job warning the manufacturers.

Here's what we know:

X-Rite (i1) - Some X-Rite software 'should be compatible  - this means, in theory, most current X-Rite products like the i1Display Pro and i1Studio should be ok.  History shows X-Rite use moments like this to drop support for older hardware, though.

Datacolor (Spyder) - Updates are planned but not yet released.  They too tend to drop older hardware at these times.

Eizo Colour Accurate Monitors - Evaluations are planned but not happening yet - that said, ColorNavigator 7 is pretty new and is likely to be 64 bit friendly, so we'd expect this sooner rather than later.  But older models that are not CN7 compatible will probably not be updated.

BenQ Colour Accurate Monitors - updates are planned but not yet available.

Epson Printers/Scanners - no confirmed info or releases yet.

Canon - 'working on updates' but no confirmed info or releases yet.

If you have any confirmed information, or (even better) actual testing experience with any of the products we sell & support, please let us know.