Technology Update: Mac Access to SYNC Downloads

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, October 17, 2019


In recent weeks, we have been hearing increased concerns from SYNC fans about how recent changes in technology may affect your previously downloaded SYNC audiobooks, and/or affect future access to our annual summer program. To address your concerns, we bring you this update which contains information pulled from a variety of relevant sources.

Issues at the root of concerns related to continued access to SYNC audiobooks are related to Apple’s recent release of macOS Catalina (10.15.X) for Mac computers.

The first concern pertains to the continued availability of iTunes on Mac computers. With the update to Catalina, iTunes will be completely removed. Users who choose to perform the update will not be able to use iTunes to import or access audiobook files on the updated Mac. If you do not want iTunes to be removed from your Mac computer, you may consider not updating your computer to macOS Catalina (10.15.X). This change only impacts Mac computers. If you have a Windows computer, you can still use iTunes to manage your audiobooks. We offer some tips for coping with the update to macOS Catalina (10.15.X) as it relates to audiobook management further in this post.

With the release of Catalina, Apple also made an underlying software change that requires all software apps to be 64-bit. Software apps that were built as 32-bit applications are no longer be supported in Caatalina. Many software developers have been impacted by this change in app requirements. This leads to the second concern expressed by our SYNC community: How is the OverDrive app impacted by this new requirement, and will it affect your previous downloads of SYNC titles and your access to forthcoming seasonal offerings of free SYNC?

The OverDrive app is available for Android, Chromebooks, iOS, Fire tablets, and Windows, and macOS. OverDrive has not announced any plans to stop supporting the OverDrive app on these platforms. However, the OverDrive app for Mac is 32-bit, and is therefore only available for macOS on 10.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.14 (Mojave); That means that macOS 10.15 (Catalina) is not supported. Users who perform the update to Catalina will therefore not be able to use the OverDrive app to download new or manage previously downloaded SYNC titles. We are working toward a plan with OverDrive that could allow an alternative to the old OverDrive app as the access point to new SYNC titles.

For SYNC titles you have previously downloaded to your computer, you can access the MP3 files by navigating to the download folder for the OverDrive app through Finder on Mac or Windows Explorer on Windows. These MP3 files can be played using any audio player that supports MP3 audio.

In summary, if you elect to update your Mac to Catalina, the impact to the SYNC audiobooks you already have downloaded is as follows:

    • iTunes will no longer be available and cannot be used to manage your audiobooks in the manner it did before you updated to Catalina.
    • The OverDrive app will no longer be available and cannot be used to download new SYNC audiobooks or manage previously downloaded SYNC audiobooks.
    • Previously downloaded SYNC titles will still remain on your computer as the original MP3 files and can be navigated to through use of the Finder app in Catalina.

More about what will happen to your iTunes library (that is, any audiobooks you already have downloaded and stored on a Mac regardless of their source) is addressed here. Keep in mind that these are still the early days of the public release of Catalina, and we expect additional guidance will be published that may align more closely with whatever level of technical expertise you might have. Currently available advice is conflicting, and includes:

    • Your iTunes library will roll into the Music app in Catalina, which is where you will be able to find previously downloaded audiobooks.
    • Move the audiobooks files you have in iTunes to a folder outside of iTunes before updating to Catalina.
    • Download your audiobook files to an external drive before updating to Catalina.

We do not have any interest in campaigning one way or another and suggest you seek Mac advisory support on these issues.

The new SYNC season starts more than six months from now, and we expect refinements of technology on all fronts. For now, please note that you should not lose access to any previously downloaded SYNC audiobooks files if you investigate your Mac options and take precautionary measures before updating to macOS 10.15 (Catalina).

Please be assured that we continue to work to make your access to SYNC audiobooks as seamless as can be. And we are already  building a great shelf of audiobooks for you in 2020!

Thanks to OverDrive staff with guidance in technical details here related to app development and Catalina requirements.

Category : Literacy

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