At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple introduced its latest version of macOS: Big Sur. This latest release includes major updates to the Safari web browser, refreshed Maps and Messages apps, and more. Read on to find out all about Big Sur and when it is expected to be released.
UI and Control Centre
macOS hasn’t had a major interface change for a long time now, and it’s good to see a new refreshing look with Big Sur. The top menu bar is now translucent and customizable. It also added more round and refined corners throughout the operating system, redesigned icons and full-height translucent sidebars for apps. All Apple icons are now square-shaped with rounded corners (similar to iOS), which gives a different look to the Dock.
Another feature is the addition of Control Centre to macOS. This puts the most-used settings and controls just a click away. The Control Centre provides access to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Do Not Disturb, display brightness, volume level, and more, and you can customize it to your liking.
Notifications and Widgets
Apple has also upgraded the Notification Centre in macOS Big Sur with new widgets. The widgets are similar to the ones introduced in iOS 14: available in multiple sizes and grouped by app, making incoming notifications much more neater and easier to go through.
Safari – What’s New
The biggest upgrade in macOS Big Sur notably comes in its Safari web browser. The revamped browser will load your frequently-visited websites much faster and will have better tab management. Similarly, privacy has been improved in the browser with a new privacy report button that shows you how a specific website tracks your data. It also monitors if any of your passwords were compromised on any website in a security breach.
Apple has also improved extension management in Safari by introducing a new App Store category to allow you to customize which sites / which time you’d like to activate an extension instead of all the time.
Messages – What’s New
The Messages app on Big Sur now has ways to pin conversations to the top of the app for much faster access (similar to iOS 14). Group messages now have more functionality including direct-messaging one person in a group and threaded messages within a group as well. Similarly, you can tag an individual person in a group chat (similar to WhatsApp), and you can choose to be notified only when your name is mentioned. Apple has also included message effects like balloons and confetti and the ability to create and customize your Memoji on the Mac.
Maps – What’s New
The new Maps app lets you explore new places and share what you find with new options to do so. Right from the desktop, you can view shared ETAs so you can keep track of when friends and family will arrive at a location. You can also see detailed indoor maps of major airports / shopping centres using “Look Around” and see a 360-degree view of a destination.
iPhone and iPad Apps
If you decide to purchase one of Apple’s upcoming Macs powered by the company’s new Apple silicon chips, your computer will be able to natively run iPhone and iPad apps. Similarly, if you’ve already bought an app on iOS, you won’t need to buy it again for macOS — you can download it directly from the Mac App Store.
If you’re planning to install the macOS Big Sur beta and are waiting for it to be released, make sure your Mac is compatible with OS. According to Apple, these are all the models of Macs that can run macOS Big Sur:
- MacBook, 2015 and later
- MacBook Air, 2013 and later
- MacBook Pro, late 2013 and later
- Mac Mini, 2014 and later
- iMac, 2014 and later
- iMac Pro (all models), 2017 and later
- Mac Pro, 2013 and later
macOS Big Sur is currently available as a developer beta (for Apple developers to test their software). It will be available as a public beta in July. Based on past releases, the final version will be released as a free software update for all users in the fall. Until then, make sure your Mac is compatible and ready for the improved OS.