Apple’s macOS Big Sur features biggest design upgrade since Mac OS X

Apple today previewed macOS Big Sur, the latest version of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. macOS Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign that is entirely new yet instantly familiar. Safari is packed with new features, including a customizable start page, elegantly designed and more powerful tabs, quick and easy translation, and a new Privacy Report. The updated Messages app lets Mac users send and receive more personal and expressive messages, and easily keep track of and interact within group messages. Maps also offers an all-new experience with immersive features for exploring and navigating the world.

macOS Big Sur, unveiled at WWDC20, introduces a beautiful redesign and new features in Safari, Messages, and Maps.
macOS Big Sur, unveiled at WWDC20, introduces a beautiful redesign and new features in Safari, Messages, and Maps.

“macOS Big Sur is a major update that advances the legendary combination of the power of UNIX with the ease of use of the Mac, and delivers our biggest update to design in more than a decade,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “With its modern and clean look, huge improvements to key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, and new privacy features, we think everyone is going to love the breakthrough experience that macOS Big Sur offers.”

macOS Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users’ fingertips.
macOS Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users’ fingertips.

Biggest Design Upgrade Since the Introduction of Mac OS X

macOS Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users’ fingertips. Everything from the curvature of window corners to the palette of colors and materials has been refined, and new features provide even more information and power. Icons in the Dock have been thoughtfully designed to be more consistent with icons across the Apple ecosystem while retaining their Mac personality. Buttons and controls appear when needed, and recede when they’re not. The entire experience feels more focused, fresh, and familiar, reducing visual complexity and bringing users’ content front and center.

The customizable menu bar features an all-new Control Center, delivering quick access to controls from the desktop. An updated Notification Center includes more interactive notifications and redesigned widgets that come in different sizes, providing users with more relevant information at a glance. And a new design for core apps brings more organization to multiple open windows and makes interacting with apps even easier.

The new Dock in macOS Big Sur features icons thoughtfully designed to be more consistent with icons across the Apple ecosystem.
The new Dock in macOS Big Sur features icons thoughtfully designed to be more consistent with icons across the Apple ecosystem.
The all-new Control Center in macOS Big Sur delivers quick access to controls right from the desktop.
The all-new Control Center in macOS Big Sur delivers quick access to controls right from the desktop.
An updated Notification Center in macOS Big Sur includes more interactive notifications and redesigned widgets, providing users with more relevant information at a glance.
An updated Notification Center in macOS Big Sur includes more interactive notifications and redesigned widgets, providing users with more relevant information at a glance.

A Faster, More Personal, Privacy-First Safari Experience

In the biggest update to Safari since its original launch in 2003, the world’s fastest browser is even faster, providing industry-leading speed1 and battery life. Safari’s fast JavaScript engine helps it outperform other browsers on Mac and PC, and Safari loads frequently visited sites an average of 50 percent faster than Chrome. Tabs have been entirely redesigned to make navigating with Safari faster and more powerful by showing more tabs onscreen, displaying favicons by default to easily identify open tabs, and giving users a quick preview of a page by simply hovering over the tab.

New features in Safari let users customize their experience with background images and content sections on the home page.
New features in Safari let users customize their experience with background images and content sections on the home page.
Tabs in Safari have been redesigned to display more tabs onscreen, show favicons by default, and provide a preview of a webpage by hovering over the tab.
Tabs in Safari have been redesigned to display more tabs onscreen, show favicons by default, and provide a preview of a webpage by hovering over the tab.

Safari brings new features for greater personalization while browsing the web. Users can customize the new start page with a background image and sections like their Reading List and iCloud Tabs. With built-in translation, Safari can detect and translate entire webpages from seven languages with just a click.3 Users can further personalize their experience with improved support for extensions, and the Mac App Store makes it easy to discover and download great Safari extensions with a new category that includes editorial spotlights and top charts.

Privacy has always been built into Safari, and a new Privacy Report delivers added visibility into how Safari protects browsing activity across the web. Users can choose when and which websites a Safari extension can work with, and tools like data breach password monitoring never reveal your password information — not even to Apple.

A new Privacy Report in Safari delivers added visibility into how Safari protects browsing activity across the web.
A new Privacy Report in Safari delivers added visibility into how Safari protects browsing activity across the web.

Powerful and Expressive Messages

Messages on the Mac includes new tools to better manage important conversations and share expressive messages. Users can now pin their favorite conversations to the top of their messages list for fast access, and search has been entirely redesigned — organizing results into links, photos, and matching terms — to help users quickly find what they are looking for.

Message effects let users add personality to their messages with balloons, confetti, and more. Users can now create and customize their Memoji on the Mac, and express themselves with Memoji stickers to match their mood and personality. And with a new photo picker and #images, it’s easy to quickly share images, GIFs, and videos.

New group messaging features streamline interactions with family, friends, and colleagues. Inline replies enable users to respond directly to a message, and now they can direct a message to an individual in a group conversation by simply typing their name. And users can now set a photo or an emoji for their group conversation that’s shared with all members of the group.

With macOS Big Sur, users can now create and customize their Memoji on the Mac, and express themselves with Memoji stickers to match their mood and personality.
With macOS Big Sur, users can now create and customize their Memoji on the Mac, and express themselves with Memoji stickers to match their mood and personality.
macOS Big Sur brings a new photo picker and #images to Messages, making it easy to quickly share images, GIFs, and videos.
macOS Big Sur brings a new photo picker and #images to Messages, making it easy to quickly share images, GIFs, and videos.
Users can now pin their favorite conversations in Messages at the top of the list for fast access.
Users can now pin their favorite conversations in Messages at the top of the list for fast access.

All-New Planning Tools with Maps

Completely redesigned for macOS Big Sur, Maps brings new features for exploring the world. Discover places to visit and things to do with Guides from trusted resources, or create custom guides of favorite restaurants, parks, and vacation spots that can be shared with friends and family. Get a 360-degree view of a destination with Look Around, and browse detailed indoor maps of major airports and shopping centers. Cycling and electric vehicle trips can now be routed on a Mac, and sent directly to iPhone to have when on the go.

Maps gets completely redesigned in macOS Big Sur, bringing new features like Guides from trusted resources to help users discover new places and things to do.
Maps gets completely redesigned in macOS Big Sur, bringing new features like Guides from trusted resources to help users discover new places and things to do.

Industry-Leading Privacy

Privacy is at the core of the Mac experience, and macOS Big Sur offers users even more transparency and control over their data. Inspired by the convenience and readability of food nutrition labels, new privacy information detailed in the Mac App Store will help users understand the privacy practices of apps before downloading them, including the types of data the apps might collect — such as usage, contact information, or location — and whether that data is shared with third parties for tracking.

World-Class Developer Tools

Apple’s developer community of more than 20 million use the Mac to create amazing experiences for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Xcode 12 makes developing great apps for macOS easier than ever. SwiftUI gets a major upgrade so that developers can write entire apps with shared code across all Apple platforms, while easily adding custom Mac features like Preferences windows. And SwiftUI is used in even more places, powering the new widgets for Mac, iPhone, and iPad using shared Swift code.

Mac Catalyst, which debuted with macOS Catalina last year, has made it easy for developers to bring their iPad apps to the Mac. And in macOS Big Sur, Mac Catalyst apps automatically inherit the new look, while giving developers powerful new APIs and total control over the look and behavior of their apps.
Developers can now also offer Family Sharing for their in-app purchases and subscriptions, and with support for the WebExtensions API, developers can easily bring extensions built for other browsers over to Safari.

Availability

The developer beta of macOS Big Sur is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta will be available to Mac users next month at beta.apple.com. macOS Big Sur will be available this fall as a free software update. For more information, including compatible Mac models, visit apple.com/macos/big-sur-preview. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or languages.

MacDailyNews Take: The redesign really does seem new, yet instantly familiar. We look forward to beta testing the crap out of this thing! And, from the “Told Ya So” file:

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

32 Comments

  1. It’s fittingly appropriate that the developer “quick start” preview machine for Apple Silicon Mac looks like a Mac mini, given the power AND efficiency theme of this transition. The equivalent early developer preview Mac for the Intel transition were housed in huge Power Mac box. The production Apple Silicon Mac mini will probably become size of current Apple TV. In fact, maybe the next Apple TV and Mac mini will be the SAME product.

    1. “In fact, maybe the next Apple TV and Mac mini will be the SAME product.”

      I too am worried about how fast those A chips can really be, but this detail wouldn’t be so bad. It is pretty common for developer boxes to be slower then a product that ships months later.

      1. That’s why Tim Cook said transition (for hardware) would take at least 2 years, and MacOS would support Intel Macs for many more years to come. It’ll start with Macs for “casual“ users and the pros will keep using Intel Mac. Intel Macs will be replaced when the “Apple silicon” equivalent can surpass for that Mac model’s purpose in lineup. For consumer-level Macs (where efficiency is key), that point has probably been reached already even with current A12X. For use in Macs, there will likely be a variant optimized for use in Macs, not just the “X” type used in iPad.

          1. Maybe up through MacBook Pro and iMac (before 2 years)… But I think high-end Mac Pro and iMac Pro (using Xeon) will be around as the last Intel Macs beyond 2-3 years. The PPC-to-Intel transition was really fast because PPC was already dragging behind by the time the transition started, especially with G4 Macs.

    2. Hilarious typo… “You’re invited to test MacOS Bug Sur” 😆 Or maybe it’s intentional joke, LOL. Sure hope BUG Sur doesn’t become the nickname for this release 🐜

  2. So they made the finder pretty. FIX IT!. It is a slow clumsy waste of space and the find command buries properly spelled results under hundreds of irrelevant “context” hits.

    Did they fix Disk spin-up bug? My whole computer locks up for 15 seconds while a hard drive spins up for no apparent reason. Concentration and work is disrupted. This happens to me every few minutes

    Mac compatibility. Stop breaking our software. The people at Blender sound like they are ready to give up on the Mac, as open source seems impossible on the Apple store.

    Bring back Quicktime. I recently spent 2 hours stuck trying to figure out how to convert a Garageband song to MP3 because Garageband didn’t support any formats that were standard on Windows. One of the best things about the Mac USED TO BE that every program could input from and output to Quicktime, thus making a huge list of formats available.

    1. QuickTime Player is still there. I use it often to convert video to an audio-only format. And GarageBand (if your audio is already in the app) CAN export to various audio formats. Menu bar -> Share -> Export Song to Disk, then pick format (AAC, MP3, AIFF, or WAVE) and quality. You can export entire project, or just a selected portion.

  3. Biggest downer: The complexity of interoperability among devices.
    Biggest uppers: The Finder is now colorized which is a kick in Ive’s puckered a$$, custom silicon, and Safari tabs.

    The weird, canned, non-live keynote, so heavily edited, had not mastered the quality of its audio which was inconsistent from one speaker to the next. Bring back live keynotes.

    1. There were about 1000 diversity boxes to check first before audio mastering: every speaker appropriately diverse, a “person of color” in practically every photo, memoji, and video and appropriate groveling to the latest evil lie of the day. If an alien watched the keynote today they’d think it was a United Colors of Benetton ad marketing technology to black people.

      1. Here’s a shocker for you: they let women and people of color control their own money now. Sometimes they use it to buy stuff from Apple and the bank lets the company deposit their checks just like white men’s money.

          1. Nick missed the point it is a money making opportunity for all party, color, sex, or religion DO NOT MATTER…..and if you don’t get it you missed it too.

        1. Time and time again ignore the underlying facts because you can’t dispute them and quickly move to deflection another liberal preaching civil rights. Your MO…

          1. Another Trumpista preaching against civil rights. Your MO is to behave as if the laws guaranteeing equality before the law and in public accommodations without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin are an anti-American plot. Apple sells computers to women and minorities and they hire women and minorities. So they market to the public as a whole, including women and minorities. I’m sorry that you can’t accept the reality that non-Hispanic white straight non-immigrant men are a shrinking minority of American citizens. Get over it.

            1. “Another Trumpista preaching against civil rights.”

              Another Bidenista preaching against white civil rights and celebrating their demise.

              As to your quote above — you LIE ALL THE TIME. 🤥 You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to turning your liberal dogma extrapolation into my reality, and grow up and NEVER SPEAK for me! 😡💪🏻👊🏻

              Bottom Lines:

              1-QUOTE me where I said I am against civil rights.

              2-QUOTE me where I said can’t accept the reality that non-Hispanic white straight non-immigrant men are a shrinking minority of American citizens.

              Whenever you are ready…

      2. Sarcasm aside, you make a superlative point about the change in direction of diversity under SJW Cook.

        Steve was great including everyone making all races feel comfortable. Under Cook, the white males seem to be disappearing and ones portrayed look like they slept in their clothes, did not wash or comb their hair and portrayed as young doofus modern hippies without a job in the advertising I have seen lately.

        Sad, thanks to Cook…

  4. Does the new Finder remember my windows when I close and open them again? Like it used to back in the day. It’s such a pain to have to arrange the columns EVERY TIME I open a Finder window.

  5. I just want the Music app to work again. It worked so much better during the last iteration of iTunes. The Music App that replaced is still terrible over a year (or more?) later.

    1. I’m still waiting for Apple Music to even faintly resemble the far superior Beats Music which it replaced 5 years ago. I’d be glad to have a personal music library app totally disconnected from Apple’s services, makes me want to go back to my beloved iPod Nano.

  6. Certainly there are tons of features to like about the new MacOS. The overwhelming majority are vast improvements and two BIG thumbs up.👍🏻👍🏻

    On the flip side of that coin the app grid look is disappointing as the task bar looks like the Mac version of the iPhone. The icons copied from the iPhone are so not Mac-like and as I have written before, some are just plain awful looking. The stupidest and non-representative icon design is the photos icon. How in the liberal design world does rainbow colored petals of a flower represent photos? Answer: Fails miserably. There are several others, but in my view photos is the most egregious abstract and makes no sense. Two BIG thumbs down to visual icons…👎🏻👎🏻

  7. Apple is tightening their grip on users, I bet ya the new OS has more intertwined ways of watching you and restricting what you do. along with the new hardware also doing the same thing. if a Emulator/VM is coming It’s better to transition to a Vm of the OS and Windows instead of going in direct. it’s a way of always Having a local back up without reinstalling

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