During this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote, Apple pulled out all the stops when it comes to macOS Big Sur. In what's being called the "biggest design upgrade since the introduction of Mac OS X," Big Sur is packed full of amazing new and updated features.
I've narrowed the list to seven of the most anticipated new features in the macOS 11.0 update that's arrive to the public this fall.
Just take a look!
No one outside of Apple expected a significant design change in macOS Big Sur. Now that it's here, however, it makes so much sense.
No doubt inspired by iOS/iPadOS, macOS Big Sur offers an updated menu bar, new icons for apps, lighter window appearances, and much more. You'll also find resigned sheets in apps, new and updated sounds, full-height sidebars, and new symbols.
With less than two hours of macOS Big Sur under my belt, I'm already in love with the design change. It feels lighter than previous versions of macOS and so much fresher. Best of all, because it looks and feels so much like iOS, there's no significant learning curve.
If one of my co-workers had told me 24 hours ago that Mac Safari would be one of my favorite macOS Big Sur features, I would have laughed through the Zoom screen. And yet, it's true. The native web browser has needed a facelift for years, and luckily the long delay has been worth it.
The most prominent new feature in Safari is one happening behind the scenes, improved power efficiency and performance. Apple promises that one both points, Safari now bests Chrome and Firefox. While I haven't had enough time with macOS Big Sur to test these promises, I hope to do so soon.
Safari also includes a customizable start page that inevitably will make it quicker to access your most relevant content. A home page played an essential role in earlier web browsers, and I'm glad to see Apple's trying to bring the concept back to the forefront.
Finally, be sure to check out the new privacy features in Safari in macOS Big Sur. These include built-in Intelligent Tracking Prevention to identify and prevent trackers from following you online, plus a privacy report for each website you visit. There's also the new password monitoring feature that automatically alerts you whenever there's a breach on a website you frequent, then providing steps to change your password for the site. All these tools are intended to secure your surfing experience better, and I can't wait to see how each of these develops during the beta process.
Previous versions of macOS have often hidden critical controls in System Preferences making it challenging to find them. With macOS Big Sur, many of these controls are now just one click away on the menu bar. The new Control Center provides easy access to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sound, AirDrop, display brightness, and other settings.
It will be interesting to see how Control Center advances during the macOS Big Sur beta process. Most likely, the design will be further tweaked in the coming weeks before the public release of macOS Big Sur this fall.
After Safari, Messages is the native app most changed in macOS Big Sur. In a nutshell, it now looks nearly identical to the Messages app in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 and includes similar features.
Pined conversations, better search, group photos (with Memoji!), and trending images, are just a few of the new features. You'll read a lot about Messages in macOS Big Sur at iMore the coming months.
Getting Serious about App Security
By design, apps can grab personal data, such as location, contact information, and more. In macOS Big Sur, Apple's making it easier for you to understand how developers use that information and whether it's shared with third parties.
Like a food label, the new privacy information comes directly from developers and shows up next to every app on the Mac App Store. This self-reporting could prove problematic in some cases. Nonetheless, it's a step in the right direction.
Listening Now on Music
The Music app on macOS Big Sur features a new Listening Now tab that's designed to enhance discovery. From here, you'll find your favorite music and artists, and your signature Apple Music mixes. A built-in algorithm learns what you love and provides new suggestions. Listening Now is also found on the Music app in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.
Better Notification Center
The updated Notification Center brings interactive alerts and more customization to the useful tool. Meanwhile, you can now choose the size of your widgets for added flexibility.
When can I download the next official version of macOS?
The developer beta of macOS Big Sur is available now to Apple Developer Program members, and a public beta will be available to Mac users in July. macOS Big Sur will be available this fall as a free software update.
What say you?
Which macOS Big Sur features are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.
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