Hello Big Sur: What the new macOS is all about

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Apple continued to amaze us this week by announcing its very own PC processing unit called M1. All of the new Mac hardware will use the new silicon chips, and with that in mind, it’s developed its upcoming macOS, named Big Sur. Because… mountains, amiright?

Although Apple previewed the upcoming software update at its developer conference earlier this year, one thing was missing: the M1 chip. That means Apple had to wait for the official M1 announcement to really explore the features of macOS Big Sur — which is why this was the first proper look at features in detail. 

First add: M1-based hardware

Thing is, even though Big Sur will play well with all Mac hardware, it’s specifically designed to integrate with Apple’s new SoC. According to the company, the updated software was developed to boost performance on its new line of devices. 

Big SurOne of the most interesting features is that it will allow iOS and iPadOS apps to run seamlessly on any M1-based Mac. This won’t be true for all mobile apps, however, as developers of the apps will have the ability to opt-out of the Big Sur cross-capability if they choose. 

Users will see a more ‘iOS’-like experience on their desktops, including a notification panel sitting on the desktop. Same goes for icon and notification block design formats. On that point, let’s dig into some of the visual changes coming with Big Sur.

Sprinkle in some: Apple

Knowing Apple, design changes are subtle enough that you just barely notice it, but still significant. It’ll still look very much Apple, especially if you’re used to the mobile platforms. 

Apparently, this is the biggest software design change Apple’s implemented since the introduction of OS X in 2001. Thing is, they really aren’t’ that big. Most of the updates are purely visual, with no massive integral changes to how it operates. 

In terms of actual changes, you’ll get a new version of Messages that’ll add a number of features from iOS 14. This includes things like pinned conversations, inline replies, ‘@’ mentions and some others. You can even expect to make the world’s favourite animated avatars in the form of Memoji using a Mac.

Now blend with: Dope features

Okay, this is why we’re all here. Moreso than anything, Big Sur brings with it a bunch of cool features, Most of these features look and feel a lot like Apple’s mobile software has in the past. Especially iOS 14. 

Now, you’ll have access to a far more iPadOS-esque Control Center with a customisable menu bar. The Notification Center now looks far more interactive with some redesigned widgets that you can resize and place all over. It’s very mobile. But that’s clearly what Apple’s going for with Mac this time around. 

Then there are some changes coming to the Apple garden’s favourite holiday — the Safari. According to Apple, it’ll be significantly faster than before. Obviously, the company likes making blanket statements like “it’s xxx much faster than Chrome”. Well, what about Safari or Edge? No one knows quite yet. Safari will also receive increased security and privacy features. 

Then there are Tabs: They’ve been entirely redesigned and are now identifiable by favicon in the tab (like, how are we only getting here now?). Now Safari finally looks and handles a bit more like a conventional browser. 

Ready to take the leap? Well, macOS Big Sur won’t be available until 12 November. So you’ll have to wait a few days. Also, make sure to check the system requirements before updating to the next best OS.

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Digital Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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