Apple has just released macOS Big Sur as a free update, marking the biggest redesign for macOS in years. The core system of every Mac computer is now equal parts traditional desktop computer and features many will be used to seeing from the iPad and iPhone.
Big Sur marks the end of an era for the Mac’s software in more ways than one. For years Apple has been slowly blending the design and operation of its desktop and mobile software, bringing features from the iPhone or iPad to the Mac and vice versa. With Big Sur comes a significant step toward the goal of merging the two.
It will be the first macOS to straddle the traditional Intel Macs that have been in use since 2004 and the brand new Apple Silicon Macs – launched this week – which run on the firm’s own ARM-based M1 processors similar to the A14 chip used in iPhones and iPads.
Update brings a fresh, new design, enhancements to Safari, Messages, Maps, and privacy, and is engineered for Apple’s powerful M1 chip
macOS Big Sur, the latest version of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, is now available to Mac users as a free software update. Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign and is packed with new enhancements for key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, as well as new privacy features. And Big Sur has been engineered, down to its core, to take full advantage of all the power of the M1 chip to make the macOS experience even better for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. The combination of Big Sur and M1 truly takes the Mac to a whole new level with incredible capabilities, efficiency, and more apps than ever before, while maintaining everything users love about macOS.
Refreshed Design: Focused and Familiar
Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users’ fingertips. From the curvature of window corners to the palette of colors and materials, the thoughtful design will benefit everyone from first-time Mac owners to the most demanding pros. Dock icons retain their Mac personality while also appearing more consistent across the Apple ecosystem for a more cohesive look and feel. And a new design for apps makes it easier for users to stay focused on their content and interact with apps. Buttons and controls appear when needed and recede when they are not — reducing visual complexity and bringing the most relevant content to the forefront.The all-new Control Center gives users quick access to controls for Do Not Disturb, displays, keyboard brightness, and more, right from the menu bar. Users can see more relevant information at a glance in the updated Notification Center, including interactive notifications and redesigned widgets.
Building on the browser’s pioneering user privacy features, Safari comes with an innovative new Privacy Report that gives users an instant snapshot of trackers Safari prevents from profiling them on the web. New tools like data breach password monitoring keep an eye out for saved passwords that may have been compromised — all without revealing a user’s account information, not even to Apple. And to prevent extensions from having access to the websites users visit, the tabs they have open, and, in some cases, even what they type, Safari prompts users to choose when and which websites can work with a Safari extension.With an incredible boost in performance, amazing efficiency, new customization options, and enhanced privacy features, Safari delivers the best browsing experience on the Mac.
Messages: An Even More Engaging, Expressive Experience
Messages on the Mac offers new tools to help users manage their favorite group conversations and fun, engaging ways to express themselves. Users can pin conversations to the top of their Messages list for fast access, and search has been completely redesigned to help users quickly find links, photos, and matching terms. Messages for Mac also works seamlessly across iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, so conversations stay in sync.Fun effects enable Mac users to add personality to their messages with balloons, confetti, and more. Users can even create and customize Memoji right on the Mac, and express themselves with automatically generated Memoji stickers that match their mood and personality. And with a new photo picker and #images, users can easily share images, GIFs, and videos.New group messaging features streamline interactions with family, friends, and colleagues. Inline replies give users the ability to respond directly to a message in a thread. Users can also send a message to an individual in a group conversation by simply typing their name, and choose to receive notifications only when their name is mentioned. And users can assign a photo or emoji to a conversation to further personalize their group messages.
Maps has been entirely redesigned and brings exciting new features for exploring the world on the Mac. Users can discover places to visit and things to do with Guides from brands they trust, as well as create custom guides of favorite restaurants, parks, and vacation ideas to share with friends and family. Look Around provides an immersive 360-degree view of a destination, and new detailed indoor maps help with navigating major airports and shopping centers. And for the first time, cycling and electric vehicle trips can be routed on a Mac and sent directly to iPhone to have when on the go.
Privacy is at the core of the Mac experience, and Big Sur expands on its industry-leading privacy to bring new levels of transparency and give users more control over their data. Coming later this year, the Mac App Store will include a new section on each product page showing a developer-reported summary of the privacy practices of an app. Inspired by the convenience and readability of food nutrition labels, the information offered includes the types of data the apps might collect — such as contact information, or location — and whether they are shared with third parties for tracking.
Developers: Bringing More Apps Than Ever to the Mac
With Big Sur, Apple’s community of more than 28 million developers have access to the tools they need to create amazing experiences for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Developing apps is now even easier, as macOS provides a range of incredible technologies to simplify the transition to Apple silicon. Xcode 12 makes it easy for developers to update their existing Mac apps to Universal 2 application binaries, adding native support for both M1- and Intel-based Macs within a single app. Universal apps are quite simply the fastest, most powerful Mac apps available, with access to the full power of the M1 chip. And with the Neural Engine now coming to the Mac, developers have new opportunities for amazing machine learning apps.Rosetta 2 is the new technology in Big Sur that enables existing Intel apps not yet upgraded to Universal to run seamlessly on Macs with Apple silicon. With the power of Metal and M1, developers will see some of their most graphically demanding apps perform even better under Rosetta 2 than they did running natively on previous Macs with integrated graphics. Developers can also choose to make their iPhone and iPad apps available to Mac users without doing any extra work, so users get access to a greater range of apps than ever before. And the foundations of Big Sur are optimized to unlock the power of M1, including developer technologies from Metal for graphics to Core ML for machine learning.
When Mac Catalyst debuted with macOS Catalina last year, developers were able to easily bring their iPad apps to the Mac. Now, Mac Catalyst apps automatically inherit the new design of Big Sur, and developers get access to powerful new APIs for greater control over the look and behavior of their apps. SwiftUI also gets a major upgrade, enabling developers to write entire apps and widgets with shared code across all Apple platforms and easily add custom Mac features.AvailabilitymacOS Big Sur is available today as a free software update. For more information, including compatible Mac models, visit apple.com/macos/big-sur.
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