Let’s take a look at Apple’s next operating system for the Mac.
macOS Big Sur launches today, and with it brings a radical new change to the operating system running on Mac desktops and laptops. First off is the version – macOS Big Sur is officially version 11, which is the first time in almost 20 years that the version is advancing from version 10.
Big Sur is also the first macOS version to support Apple’s M1 chip, which also allows apps made for the iPhone and iPad to run natively on M1-powered Macs. It’s a big step in integrating macOS and iOS/iPadOS, which we see happening eventually in the next few years.
It’s available now, but just in case you’re not sure if Big Sur is supported on your Mac you can check this compatibility list:
- 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
Probably one of the biggest changes in Big Sur is the design. Everything from the menus, toolbars, and the overall interface has been overhauled. But these changes are subtle, and each of them has been redesigned in a way that still keeps the familiar interface intact. Drop-down menus are now more spacious, and font spaces are larger that overall opens up windows when looking at it, different from the usual cramped UI of previous macOS versions.
Most of the UI is now transparent, though I’m not personally a big fan of it but I can see others enjoying the new transparency. Thankfully in my case though, there’s an option to turn it off. Icons have also been redesigned, and from the flat-looking icons in the past macOS versions, you now have square-shaped icons that bring back the design of the earlier days of iOS. While I prefer flat icons, there’s still something to like about these new icons.
Big Sur also gains its own Control Center, like the one on iOS and iPadOS. It houses the basic functions and connectivity switches that are now easier to manage and more in line with how the Control Centre on iOS works. The same goes for the Notification Center, which also resembles its iOS counterpart.
A new Battery menu has been added in Big Sur that gives you an overview of how your battery health is. If you have one of the new Macs, you can also see an Optimized Charging feature that limits the charge level on your Mac to make it last longer.
All these changes may seem a lot, but upon using them since the beta it retains my natural workflow when I use macOS and doesn’t make it confusing.
The default macOS browser also gets a plethora of new features. Safari is faster without impacting battery life, and now includes privacy trackers that let you if someone is snooping on you. A favorite of ours is a tool that lets you know if your passwords have been breached. Safari also gains a new customizable start page where you can choose your own frequently visited sites and even a background image.
Messages and Maps
While it’s great that you can sync messages on the Mac, so you continue conversations from your iPhone, previous versions were pretty much barebones. Thankfully on Big Sur, all the recent features that came on iOS 14 are also present, including pinning favorite conversations along with assigning photos for groups and even sending Memojis. Even those cool effects that were only viewable on your iPhone can now be viewed on Messages.
Maps also gain iOS 14 features that include route planning that you can preview on your Mac and then navigate on your iPhone. Most of the added features are region-specific, but as you may know, turn-by-turn navigation is now supported in the UAE so hopefully, the rest of the features also make their way here.
Security and Privacy
Apple really cares about privacy, and Big Sur ups the ante by introducing a new section on each app page that gives you details on various privacy practices that the app has so you have an idea of what information it is accessing before you download it.
The Final Verdict
macOS Big Sur marks a big shift in the design and function of the Mac operating system while keeping things familiar. Even with the changes in design, privacy is still the key focus here which should keep most users happy. It’s a big update, and these new features we’ve covered only scratch the surface.
Performance is also decent, and I was surprised that macOS Big Sur runs perfectly on older Macs – which makes me excited about how well it can utilize Apple’s new M1 chip that’s powering the new Macs.
Big Sur brings big changes to the Mac and so far, I’m impressed. If this is a peek at how the future of macOS will be, then consider me hyped.
macOS Big Sur is now available as a free download on the Mac App Store.
+ More iOS-like Control Center
+ Improved security and privacy features
+ Messages finally gets a design overhaul
We Didn’t Like:
– New icons might not be liked by everyone
Final Rating: 4.5/5