Apple releases macOS Big Sur. With visual overhaul, new safari features, transition to Apple silicon and more.

Today at WWDC Apple announced iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14. But the most exciting of all was the macOS Big Sur, yup that’s the new name.

Big Sur officially leaves behind macOS 10 and moves in as macOS 11.

masos 11 big sur

It’s been almost two decades since Apple first debuted the macOS X (macOS 10), after that initial release that they launched many iterative versions as 10.X, but now it’s finally moved to version 11.0.

So, here’s what’s new with the macOS 11:

  • Visual overhaul and addition of new elements.
  • Major Safari updates focusing on privacy, ease of use, and customization.
  • The transition from Intel to ARM-based custom Apple chips.

masos 11 big sur

Visual overhaul & addition of new elements:

With Big Sur, Apple pretty much revamped the entire look and feel of the OS. Big Sur brings a lot of design clues from iOS, like rounded corner everything, translucency, new icons and more, but the iOS influence doesn’t end there, because the new OS, brought a customizable Control Center, new notification center with the newly redesigned widgets and all the new iMessage features, that come with iOS 14.

masos 11 big sur notification shade

And remember those design clues I was talking about, that same design principle is reflected across the entire OS. The menu bar is more translucent, taller, more rounded, and the shading and font color of the elements is changed based on the background color of the desktop, which overall creates a nicer and cleaner look IMO. And apps like Mail, Photos, Notes, and iWork got that new design treatment.

masos 11 big sur design

The dock also got a visual change, making it more aligned with iOS and iPadOS. It’s more translucent and more rounded with new icons, that’ll feel familiar in a way because they’re borrowed from iOS. 

Messages got a bunch of new features across the board, in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS like a new search feature, inline replies, customizable icons, a @-sign mention for group chats, and more.

masos 11 big sur imessage

Maps also brought new features from iOS, like bicycle and EV directions, 360-degree location views, and more, but I still don’t get the point of including Maps on Macs, like who the heck is navigating across the streets with a Mac in their hand ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Major Safari updates focusing on privacy, ease of use, and customization:

Safari got some big changes with the new macOS. And according to Apple “Safari now loads popular websites 50 percent faster” and yeah it obviously goes easier on your battery and RAM compared to Chrome. And apart from performance, there are some new tab management features, like hovering over a tab now will now give you a preview of the content on the page, and when the top gets flooded with tabs now you can just right-clicking on the tab which’ll give an option to close all the tabs to its right. 

And for customization, you can now customize your Safari start page with an image of your choice, you can also add reading lists too. Safari now has a built-in automatic translation feature for web pages with support up to seven languages. So, it’s less of adding new features kinda thing and more of like catching up with Chrome. 

masos 11 big sur safari

Now speaking of Chrome, Safari is also getting extension support for extensions made for other browsers, and a dedicated extension store section within the App Store. And unlike Chrome, Safari will now let you choose which sites the extensions run on, and when they run. 

Safari added new privacy features, with a built-in privacy report thing that’ll report all cross-site trackers the browser has blocked over the course of 30 days. Safari now has a password-monitoring tool that will alert you if it detects that any of your saved passwords have been compromised in any data breach.

And all the privacy goodness doesn’t end there, the new app store will now show the type of data an app might collect, also whether that data is shared with third parties for tracking or not. 

The transition from Intel to ARM-based custom Apple chips.

The biggest shift for Apple since the shift from PowerPC days.

Apple expects highly improved performance across the board from the CPU,  GPU, and storage with improved efficiency and power consumption. This way they’re planning to have common architecture across all the product lineups giving them more control over pretty much everything.

And the macOS 11 is specifically designed to take the most advantage from the new series of the Apple chips, also according to Apple, developers will be able to get their applications up and running on Apple Silicon in a matter of days. And Apple is also working on helping more developers like Microsoft & Adobe on tuning their apps to the new chips.  

masos 11 big sur apple arm chip

For emulating old Intel apps to the new chips, Apple is using Rosetta 2 to port the apps to work on the Apple Silicon, while ensuring maximum performance.

Apple also said that iPhone & iPad apps will now natively run on the new macOS, alongside all the traditional mac apps, as they share the common chip architecture. They demoed some apps like Monument Valley 2, Calm, and the Fender Play on the new macOS.

You can directly download all the apps from the Mac App Store, & then they should technically work as usual. Now that depends on whether the developer decides to bring their apps to the Mac in the first place. 

According to Apple the entire transition from Intel to ARM-based custom Apple silicon will take around 2 years, with the first ARM-based consumer laptops scheduled to launch at the end of this year. And for developers, Apple is initiating a  QuickStart program that’ll provide them the necessary documentation and sample code to help ease the transition from Intel to ARM. They’ll also release a Developer Transition Kit hardware package that comprises a Mac mini powered by the Apple A12Z processor with 16 GB RAM and 512GB SSD, for $500 via Apple’s Developer website starting today, and it’ll start shipping starting later this week.

masos 11 big sur develper kit

Images: Apple

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