At its recent online WWDC developers conference, tech giant Apple unveiled its plans for all its products this year. It announced software updates for its phone, tablet and smartwatch products, which you can read about here.
Apple also announced that it will be updating the software for its MacBook product. The new macOS 11 will be called the Big Sur. The tech giant also announced that it would be transitioning to putting ARM-based silicon chips in its future MacBooks.
Apple’s name for its next Mac operating system, the Big Sur is gotten from a mountainous region In California, USA. Most people were expecting the macOS 10.16, but after nearly 20 years, Apple has decided to transition from the macOS 10 (aka the macOS X) to the macOS 11.
MacOS 11 (Big Sur) Release Date
- The developer beta of Apple’s new software is available right now
- The public beta version will arrive this month, July 2020
- The final version of the Big Sur will be available in the fall of 2020
The macOS 11 developer beta version was announced on 22 June and was made available that same day. The public version of the software is slated to arrive this month. The iOS 14 public beta is out already so the expected date for the macOS 11 beta will be around 22 July.
Apple never gave a specific date for the macOS Big Sur to launch, other than it would arrive in the fall of this year. Following its previous release history, it is expected that the release will be around 25 September. Although, it could very well be pushed to October like it was in 2019.
Apple has previously released its new macOS on the following dates;
- Catalina – 7 October 2019
- Mojave – 24 September 2018
- High Sierra – 25 September 2017
- Sierra – 20 September 2016
- El Capitan – 30 September 2015
- Yosemite – 16 October 16 2014
- Mavericks – 22 October 2013
MacOS 11 (Big Sur) Compatibility
These are the following MacBooks that will be able to run the Big Sur
- MacBook models ranging from early 2015 or later
- MacBook Air models ranging from 2013 or later
- MacBook Pro models ranging from 2013 or later
- Mac mini models ranging from 2014 or later
- iMac models ranging from 2014 or later
- iMac Pro (all models)
- Mac Pro models ranging from 2013 or later
There is a drop in the number of models supported as the macOS Catalina from 2019 supported models from 2012 also.
What Will Be New in the macOS 11 Big Sur
Apple considers the Big Sur a big update that it has moved from the macOS 10 to the macOS 11. However, this does not imply that it is a whole new operating system. The icons and apps are given a major redesign, but the changes are more dramatic when you look behind the scenes.
This version of macOS will be the very first that will be able to run on the Apple silicon ARM processors. Because of this, developers who are testing the new update can actually get a special Mac mini that uses the A12Z chip.
Design and Interface Changes
All eyes will be turned to this part of the update because Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design head left the company back in November 2019 to start up his own design agency (Of which Apple is a client). The design changes effected according to Apple is, “The biggest design upgrade since the introduction of the macOS X”.
Apple says that the new design elements will be more similar to the iOS software. In the WWDC conference, Apple showed off its new design of the icons representing the apps, stipulating that they have been redesigned to be more harmonious with the icons seen on its other products while retaining their “Mac personality”.
The new design aims at making navigation easier and brings many of the controls seen in the iOS and the iPadOS. Other changes include a new control centre, changes to the notifications centre, and changes for app interfaces.
While there are changes to the icons on the dock of the macOS, the changes go on to include changes in the apps themselves. Full-height sidebars and changes to the app’s toolbar, which Apple believes will give them a cleaner look, have been added.
In the dock, Apple adds a uniform shape for the app icons and makes them more consistent with their counterparts in the iOS and iPadOS software.
Control Centre for the Mac
One of the most desired changes for the macOS would have to be the control centre. The control centre makes it very simple to control iPhones and iPads. Putting the same functionality into the MacBooks will be a welcome new feature.
The control centre will be fully customizable. It will be resident in the menu bar. It will give users quick access to popular controls such as playing music, Wifi settings, Bluetooth settings, controlling Dark mode and so much more.
Notification Centre for the Mac
The notification centre for the Mac is also getting some needed attention. It will be able to contain more interactive notifications and many redesigned widgets. Notifications and widgets will be able to be seen together.
Notifications will also be grouped by apps and many of them will be made interactive. This will enable a user to play a podcast episode directly from the notification itself.
For the widgets, users will be given the option of three different sizes, in order to pick anyone which suits their tastes.
New and Updated Apps in the macOS 11 Big Sur
Keeping with its usual practice, Apple is taking its operating system upgrade as an avenue to update some of its apps. In recent years, Apple has moved apps from the iPad over to the Mac using a set of frameworks (Catalyst) that makes transitioning very easy.
In its 2019 update Catalina, TV, Music, and Podcasts apps were moved. In this year’s update The Big Sur, Safari, Maps, and Messages apps will be receiving the same treatment.
Apple gives its internet browsing app a major redesign. Apple also stated that the Safari app will be getting its biggest update since the app was launched back in 2003.
This update, Apple claims will make Safari faster than it ever was. The tech giant claims that its internet browser loads sites that are frequently visited almost 50 percent faster than its counterpart, Chrome.
One of the biggest design changes coming to Safari is the ability to customize its start page. Users will be able to choose a background image and add sections like Siri suggestions, Favourites, and iCloud tabs so they can be easily accessible.
The tabs of the internet browser are also being redesigned. More tabs will be able to be seen by the user and they would display favicons by default. To make it easier to identify each open tab, users will be able to see a quick preview of the page by hovering over it.
Pinned tabs will also get their own bar and this should make the new design more space-efficient. Also, a built-in translate option is included to enable users to translate any web page.
Extensions will be getting their own section on the Mac App Store and users will be able to select when and which these extensions will be able to work with.
There will also be a privacy report for every page visited and a new data breach password monitoring feature. This will help in protecting its users.
Messages, while being one of the apps imported into the Mac in this latest update, gets the full iOS and iPadOS features that you can read about here. A summary is listed below;
- Ability to pin messages
- Ability to create group images
- Inline replies and mentions
- New memoji designs
A lot more features will be coming to Messages including features like being able to add confetti and balloons to text.
Apple’s Maps app should look more like its iOS counterparts once it gets imported into the Mac. It will come with features like a 360° view of a destination with Look Around. It will also come along with the new iOS features.
There will also be guides (from trusted sources and ones made by users) to help people going to new destinations. Apple says that anyone will be able to create guides of vacation spots, restaurants, and parks that can be shared.
Users will also be able to look at detailed indoor maps of several major airports and shopping centers.
Security and Privacy Features
There will be more security and privacy features added asides the ones added in the Safari app. Users will be able to see if an app collects contact information, usage data, location data, and whether it shares these with third parties. This will help its users understand the privacy practices of any app they wish to download.
The silicon valley company says it was inspired by food nutrition labels to create a new method of indicating the information that is required by Mac App Store apps.
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