Apple unveils the redesigned macOS Big Sur, bringing new features and a modern interface

David Matthews

Posts: 433   +88
Staff member
Something to look forward to: Apple has unveiled a redesigned macOS sporting a new design language, giving it design parity with the rest of Apple's software ecosystem, while trying to keep the spirit of the Mac. Other updates include a greater focus on privacy and (many) more features pulled from iOS.

The new upcoming version of macOS will be called "Big Sur" and comes with new features and an updated design language to match the aesthetic of iOS. MacOS Big Sur overhauls the design with sleeker icons and updated color palette. Apple has changed the design of the dock icons to stay consistent across the entire ecosystem. That said, Apple has ensured that the redesigned dock icons still retain their "Mac personality." Overall, the move seeks to reduce clutter and visual complexity and bring content to the forefront.

Continuing with the theme of consistency, Apple is also bringing new iOS 14 features to Big Sur. This includes Control Center and an updated Notification Center that adds the widget features from iOS 14.

Messages is also getting its own search function, the ability to create and edit Memoji, group messaging features, and pinned conversations. The Messages app is basically at feature parity to the iOS version now.

Maps has been updated with a new design in line with the overall simplicity of macOS. Users can now browse indoor maps and use Look Around to see a 360-degree view of the area. Those with electric cars or bikes can now set routes in Maps and then send it directly to the iPhone.

Like the iOS version, owners of electric vehicles will be able to plan routes with charging stations along the way to reduce range anxiety. Finally, you'll be able to see the progress of friends who share their ETA.

Safari isn't the market leader in the browser wars. Nonetheless, Apple has added more useful features to it that may make it more competitive and robust. Users can now customize the start page with a different background image. Safari can also natively translate websites from seven languages, something Chrome users have long since enjoyed.

Apple also claims that Safari is 50% faster than Chrome when loading pages.

Leaning into Apple's focus on privacy, Safari now features Privacy Report, which gives visibility into what data websites are tracking. There's also a built-in password monitor that alerts users if their password was compromised in a data breach. Along with enhanced tracking prevention, this is a worthy upgrade to privacy on Safari.

Catalyst, the program that enables developers to port iOS apps to macOS, is adding more APIs that allows apps to automatically inherit the design language of macOS. Even more importantly, macOS Big Sur lays the groundwork to transition Mac applications to work on Apple's A-series chips including the ability to support ARM and Intel chips using a single binary.

“macOS Big Sur is a major update that advances the legendary combination of the power of UNIX with the ease of use of the Mac, and delivers our biggest update to design in more than a decade,” said Apple SVP Craig Federighi, “With its modern and clean look, huge improvements to key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, and new privacy features, we think everyone is going to love the breakthrough experience that macOS Big Sur offers.”

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Posts: 525   +544
OK in all seriousness I thought oh gosh they'll finally get rid of horrendous Finder or make Photos really useful content manager (not just chaotic collections of collections). When you're not anchored solely to Apple you see things quite different than 100% Apple user.

Nope... just bling icons, transparency menus and Control center (which is the only improvement at first glance).

And claims about Safari speed are extremely exaggerated. I like it, but functionality is so broken that I hands down always pick Vivaldi over Safari unless it can do something better (mainly related to Apple integration features).

ARM-Macs, about time. Experiencing first hand what A-powered device can do, I can totally believe that FCP demo with multiple streams or Photoshop 5GB project running even better than x64.


Posts: 2,225   +2,686
Staff member
Big Sur? Sounds like a bouncer at a bar...
Apple certainly has odd choices for OS naming:

"Let's use a fierce powerful animal! How about a lion?"
"Aren't they really scary and dangerous? Don't they just sleep and do nothing for most of the day?"
"Pfff, lions are the king of the jungle. Shut up."

"Wait, lion's aren't native to the US. Not very patriotic!"
"Okay, let's go with mountain lion!"
"Yeah, cougars man!"
"Remind me why we employed you?"

"Wait, we're all woke now, and need to get down wit da kidz. Let's pick a surfing location - Mavericks!"
"Isn't that a country band?"

"What?! That's stupid! We're the biggest and bestest out there - gotta go with Yosemite"
"Yeah, that's cool - let's just stick with that"

"Isn't that a cartoon character? How about El Capitan? Super big and umm, steep...and scary....and dangerous. Yeah, just like all operating systems should be!"
"You're fired."

2016, 2017, 208
"No, no, no! Deserts are where it's at - let's start with Sierra"
"Umm, where? That's not very specific"
"Ooookkkay. New Sierra..."
"Fine. Mojave - everyone knows that place!"

"Everyone knows that Big Sur is just the bestest place out there."
Rest of the world: "Where?!"


Posts: 752   +571
If Windows 10 had looked that good very few of us would have complained about its aesthetics.

It looks like it was made for simpletons (probably is) that can not grasp anything slightly more complicated than an app drawer which is their whole iOS. ;)
So now it looks like iOS. That's not good design, that's lazy, minimalist rehash of the existing one from another device. I am amazed they kept the launch bar. Seems it would be complicated for Apple users. :D