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macOS Big Sur: new features, availability, compatibility

by David
macOS Big Sur: new features, availability, compatibility

At its annual global developer conference on Monday, Apple presented its latest version of macOS: Big Sur. This latest version includes major updates to the Safari web browser, updated Maps and Messages apps, and more. Read on to learn all about Big Sur and when it should be published.

UI and Control Center

macOS hasn’t had a major interface change in a long time, and it’s good to see a refreshing new look with Big Sur. The top menu bar is now translucent and customizable. It also added more rounded and refined corners throughout the operating system, redesigned icons and full-height translucent sidebars for applications. All Apple icons are now square with rounded corners (similar to iOS), which gives the Dock a different look.

Macos Big Sur Control Center

Another feature is the addition of Control Center to macOS. This puts the most used settings and controls at your fingertips. The Control Center provides access to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Do not disturb, display brightness, volume level, etc., and you can customize it to your liking.

Notifications and widgets

Apple has also upgraded the notification center in macOS Big Sur with new widgets. The widgets are similar to those introduced in iOS 14: available in several sizes and grouped by application, which makes incoming notifications much neater and easier to navigate.

Big Sur Macos WidgetsBig Sur Macos Widgets

Safari – What’s new

The biggest upgrade to macOS Big Sur comes from its Safari web browser. The revamped browser will load your frequently visited websites much faster and have better tab management. Likewise, privacy has been improved in the browser with a new privacy report button that shows you how a specific website tracks your data. It also monitors whether one of your passwords has been compromised on a website in a security breach.

Macos Big Sur SafariMacos Big Sur Safari

Apple has also improved the management of extensions in Safari by introducing a new App Store category to allow you to customize the sites / time you want to activate an extension instead of all the time.

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Messages – What’s new

The Messages app on Big Sur now has ways to pin conversations to the top of the app for much faster access (similar to iOS 14). Group messages now have more functionality, including direct messaging from one person in a group and threaded messages within a group as well. Likewise, you can tag an individual in a group conversation (similar to WhatsApp), and you can choose to be notified only when your name is mentioned. Apple has also included message effects such as balloons and confetti and the ability to create and personalize your Memoji on the Mac.

Big Sur Macos MessagesBig Sur Macos Messages

Cards – What’s new

The new Maps app lets you explore new places and share what you find with new options for doing so. From the office, you can view shared ETAs so you know when your friends and family will arrive at a location. You can also see detailed interior maps of major airports / shopping centers using “Look Around” and see a 360 degree view of a destination.

Big Sur Macos CardsBig Sur Macos Cards

IPhone and iPad applications

If you decide to buy one of the next Apple Macs powered by the company’s new Apple silicon chips, your computer will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps natively. Likewise, if you’ve already purchased an app on iOS, you won’t need to redeem it for macOS – you can download it directly from the Mac App Store.

Compatibility

If you plan to install the beta version of macOS Big Sur and wait for its release, make sure your Mac is compatible with the operating system. According to Apple, all Mac models can run macOS Big Sur:

  • 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
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Availability

macOS Big Sur is currently available in beta for developers (for Apple developers to test their software). It will be available in public beta in July. Based on previous versions, the final version will be released as a free software update for all users in the fall. Until then, make sure your Mac is compatible and ready for the enhanced operating system.

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