For some time now, macOS has been an also-ran, as Apple has shifted a majority of its focus to its mobile operating systems. Last year’s move to Catalina brought some key changes to the mix, including Sidecar, but many recent updates have centered around making the operating system more iOS-like. The next version of the operating system maintains the recent trend of borrowing its name from some of California’s most beautiful spots. This time it’s the central coast’s Big Sur. And if you care about version numbers, Big Sur is macOS 11.0 according to the “About this Mac” menu that we saw in a live demo.
The company is doing some refining of all sorts of aesthetics here, including newly designed icons and sounds along with much-improved animations. All of the app’s corners have been rounded and the tool bar has been improved. There are more colors throughout, to distinguish each of the company’s proprietary offerings through new key colors. All of the company’s first-party apps are getting a redesign, as is the menu bar, which features a more iOS-like translucent design.
Speaking of iOS, Control Center is the latest mobile element borrowed from the mobile version, including the ability to adjust brightness and enter Night Mode in a single spot. Honestly, like many of the recent macOS redesigns, Big Sur borrows A LOT of elements from iOS. That includes widgets and Notification Center. Messages gets a big face lift here, as well — a nice update, given that it’s been a bit lifeless on the desktop. Updates include Memoji editing and pinned messages — an upgrade announced for iOS earlier today.
Catalyst — Apple’s push the bring iOS apps over to the desktop — gets some new developer updates. In fact, it was used to bring over the latest version of Messages and Maps that are being rolled out with Big Sur.
Safari gets a big update this time out, too, including some significant speed improvements. Apple says the browser can open frequently visited pages up to 50% faster than Chrome. The browser gets some key security updates, including monitoring unwanted app tracking. It will also monitor passwords, to cross-check them with data breeches. Like iOS, the browser is also getting a built-in translation feature, to help keep it inline with Google’s offering.