This year’s WWDC was one of the best in over a decade. Apple showed off a ton of major new software updates including iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7. But the Cupertino company also devoted a significant portion of the keynote to the next version of macOS, named Big Sur.
Announcing the new macOS, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said: “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. 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.”
Of course, Big Sur is also being built with the new ARM-based Macs in mind, too. Here are the major new features you can expect when macOS Big Sur becomes available this fall:
macOS Big Sur: New Design
The biggest change to macOS Big Sur is that it’s getting a revamped user interface. The changes are almost too numerous to mention, but we’ll give it a go. There’s an updated, more translucent menu bar, new iOS-inspired icons for apps, a floating dock for those app icons to sit in, and translucent window designs all around.
macOS Big Sur also gets Notification Center improvements including a redesigned look, grouped notifications, customizable widgets, and interactive notifications.
macOS Big Sur: Control Center For The Mac
Big Sur is also bringing the Control Center to the Mac. iPhone users will be familiar with Control Center: it’s the interface you swipe down to access from the top of an iPhone’s screen. In it you find controls for everything from Wi-Fi to screen mirror.
Big Sur brings those similar controls to the Mac thanks to its new Control Center. With it you’ll be able to access settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AirDrop without needing to open up System Preferences.
macOS Big Sur: Safari To The Max
macOS Big Sur’s browser, Safari, is also getting a MAJOR update. It starts with a completely redesigned start page that allows you to set custom wallpapers and access Favorites, Siri Suggestions, Reading List, iCloud Tabs, and a new Privacy Report.
Safari’s tab navigation is also getting better. Now when you hover the mouse over a tab, you’ll see a thumbnail of the tab’s webpage pop up. Safari is also gaining a ton of new privacy enhancements, including the ability to quickly see what trackers a website is using to stalk you around the web. And maybe coolest of all, Safari will now offer automatic language translation, so you can read web pages written in other languages.
macOS Big Sur: Revamped Messages App
Messages is also getting a HUGE revamp in Big Sur. It’s gaining many of the features iOS users have enjoyed for years-including getting all-new ones coming with iOS 14. Among the best are the ability to pin chats to the top of the app, mentions and inline replies, message effects, and a Memoji editor.
macOS Big Sur: All-New Maps App
And this list wouldn’t be complete without talking about the new Maps app in Big Sur. Maps on macOS has long felt like an afterthought, but with Big Sur, it gets the love it deserves. Now Maps will have feature parity with the iOS version of the app. It’s packed with features including Look Around, cycling routes, indoor maps, guides, and even electric vehicle routing. Without a doubt, this is the Maps app Mac users have been waiting for.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.