It’s been a big day for Apple so far, with the announcements of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14. But for MacBook users, the exciting part of the day is just beginning. Apple has unveiled the next version of macOS: Big Sur.
The biggest change is the new look. Big Sur brings the biggest redesign since the introduction of macOS 10, according to Apple. The new operating system borrows a number of elements from Apple’s iOS, including a customizable Control Center, where you can change brightness and toggle Do Not Disturb, and a new notification center, which groups related notifications together. Both interfaces are translucent, like their iOS counterparts.
A number of apps have received streamlined new designs, including Mail, Photos, Notes, and iWork. Apple has introduced a new search feature to Messages (which organizes results into links, photos, and matching terms), as well as inline replies for group chats, a new photo-selection interface, and Memoji stickers. There’s a new version of Maps for Mac that borrows features from the iOS app, including custom Guides, 360-degree location views, cycling and electric vehicle directions (which you can send directly to an iPhone), and indoor maps. Apple introduced a number of new Catalyst apps as well, which will also receive the new look.
Dock buttons have also been redesigned to look more similar to their iOS counterparts, in an effort to “be more consistent with icons across Apple’s ecosystem while retaining their Mac personality,” according to the company.
“The entire experience feels more focused, fresh, and familiar, reducing visual complexity and bringing users’ content front and center,” Apple says.
The new macOS also introduces the biggest update to Safari since the browser was first introduced. The company claims its browser is 50 percent faster than Chrome and can show more tabs on-screen. Hovering over a tab now gives users a preview of its page, and right-clicking on the tab will give you the option to close all the tabs to its right. The new Safari also has a customizable start page and a built-in automatic translation feature that can interpret entire webpages in seven languages, Apple says.
Safari is also getting support for extensions made for other browsers, and a dedicated extension store. (Unlike many other browsers, Safari will allow you to customize which sites your extensions run on). And there are new privacy features, including a Privacy Report that details actions the browser has taken to prevent tracking on the websites you visit.
Speaking of privacy, apps in Big Sur’s app store will now include the types of data those apps might collect, and whether those data are shared with third parties for tracking. Apple likened the practice to food nutrition labels.
On the developer side, Apple has upgraded SwiftUI to make it easier to create apps that are versatile throughout its ecosystem, and to add custom Mac features.
The update comes just over a year after Apple announced macOS Catalina, which brought iPad app support, the Sidecar feature that allows you to use your iPad as an extended Mac display, and a number of redesigned apps including Apple Music, Podcasts, Apple TV, and Find My (which combined Find My Friends and Find My iPhone). The 10.16 update continues to bring the macOS experience closer to that of iPhones and iPads, and to refine the app experience.
Developing… we’re adding more to this post, but you can follow along with our WWDC 2020 live blog to get the news even faster.