macOS Big Sur

Apple releases macOS Big Sur

Update brings a fresh, new design, enhancements to Safari, Messages, Maps, and privacy, and is engineered for Apple’s M1 chip

Apple today released macOS Big Sur, bringing a fresh, new design, enhancements to Safari, Messages, Maps, and privacy, and is engineered for Apple’s powerful M1 chip.

Big Sur has been engineered, down to its core, to take full advantage of all the power of the M1 chip to make the macOS experience even better for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini

macOS Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users’ fingertips. Everything from the curvature of window corners to the palette of colours and materials has been refined, and new features provide even more information and power.

Icons in the Dock have been thoughtfully designed to be more consistent with icons across the Apple ecosystem while retaining their Mac personality. Buttons and controls appear when needed, and recede when they’re not. The entire experience feels more focused, fresh, and familiar, reducing visual complexity and bringing users’ content front and centre.

The customisable menu bar features an all-new Control Centre, delivering quick access to controls from the desktop. An updated Notification Centre includes more interactive notifications and redesigned widgets that come in different sizes, providing users with more relevant information at a glance. And a new design for core apps brings more organisation to multiple open windows and makes interacting with apps even easier.

Safari

In the biggest update to Safari since its original launch in 2003, Safari’s fast JavaScript engine helps it outperform other browsers on Mac and PC, and Safari loads frequently visited sites an average of 50 percent faster than Chrome. 

And on new Macs with M1, Safari is now up to 1.5x speedier at running JavaScript and nearly 2x more responsive.  Streaming on popular platforms is more vivid and clear with the addition of both YouTube and Netflix in 4K HDR.

Tabs have been entirely redesigned to make navigating with Safari faster and more powerful by showing more tabs onscreen, displaying favicons by default to easily identify open tabs, and giving users a quick preview of a page by simply hovering over the tab.

Safari brings new features for greater personalisation while browsing the web. Users can customize the new start page with a background image and sections like their Reading List and iCloud Tabs. With built-in translation, Safari can detect and translate entire webpages from seven languages with just a click.

Users can further personalise their experience with improved support for extensions, and the Mac App Store makes it easy to discover and download great Safari extensions with a new category that includes editorial spotlights and top charts. 

Privacy has always been built into Safari, and a new Privacy Report delivers added visibility into how Safari protects browsing activity across the web. Users can choose when and which websites a Safari extension can work with, and tools like data breach password monitoring never reveal your password information — not even to Apple.

Messages

Messages on the Mac includes new tools to better manage important conversations and share expressive messages. Users can now pin their favourite conversations to the top of their messages list for fast access, and search has been entirely redesigned — organising results into links, photos, and matching terms — to help users quickly find what they are looking for. 

Message effects let users add personality to their messages with balloons, confetti, and more. Users can now create and customise their Memoji on the Mac, and express themselves with Memoji stickers to match their mood and personality. And with a new photo picker and #images, it’s easy to quickly share images, GIFs, and videos. 

New group messaging features streamline interactions with family, friends, and colleagues. Inline replies enable users to respond directly to a message, and now they can direct a message to an individual in a group conversation by simply typing their name. And users can now set a photo or an emoji for their group conversation that’s shared with all members of the group.

Maps

Completely redesigned for macOS Big Sur, Maps brings new features for exploring the world. Discover places to visit and things to do with Guides from trusted resources, or create custom guides of favourite restaurants, parks, and vacation spots that can be shared with friends and family.

Get a 360-degree view of a destination with Look Around, and browse detailed indoor maps of major airports and shopping centres. Cycling and electric vehicle trips can now be routed on a Mac, and sent directly to iPhone to have when on the go.

Privacy

Privacy is at the core of the Mac experience, and macOS Big Sur offers users even more transparency and control over their data. Inspired by the convenience and readability of food nutrition labels, new privacy information detailed in the Mac App Store will help users understand the privacy practices of apps before downloading them, including the types of data the apps might collect — such as usage, contact information, or location — and whether that data is shared with third parties for tracking.

Developer Tools

Apple’s developer community of more than 20 million use the Mac to create amazing experiences for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Xcode 12 makes developing great apps for macOS easier than ever.

Developing apps is now even easier, as macOS provides a range of incredible technologies to simplify the transition to Apple silicon. Xcode 12 makes it easy for developers to update their existing Mac apps to Universal 2 application binaries, adding native support for both M1- and Intel-based Macs within a single app.

Universal apps are quite simply the fastest, most powerful Mac apps available, with access to the full power of the M1 chip. And with the Neural Engine now coming to the Mac, developers have new opportunities for amazing machine learning apps.

Rosetta 2 is the new technology in Big Sur that enables existing Intel apps not yet upgraded to Universal to run seamlessly on Macs with Apple silicon. With the power of Metal and M1, developers will see some of their most graphically demanding apps perform even better under Rosetta 2 than they did running natively on previous Macs with integrated graphics.

Developers can also choose to make their iPhone and iPad apps available to Mac users without doing any extra work, so users get access to a greater range of apps than ever before. And the foundations of Big Sur are optimized to unlock the power of M1, including developer technologies from Metal for graphics to Core ML for machine learning.

Mac Catalyst apps automatically inherit the new design of Big Sur, and developers get access to powerful new APIs for greater control over the look and behaviour of their apps. SwiftUI also gets a major upgrade, enabling developers to write entire apps and widgets with shared code across all Apple platforms and easily add custom Mac features.

macOS Big Sur is available today as a free software update.

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