Craig Federighi Talks macOS Big Sur Redesign, Siri, Default Apps and More in New Interview

Apple's software chief Craig Federighi often does a series of interviews following WWDC events, and 2020 has been no exception. Federighi was on the The Talk Show with Daring Fireball's John Gruber, and he also spoke with tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee.


In a video published today, Federighi and Brownlee discussed some of the new features in iOS 14 and answered questions from Apple fans.

On New iOS Features

  • Default apps - Apple is letting users set third-party mail and browser apps as the default in iOS 14, but this doesn't extend to Maps and other app categories. Federighi said that when Apple looked at the top things people wanted to configure, "those two rose to the top," so it's where Apple started.
  • Siri - Siri has a new compact UI that leaves the background of the iPhone's display visible, but it can't be interacted with. This is intentional, according to Federighi. "We tried it both ways internally. We had prototypes where you would scroll behind the Siri answers as you brought them up. Initially, we thought that was going to be really great so we implemented it that way, and then what we found was that for most of the interactions we were having with Siri, it then created this extra heaviness to it." Apple will listen to people during the beta period, and this could change.
  • macOS Big Sur 11.0 - macOS Big Sur is macOS 11, rather than macOS 10.16. Federighi said that between the new design and Apple Silicon, macOS Big Sur serves as a "real renewal of the platform" and Apple is excited to "mark it as the next chapter."
  • macOS Big Sur design - macOS Big Sur brings the first major redesign the Mac has seen in years. Federighi says that after you get used to the change, "it feels natural, fresh and yet clearly, distinctly Mac." Federighi says he looks forward to hearing feedback from people who have used it for a few weeks. The rounding "may seem arbitrary" but it's "extremely consistent" throughout the OS. Curves feel more natural and organic compared to straight edges that feel more manufactured.

Fan Questions

  • iPad Calculator and Weather - Federighi was asked why there's no Calculator app or Weather app on the iPad. "There are some things we have not done because to do it, we would want to do something really distinctly great in that space." Apple wants to wait to do it well, and hasn't "gotten around to doing it great." Federighi said the day "may come."
  • Apple Watch for iPad - On the topic of why the Apple Watch doesn't work with the iPad (thereby requiring an iPhone), Federighi said it's a "sensible point" that some people would want that feature, but it's not something Apple has pursued yet. "I wouldn't rule it out," he said.

While we covered the highlights of the interview in this article, the full video up above is worth watching, as is the complete one hour and 20 minute podcast that features even more discussion about WWDC.

Top Rated Comments

ghostface147 Avatar
25 months ago
It's a calculator. What needs to be distinctly different? Animations?
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
robjulo Avatar
25 months ago
It's a freaking calculator app......it doesn't have to be "great".....it just has to do math.....my god.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr. Dee Avatar
25 months ago
I hope John Gruber is watching so he can sharpen his interview skills next time.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
25 months ago
My main complaint so far is that the UI is a bit "bigger" for lack of a better term. Basically, it feels like you went into Display settings and set it to "scaled" one notch bigger on the "Larger Text" side. On my test 13" Macbook Pro, I set it one notch towards "More Space" and it feels normal again. I don't like this, though, because the scaled settings don't look quite as sharp and crisp as "Default" does.

I'm not sure why they felt the need to do this. It was fine before, and in my line of work you need all the screen real-estate you can get.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
25 months ago

Craig is not being honest here, but it’s hard to blame him as he represents Apple’s best interests.

The idea that the Calculator, Weather, and Watch apps are not ready for the iPad is ridiculous. The reason is the same as why there’s no Phone app either... the company needs to maintain an identity difference between the iPhone and iPad or people will simply buy an iPad and not both. That is the only thing stopping both products from simply being a screen size change from each other. So apps that are more mobile-centric (phone, camera, calculator, watch, weather) will remain linked to their mobile product... the iPhone... while the iPad gets trackpad support (and the phone never will).

As for Maps on iOS... they worked hard on the new version. They’re not ready to flip the switch letting you change it as the default. And yes, it is just a switch.
I‘m sorry but there is no one not buying an iPad because it doesn’t have a native calculator or weather app.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Professor Rucy Avatar
25 months ago
Will someone buy Craig a different colored shirt?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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