macOS Big Sur Features: Everything New in Today's Release
Apple is set to release macOS Big Sur in a few hours based on past macOS release timelines, and it's a major update with a whole slew of new features. Ahead of the launch, we've highlighted the biggest changes so you can get a quick overview of what to expect when downloading it later today.
macOS Big Sur brings a significant redesign to the Mac operating system, debuting the first design refinements that we've seen to macOS in years. It overhauls the entire look of the software, from the curvature of window corners to the dock icons to the iconic system sounds. Everything in the update feels fresh but familiar, with Apple aiming for a lighter and more modern appearance.
Control Center and Notification Center
A new Control Center that mirrors the Control Center on iOS puts key system controls right at your fingertips, and there's a revamped Notification Center.
The Notification Center features iOS-style widgets that are available in multiple sizes, along with interactive notifications that are grouped up by app to make it easier to see all of your incoming notifications at a glance.
Safari is faster and more battery efficient, and Apple has added a new start page that can be customized with wallpapers and various sections such as Reading List and iCloud Tabs for a Safari that's more tailored to your individual usage needs.
Tabs have been redesigned with a new preview option so you can see what you've got open at a glance, and there's a new built-in translation feature for automatic language translation. Chrome and Firefox extensions can be ported to Safari for the first time, and there's an option to choose which sites an extension can access for improved privacy.
YouTube now supports 4K video playback through Safari, and Apple added a new Privacy Report feature to let users know which trackers Safari is blocking when visiting websites. Mac users may already be familiar with these features as they were introduced in the Safari 14 update provided to macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users.
Messages is more similar to the Messages app on iOS with support for pinned conversations, mentions, inline replies, and Memoji creation, and the built-in search feature has been overhauled to make it a lot easier to find links, photos, and conversations within the app.
Overhauled Maps App
The Maps app for macOS has been redesigned with support for Look Around, indoor maps, and guides, which are lists of notable attractions and restaurants created by trusted sources, plus Maps can be used to generate directions for cycling routes and electric vehicle trips that can be sent to iPhone. Shared ETA updates are also now viewable on the Mac.
Photos includes a better Retouch tool, the Apple Music For You section has been replaced with a Listen Now section, HomeKit Secure Video cameras support Face Recognition and Activity zones, and Siri can answer a wider range of questions than before.
There's a new Battery section in System Preferences for keeping an eye on battery, and the macOS App Store in the future will help users better understand privacy practices with clear info on the information that an app collects. After installing macOS Big Sur, future macOS updates will begin in the background and then finish much more quickly, which will make it easier to keep your Mac up to date.
There are tons of other new features that are coming in macOS Big Sur, so make sure to check out our macOS Big Sur roundup for a more complete list of everything that's new.