Apple Releases macOS Big Sur

Posted on November 12, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Mac and macOS with 27 Comments

Arriving a few months later than originally expected, the latest version of macOS is finally available with a fresh new look and feel.

“Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign and is packed with new enhancements for key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, as well as new privacy features,” the Apple announcement notes. “And Big Sur has been engineered … 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. The combination of Big Sur and M1 truly takes the Mac to a whole new level with incredible capabilities, efficiency, and more apps than ever before, while maintaining everything users love about macOS.”

The most obvious change in the new version is, of course, the colorful and consistent new look and feel, which Apple says feels both focused and familiar. It includes a new Control Center that’s modeled after the version in iOS, an updated Notification Center, and other upgrades.

The new macOS also includes updated versions of the Safari web browser, Messages, and Apple Maps, and significant privacy enhancements. And under the covers, macOS Big Sur provides developers with their first chance to create apps that run on both Intel- and M1-based Macs. Developers can also bring their iPhone and iPad apps to the Mac with Big Sur, the company notes.

macOS Big Sur is available now for free to existing users on supported Macs. You can learn more at the Apple website.

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Apple Releases macOS Big Sur”

  1. truerock2

    Yes, I see that Apple is going to have the same problems that Microsoft had with Windows 8. It will be interesting to see how Apple deals with this.

    For example, back in 2014, Apple tried to default the Mac eMail app to the look and feel of of the app on the iPhone... with obviously the same reaction that Windows 8 users had. Granted, it was pretty easy to un-squash the eMail interface so that there was one line per email with additional columns of information.

    I have fooled around a little bit with the new mouse support on iPad OS. It is amazing how comforatable it is. But, I can't believe that Apple cannot understand that an interface on a 37" Mac screen should be different than a 12" iPad... especialy when Apple has always had a modified GUI for the iPad and the iPhone. All I can think is that I remember the first time I used an iPad it was a little confusing because it was different from an iPhone. Maybe Apple is trying to avoid that?

    • behindmyscreen

      In reply to truerock2:

      lol....They will not have any of the same problems as Windows.

    • Saarek

      In reply to truerock2:

      Personally I think it's a great move. There are a lot more iPhone/iPad users out there than Mac users. This way the UI will seem familiar and friendly to those people when they consider their next real computer.

      They've done it in a respectful way, my Mac still feels like a Mac, but there is no question that the entire Apple ecosystem now feels like a whole and it meshes together well.

    • sammyg

      In reply to truerock2:

      "Yes, I see that Apple is going to have the same problems that Microsoft had with Windows 8"

      Negative. Big Sur will be a huge hit. If the new M1 powered Mac's work out well even bigger hit.

      Windows 8 was a complete disaster on launch caused mostly by leadership and their want to turn Windows into an iPad. Windows 10 is barely better but nothing I would want to use personally.

  2. RobertJasiek

    As a Windows user, almost the only thing I know about macOS is its look: rounded corners of windows and GUI objects; traffic light buttons in the upper left corner. I understand that it is good when people have choice between rectangular windows / one-coloured buttons in Windows versus macOS style. Real choice, however, would offer both styles in both operating systems (and maybe more choice from the Linux GUI wilderness).

    My personal preference is Windows-like style of the GUI while I dislike both themes of the macOS style. Rounded corners look strange and restrict functionality because they restrict view space of a window. (I don't mind rounded corners in dock and app icons though.) I also dislike the traffic light buttons because they are too colourful and force me to constantly view some disliked colours.

    I wonder about opinions of people regularly using both macOS and Windows. Are you happy with both GUI styles, do you prefer one of them and why, or does regular use just let you consider them as ordinary so you have stopped to care? Do macOS GUI changes upset you because you have been used to a different style or are changes so cautious that they never hurt?

    • ronh

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      I agree about the rounded corners. I prefer Windows with the menu bar at the top of each app window and not the top of the screen.

    • Saarek

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      I use Windows and Mac OS on a daily basis. My personal preference is with Mac OS, but I'm experienced and happy with both.

      My first experience with Mac OS was on a friends PowerBook G4 running 10.3 Panther back in late 2003. I fell in love with a feature called Exposé, something about that single feature just gelled with my brain and seemed so advanced and yet so easy to use.

      The very next day I went out and bought my first Mac, the 12" PowerBook G4. In my mind that's still the single best computer I have ever owned, it was rock solid and just beautiful to use.

      Big Sur has felt like a bit of a jarring update for me due to the entire visual change, but I do like the fact that everything was changed at once and as such is clean and all fits together as you'd expect and I'm enjoying playing around with it.

    • waethorn

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      Big Sur is the only OS that not only looks "fun", but is the only mass-produced OS to do it more than just half-assed. They aren't using muted colour palettes here - it's pretty vivid to look at, but it has a consistent design language. Comparing the Windows 10 interface to it is like comparing Windows 95 to early versions of Mac OS X's Aqua. Windows 10 looks flat and drab, in every bad way.

  3. spiderman2

    still no new about all this release issues?

  4. ronh

    I don't like the look of rounded windows. Don't mind it on the widgets or whatever they call them

  5. nbplopes

    In my Mac as well as of others that I know, from 2012 up to 2019, the final Big Sur seams to run a bit faster than Catalina. Still one thing I notice is that is seams reserve more memory. My Mac has 64Gb and it used to have around 45 GB free, yet now is on the 21GB.

  6. eric_rasmussen

    Microsoft should take some notes here about UI consistency. ?

  7. straker135

    Have Apple changed the tired old, insulting, PC icons? In other words have they grown up yet...

  8. andrezzz91

    Yup, getting a lot of reports of 'Installation Failed', at first it was saying 1+ day remaining, now it just crashes with the error message. I will just wait until everything is stable to download and install.

  9. sammyg

    I can't get it, two Mac's both failed. Internet is being crushed today. PS5 downloads, Xbox downloads, Big Sur.

    Office 365 just crashed for my whole company for 30min....login issues again, seems to be back up again. Going to down detector shows red across the eastern US. Good times.

    Update: Apple had a network issue, now fixed, both Mac's updated, all apps lightly tested and its good to go! Looking forward to the M1 Mac reviews next week.

  10. duncanator

    My mid-2012 Retina MacBook Pro is not eligible despite the fact that the laptop with a Core i7 and 16GB of memory still works great!

    • christophercollins

      In reply to duncanator:

      There will likely be a workaround from dosdude1 (if it isn't already).

      This is why Apple can pull off transitions.

      The dropped 32 bit, etc... preparing for this moment.

      While I know it will run, If they supported 8 year old hardware, they'd have to do more testing/validation.

      You are better off on Catalina. I ran the BIg Sur preview on a 2015 MBP and I'm going back to 10.15.7... It's noticeably faster to me than Big Sur. Even on my 2019 16", it is still 'quirky'.

      That may be another way to weed out x86. Make it more and more bothersome until you go M1, 2, 3, or whatever gen.

  11. sentinel6671

    Doing my usual hairbrained thing of installing Day 1 on my 2018 Macbook far not going well, download errors out after getting about 50% through. Good job Apple, good job. :/

  12. waethorn

    The download is slow as molasses and craps out after a few gigs.

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