When it revealed its latest update to macOS, Apple said it would launch “this fall” – a timeline that, given we’ve just entered November, is fast running out of runway. Thankfully, there’s a hefty clue that Apple is getting very close to rolling out its new desktop operating system. Apple has started to roll out an early beta version of macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 to developers.
Given that macOS Big Sur 11.0.0 hasn’t rolled out to Mac owners worldwide, it’s a good sign that the former is all-but finished now that Apple seems to be turning its attention to macOS Big Sur 11.0.1. The latter likely includes some important fixes to help patch issues caused by the update. Apple employed a similar tactic with its iOS 14 update, rolling out iOS 14.0.0 on September 16, before pushing out a smaller update – iOS 14.0.1 – on October 20, 2020.
iOS 14.0.1 fixed a number of smaller bugs, and macOS 11.0.1 is likely to do the same.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see some bugs crop-up in macOS 11 Big Sur as it’s a substantial upgrade. Apple has reworked the design of the entire operating system, bringing in new elements from iOS and iPadOS – like the standardised rounded-square app icons, grouped notifications and redesigned widgets – as well as a number of new features specific to the desktop.
In terms of design, Apple has added a truckload of translucency across the operating system. Full-height sidebars have been added to application and Finder windows that allow colours from the windowed app, or desktop background, behind to subtly bleed through. The menu bar at the top of the screen is almost completely transparent in macOS Big Sur so that, according to Apple, “your content is always front and centre”.
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iPhone and iPad owners will be familiar with the Control Centre – a menu of frequently-used settings that can be accessed by swiping down from the top right-hand corner of their screen. With Big Sur, Apple has added the same feature to the Mac for the first time. Accessed by clicking on an icon in the menu bar, the drop-down includes controls you use most often, like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles, as well as controls to play music and enable Dark Mode for your display. Unlike iOS, the new Control Centre on macOS lets you add controls and drag favourites to the menu bar to access even faster.
Big Sur includes a reworked Messages app with the ability to reply to individual messages in a thread, receive notifications when your name is mentioned in a group chat, react with Memoji, send GIFs and more. Maps has also been upgraded with much greater detail as well as cycling directions, which can be beamed to your iPhone before you set out on a journey.
Music has been redesigned to match the recent updates on iPhone and iPad, including a new Listen Now tab with artist interviews, new releases and updated playlists from the team of editors, to replace the For You section found in previous releases. Apple Photos gains an improved one-tap-and-you’re-done Retouch tool powered by machine learning as well as new granular editing controls.
Apple says that work behind-the-scenes ensures that, once you’re running macOS Big Sur, future operating system updates will be much faster. The iPhone maker states, “software updates begin in the background and finish faster than before – so it’s easier than ever to keep your Mac up to date and secure.”
There’s no definitive release date for macOS Big Sur on the calendar right now. However, Jon Prosser, who hosts the immensely-popular Front Page Tech channel on YouTube, has sources who claim Apple has another Apple Event scheduled for November 17, 2020. Like its recent predecessors, this slickly-edited presentation from Apple CEO Tim Cook and fellow executives will be streamed online on the Apple website, YouTube channel, Apple TV channel, and iOS app.
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