First look: macOS Big Sur with redesign, Safari updates, new messages app and more

Apple unveiled macOS Big Sur on Monday, the newest version of macOS to be released in the fall. Named after Big Sur, California, known for its scenery, the new update features a fresh and clean design along with some useful new features.

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We went hands-on with wentmacOS Big Sur‌ in our latest YouTube video, giving MacRumors Readers a first look at what the new software looks like.

macOS hasn’t had a major interface overhaul in a while, and “macOS Big Sur” is a welcome change, refining and enhancing the existing design for a new look that’s fresh and familiar.

The menu bar is now more translucent and blends better with the wallpaper, and is more customizable. There’s a dedicated Control Center that provides access to WiFi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Do Not Disturb, screen brightness, volume level, and more, and you can customize it to your liking.

The Control Center is a major improvement to the quality of life in macOS, as it puts most of the settings and controls you need just a click away, and also optimizes the menu bar. Also new to the menu bar is a refreshed battery icon that gives you a reading of how much time you have left to charge the battery, something that was removed in macOS Sierra.

Apple has also added an entirely new battery usage section to System Preferences so you can see how your battery has been depleted in the last 24 hours or the last 10 days.

Next to the Control Center, there is an updated Notification Center with new widgets that can be accessed by clicking on the right side of the menu bar. The new widgets look like the widgets in iOS 14, and are now available in various sizes and a new design. Widgets are now grouped by app, making incoming notifications much easier to analyze.

Across the operating system, Apple has added more rounded and refined corners, full-height translucent sidebars for apps, and redesigned icons. Icons for Apple apps now have rounded square shapes, for a tidier Dock, and buttons and controls for apps appear when needed and disappear when not needed to focus more on content.

Nothing in ‌macOS Big Sur‌ looks very different and there’s nothing to relearn, but it offers a clean design that’s a refreshing change of pace. Remarkably, many of the sounds in macOS have been updated, and Apple even brought back the startup bell that many Mac users have missed.

Safari received a major overhaul with a new customizable home page. You can choose your own wallpaper and choose what is displayed on the page, selecting options like frequently visited sites, Siri tips, reading list, iCloud tabs, and more.

Apple is adding better support for extensions, which can be downloaded from a dedicated section of the Mac App Store. Extensions can be installed for each site, a single site, or a single site for a limited time, giving you more control than ever over what extensions can do and see.

Privacy was an important focus at ‌macOS Big Sur‌, as usual. Along with the deeper controls on extensions, Apple has added a Privacy Report and a Privacy button that provide details on the trackers that different websites are serving so you can see the data that a website is trying to learn about. you.

Safari has a built-in translation feature that can automatically translate entire websites written in seven different languages, which is a handy option that will allow people to abandon additional translators. Safari is also faster than ever, with Apple adding performance and efficiency improvements.

Messages for Mac is now a Catalyst app, which means it takes many of the features available in the iOS version of sageMessages‌. Supports all new features of ‌iOS 14‌ ‌Messages‌ such as pinned conversations, mentions and online replies.

Now it also works with some older features like Message Effects, and there is a new Memoji creator so you can create Memoji and share Memoji stickers via Mac ‌Messages‌ app. A completely new search interface also makes it easy to find links, photos, and text from previous conversations.

Like ‌Messages‌, Maps has been updated to make its functionality more in line with Maps for iOS. Bicycle routes and routes with EV vehicles are available, as are the Guides, a new feature for finding amazing places to visit around you.

Maps now supports Look Around, works with indoor maps for the first time, and Maps for Mac can be used to view shared ETAs so you can keep track of when friends and family will arrive at a location from your desktop.

Photos app has new editing capabilities as a new retouching tool, Home app enhancements enable facial recognition of cameras, AirPods offer faster and more efficient automatic device switching, ‌Siri‌ can respond to a wider range questions, and there are some enhancements to the AcMac App Store‌ that will make it easier to view and understand privacy policies.

There are many other smaller changes to ‌macOS Big Sur‌, and we’ll cover them in future videos and in our macOS Big Sur roundup, which will be updated with a full list of features later this week.

Big Sur is available to developers right now, but Apple also plans to make a beta version available to public beta testers in July. OSmacOS Big Sur‌ will see a fall release alongside ‌iOS 14‌, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14 and watchOS 7.