Over the past two years, macOS Mojave and Catalina have evolved gently to help developers build universal apps for Macs and iPads, including the internal use of the cross-platform Catalyst framework by Apple and then third parties. Today Apple is taking another important step with that MacOS Big Sur releasedThis is the first version to support ARM processors for Macs developed by Apple.
With the latest update, Apple continues to use California landmarks to brand MacOS versions. Big Sur is a large section of a deliberately undeveloped coastline in central California that is characterized by its access to forests, beaches, and numerous scenic spots that have not been damaged by human development. During the presentation, Apple displayed an info screen indicating that it was MacOS 11 – the first step beyond the many previous versions of "Mac OS X" or MacOS 10. Although Apple's first developer download for the version lists it as "macOS Beta 10.16" and the first Big Sur Beta reports to apps as macOS 10.16, the "About This Mac" screen and Apple have confirmed that the long-awaited version number is 11 correct.
Apple has significantly revised the macOS user interface and adopted many iOS and iPadOS design elements to achieve cross-platform consistency across multiple windows and glyphs. While the macOS icons have been updated to restore 3D shadows and depths that were removed from Apple products during a Steve Jobs cleanup years ago, most other elements like B. a revised control center with flat shaded controls, now much like similar functions on the iPhone or iPad.
Widgets, which were introduced earlier for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, are also coming to Mac, so simple but extremely useful functions such as weather, package and time recording can be processed with permanent mini-apps instead of having to start individual ones completely need -fledged apps. It is currently unclear whether the same widget code works across platforms. On Mac, widgets are available in the notification center instead of sitting on the desktop.
Messages are updated with memoji stickers, effects, cross-device synchronized conversations and group improvements – much more in line with the revised iOS and iPadOS apps. Maps is completely redesigned for Mac, including access to city-specific manuals, browsing on a computer screen, and bike instructions.
With Catalyst, Apple's cross-platform development initiative for iPadOS and macOS, developers can optimize apps to use all the pixels on a Mac screen. They also get more access to HomeKit and ClassKit, improved popovers and extensions for photo editing.
Safari has been updated with speed improvements and privacy, as well as visual flourishes. For the first time, Safari users can set a background in Safari that mimics competing browsers and get a hoverover view that lets you view the contents of each tab without clicking on it.
Interestingly, Apple added a privacy report button that shows how individual websites track you with a single keystroke. According to the company, the app now runs 50% faster than Chrome. It also adds new extensions with developer expansion memory and detailed access controls so users can restrict how the extensions work. Safari will also be able to do live translations from websites, much like what was announced today for iOS 14.
macOS Big Sur will also support ARM CPUs. According to Apple, Microsoft and Adobe have already developed ARM-compatible versions of their Mac apps – including Word, Excel and Photoshop – as has Apple, which already runs all Mac-integrated apps and Final Cut Pro natively. Third-party developers can use an Apple Developer Transition Kit to build compatible code before the release of ARM Macs, the first of which is expected by the end of this year.
Intel Mac apps can run on ARM Macs with Rosetta 2 from Big Sur, an emulator developed by Apple. In addition, unchanged iOS and iPadOS applications can also be run on ARM Macs with virtualization. However, Mac, iOS and iPadOS ARM apps cannot run directly on Intel-based computers without Xcode 12 updates.