Tuesday, November 17, 2020

macOS Big Sur Is Now Available

Apple has released macOS Big Sur, the latest version of the Mac operating system. You can download it at the Mac App Store or by going to System Preferences > Software Update.

macOS Big Sur introduces a redesign that, per Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, is entirely new yet instantly familiar. Safari is packed with new features, including a customizable start page, redesigned and more powerful tabs, translation features, and a new Privacy Report. 

The updated Messages app lets Mac users send and receive more personal and expressive messages, and keep track of and interact within group messages. Maps also offers a new experience with immersive features for exploring and navigating the world.

Federighi says everything from the curvature of window corners to the palette of colors and materials has been refined, and new features provide even more information and power. Icons in the Dock have been designed to be more consistent with icons across the Apple ecosystem while retaining their Mac personality. Buttons and controls appear when needed, and recede when they’re not. 

The customizable menu bar features an all-new Control Center, delivering quick access to controls from the Desktop. An updated Notification Center includes more interactive notifications and redesigned widgets that come in different sizes, providing more relevant info at a glance. And a new design for core apps brings more organization to multiple open windows and makes interacting with apps even easier, Federighi says.

In the biggest update to Safari since its original launch in 2003, the browser is faster, providing industry-leading speed and battery life, he adds. Safari’s JavaScript engine purportedly helps it outperform other browsers on Mac and PC, and Safari loads frequently visited sites an average of 50% faster than Chrome. Tabs have been entirely redesigned to make navigating with Safari faster and more powerful by showing more tabs onscreen, displaying favicons by default to identify open tabs, and giving users a quick preview of a page by simply hovering over the tab.

Safari brings new features for greater personalization while browsing the web. You can customize the new start page with a background image and sections like your Reading List and iCloud Tabs. With built-in translation, Safari can detect and translate entire webpages from seven languages with just a click. 

Users can further personalize their experience with improved support for extensions. Federighi says the Mac App Store makes it easy to discover and download Safari extensions with a new category that includes editorial spotlights and top charts.

A new Privacy Report delivers added visibility into how Safari protects browsing activity across the web. Users can choose when and which websites a Safari extension can work with, and tools like data breach password monitoring never reveal your password information — not even to Apple.

Messages on the Mac includes new tools to better manage important conversations and share expressive messages. You can now pin your favorite conversations to the top of their messages list for fast access. Search has been entirely redesigned — organizing results into links, photos, and matching terms.

Message effects lets you add personality to your messages with balloons, confetti, and more. You can create and customize their Memoji on the Mac, and express themselves with Memoji stickers to match your mood and personality. With a new photo picker and #images, you can quickly share images, GIFs, and videos.

New group messaging features streamline interactions with family, friends, and colleagues. Inline replies enable you to respond directly to a message; now you can direct a message to an individual in a group conversation by simply typing their name. What’s more, users can now set a photo or an emoji for their group conversation that’s shared with all members of the group.

Completely redesigned for macOS Big Sur, Maps gets new features. You can discover places to visit and things to do with Guides from trusted resources, or create custom guides of favorite restaurants, parks, and vacation spots that can be shared with friends and family. You can get a 360-degree view of a destination with Look Around, and browse detailed indoor maps of major airports and shopping centers. Cycling and electric vehicle trips can now be routed on a Mac, and sent directly to iPhone to have when on the go.

macOS Big Sur offers users even more transparency and control over user data. Federighi says that, inspired by the convenience and readability of food nutrition labels, new privacy information detailed in the Mac App Store will help users understand the privacy practices of apps before downloading them, including the types of data the apps might collect — such as usage, contact information, or location — and whether that data is shared with third parties for tracking.

Mac Catalyst, which debuted with macOS Catalina last year, has made it easy for developers to bring their iPad apps to the Mac, he adds. And in macOS Big Sur, Mac Catalyst apps automatically inherit the new look, while giving developers new application programming interfaces (APIs) and control over the look and behavior of their apps.

Developers can now also offer Family Sharing for their in-app purchases and subscriptions, and with support for the WebExtensions API, developers can bring extensions built for other browsers over to Safari.

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