macOS Big Sur: Top 5 features

Here are the features that Apple highlighted during its WWDC20 keynote presentation.

Credit: Apple

At WWDC20 on Monday, Apple took the wraps off of macOS Big Sur, the next version of the Macintosh operating system. Big Sur will replace macOS 10.15 Catalina this fall.

Big Sur is a major upgrade with several features that users can take advantage of. Here are the features that Apple highlighted during its WWDC20 keynote presentation. We’ll follow up with more details on these features as they are revealed.

Refined user interface

With the existence of iOS, the inconsistencies between Apple's mobile and desktop operating systems are notable, and compared to iOS, macOS looks a little dated. With Big Sur, Apple finally addresses the macOS UI, implementing the first major changes since the release of Mac OS X.

“Depth, shading, and translucency are used to create hierarchy,” said Alan Dye, VP Human Interface, during the WWDC20 keynote. “These new materials are rich, and they’re vibrant.”

mac os big sur widgets Apple

The UI in macOS Big Sur features reworked icons, menus, Notification Center, and Widgets.

Apple has reworked icons so they more closely resemble iOS icons, yet still maintain their “Mac personality,” as Apple puts it. The Dock, which prominently displays app icons, appears to float on the screen. Toolbars and Sidebars in apps look cleaner, and buttons disappear when they aren’t in use.

Apple also updated the menu bar so that it’s even more useful for Mac users. It’s now translucent, and menus have a cleaner look. Apple has also added Control Center to the menu bar, which works like the Control Center in iOS. It gives you access to many system controls such as network connectivity, display brightness, sound volume, music controls, and more.

The Notifications menu bar icon is gone in Big Sur. Notification Center can be accessed by clicking on the time in the menu bar, and you can now click on Notifications and Widgets in the Center to get more information. Big Sur will also have a gallery that displays all the Widgets you can add (including third-party Widgets) to the Notification Center.

Messages

Message on the Mac has lagged behind the iOS version in its feature set. Apple changes that in Big Sur, having used Mac Catalyst to convert the iOS version of Messages to a version that runs on the Mac.

macos big sur messages effects Apple

Apple used Mac Catalyst to convert the iOS version of Messages into a version for macOS Big Sur.

Mac Messages now has improved search and a redesigned photo picker for sharing photos and videos. There’s also Memoji support, effects, pinned conversations, and groups enhancements.

Safari

Apple says that Safari in Big Sur has been optimized so that it is even faster than before. The company claims that the new Safari is up to 50 percent faster than Google Chrome. Other new features include:

  • A new Privacy toolbar button that can show web trackers and also display a full privacy report
  • Built-in translation tools
  • More customizations to the start page
  • Robust support for Extensions, and time-based Extensions control
  • Redesigned tabs
macos big sur safari start page Apple

Safari can be customized with your own wallpaper.

Maps

Apple hopes the improvements to Maps will make it more useful for planning trips on the Mac. Apple said that the new version of Maps started with the iOS version, which was converted using Mac Catalyst. New features include:

  • The ability to save locations as Favorites
  • Guides for places you want to visit
  • Indoor maps
  • Look Around, which shows eye-level photography of a location
  • The ability to monitor a person’s commute
macos big sur maps favorites Apple

Maps on the Mac finally has Favorites.

Mac Catalyst

Introduced last year, Catalyst is used by developers to bring their iOS apps to the Mac. Apple said that Catalyst has been updated so that apps can take advantage of the Mac display’s native resolution. Developers will also have access to new menu and keyboard APIs.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Roman Loyola

Roman Loyola

Macworld.com
Show Comments

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?