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Five Exciting macOS Big Sur Features

image credit: Apple WWDC 2020

By Chand Bellur

July 14, 2020 at 3:12 p.m. PT

  • Apple’s newest Mac operating system is called macOS Big Sur.
  • macOS Big Sur features significant changes to the user interface.
  • The new Mac operating system will launch in the fall of 2020.

User Interface Completely Redesigned in macOS Big Sur

Three-dimensional graphics make their return in macOS Big Sur. Apple flattened both iOS and macOS about seven years ago. Shortly thereafter, the entire tech industry, from major players to small websites, redesigned graphics with a flat look.

The return of three-dimensional graphics isn’t about recycling old user interface elements. macOS Big Sur offers an entirely new type of three-dimensional user interface, with fresh new graphics and even new sounds to accompany user interaction. Apple’s designers use transparency to create the illusion of three-dimensional space. For example, the dock is transparent rather than resembling the older three-dimensional shelf design of Mac OS X.

Content is the focus of macOS Big Sur. The actual windows, buttons, frames, panels, and other UI elements serve to enhance, rather than detract from, content. Buttons disappear and reappear only when you need them.

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The best thing about Big Sur’s redesign is that it’s like using a new computer altogether. OS X and macOS have stagnated for some time. A bold redesign, done well, may have users falling in love with the Mac all over again.

Control Center Finally Comes to macOS

Control Center is a popular fixture in iOS, making it easy to access frequently used settings such as WiFi, Do Not Disturb, volume and other controls. Years after debuting on iOS, Control Center is finally available on the Mac.

Control Center for macOS is even more powerful than its iOS counterpart. Users can drag and drop controls directly onto the menubar. This makes it even easier to access frequently used settings. You can’t do that on iOS.

Notification Center and Widgets Redesigned

Modern computer users often take for granted how difficult it used to be to stay informed. Checking messages used to involve launching an app. These days, frequently accessed information is presented in some type of dynamic panel.

macOS Big Sur features a bold redesign of both Notification Center and its associated widgets. Notification Center now groups messages by type, making it easy to see iMessages, emails, and other forms of communication. It’s also easier to integrate widgets into this view. Simply click on Edit Widgets and choose from a variety of new and redesigned widgets for macOS Big Sur.

Big Sur’s Big Improvements to Messages

Messages are a huge deal for the Apple ecosystem. Unbeknownst to most, Apple’s Messages platform gets more traffic than Facebook’s similar offering. As social media, particularly Facebook, begin their steady decline into obsolescence, Apple works furiously to capture these consumers, offering them a better way to interact and communicate.

macOS Big Sur now offers a quick and easy way to search through messages. This should make it even easier for your girlfriend to do her weekly text message review.

Advancements with Memoji, photo selection, and message effects make macOS Big Sur a compelling update. If you send a lot of text messages, the changes in macOS Big Sur are sure to please.

Maps Completely Overhauled, Again

Apple Maps is one of the most maligned software applications ever. Although it had a rocky start, the reality is that it was as good or better than most standalone car navigation systems from day one. Nonetheless, Apple fired Scott Forestall over Maps and considered the app to be a failure.

The Cupertino tech giant didn’t sweep Maps under the rug. Instead, they poured a vast amount of resources into overhauling the app. The results are apparent. I use both Apple and Google Maps, but it’s difficult to say that one is more accurate than the other. Apple’s design and user interface are more appealing to me.

macOS Big Sur brings significant improvements to Maps. The new Look Around view may seem like a copy of Google’s Street View. That’s because it is. As with most of Apple’s borrowing of ideas, however, it’s different and better than the original. Although Look Around doesn’t support as many locations as Street View, the technology looks better than Google’s offering. Look Around features remarkably clean and crisp graphics, making it more useful for navigating an unknown environment.

Apple Maps offers other, new, innovative features. It goes beyond outdoors to provide detailed maps of airports, shopping malls, and transit terminals. If you’re rushing to make it to a flight on time, Apple Maps will show you exactly where to go, even in the biggest and most confusing airports. Apple Maps, once a joke, is now the savior of road warriors and frequent fliers across the globe.

macOS Big Sur Available Mid September 2020

With all of the new changes in macOS, many users may be chomping at the bit to install it. Since this new version of macOS has many new changes, it’s best to wait at least a few days after the release to install it. Although Apple takes quality seriously, as their operating systems grow in complexity, the potential for defects also increases.

macOS should be available by mid-September of 2020. Apple may delay the release until October. Whenever it comes out, rest assured, this will be one of the most compelling macOS releases in years.

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