Apple releases macOS Big Sur with redesigned user interface, Control Center, Maps & Messages changes, more

Apple has released macOS Big Sur to the public after months of beta testing. The update, which is also called macOS 11, features a system-wide redesign, improvements to Messages, Maps and other applications, Control Center and more.

Big Sur overhauls all aspects of macOS, including window curvature, icons, menus and adds transparency to windows, the menu bar and dock. All app icons have been redesigned and are more consistent, with an iOS-like rounded appearance.

Control Center, a feature originally found in iOS, brings quick controls to your fingertips. You can customise this and drag options to the menu bar where they can be accessed even quicker.

Notification Center has been redesigned and sees the introduction of new widgets, which can be managed by clicking the ‘Edit Widgets’ button. Widgets are available for many key apps, including Calendar, Weather and Screen Time and third-party ones can be added. Notifications can display more actions and information if you force hold on one, too.

Safari receives significant performance and privacy upgrades with macOS Big Sur. It can load frequently visited sites up to 50% faster than Google Chrome and is more efficient when it comes to battery life. A new start page allows for customising the wallpaper, reading list, Siri Suggestions and more.

Privacy Report displays which trackers Safari blocks when you visit a website. You’ll be able to see how many were prevented and view trackers on previously visited webpages. Other features, such as built in translation for websites and improved tabs, have been available with Safari 14 which was released on macOS Mojave and Catalina earlier this year.

AirPods and AirPods Pro will automatically pair with your Mac if you’re active on it, using a feature called automatic device switching. This functionality was also added with iOS and iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7, and you’ll need the latest software installed on your devices to take advantage of it.

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Ben Ward

Senior Editor, discussing everything Apple and supporting other writers and members of Apple TLD's team of volunteers.

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