macOS Big Sur: Top 5 features

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.