Apple Inc. (AAPL) has released its new macOS Big Sur operating system, which is available to users of its Mac line of computers as a free upgrade. According to Apple, "Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign and is packed with new enhancements for key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, as well as new privacy features."
- Apple has introduced macOS Big Sur, its latest operating system.
- Big Sur offers a variety of enhancements for Mac users.
- However, even positive initial reviews include caveats and concerns.
Apple's press release continues, "Big Sur has been engineered, down to its core, to take full advantage of all the power of the M1 chip to make the macOS experience even better for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini." In a companion release on the same day, Nov. 12, 2020, Apple announced that the latest models of these computers are now being powered by its internally developed M1 semiconductor chip, which it calls "revolutionary."
Benefits From Big Sur
Big Sur, Apple asserts, will bring benefits to Mac users in six main areas: refreshed design; the biggest enhancements to the Safari web browser since its initial launch in 2003; new messaging features; an entirely redesigned Maps function; expanded privacy controls; and making the development of apps easier than ever. Highlights of these enhancements are summarized below.
Design: According to Apple, "Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users' fingertips."
Messaging: The Messages feature on the Mac has new tools for managing group conversations. Also, "search has been completely redesigned to help users quickly find links, photos, and matching terms." Moreover, "Messages for Mac also works seamlessly across iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch."
Maps: Users can create and share custom guides of their favorite restaurants, parks, and vacation ideas. Look Around offers 360-degree views of destinations, and new detailed indoor maps have been added for major airports and shopping centers.
Privacy: Big Sur is designed to offer users both more transparency and greater control over their data. Later in 2020, the Mac App Store will include summaries of each app's privacy practices.
App Development: New technologies supported by Big Sur are designed to make the development of new apps for a wide variety of Apple products easier than ever.
Early Criticisms and Concerns
As with any major design overhaul, the changes to user interfaces are bound to be disliked by some users. Meanwhile, Big Sur is not compatible with some older Macs. On newer Macs, some reviewers have reported problems with initial downloads.
Also, some reviewers have raised concerns about the new privacy features, which appear to require monitoring by Apple of the user's activity. As a result of all these matters, even reviewers who are generally enthusiastic about Big Sur have reservations about upgrading to it, unless the user has a pressing need for one or more of the new features.