macOS 11.0 Big Sur Brings Redesign, Support for Apple's CPUs

A MacBook Pro running macOS 10.16 Big Sur.
(Image credit: Apple)

We've finally moved beyond macOS 10 (or OS X, if you're a traditionalist).

At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today, Apple announced macOS 11.0 Big Sur, the latest version of its desktop operating system (OS). It's likely to release this fall alongside new Macs.

Perhaps the biggest feature of Big Sur is that it will be natively compatible with Apple Silicon, the company's own Arm-based processors that will help the company move away from Intel. 

The new OS will also work with existing Intel-based Macs. CEO Tim Cook said in his announcement that several more versions of macOS will also support Intel Macs.

(Image credit: Apple)

Big Sur will come with a slew of new features, including a new Dock and notification center, more extensions and privacy protections for Safari and a Messages app that has the same features as the iPhone and iPad.

(Image credit: Apple)

Safari, Apple's browser, is seeing the biggest upgrade. Apple is supporting the WebExtensions API, which should allow easy migration for extensions made for other browsers like Chrome. These extensions will be featured in a section of the Mac App Store.

Apple is building in tracking prevention and will produce a weekly report in the browser. This is similar to the prevention already built into some ad blockers and extensions, like Ghostery and Privacy Badger.

The browser will also add translation, a new start page and better tab management.

While Big Sur isn't a wholesale redesign, it definitely looks a bit more like iOS. Notification Center, with quick click-to-change settings, should be infinitely more convenient than digging through menus. Dock icons are changing but will not entirely match what's on iOS, as existing icons have a following on the Mac.

Some apps, like Photos and Mail, are getting sidebars with semi-translucent panes, similar to what you see in Microsoft's Fluent Design. 

(Image credit: Apple)

Messages will become more full-featured, and Mac users will finally be able to see the same cool effects as on iPhones and iPads. The Messages app will also get new functionality from iOS and iPadOS, including threaded messages, improved group messaging, pinned conversations and mentions.

(Image credit: Apple)

Other features in Big Sur include more App Privacy information in the App Store, automatic AirPod switching to other Apple devices, faster updates, widgets, optimized battery charging and a signed system volume.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon

  • drtweak
    Well its about time they got rid of that X. Its been around since what. 2000??? Sounds like they should be on OSX 10.20 by not not 10.14/15 which ever it is haha.

    And i wonder how this will affect the hackintosh market once they fully move to ARM on everything, even though I doubt that as the Mac Pro I can't see running on ARM anytime soo though, but just that "What If".