The Mac Revolution: What's New in macOS 11 Big Sur — 2022
OS X was at the time a very relevant change in the history of the Apple computer operating system, later becoming macOS 10 and with successive versions up to macOS 10.15 Catalina. However, the arrival of macOS 11 Big Sur is another big change that unites the different Apple teams more than ever.
Why is it called macOS Big Sur?
One way Apple has to differentiate the different versions of macOS is by giving each one a special name. Until now we have come across names like Leopard, Lion, Yosemite, El Capitan, Mojave or the most recent Catalina. These names are not random, but correspond to californian places . In fact, the company keeps a long list of registered names that in the future could name its operating systems.
Apple is a company deeply rooted in California and therefore explores different natural parks, beaches, deserts and outstanding mountains that not only serve as a name for macOS, but also serve as the perfect model to set spectacular default wallpapers. In fact, since macOS 10.14 Mojave they include dynamic backgrounds that change their light depending on the time of day.
Big Sur is the name of a very sparsely populated region of California located in the south of the Monterey peninsula, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and which has spectacular mountains such as those of Santa Lucía as a sign of identity. Its name is an Anglo-Hispanic mix that refers to its geographical location in the south of the peninsula and that mixes both languages instead of being called Big South or Gran Sur.
Curiously, this only happens in macOS, since other operating systems such as iOS, iPadOS, watchOS or tvOS do not have their own name beyond the corresponding number of each version. Who knows if maybe in the future they could adapt it and make them all bear the same name every year. In any case, today it is exclusive to Macs.
Macs compatible with macOS Big Sur
This version of macOS 11 has left behind several Mac models that are compatible with previous versions such as macOS Catalina. This is the list of supported devices:
- Troubleshooting connecting a Mac mini with M1 to an external display via cable.
- Also the Mac mini with M1 have solved the bugs with Bluetooth accessories that had been present since its launch.
- Problems when editing a photo in ProRAW format have already been fixed in this version.
- Fixed an issue related to not being able to enter the admin password in System Preferences.
- Bugs when removing the emojis keyboard already fixed.
- Fixed a tedious bug with iCloud Drive that caused iCloud Drive to disconnect if syncing Desktop and Documents folders were turned off.
- Fixes the battery problems in some 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros. Some presented failures when charging, causing many times to show that the percentage of charge did not exceed 1%, giving the feeling that this component was poorly calibrated .
- The CVE-2021-3156 error that was directly related to a security level vulnerability and that allowed an attacker to gain root access to any Mac model with a software version prior to this macOS 11.2.1 has been fixed.
- It's already possible connect game console controllers belonging to new generations such as the PlayStation 5 DualSense or the Xbox Series X.
- It's already possible use a pair of HomePods in stereo and control them from your Mac, whether it's two large HomePods or two mini HomePods.
- New ones have been added customization options in Safari that allow the organization of the home screen to be much more open, including the bookmarks and Siri suggestions already present in previous versions.
- Added a new support section within About This Mac, giving you the ability to learn more about your Mac's warranty or request a repair directly.
- It improves the Using iOS/iPadOS apps on Mac with M1 , being able to carry out the download process more comfortably and being better optimized.
- The AirTag compatibility in the Search app is now operational.
Complete interface change on Mac
This version of Mac software has been one of the ones that has introduced the most visual changes in the operating system in recent years. Below we detail what these changes in the interface consist of, which, although they are not to everyone's taste, have been received with very good acceptance by the majority of Apple computer users.
macOS ends up looking like iPadOS
With the powerful hardware of the iPad Pro and the succulent news that the first version of iPadOS brought in 2019, many took for granted the conversion of Apple tablets to a Mac. Or at least many expected a hybrid between the two, wishing that this take ideas from macOS. However, with macOS Big Sur, the process has ended up being reversed, making this desktop operating system more similar to the one we have on the iPad.
Apple already warned in the presentation of this operating system, at WWDC 2020, that this represented the biggest change since the launch of Mac OS X. The most striking thing is the changing icons compared to what was seen in previous versions and more specifically in macOS Catalina, its predecessor. In Big Sur we find a redesign of the icons that represent an aesthetic hybrid between drawings and three-dimensional objects. It also says goodbye to classic icons such as the Launchpad, going from a rocket to a box in which the reference to an application drawer is made clear. Although the change comes in all, including the Finder, Mail or the iWork suite that we will talk about in another section.
Also they have been refined the buttons , making them much more aesthetic and with a much more up-to-date look. In this part is where we begin to find more similarities with iPadOS and even iOS, having, for example, identical toggle buttons to those we have on the iPhone and iPad. There is also a large new symbol language much more recognizable to the naked eye.
The windows are now literally deeper, shaded and translucent creating a much more visual and orderly hierarchy. Some aspects like toolbar they stop having a grayish color to adapt more to the background color of the place where we are. Also noteworthy is the way in which some applications and folders have left out any insubstantial details to give greater prominence to user content. For example in the app Photos , in which we find an interface that helps us focus more on what really matters when we use it: view our photos and videos without distractions. The option buttons appear only when we need them and hover over them.
Arrival of the Control Center
Control Center is probably one of the places we go to most often on our iPads and iPhones. Curiously, we did not have this on the Mac until macOS Big Sur. In this version we can have access to it and have greater control of some settings such as the WiFi, volume, Bluetooth, screen brightness, AirPlay and more. In fact, it is possible to customize this panel, being able to order it and add more functions than those that appear by default.
Something that is striking is that aesthetically the sensation that they are touch controls and hence again we find a reference to the iPad, although obviously Macs do not have a screen that accepts interaction through fingers or stylus. What can be done is to control some aspects such as the sound or the brightness of the screen using gestures with the Magic Mouse or trackpad , since opening this panel and using two fingers to the right or left will allow you to modify the values.
Better integration of widgets and notifications
The macOS notification center may have been somewhat forgotten in previous versions of the operating system, but now they have wanted to revitalize it. To access this new notification center we simply have to click on the time of your Mac in the upper right. A menu will pop up showing both notifications and widgets in a single view. At the top are the notifications, which are grouped intelligently. Before, there was not much control in this sense and the notifications were totally dispersed, but now all those that have some kind of relationship will be grouped together. This is something very similar to what we have in iOS and iPadOS today and that they have decided to integrate into macOS Big Sur in a successful way. We can expand these notifications to see them more clearly or delete them all together.
Widgets have also come to macOS Big Sur with a design very much in keeping with the operating system and similar to what we have in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. These will appear below the notifications and the truth is that they look great with a very successful design and showing a lot of information. To customize them we simply have to click on the bottom in the 'Edit widgets' part to see all the options that exist. We will appreciate that a window appears showing all the options available within macOS Big Sur with the possibility of changing the size between S, L and M. Obviously, the larger the size, the more information we will have in return.
On the left side of the screen while we are editing your widgets we will see that they can be classified by applications. Although native applications of the operating system stand out above all, the truth is that any developer who wants to can integrate their widgets into the operating system.
Native app enhancements
Beyond visual changes, we find that Apple also added interesting new features in native applications that already existed in previous versions of the software. Some of them also fulfilled requests that Mac users had been making for years.
Messages is already the same as in iOS and iPadOS
Unfortunately, the Messages application is not used very intensively outside the US. But in the North American country it is widely used and that is why they have decided to improve it in this latest update. It is true that the Messages application has been evolving in all operating systems except macOS, which has been totally stuck in the past. In macOS Big Sur they have wanted to work in this sense to update it and take it to a new level. They have included a search function that you will find above all the active chats or contacts that we have. Here we can search for both a contact and a text within one of the many chats you have open. This is something that we have in other messaging services such as Telegram or WhatsApp and that is useful to search for a specific piece of information that you told someone.
Sharing photos and videos is now no problem, since next to the box to write a new message they have included the option to enter through the App Store icon in the photo library. Here we can s choose that photograph or video that we want to share and send it. There is still work to be done as we believe that you should be able to send files in a very similar way. Currently they must be uploaded to iCloud first and then generate a link to share that file. Sending it by iMessage could be much more comfortable but for now it has not arrived.
The memojis They have also arrived in Big Sur, something that was totally rumored, and that is that you can react to a specific message with one of these interesting animated faces. But not only are the memojis stored on other computers shared, but you can also customize them on macOS without any problem. In this way we can express ourselves in a much more fun and smiling way to turn the conversation we are having. The animated effects have also come to macOS to be able to celebrate a birthday with a streamer and you can also pin those individual or group chats that you access the most at the beginning. All of this obviously syncs with all the devices in the ecosystem.
Improvements to Apple Maps
Although it is true that using Maps in macOS is not the most comfortable thing in the world while you are going down the street to guide you, it can be used to plan new routes. That is why they have wanted to improve the Maps application so that you can send your iPhone the most appropriate route to follow on a trip. The design as soon as you enter the application is different, being completely redesigned, with a much more detailed map of Apple in the foreground. For the first time, on Mac you will have different favorite places set at the beginning such as your home or work.
Before going to work you can plan the route to follow through this application. Little by little they are also working to implement internal maps of different important buildings such as the airport. Another of the functions that is arriving in a phased manner by country is that of ‘ Seek '. This reminds us a lot of 'Street View' from Google Maps and it is that you can explore any city moving around it with total freedom. In addition to integrating the locations of all those contacts that are sharing their location in real time.
All the functions that have been seen in iOS 14 are also integrated in macOS Big Sur, such as the creation of routes for electric cars or bicycles . And the guides are also available but only in those selected countries.
Privacy and new Safari interface
Passwords are another of the most important sections when we are working on a computer and on the internet. It is possible that there is a leak of important data and with it the password is leaked. apple now will notify us at any time if the password we have saved has been leaked sometime.
Extensions in Safari now have a greater role. From Apple they are going to enable the option that third-party developers who have extensions in other browsers can easily migrate them to Safari so that the library of available extensions is much richer. All of these will be integrated into a special category of the Mac App Store. We must give all the extensions special permission to act only on those websites that we choose.
Safari's main screen is now fully customizable. We will be able to choose what elements you want to appear in the first window you will see when you enter Safari, such as Siri suggestions or favorite sites. In the background we can put the image that we like the most, such as that of your family or a theme that excites you. Tabs will now always load the Favicon so that it is much more locatable within the daily chaos, but also if you hover over the tab you will see a preview .
As seen in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, in macOS Big Sur you can also translate any web page into our language without problems. Unfortunately this function is limited to specific languages that will be expanded in the future.
Catalyst continues to strengthen
The Catalyst project is giving many possibilities to developers to bring their iPad applications to Mac with little difficulty. Swift Playgrounds has been one of the applications that has recently landed on macOS thanks to Catalyst. As notable novelties in Big Sur, developers will be able to use optimize your applications to adapt it to the original resolution of Mac screens. There are also new features such as new APIs for keyboard and mouse as well as the possibility to check boxes or arrows.
In addition to this is added the possibility of directly use iOS/iPadOS apps on Mac with ARM , since the company would present its first computers with its own chips at the end of 2020. Although many of the apps still cannot be used on a Mac, those developers who wish to can add their iPhone and iPad apps to the Mac App Store, although the interface will be the same as on these devices as it is not a version made directly for computers.
macOS Big Sur versions after 11
Against all odds, Apple did not release macOS 11.0 as such, since they jumped straight to 11.0.1. This software version was therefore the first of this 'Big Sur' and was released on November 12, 2020. Those who had a Mac compatible with this version could install this update from System Preferences > Software Update. The novelties seen were the same as already announced, without further changes until later versions.
macOS 11.1 and 11.2
The December 15, 2020 was launched version 11.1 compatible with the same Macs as the previous one. The main novelties of this version were linked to the correction of errors and improvements in the field of security and stability. Some MacBooks experiencing increased battery drain saw this version fix this issue. The most important thing is that bugs were corrected when updating or restoring Macs, while in those computers with the M1 chip, the fluidity and user experience in navigating through the system was further improved.
the of macOS 11.2 For its part, it was launched on February 1, 2021 and had the same compatibility as the previous ones. Among its novelties there are no visual or functional changes, but important bugs reported in previous versions are corrected:
The February 9, 2021 This intermediate version of macOS Big Sur was released in which important errors were corrected and relevant security patches were added to guarantee the integrity of Macs. Specifically, the following were the bugs fixed in this version:
macOS 11.2.2 and 11.2.3
The February 25, 2021 , even being in beta macOS 11.3, the Cupertino company released an intermediate version known as macOS 11.2.2 and that like all the previous ones, it is still included within Big Sur. Its main novelty was in the correction of errors, with special emphasis on one that mainly affected the MacBook Pro 2019 and later, as well as the MacBook Air 2020. This error was caused by the connection of hubs and other USB-C accessories from dubious quality, which caused the Mac to crash completely within a few seconds of being detected by it. These errors no longer occur in this version.
With the 11.2.3 released on March 8, 2021 there was identical compatibility to those mentioned above. Despite some bugs and issues with SSDs in the M1 Macs, it seems that this version did not fix any of them. Apple offered little detail about this version beyond stating that it implemented internal security measures to deal with possible threats.
The day April 26, 2021 Apple officially launched this version for Mac, which was in beta for several months along with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and other complementary operating systems for other devices. It was compatible with all computers that were already compatible with previous versions of macOS Big Sur. Among its implementations are the always relevant bug fixes, security improvements and increased stability. However, the following are the most interesting novelties that this version brought:
macOS 11.3.1 and 11.4
It had only been a week after the release of macOS 11.3 and it arrived macOS 11.3.1 , more specifically the day May 3, 2021. It was again compatible with the same Macs that the previous ones had been compatible with. It didn't bring any visual or functional changes to the operating system, but it did incorporate performance improvements and very important security patches to keep those teams that install it up to date.
The 11.4 released on May 24, 2021 It was very continuous in that aspect, since it did not bring great news either. Taking into account the date of its launch and the proximity of the WWDC, it is likely that Apple was already more focused on polishing details of its future macOS 12 and did not bring any kind of novelty to this macOS 11.4. This is also an important version in terms of performance, since it will be one of the last that those Macs that are not compatible with macOS 12 can install.
macOS 11.5, 11.5.1, and 11.5.2
For macOS 11.5 we had to wait almost two months, since its launch took place on July 21, 2021 . In this version, too many new features were not incorporated beyond bringing security patches or correcting bugs such as those that were present in Apple Music and that prevented the correct playback of songs with Dolby Atmos or Spatial Audio. It was one of the most stable versions of the system since its original release.
In later weeks they arrived macOS 11.5.1 and macOS 11.5.2. They arrived on July 27 and August 11 respectively. Both versions fixed several security issues that Apple didn't specify, as well as bug fixes. Some of the most notable bugs that were fixed had to do with problems when browsing in Safari.
macOS 11.6 and 11.6.1
It has to be said that macOS 11.6 it also came to be a version similar to the previous ones in terms of few functional novelties. It was released on September 13, 2021 and it came to cover several vulnerabilities in Macs to make them more secure against possible malware. The same thing happened with macOS 11.6.1 on October 25, 2021 , which came to correct various problems at the security level.
The last one also coincided with the launch of macOS 12 and although a priori it might seem contradictory, it makes all the sense in the world considering that it is, presumably, the latest version for some Macs that are not compatible with macOS Monterey. As of today, no more updates to 'Big Sur' are expected, as it is already a completely closed version.