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MacOS 11 Big Sur – First impressions

This 2020, during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the macOS 11 Big Sur update was introduced.

Let’s review some of the new features we could enjoy this fall when macOS 11 will be released.

Safari 

In macOS 11 Big Sur, Safari runs faster, and there are battery benefits. 

Safari includes a new translation function. If you are on a compatible webpage, it can translate the content for you. 

Besides, Firefox and Chrome extensions are easier to be ported to Safari. And users can limit system access by choosing directly the websites that can use a specific Safari extension.

There’s a new customizable “smart page” to control attributes like background image or the displayed sections, such as “Favorites”, “Siri suggestions”, and more.

By the way, Siri now is more ‘talkative”. The list of questions she can answer has grown in MacOS 11.

Since privacy is the main concern for many, Big Sur implemented a new “privacy report”. With a click, you can get a report about how Safari protects your browsing through every webpage you visit. Blocked sites and trackers will be registered there.

Inside the passwords manager iCloud Keychain, you get a few perks – password monitoring with notification in case of a data breach and auto-generation strong passwords if yours are not so good. 

For million-tabs-open users, just like me, Safari includes “battery usage history”.

It registers the use of the past 24 hours and the past 10 days. With this info, Apple claims that our device will learn a charging routine to optimize battery charging and improve its lifespan. 

And if you hover the mouse over a tab, you could see the preview of it. So, no more one-by-one opening. I am not sure this can cure the million-tabs-open mania, but let’s try!

Messages app

MacOS 11 updated it to match with iOS and iPad OS 14. Users can pin and have multiple pinned conversations, more efficient search engine for phrases, photos, links inside the app, mentions in groups, and in-line replies. 

Notification center

Big Sur redesigned the widgets, making them look more like the ones in iOS 14, and they are now located in a single column alongside notifications. 

Notifications are more interactive, and now with “group notifications”, they are grouped by threads or app. You can expand them to see previous notifications, making macOS and iOS more in line.

Photo app

Video editing capabilities have grown. Actions to adjust or improve a video (rotate, crop, add filters or adjust exposure) can be done without importing the footage into a third-party app. 

User Interface (UI) redesign

Useful or not, every user will have an opinion. In general terms, the UI looks cleaner, more spacious, and modern.

– Translucency in the windows, dock, and menu bar is noticeable.

– Menu bars now interfere less with your content.

– Buttons and controls appear when needed and disappear when not in use.

– App icons are now shape uniform. 

– Full-height sidebars, like in iPadOS 14, make it easier to access and organize docs, notes, files, etc. 

– “Control center” concentrates items you might not need scattered throughout the top. And it gives you instant access to the tools you choose.

– The popular startup chime is back for those who missed the sound.

What else? 

MacOS can now run on ARM processors. macOS on an ARM will be able to run iOS iPadOS software.

Cryptographically signed volumes for better security. Now even single files can be protected. 

Software updates can now run in the background before a restart. 

MacOS 11 Big Sur will be a free update for all compatible Mac models. 

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