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By Jason Snell
August 6, 2020 10:15 AM PT
First Look: macOS Big Sur Public Beta
So here we are, at the end of OS X. Two decades ago Apple parked the sixteen-year-old Classic Mac OS and leaped to version 10.0, but four years ago the company rebranded the software that drives the Mac as macOS, and the writing was on the wall. And now in 2020 it’s macOS Big Sur, version 11.0. The name is an extension of Apple’s use of California places to brand its Mac releases, but the version number is the real story. The Mac OS X era is truly over. macOS Big Sur is the start of a radically new era in the Mac’s life.
With the release of the macOS Big Sur Public Beta, Apple is inviting users to get a head start on the journey that will eventually lead to Macs running Apple-designed processors and software built for iPhones and iPads alongside apps made specifically for the Mac. With huge changes to Mac hardware looming on the horizon, Apple has made the biggest design changes to macOS since the launch of Mac OS X.
Last year’s macOS Catalina felt like a release designed to settle old scores and clear the field for future advancement. It broke a lot of old software, frustrated a lot of users, and generally had the worst reputation of any macOS update in a decade. (I see you, Mac OS X Lion.) Did Apple sacrifice Catalina so that future OS updates wouldn’t be blamed for them? That’s probably a conspiracy theory too far, but I will say this: Good Cop macOS Big Sur fills me with excitement about the future of the Mac in a way Bad Cop Catalina never did.
By Jason Snell
July 28, 2020 10:23 AM PT
Dr. Icon and the Icons of Big Sur
This week’s Upgrade is a walk through the many icons of macOS Big Sur. Stephen Hackett, Myke Hurley and I picked our favorites and least favorites. Staring at an icon at full size makes you question a lot of things about the premise of the icons. (Have you ever really looked at the classic Mail icon?)
In general, I think the icon refresh is a good idea. I can also understand that it’s a huge job and that not every icon is going to get a lot of attention. But while some of these icons are nice steps forward, a lot of them are the old icons slapped on a featureless white roundrect.
Here are all the icons in the Applications folder, with Big Sur on the left of each pair and Catalina on the right.
And here’s the Utilities folder:
I wonder if any of these will change between now and the end of the beta. We’ve already beaten back the bad battery icon.
By Dan Moren for Macworld
Apple’s in a strange position vis-a-vis many of its biggest rivals. While the company has in the past counted many of the most prominent tech companies in the world—IBM, Microsoft, Intel—as rivals, in more recent years, it’s been strategically savvy about turning those erstwhile competitors into allies.
Which isn’t to say that the company doesn’t still have powerful foes. But the nature of the technology industry today is that none of these companies exist in a vacuum; there are so few at the highest of levels that ultimately all of them exist in a liminal state between ally and enemy. And for Apple, no company is more prominent in that frenemy zone than Google.
But with the latest updates to its software platforms unveiled at last month’s WWDC, Apple has once again taken plenty of shots at Google, rolling out features that compete directly with Mountain View’s own offerings, all while deftly steering around the places the companies continue to work together.
By Stephen Hackett
July 9, 2020 8:00 AM PT
The Hackett File: A Tour of System Preferences in Big Sur
Any time there is a big set of UI changes in macOS, I like to see what Apple has done to the System Preferences app. As you can see, Catalina and Big Sur’s versions of the app are pretty different:
Big Sur is still pretty early in its beta lifecycle, so some of these decisions could change over time (and I’m sure the Notifications icon will be swapped for a high-resolution one) but I think we can get a good feel for where Apple is going here.
First, the application still has the sam structure that Apple introduced lat year, with the Apple ID and Family Sharing preference panes taking up the top of the window,1 with the other panes filing in below in sections that were stripped of their names after Mountain Lion. System Preferences even retains the Spotlight-style search UI:
This year, many the icons have been revisited to better match Big Sur’s more colorful and lifelike palette of application icons.…
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By Jason Snell for Macworld
It was the most important WWDC keynote for the Mac since the arrival of OS X two decades ago. Apple’s announcement on Monday of the Mac’s third-ever processor transition was big enough, but it was only the beginning. Apple also announced a new version of macOS, Big Sur, that is full of new features and design elements that paint the clearest picture yet about where Apple is taking the Mac in the future.
It’s no coincidence that Apple chose this moment to leave version 10 behind after twenty years, replacing it with macOS 11.0. 2020 is the beginning of the Mac’s next (and, depending on how you read the tea leaves, last) era.