Why macOS Big Sur Is The Most Important Release Ever
Image Source - Google | Image by - Imran Hussain

macOS has had a long history, stretching back to 1984 with the original classic operating system. It set a new standard for computing by popularizing the graphical user interface and mouse. Since that initial release, macOS has gone through many iterations, but this blog isn’t about the operating system’s history, that’ll be for another time. Today, I’m going to explain the significance of the most recent macOS version called Big Sur, to be released sometime this fall. It marks a completely new era for the Mac and lays the groundwork for future models featuring Apple’s custom-designed ARM processors that could completely change the way Macs are used. 

Now in 2001 Steve Jobs introduced macOS X and told us it would serve as Mac’s operating system for the next two decades. And he was pretty much spot on. macOS X ended up featuring sixteen different iterations over the span of nineteen years. The last being MacOS 10.15 Catalina in 2019. So, the big question on everyone’s mind was, what comes next? If Apple created a macOS 11, what groundbreaking changes would be made to begin a completely new era for the Mac? Well, there are quite a few new additions to Big Sur that not only help modernize the Mac but redefine its position in Apple’s ecosystem.

Interface:

With the growing popularity of mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, Apple began borrowing elements of the iOS interface as far back as 2014 with macOS Yosemite. It replaced skeuomorphic design elements with flat ones, featured translucent windows and blur effects to establish depth, and even had a thinner system typeface just like iOS 7. But the iOS elements adopted by Yosemite were largely cosmetic. It still functioned like a traditional Mac, which was a much different experience than a touch-based iPhone or iPad. But take a look at what’s happening with Big Sur. Sure, it features the biggest user interface overhaul since the original version of macOS X. But this new look isn’t superficial. The reason why Apple had to change the design of Big Sur, is because of its changes to functionality. A Control center was added, which changes the way users interact with their menu bar. Notification Center was updated, giving it the same exact functionality and appearance as on iOS and iPad OS. And look at the new window design of something like Finder, which looks strikingly similar to the Files app from iPad OS 14. But this is only the beginning.

The shape of almost every icon in Big Sur has been changed to a rounded square, just like what you’d find on iOS. And Apple has even made it possible to run iOS apps on their upcoming ARM Macs, without developers having to do any extra work. And that may sound familiar because that’s exactly what happened when the original iPad was released. Sure, developers could optimize their apps to take advantage of the device’s larger display, but they didn’t have to, since the iPad was compatible with every single iPhone app. And consider how the iPad has changed over the last decade. Initially, it was just an oversized iPod that ran the same operating system as every other iOS device. But eventually, it received so many exclusive features optimized for its larger form factor, that Apple had to differentiate the iPad’s operating system from the iPhone. That’s why today we have iOS and iPad OS. But when it comes to the Mac, I think the reverse will happen.

Apple will continue aligning it closer to iPad OS over the coming years so that users can jump between their iPhones and Macs with the same continuity and seamlessness as switching between their iPhones and iPads. But one issue mac users still have today is running out of storage space. which is why I recommend using Clean My Mac X to clear out old clutter and prepare it for new macOS releases like Big Sur coming this fall. Macs do accumulate junk files that you may have only needed temporarily, but permanently take up space. That’s why I run a smart scan on my MacBook Pro every week which removes about 10GB of clutter every time. It also helps you view and manage application permissions, scans your system to identify and remove any malware, and gives you an overview of what files and applications are taking up the most space, so you can easily remove large files you don’t need.

Features:

Now I should mention that Apple began implementing features like Game Center and iMessage from iOS into macOS back in 2012 with Mountain Lion. In fact, those actions over the years have led to speculation that Apple may merge their operating systems into one, which would run on all iPhones, iPads, and Macs. But this would never happen. And the reason why is clearer today than back in 2012 since we have products like the Apple Watch and Apple TV. We would never expect iOS to run on the Apple Watch since its display is way too small for that interface. Nor would we expect iOS to run on Apple TV, since it’s not optimized for a remote. And that’s the same reason why a separate mobile operating system was created for the iPhone in 2007. Apple knew they couldn’t shoehorn a cursor-based OS into a tiny smartphone and deliver a satisfactory experience. And they won’t start today.

Each product in Apple’s lineup has a different form factor and therefore requires its own optimized operating system. 

The question many people are asking is, will Mac’s form factor change once they’re running Apple’s custom ARM processor. And the answer is, yes, but in a way that improves the computer experience. Rather than completely changing what a computer is. For example, users love the quiet, cool experience they get with fan-less iPads and iPhones. And with Macs running on ARM, Apple could likely remove their fans entirely, offering users a much more satisfying experience. People also love the all-day battery life of their iPhone and iPad, but Macs have always struggled to deliver comparable battery performance due to the power demands of Intel’s processors. So, the Mac will still be a traditional computer with a trackpad keyboard, without a multi-touch display. That’s why it’ll still require its own optimized operating system to deliver the best experience possible in that form factor. But that doesn’t mean elements can’t be borrowed between products if it makes sense. For example, the larger buttons in macOS Big Sur doesn’t necessarily mean the next Mac will have a touch display, it could be there to simply reduce misclicks. Or to prepare for a new circular cursor, like the one found on iPad. After all, Apple loves to keep the appearance and functionality of their products consistent.  

A big reason why the iPad was so popular, was that it looked and worked exactly like the iPhone, which many people already had. And the Apple Watch featured an operating system that was essentially a miniature version of iOS. So, it too was easily understood by existing Apple users. But the Mac has always felt a bit out of place. Especially when compared to other products in Apple’s ecosystem. And I think it’s because the Mac was created long before the mobile device era. Ever since the iPhone, Apple products like the iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV have been created in its same image. With an iOS-inspired operating system, a custom ARM chipset, and optimized compatibility. But when it came to the Mac, it featured an operating system created in 2001, a processor provided by third party companies like PowerPC and Intel, and a focus on one-way compatibility for devices like the iPod. Since, that time, the Mac served as a hub for your mobile devices. But a lot has changed since then, and I think Big Sur is the beginning of the change Apple needed to make in order for the mac to remain a relevant and logical part of their ecosystem.