macOS 11.0 Big Sur: The review from Ars Technica | GeekComparison

The default wallpaper for macOS 11 Big Sur.
Enlarge / The default wallpaper for macOS 11 Big Sur.


The era of Mac OS X is over. Kind of.

For the first time in nearly two decades, Apple has decided to increase the version number of the Mac’s operating system. The change is intended to draw attention to both the upcoming Apple Silicon transition – Big Sur will be the first macOS version to run on Apple’s own chips, even if it isn’t the first to require those chips – and to an iPad-flavored redesign that significantly changes the look, feel and sound of the operating system for the first time in a long time. Even the post-iOS-7 Yosemite update did a great job of keeping most things in the same place when they looked different.

But unlike the jump from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, where Apple wiped out nearly every aspect of its previous operating system and built a new operating system from the ground up, macOS 11 is still essentially macOS 10. Early betas were even labeled as macOS 10.16, and Big Sur may still identify itself as version 10.16 for some older software to maintain compatibility. Almost everything stays work similarly – or at least Big Sur doesn’t break most software more than older macOS 10 updates. It may even be a little fewer disruptive than Catalina was. This should be a smooth transition most of the time.

We also won’t be making major changes to the way we approach this review. We cover the new look and features of the operating system – the things any Big Sur Mac will be able to do, whether it’s running on an Intel or an Apple Silicon Mac. To the extent that it’s possible to do without the final hardware, we’ll cover the new macOS features that will be native to Apple Silicon Macs and outline how the software side of the transition will play out.

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