Apple today released the first beta of the upcoming macOS 11 Big Sur update for its public beta test group, so non-developers can test the software before it releases in the fall.
Beta testers who have signed up for Apple’s beta testing program can download the beta version of macOS Big Sur using the software update mechanism in the system settings after the correct profile has been installed.
Mac users who want to be part of Apple’s beta testing program can sign up to join the beta website, which gives users access to Betas for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Potential beta testers should create a full backup before installing “macOS Big Sur”. It may not be advisable to install the update on a primary computer as betas can be unstable.
macOS Big Sur introduces a refined design for the macOS operating system, which is more similar to iOS, but is immediately familiar to Mac users, as the window design, color palette, app icons, system tones, menu bars and side bars have been optimized.
The update brings Control Center to Mac for the first time and provides faster access to system controls for volume, keyboard brightness, screen brightness, Wi-Fi connection, and more.
An updated notification center includes more interactive notifications and redesigned widgets that reflect the new “widgets” in iOS 14. Notifications are now grouped by app, and you can customize which “widgets” are displayed.
Safari has a new customizable homepage, built-in translation, and a privacy reporting feature that lets you know which trackers each website uses to follow you online. There is a new Mac App Store category for extensions, and you can now control the specific websites that extensions can work with to ensure more privacy.
The Mac messaging app has been redesigned to better fit the iOS messaging app. It supports features such as pinned conversations, mentions, inline replies, message effects, and the creation of memoji and memoji stickers. Search is also better to make it easier to find old conversations, photos, links, and more.
A redesigned map app in macOS Big Sur provides support for Look Around, indoor maps, guides, and shared ETA updates and can be used to generate bike routes and routes with charging stops for electric vehicles that can be sent to the iPhone.
There are also minor updates for apps like photos, music, and home. For a complete list of all new macOS Big Sur features, see our summary.