Last weekend, I finally made the move to the latest Mac Operating System (OS). Until then, I’ve been using Mac OS Catalina. My Mac came with OS Mojave pre-installed but even when Catalina was out, I took my time. Some people might wonder why I’ve resisted the urge to upgrade. I actually have a very good reason for this: I do not wish to be a guinea pig. Let others take on the growing pains. I recall attending this class a while ago. I was in front of a monitor in the tech lab. I asked our instructor if it was safe to download MAMP from this website.
‘Yeah, they’re pretty reputable.’
‘I got my stuff from them,’ he continued. ‘They don’t have bugs or anything.’
We shared a laugh.
Leading the way
Mac OS 11 aka Big Sur was first released on 12 November of last year. It was named after the Big Sur region in California’s central coast. The last cluster of Mac OS released have been named after places in Cali: Mavericks, Catalina, High Sierra, and Yosemite to name a few. Big Sur is technically seen as version 10.16 but is radically different enough for people to call it version 11.0. Big Sur is a huge leap forward from Catalina. The latter was basically the same as its predecessor, Mojave. However, Big Sur does not support some Macs circa 2012 and 2013. In terms of the MacBook Air, only laptops from mid-2013 can upgrade.
Some of the biggest changes could be seen in the new and improved app designs. All standard apps have been reworked, including the Dock. In terms of aesthetics, the look is now very similar to iOS. One must note that there is more shading for the Mac apps, providing a 3D look unlike its iOS counterparts. There are now even new picturesque wallpapers. Moreover, a new Control Center has been added, with quick navigations for key buttons. The brightness level could be adjusted here, likewise Wi-Fi and AirDrop. The same applies to the Notification Center. Once again, these evoke elements of iOS. If your Mac has the M1 chip (released in November 2020) you can take advantage of even more new features.
Most importantly, the old Time Machine has been given a facelift. Up until Mac OS Catalina, the backup mechanism used HFS+. This has been the traditional file storage system that remained unchanged even as other Mac applications utilised the newer APFS. This has resulted in snappier, more dependable backups than its forebear. Apparently, APFS could be up to four times speedier than its predecessor. New volumes are automatically formatted to APFS by default. I also noticed that the changes have also been applied to the Time Machine volume. The storage device has a new look reminiscent of iOS.
Spotlight is also quicker and sports a redefined interface. It’s now the default search parameter in Safari, Keynote, and Pages. Meanwhile, the Now Playing feature has been carried over from the notification centre to the menu bar. As part of the upgrade, Safari 14 has been instituted. The newest edition brings a bevy of novel features. Among these are new icons for Preview, System Information, and Calculator. From the App Store to Messages and Notes to Photos, Big Sur has reimagined the Mac’s system.
The backup claims to be twelve gigabytes. However, you actually need thirty-five GB of space in order to incorporate the new system. The update would take some time; you might want to grab lunch outside, walk the dog, or read a book. As I expected, the Big Sur rollout had some hang-ups. Those who didn’t listen and had insufficient space were the most impacted. This was especially true of 2013 and 2014 MacBook Pros. Apparently, the rollout also affected those computers who weren’t even running Big Sur. There were also some early security concerns, that were subsequently addressed by the Apple vineyard itself.
Apart from these changes, I like the new background options for my screen. They add some brightness to the ambience. I also noticed that the battery icon has a different feel when I’m charging my device. The start-up screen has also been revamped. Before upgrading, always remember to do a backup (or two). Also note that your first backup post-update will be a little longer than usual. In the end, I couldn’t help but compare my new desktop to the iOS. The changes breathe new life to the tried and tested world of Mac OS.