Apple today seeded the second beta of macOS Big Sur to developers for testing purposes. The new beta comes two weeks after Apple seeded the first beta following the WWDC 2020 keynote.
The new developer build can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center by participants in the program, or as a software update for Macs that have the proper profile installed from the Developer Center.
The new version of macOS will offer a much improved Safari web browser, as well as enhancements to the Maps and Messages apps, as well as improvements to user privacy.
New Safari features include a customizable start page, newly designed and more powerful tabs, quick and easy built-in translation features, and a new Privacy Report.
The updated Messages app allows Mac users to send and receive more expressive messages, and more easily keep track of and interact within group messages. Maps improvements include an all-new experience with features for exploring and navigating the world.
Apple says Big Sur is the “biggest design upgrade since the introduction of Mac OS X.” The redesign includes a new design intended to make navigation easier while putting more controls at users’ fingertips. Redesigned icons are designed to be more consistent with icons across the Apple ecosystem “while retaining their Mac personality.”
Control Center & Notification Center
A customizable menu bar offers an all-new Control Center that provides quick access to controls, an updated Notification Center with more interactive notifications, and redesigned widgets available in different sizes. A new core apps design allows for better organization of multiple open windows and makes it easier to interact with apps.
Apple says the Safari update is the biggest since it originally launched in 2003. The new version of the browser brings improved speed and battery life, and loads sites an average of 50 percent faster than Chrome.
Safari tabs have been redesigned to make navigation faster by displaying more tabs on-screen, while favicons allow users to more easily identify open tabs, while giving users a preview of a page by hovering the mouse pointer over a tab.
The new version of Safari also brings start page customization, with a background image as well as sections like iCloud Tabs and Reading Lists. Safari’s built-in translation features can detect and translate entire webpages from seven languages with just a click.
Improved support for extensions is available, and privacy is improved by the ability for users to choose when and which websites a Safari extension can work with. The new version also offers privacy tools like data breach password monitoring.
The new Mac Messages app offers users the ability to pin favorite conversations to the top of their messages list for fast access, and search has been entirely redesigned with the organizing of results into links, photos, and matching terms.
Message effects now include balloons, confetti, and more. Users can now create and customize their Memoji on the Mac, and express themselves with Memoji stickers to match their mood and personality. A new photo picker allows easy sharing of images, GIFs, and videos.
New group messaging features are designed to streamline interactions with friends, family, and colleagues. Inline replies enable users to respond directly to a message, and now they can direct a message to an individual in a group conversation by simply typing their name. Users can now set a photo or an emoji for their group conversation that’s shared with all members of the group.
The Maps app has been completely redesigned in macOS Big Sur, with new discovery and guides features. Guides are available from trusted resources, or users can create custom guides of favorite restaurants, parks, and vacation spots that can be shared with friends and family.
Look Around offers a 360-degree view of destinations, while detailed indoor maps of major airports and shopping centers are also available. Cycling and electric vehicle trips can now be routed on a Mac and sent directly to your iPhone.
Mac App Store Privacy
macOS Big Sur offers users more transparency and control over their data. New privacy information detailed in the Mac App Store will help users understand the privacy practices of apps before downloading them, including the types of data the apps might collect — such as usage, contact information, or location — and whether that data is shared with third parties for tracking.
As usual, MacTrast and Apple both warn users to not install any betas on your daily driver Mac, instead only install betas on a Mac set aside for testing purposes.