Iteration in visual style
After Apple’s third autumn new product launch, the official version of macOS Big Sur was launched. Big Sur is undoubtedly the biggest update of macOS in recent years. macOS officially bid farewell to the X era and ushered in the new macOS 11.0. More importantly, it and the Mac equipped with the M1 chip have built an Apple silicon ecosystem for the next decade.
The most intuitive change is still reflected in the UI level. The overall design of macOS Big Sur continues to move closer to the flat direction. Apple has redrawn a large number of icons for native system applications, the icons have been adjusted to a unified rounded rectangle, and the Dock bar has also become a rounded card design similar to iPadOS.
Even on the default wallpaper, macOS Big Sur this time also introduced the widely acclaimed default wallpaper on the latest iOS 14.2 that supports the system’s dark and light mode switching. The design language tends to be consistent, so that many new users who migrate from iOS and iPadOS will be very familiar with this new system.
The new UI design style of macOS Big Sur
However, in the eyes of some old users, macOS Big Sur has largely lost the original design style of macOS’s own system.
This time, macOS Big Sur has adopted a large number of shadow elements in the icon design. There are more shadow details and transparency adjustment changes in a large number of native apps. The industry calls it the “new mimic UI design.” From the design point of view, these elements full of shadows, highlights and deep details will actually reduce the flat visual perception of the UI. Generally speaking, it is more suitable for presenting a design that is pseudo-material.
In the secondary menus such as system preferences, Apple still retains the highly quasi-materialized design of macOS, and Apple has not made fundamental adjustments to it, so the feeling is that macOS Big Sur seems to be a pursuit of one. A combination of flattening and pseudo-materialization.
What is familiar is not only visual language, but also function and interaction.
This time, macOS Big Sur also “borrowed” the features of its own iOS and iPadOS, such as the control center, and the new notification center, which also makes it easy to think of the iOS 14 desktop component solution.
But having a larger screen, physical keyboard, and TouchBar on macOS can also solve many problems with convenient commands and function menus, but these operations are cumbersome and repetitive. But this also reflects that the design language and interaction logic of the three major systems of iOS, iPadOS and macOS have in fact begun to merge.
A better Safari browser
Safari is one of the core applications of macOS.
Safari, which has always been known for its simplicity and speed, has made a series of adjustments in its design. In terms of design, Apple further emphasized its concise visual language style. Reduce the use of a large number of lines and color blocks, and refine the layout of some function buttons to make the entire interface more beautiful.
The newly designed startup page adds more custom elements. You can set your favorite picture as the background, and you can also customize the modules that need to be displayed on the startup page. In addition, Safari has a good experience in adapting to the dark mode of the system, and it takes into account the visual relationship between content display and dark background.
At the functional level, Safari has added more extended support this time, and Apple has brought a brand-new plug-in store with a large number of rich plug-ins to choose from.
In order to further enhance the richness of extensions, Apple provided developers with WebExtensions API support and migration tools at WWDC this year, so that they can more easily migrate Chrome extensions to Safari. The subsequent expansion capabilities of Safari are still worth looking forward to.
Security is also the highlight of Safari. On the new Safari, it will intercept websites to collect your browsing history and provide you with a privacy report to protect your privacy and information security.
After the update, Safari has more powerful functions and more convenient applications. It is undoubtedly the best browser on Mac currently.
The biggest change is actually the “invisible place”
The above are all things that can be “see”, but what really reflects the future of macOS and Mac is actually some “invisible places.” macOS Big Sur is specially created by Apple for the new Mac series equipped with the Apple M1 chip that has just been launched recently. This also means that it has done a lot of adaptation and optimization for the new M1 chip.
As a new operating system that started the Apple silicon era, the first thing macOS Big Sur has to do is to realize the smooth transition of Mac from X86 to ARM. For this reason, it focuses on two aspects: the
first aspect is the application of the original X86 compatible. Although the newly released Mac products have completed the platform migration on the hardware, most of the desktop applications currently on the market are still based on the original X86 architecture. Naturally, macOS Big Sur will help new Mac users to solve the compatibility of X86 applications. problem.
To this end, Apple has taken out Rosetta 2 instruction translation technology, which can compile the instructions of the original X86 software so that it can run on the ARM-based system platform.
Compared with the Windows 10 on ARM solution of a friend, Rosetta 2 will compile the instructions used by the application when downloading and installing the application. When running the application, the original x86_64 instructions have been translated into ARM64 instructions that Apple Silicon can understand. Compared with Windows 10 on ARM, its compatibility is better, and the software runs more efficiently.
For some large software, Apple also prepared Universal 2. Developers can choose to compile applications for both X86 and ARM platforms at the same time, and then package the files into a Universal application, which can be automatically selected according to different platform environments during runtime. Currently, the representatives of this program are the two famous image applications of Lightroom and Photoshop, which are expected to be officially launched next spring.
In addition, there are a large number of applications originally developed for the ARM platform in the iOS and iPadOS ecosystems. At present, these applications have achieved direct operation on macOS Big Sur. In a word, the current macOS Big Sur not only realizes the compatibility and adaptation of the existing X86 architecture applications, but also completely opens up the three major application ecosystems of macOS, iOS and iPadOS.
The second aspect is infrastructure optimization. In order to better utilize the performance of M1, macOS Big Sur focused on optimizing the memory architecture this time. The new system adopts a unified format and specification for the data of all modules. Each module can directly use the data generated by other units without data duplication. Copy and convert.
The advantage of this is that the data calls between the unit modules can be processed by dedicated circuits without going through the CPU pipeline. In this way, the energy efficiency ratio of the chip is greatly improved, and at the same time, a set of data processing formats between each module is avoided, causing memory bandwidth congestion and dragging down the overall performance. In this way, performance, battery life and safety capabilities can be comprehensively improved.
The boundaries of the three systems are disappearing
When used, the word “fusion” is undoubtedly a key word throughout the macOS Big Sur system. In macOS Big Sur, we have seen the introduction of many elements and functions that were originally only available on mobile operating systems such as iOS and iPadOS. The introduction of these new features has brought more changes and performance improvements to macOS.
From mobile devices, light office work to heavy productivity tools, the iPhone, iPad, and Mac “troika” currently form a complete and progressive relationship in product positioning and application scenarios. Through the integration of the new software and hardware ecology, the boundaries of the three systems are gradually disappearing. This is a main line in the evolution of macOS in the past ten years, and it will also be the iterative trend of Apple’s software system for a long time in the future.
For Mac users, the unification of the three ecosystems will undoubtedly make up for the original ecosystem and application shortcomings of macOS. From the developer’s point of view, sharing a development system not only saves application development costs, but the traditional Mac ecosystem can also enjoy the ecological dividends of iOS and iPadOS. Looking further, the integration of software systems will also help Apple bring more innovations and changes in product form.
In the final analysis, Apple’s goal is to achieve consistency in the user experience of the entire ecosystem. This consistency is reflected in all aspects of design, interaction, and applications. Users can switch freely and smoothly between different Apple devices. transition. On this basis, we must try our best to improve productivity and functionality. This is also the core product value that Apple has long pursued: easy to use and powerful.
As Apple said, the starting point for all this is macOS Big Sur.