WWDC - Improvements to OS releases - part 3, Mac OS Big Sur & ARM


Mac OS Improvements


In the second of this three part series, I outlined the improvements to WatchOS, Privacy, Smart Home, and Apple TV coming up in iOS14. To conclude in this article we discuss the big daddy of all OSes, Mac OS.

This time the new operating system is going to be called Big Sur. The focus is on design and power of the OS. Some of the important introductions are as below

User Experience (UX)

  • There is a complete redesign of the user interface and experience meant for rich look and feel, maintaining simplicity and ensuring easy usage and great UX
  • Sidebars and Toolbars are added for most apps
  • Transparent Menu bar which merges with background
  • Soft sliders for controls like volume
  • Control center is now integrated into Big Sur, just like iPhone and its customisable to what you wish to have

Widgets, Messages, Maps & Catalyst

  • Widgets are now available to Big Sur
  • Messages on mac now carries over iPad based updates to memojis and powerful integrations of things like photos, icons, etc directly into messages.
  • MacOS supports all map features discussed previously for iOS 14. On the move though these may not be so useful but just before you leave you can setup a lot of data on your desk and it will all hopefully be there on your phone as well
  • Street level views and look around, points of interest, important locations known to you can now be pinned
  • Catalyst app now available and will support adapting iPhone apps to mac with enabling all the good features of Mac OS with respect to screen size, and lots of other things

Safari browser speed improvements

Big Sur claims that the Safari browser is now 50% faster than Chrome. And we all know that Chrome is going down the drain with its memory hogging functionality. This comes at a time when Microsoft Edge is blazing fast on all platforms. The real competition is now really between Safari and Edge rather than Safari and Chrome

Safari also has improvements to privacy and now will allow users to see how websites are tracking them, using privacy report button. Website passwords have stronger level of encryption within Safari in case of a data breach and Safari is now also allowing developers to port extensions to Safari easily.

The Mac app store will also feature a list of these extensions to find them easily. Being able to give extensions permissions just by the hour or day and giving them specific permissions for specific websites makes Safari very powerful. Safari also has a new look with custom backgrounds, and specific themes.

One of the issues we people have always had is to have multiple tabs open to the point that each tab shows only the icon. It would by then become hard to read and we would not understand which page is on which tab. For this the new browser comes with page preview just by pointing the button at that tab which in my opinion is a great move.

Another feature introduced by Safari also includes the fact that we can now close only tabs to the right or only taps to the left. Safari also comes now with built-in translation where we can translate an entire webpage in real-time contextually while being on the same page. This is especially great if you want to read content written in other languages, but shown in let's say English.

Move to ARM

Perhaps the biggest update in WWDC but still nothing visual is the decision from Apple to move from Intel to ARM. This is by far the most important decision that will let Apple bring about newer tech in near future of at least five years. Every new hardware released hereon will be having ARM chips and it is an exciting time for both Apple and ARM knowing the sophistication of ARMs IPs in terms of performance and the likes.


Some of the key points about the hardware evolution are as below

  • 100x improvement in CPU performance
  • Larger GPU and wider memory subsystem for much better graphics performance over the years
  • 1000x faster performance in graphics in ten years
  • 2 billion devices shipped since ten years is a whopping achievement
  • Focus on devices giving highest performance with lowest power consumption
  • Big Sur is be default having native apps built for the new silicon
  • Universal 2 for converting apps to support native silicon or Intel
  • The real deal would be when users use complex apps like photoshop, final cut pro which would seamlessly provide performance most likely at less power consumption, like for example applying filters on 4k preview videos while editing on a project.
  • Rosetta 2 would help in automatically help translate intel based apps to work on new silicon even though the app is not completely refined
  • Gaming is expected to be super smooth for rendering frames
  • Support for virtualisation and support for iPhone and iPad apps to run seamlessly on Mac’s new chips
  • The SoC kit is available as a mac mini for using Big Sur and Xcode so developers can work with to perfect their apps

Conclusion

The developer betas are already available and the iOS 14 release would be officially available by Fall time (September in India). These OS updates are substantial in their own right and have finally caught up with what Android was offering all the while. But in a more sure footed manner.

It is an exciting time for buying Apple products especially with the very performant and less power hungry ARM cores and it is only anyones imagination how many avenues this will open for Apple in future. The only thing left to do is to wait to savour the new iOS14 for now and some great ARM based hardware in the years to come!

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