macOS Big Sur

macOS Big Sur is the latest and greatest operating system from Apple. The biggest design change to the macOS in a decade. In fact, the biggest design change since the introduction of macOS 10 [Mac OS X — Cheetah] released on March 24, 2001. Well if you do not believe that statement from apple, here is a side-by-side comparison for you.

macOS X Cheetah macOS Big Sur
Mac OS X Cheetah — image credit Wikimedia VS Mac OS Big Sur image credit cnet

For the 17th major release of the macOS, apple went big on the aesthetics, complemented by some under the hood changes.

Big fan of the iOS interfaces? then you are in for a treat. Here is a list of articles listing feature of macOS Big Sur, below is a list of a selected few.

macOS Big Sur | Everything You Need to Know
Apple just showed off their June 2020 WWDC Keynote. With this event, they came out with a lot of cool software that we…medium.com

The Best macOS Features Coming With macOS Big Sur
Find out the best changes coming with macOS Big Sur.medium.com

Apple macOS 11 Big Sur review: a long time coming
macOS has a new look, which Apple says is its biggest design update to its desktop operating system since OS X…www.theverge.com

The Good

Weeks of macOS Big Sur has been great so far after high adrenaline faze and high expectation during the upgrade process.

I did not come tumbling down to earth from cloud nine, and not on cloud nine either. It is that sweet spot in the middle I find myself.

Design 

Translucency, new colour palette, “neumorphism”, skeuomorphism and sheer beauty are the words I would use to describe the designed interfaces of the macOS Big Sur. Some components losing the weight and others getting just about the right amount of touch up. There was some level of hit and miss with the new icons

macOS Big Sur
design overhaul — image credit apple.com

Control and notification centre

The control centre and the notification centre are my most used features by far. The control centre with its quick toggles for most I use keeps me coming back to it. Wifi, Bluetooth, Airdrop, Do not Disturb, Keyboard Brightness etc are nifty toggles available in the control centre.

macOS Big Sur
control centre — image credit apple.com

Pro-tip: sliders on the control centre can be easily adjusted by using the two-finger drag on the touchpad.

Grouping of notification in the notification centre on macOS is a much-welcomed feature. Away with the clutter and disorganization and in comes clean and neatly organized notifications.

macOS Big Sur
notification centre — image credit apple.com

The Bad

Issues

Apple did a wonderful job in their keynote address on the macOS Big Sur, the best in the business. Even covid19 had next to no effect on the gigantic marketing engine running at Apple, near-flawless presentation. Hence imagine nail bitting and constant countdown a lot of people had to go through in anticipation for the final release [was I? Yeah I had the 12th pencilled in on my calendar]. The brave ones install the various builds to the final release. Finally, the 12th of November arrived and the downloads began. Then you get a slap across the face literally with the following error message 

Installation Failed Error Occurred while installing the selected updates

Yes I know it is not the end of the world when a few people get an error downloading the os update, very true but for a company as big as apple and considering the high standards they hold themselves to, it is a no-no in 2020. It gets worse if you realise that this is the 17th major release of macOS you do expect a near-flawless rollout as they display in their marketing and presentations. 

But it is just one issue, that is definitely not the end of the world! Sorry to disappoint you, a simple search reveals not one, not two but as many as 11 separate installation or upgrade issues. 

https://piunikaweb.com/2020/12/04/macos-big-sur-update-bugs-issues-tracker/

https://www.techradar.com/how-to/macos-11-big-sur-problems-how-to-fix-the-most-common-issues

The good news is as soon as some of the issues popped up on the internet apple provided a fix for some, sadly some of the issues are without a fix just yet. 

It may look like Oliver Twist asking for more but considering how apple “pulls” it customers [fans] alone for the ride, the least Apple can do is make it a smooth ride.

Software Bugs

Not underestimating the difficulty of rolling out such a grandiose upgrade in the form of the latest mac operating system. The numerous bugs that made their way into the final release of such a big change take the shine off the feat achieved here. Rushed, is the word you might use to describe it all in the face of all the bugs slipping through the vigorous testing procedure and processes.

Users report Choppy animations, system lag, random screensaver interruptions as bugs after a successful upgrade. There are fixes from apple and the macOS communities on some of the bugs and others are yet to receive fixes but do have workarounds. The list below are solutions to a couple of the bugs report all across the internet

https://piunikaweb.com/2020/11/30/more-google-drive-backup-sync-woes-in-macos-big-sur-as-error-8b227910-surfaces-on-mac-m1-models/
https://piunikaweb.com/2020/12/03/icloud-tabs-not-syncing-properly-across-several-apple-devices-after-recent-macos-big-sur-ios-14-update-as-per-user-reports/

macOS Big Sur battery

The issue reported in relations to battery performance decreases on the latest the os deserves a special mention. MacBook Pro 2017 model is not the oldest hardware to support macOS Big Sur, hence noticing significant decreases in life is difficult to comprehend. 

The terrible choppy battery animation makes the entire situation worse than it is. You see the battery icon disappear for a few seconds and reappear with a chunk of the fill missing. 

macOS Big Sur Battery icon

This behaviour is expected in the first few days or hours after the upgrade whiles the os runs a background process to set itself up. Sadly it has been weeks and the performance decrease in battery life is very much noticeable. Hoping for an update to fix this from apple soon, but until then here are few things you can do to improve your battery’s performance.

  • Click on the battery icon to see battery hogging applications and take care of them
  • Upgrade all applications to the macOS Big Sur supported versions since they will run much smoother than unsupported versions
  • Turn on power nap setting under the battery in the system preferences.

Watch this great video by the guys at TechRadar on pro battery improvement tips

The Mer

Finetuned for M1

Big Sur was done with apples new silicon m1 5nm 8-core System-on-Chip (SoC). It is a thing of beauty, the engineering and performance gains with the new design are impressive. 

M1
M1 Chip
M1 Chip

As impressive as the macOS upgrade Big Sur is, running it on none M1 chips clearly shows that the match was not made in heaven like M1 chips and macOS Big Sur. You have to give it up to apple, how they manage to make their newer product always a very compelling choice compared to the previous option is incredible. 

Improvements would be made to the macOS for both M1 chipped Macs and non-M1’s but we all can hear the very subtle message from apple saying if you want the best in the class experience of our latest major release of the macOS make sure you have our newest Macs with the M1 chips.

Conclusion

macOS Big Sur is the latest and greatest in the line macOS releases. It will even get much better with the various updates to be released. Waiting for the next big reveal to trump macOS Big Sur. 

Well, sadly it is no surprised to a lot of people that macOS Big Sur too comes with its tall list of issues, bugs and not too smooth a ride aboard the apple train. All hope is not lost just yet, still very hopeful that in the not too distant future, there will be little to distinguish the top-notch marketing form apple and what the customers experience

macOS Big Sur
macOS Big Sur
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Comments to: macOS Big Sur: The good, the bad and the mer
  • December 23, 2020

    I tried Big Sur on two different Mac setups. A 2020 MacBook Air (Intel) and a 2019 Mac mini on a 22\” 1080 Monitor. I went back to Catalina on both of them after a few days. I simply could not stand the UI changes of Big Sur. The White/gray background on toolbars and the grayish fonts along with the transparency. It might look nice or a good change on the surface. But for my eyes working within Big Sur for hours it doesn\’t work for me. Maybe eventually Apple will make subtle changes to the UI that help some of this. At least other then resorting to Accessibility options.

    Reply
    • December 26, 2020

      Have you tried the dark mode? The dark mode makes it a lot easier to use. I always have mine in the dark mode.
      Dark mode control centre

      Reply
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