macOS Big Sur unlocks the power of Apple Silicon chips

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With macOS Big Sur, Apple takes things to the next level.
With macOS Big Sur, Apple takes things to the next level.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s new macOS operating system Big Sur is the first Mac operating system to be built with the new Apple Silicon M1 chip in mind. Big Sur brings with it a dramatic redesign and a host of big improvements to key apps like Messages, Maps and Safari.

The M1 chip optimization will also mean some massive speed improvements for top apps — including the ability for your Mac to immediately turn on when you wake it up, similar to the way an iPhone does when you pick it up.

And you don’t have long to wait.

“For the first time ever, we’ve been able to design Mac OS for our own silicon,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior VP of software engineering, said during today’s event. “I’m so excited about what this means for the platform. Our latest release, macOS Big Sur, is absolutely incredible on M1.”

He continued: “Big Sur introduces a bold new design, powerful updates for apps like Safari and Messages, and the latest improvements to our industry-leading privacy features. By designing the whole system together [with] hardware and software, we were able to make the things you love about your Mac even better.”

Big speed boosts, and more

The speed boosts seen on M1 Macs will come courtesy of new Big Sur features like Advanced Power Management, which Apple says intelligently optimizes depending on what you’re doing at the time, whether it’s a “lightweight” task like reading a book or a performance-intensive tasks like playing a game.

Big Sur’s visual changes are huge, with brand-new icons for every built-in app, various privacy features, and refreshed interfaces for things like Control Center. It looks considerably more iOS-like than its predecessors, which also makes thematic sense given the ARM-based M1 chip. It’s one of the biggest design changes since Apple debuted OS X.

Apple also revealed the launch date for macOS Big Sur. The good news? You don’t have long to wait. Big Sur will be available to users everywhere starting Thursday, November 12.

“The combination of M1 and macOS Big Sur is super exciting,” Federighi said. “It truly takes the Mac to a whole new level.” We can’t wait to try it out for ourselves!