macOS 11.1 shows Apple changed the way its assigns version numbers

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macOS 11.1 beta 1 was seeded to developers on November 17.
The first macOS Bug Sur 11.1 beta seems to indicate we’ll probably get macOS 12 in 2021.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Less than a week after the very messy launch of macOS Big Sur 11.0.1, Apple seeded the first beta of the replacement to developers. Apple hasn’t yet revealed what new feature are coming in version 11.1.

But the new version number indicates Apple changed the system it uses to assign such things.

New features in macOS 11.1 beta 1: Please stand by

As is the usual practice, the release notes for developer betas don’t include a list of new features. Still, some are likely to turn up. The version number suggests this isn’t a simple “bug fix” update.

In any case, the first macOS 11.1 beta is open only to those who are paying members of the Apple Developer Program. It’s not yet known when the public will get a chance to test this pre-release version.

macOS 11 in 2020, and macOS 12 in 2021?

A change perhaps not everyone noticed with macOS Big Sur is that it’s version 11. For almost two decades, every Mac operating system was version 10, starting with Mac OS X Cheetah back in 2001. There was 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, etc. Last year’s macOS Mojave was 10.14, for example.

But that’s gone out the window. Apple released version 11.0.1 on November 12, and Monday brought macOS 11.1 beta 1. Presumably, updates in the coming months will be 11.2, 11.3, and so on. All this strongly suggests that the next major upgrade will be dubbed macOS 12 when it’s unveiled at the WWDC developers conference in 2021.

The change puts the Mac operating system following the same method for assigning version numbers used by iOS, iPadOS, watchOS… really, almost every piece of software. The numbering system used before — when every update was 10.x — was what was weird.