macOS Big Sur, or macOS 11, is the seventeenth major release of macOS that was released on 12 November 2020. It was announced on 22 June 2020 at WWDC. It is the first version to support the ARM-based SoC architecture of current Macs. It drops official support for Intel HD 4000 GPUs, though they work as they did in Catalina. This version has no 11.0 release for Intel-based Macs, even though the OS's beta-testing phase began with said version number, instead, the public release for Intel-based Macs jumped the version number to 11.0.1. Version 11.0 has been pre-installed on some early M1 Macs, and Apple recommends that users running this version must update them to 11.0.1.
It is the first version of macOS since 2000 to increment the major version number from 10 to 11. It is also the first version of macOS to include Rosseta 2 for running and emulating x86-64 applications and the Universal 2 binary that enables applications to run on both Intel x86-64-based and ARM64-based Macs.
The user interface has been completely redesigned. It incoporates translucency in various places such as the menu bar and the dock. The design of most of the built-in apps have been redesigned and streamlined and their icons received a major overhaul in appearance to resemble their icons in iOS and iPadOS. The new icons also include more shading and highlights to give them a 3D appearance. The design of the Dock was overhauled as well.
The design of the default wallpaper has been redesigned to be more in line with the default wallpaper design of iOS.
The interface of Spotlight has been refined. It is also now the default search system in Safari, Pages and Keynote.
System sounds have been redesigned.
The Time Machine backup feature has been overhauled. It now utilizes the APFS file system introduced in macOS High Sierra instead of the legacy HFS+ file system.
The Control Center from iOS has been added.
The Notification Center has been redesigned, now featuring interactive notifications and a new Widget system.
Support for iOS and iPadOS apps on Apple Silicon (Apple SoC) hardware.
Cryptographically signed system volume.
Software updates can now be done in the background.
Return of the startup sound, can be toggled via an option in System Preferences (2016 and above Macs). The new startup sound is lower-pitched, with a mono version for pre-T2 Macs, and a stereo variant for T2 Macs.
New bilingual dictionaries.
Improved predictive input for Chinese and Japanese language users.
New fonts for Indian users.
A new "Listen Now" feature in the Podcasts app.
Several new features in Safari, these include a customizable start page, built-in translation, and a Privacy Report feature to let users know what trackers each webpage is using, as well as page previews and an ability to import passwords from Google Chrome.
A new Messages app that has the ability to pin up to nine conversations, search for messages, name and photo sharing, use photo logos for group chat, mention individuals, support for inline replies, support for Memoji stickers, a new photo editor and localized message effects for users that live in India.
New features for the Mac App Store, these include a privacy information section, a new category for Safari extensions and third-party Notification Center widgets.
Notes now has a collapsible pinned section, quick text style and formatting options and scanning enhancements.
The Photos app has improved editing capabilities, as well as an improved Retouch tool.
The Maps app now has the "Look Around" street panorama feature first implemented in iOS 13.