Big Sur is a big deal. The OS picks up where Catalina left off, further rationalizing Apple’s product lineup through design, new ways to bring apps to the Mac, and updates to existing system apps. The approach realigns functionality across Apple’s platforms after years of divergence from their common foundation: Mac OS X. The result is an OS that walks a perilous line between breaking with the past and honoring it, acknowledging the ways computing has changed while aiming for a bold future.
macOS, which OS X has been called since 2016, is a mature operating system, so more often than not its annual updates are incremental affairs that don’t turn many heads. Big Sur is different. It’s an update that promises a future that’s connected to its past yet acknowledges today’s mobile-first computing landscape and harmonizing user experiences across devices.
Big Sur also clarifies Apple’s Mac strategy, the contours of which began to emerge with Catalina. It’s a vision of a continuum of computing devices that offer a consistent, familiar environment no matter which you choose while remaining true to what makes them unique. In practical terms, that means a carefully coordinated design language and a greater emphasis on feature parity across OSes. Conceptually, it’s also an opportunity for macOS to shed the perception that it’s a legacy OS overshadowed by iOS and reclaim a meaningful place in Apple’s lineup for years to come.
Together, the changes to macOS set the table for Apple’s M1 Macs, the next big step in the Mac’s modernization, and easily earn Big Sur its designation of version 11.0.
It’s become something of a tradition for Apple to include new emoji in one of the early point releases to a major iOS and iPadOS release. Like last year, the new emoji are coming in the second major update to iOS and iPadOS. This year, though, the new emoji look like they will make it into the first released version of macOS Big Sur because they are included in beta 9 of macOS too.
In July, Apple shared some of the designs for its emoji based on the Unicode Consortium’s specifications for Unicode 13.0. Today, as detailed by Emojipedia, iOS and iPadOS 14.2, beta 2 were released and include Apple’s full set of upcoming emoji. There are 66 in total, not counting every possible variant.
Designs not revealed by Apple earlier this summer include:
Smiling Face with Tear
Gender variations for people wearing a tuxedo and veil
Developers, who can access betas of Apple’s OS releases before the general public, received the first developer betas on June 22nd, the first day of WWDC and a second version earlier this week. If past practice is a guide, the public beta released today should be identical to the second developer beta released on Tuesday.
If you would like to sign up but haven’t, visit beta.apple.com and log in using your Apple ID. It should go without saying that you should only install betas on your devices after you’ve taken appropriate steps to protect your data and are willing to endure potentially buggy software.
For more on what’s in the betas check out our full overviews of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 and tvOS 14, which are terrific overviews that we published during WWDC.
Stay tuned for more over the summer too. The MacStories team is working on special preview stories that cover a wide range of features in the public betas as we approach the publication of our annual OS reviews this fall. Federico and I will also be doing some special interview episodes of AppStories this summer to dig deeper into what the new OSes will mean to MacStories readers and the apps they love.
Update: An earlier version of this story stated that the macOS Big Sur and watchOS 7 public betas have been released too, which was incorrect. We expect macOS Big Sur and watchOS 7 to be released soon, but they are not yet available.