Big Sur Release - 12th November 2020
At the 2020 November event Tim Cook announced Big Sur will be available to all 12th November 2020. The new Macs with the M1 Apple Silicon chips look interesting. My iMac is still running great so there will not be a new Mac in my immediate future. I’ll let others jump in first and try the water before I dip my toe in. I’ve just downloaded the beta Release Candidate and it’s been working great for me over the last few months.
What's New with Big Sur
I have been holding off doing a change to big Sur on my iMac after trying it briefly about a month ago. The try I did previously was on an external disk to easily make it temporary. This time I’ve gone the full hog and installed it on my internal hard drive (SSD). When I tried it before, everything was working okay and didn’t give me any problems at all. Apart from one small thing. I use the Firefox application for a specific purpose. It’s the Spanish version and is an old version. I use this to check up on my Spanish nationality request. In order to use this I need to use a certificate to prove my identity on this computer. On my previous trial of Big Sur that stop working. For that reason I went back to using Catalina. I decided to give it another try because there have been more beta releases and I was wondering if it was because the disk was external which gave the digital certificate a problem. The certificate might think it was being fooled or dodged around and therefore stop working. The Spanish Firefox is still not working, but I do have a backup disk I could boot into to go back to Catalina on a temporary basis. The release date for Big Sur is imminent. Probably will let it loose when they announce a new Mac with the Apple Silicon running the business end of the computer.
Big Sur First Impressions
The main thing about Big Sur is that it’s a complete new look. It has a much cleaner interface. It looks nice and for some people that’s enough of a reason to change to the new and shiny version of an operating system. I prefer to see enhancements in productivity and ease-of-use. So far I haven’t seen many big changes. I do like the addition of the Notification Centre which comes into the screen when I swipe two fingers right to left on the far side of the trackpad. You get your notifications in there and you have a few widgets. Over time there may be more widgets added by Apple and also by third-party developers. After getting used to using widgets on my iPhone and iPad it’s cool to have them available also on the Mac. I like to see my computing platform as a collection of places and devices I can use. Anything I’m working on, on the iPad I’d like to be able to continue seamlessly on any other device. This is one of the reasons I like using Drafts because I have it available on all my devices. Any text I’m working on is available on whichever device I pick up or look at. Same thing with the merging of the operating systems. It will never be just one OS for all but the look and feel will be the same across platforms.
DragonDictate for Mac on Big Sur
Most of the writing I do is with dictation. DragonDictate for Mac has been discontinued by Nuance. The dictation provided by Apple doesn’t yet match up to what I have available from DragonDictate. For this reason DragonDictate has to work just as well as it ever did when I install a new operating system. I’m pleased to report DragonDictate version 6 is still doing the business for me on Big Sur. Occasionally I give the Voice Over dictation from Apple a try to see if it has improved. It’s about time I tried it again. My only other option would be to use a virtual machine with Windows on it and to use the Windows version of Dragon dictation. I really don’t want to do that, mostly due to the cost of it, but also because I don’t want to run Windows. It would annoy me greatly!
What Apple Says about Big Sur
- New Features – At the top of their preview page the highlights are a big update to Safari, with new features in maps and messages. Of course there also highlighting the added transparency regards privacy.
- Streamlined Apps – Full height sidebars and refreshed toolbars as part of a new cleaner looking at design. This does make better use of the space in applications like Photos and Messages. I like the look of it, makes everything appear more open and fresh.
- Improvements to Safari – There’s the customisable start page which I don’t tend to see very often. Now I can decide what will be there in front of me when I do see it. I do like the way with the tabs if you hover the pointer over the tab bar it shows you a thumbnail version of webpage in the tab. This could be useful if you have a lot of tabs open and make it easier to choose the correct webpage in Safari tabs. One of the biggest improvements is translation. This has been a long time coming. It’s of obvious interest to me because of me living in Spain. Until now We’ve had to use Google Chrome to get this facility. Chrome is known to be a bit of a battery and memory hog, so if we have a reason to keep with Safari, all the better.
- Improvements in Messages – you can pin conversations to the top of your list. This will give you good access to your most important conversations. This is also multi-device because it synchronises across to iOS devices. There is also the in-line replies which starts a thread under the original reply. This should make it easier to keep track of all the replies. Then there are the group photos which could be handy for newsgroups a lot. Within group messaging you can also give a mention to somebody. This is handy when you’re using customisation of an active group. Make it so that only the notifications for messages when you are mentioned show up. Within the messages out there are also improvements to the Memoji’s and message effects.
Stability of Big Sur In Beta
I really haven’t had any problems with running this beta software. I got impatient waiting for it to be pushed out for use by the general public. While you should always be careful of installing Beta software, especially when it’s an operating system I can’t fully complain about Big Sur. I haven’t experienced any crashes of the system. Apart from the small problem with Firefox, everything is working as it should be. I think we must be very close to the release of the Big Sur operating system to the general populace.