My views on WWDC
There doesn’t seem to be any big changes with the way the system works in Big Sur. It mostly seemed to be lipstick and toenail polish on top of something already quite beautiful. The design changes seem to be heading towards similarity with iOS design. I think this is a good plan because I like to think of my Apple devices as a whole system rather than separate operating systems. It’s good to work on one of my devices and to continue on whichever other one I want to, without too much visual change.
Maybe in a couple of years time there will be a touch screen Mac. After spending some time with iOS it is quite likely sometimes to want to touch your Mac screen to do something. It just seems so familiar to want to touch the screen to operate it. There’s very little chance I will update my iMac to a newer model for some years yet. The one I have is three years old and has plenty of life left in it. Absolutely no reason to want to change it. Same thing with my iOS devices that were working great and there’s nothing compelling in any of the new devices. Everything has got so good that Apple can only make incremental changes. No need to get new hardware. There are a couple of features in the new Apple Watch, but that also doesn’t really need updating. This is all good because I don’t want to spend any money on computer hardware at the moment. I’d rather save the money and spend it a motorcycle.
Email is Still Insecure
One of things about upgrading the Mac is the question of whether Dragon Dictate will continue working. At the moment I think it’s likely that Dragon will continue to work with Big Sur. This is based on how it seems the new operating system is mostly a new paint job. I did hear that in the Apple Mail app many of the plug-ins have stopped working. This makes no difference to me because I prefer to use Thunderbird. I did get a notice yesterday from Thunderbird to delay any updates to the software. The Enigmail plug-in will stop working on the next version, number 78. They say they are going to build in GPG support directly into the application. Not many people use encryption with email anyway so it’s not going to make much difference. It would have been nice if Apple could have done something about email security and privacy. They should build in end-to-end encryption into the mail app. Apple goes on and on about privacy and security and how is looking after us and then ignores the total insecurity of email. This is why I try to conduct personal communications using secure messaging apps rather than using email.
All the Little Things
The toolbar at the top and the Control Centre for Mac. Apple have made the toolbar translucent which so far seems to make things unreadable occasionally in the beta versions. It seems reasonable to make the toolbar less intrusive, because you want the operating system to get out of the way of your doing work. Some developers might need to work on the icons I use for the toolbar to make sure they still stand out well enough to be read. There is the control centre newly added to the toolbar. Quick access to basic computer controls, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and AirDrop. Gives you access to the brightness of the display and the level of audio. For the audio still more likely to hold down function key and use one of the function keys to rise although the volume of audio from the system. Because it’s an iMac I very rarely have to mess around with the Wi-Fi settings. In fact most of the settings on there are of no interest to me.
Welcome Changes to Safari
The most useful change for me will be the addition of translation. This gives me one more reason to use Safari rather unused Chrome. Chrome always seems to be a memory hog so for that I would prefer to use Safari. There are also the privacy and security issues by using Google software. No reason for them to know everything you’re doing or what are interested in. If Safari can be made more useful by third parties adding extensions I could ditch Chrome altogether.
Also on the privacy end of things, there are reports in Safari to let you know how you are being tracked while surfing. You can see which websites are tracking you and whether you are blocking any data.
Messages App Improvements
It looks like there are improvements to how groups work. So you can do in line messages. It says it’s easier to keep track of all the replies because it starts a new thread automatically. I don’t do any group messaging on Messages App. Sometimes I think it would be nice if Apple could have made Messages available on other platforms. We all have friends who use other operating systems. It will be useful to pin the conversations with our favourite people at the top of the app. The Mentions feature could also be useful in a group chat. It would save you going out of the group to make an individual chat just for that one person. It depends on how your brain works. Maybe it’s best to separate these things to keep it clear in your head who you are talking to and who is seeing the message.
There are other improvements such as Memoji and the message effects. I’ve seen messaging effects in other messaging applications, maybe it was already possible in the messages app on iOS. Now it’s also available in the Mac Messages app.