The shadow of a man is cast on the wall of an Apple store as he uses his mobile phone in Beijing on August 26, 2019
The shadow of a man is cast on the wall of an Apple store as he uses his mobile phone in Beijing on August 26, 2019

Apple releases MacOS Big Sur public beta, letting users try overhauled operating system

New software is radically overhauled – though beta may not be entirely stable as a result

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 06 August 2020 18:54

Apple has released a public beta of its new MacOS operating system for computers.

The update is named Big Sur and numbered MacOS 11, marking the first major numerical revision since it released MacOS X almost 20 years ago.

It brings with it a complete overhaul of the operating system, with an entirely redesigned look that brings it more in line with the iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS.

That comes ahead of a similar transition in the hardware used for Apple's Macs, which later this year will start using Apple's own chips, rather than those made by Intel.

Away from the new look, the update brings new features including what Apple called the "biggest Safari update ever" and new features in the Maps and Messages apps.

But the significant nature of the update means that the early beta could have more bugs or small problems than usual. As such, users are warned only to install the update on devices that have been fully backed up, and Apple's official page warns that beta software should only be used on "non-production devices that are not business critical".

Apple also advises that users could install the new software either onto a "secondary system or device, or on a secondary partition on your Mac".

The full update will not be publicly available until "this fall", Apple has said.

Users can sign up to Apple's public beta programme by accessing the devoted page on its website. It is done by opting in and then downloading an update, and further versions of Big Sur should then be downloaded automatically.

Information about the public beta versions of iOS, iPadOS, tvOS and watchOS can all be found on that page, too.

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