When Apple’s Big Sur software update will arrive

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Apple plans to release Big Sur, its new operating system for laptops and desktops, on Nov. 12, the company said during a virtual product event on Tuesday.

The new MacOS software represents a big shift for Apple. The version, 11, is the first whole number software upgrade since Cheetah, version 10, debuted in 2001; it replaces last year’s Catalina, or version 10.15.

Big Sur takes design cues from Apple’s iPhone software, the latest version of which is iOS 14. Application icons, formerly circular, display as rounded squares. The software features free-floating notifications widgets and a “command center” that provides quick access to settings, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, volume, display brightness, and “do not disturb” toggles.

The similarities with iOS are intentional; Apple is more tightly integrating the hardware and software across its devices. Big Sur is designed to work in tandem with Apple’s new custom-designed ARM processors, called M1, which Apple says are faster than earlier Intel-designed computer chips.

Big Sur–equipped MacBooks and Macs will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps. They will feature a speedier ad-tracker-limiting Safari web browser and slicker graphics-rendering, which Craig Federighi, Apple’s software engineering leader, describes as “buttery smooth.”

While Apple’s latest Macs and MacBooks will have the best performance, models dating back to 2013 will also be compatible with Big Sur, the company said.

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