Riccardo Mori has written a thoroughly enjoyable critique of the the latest macOS user interface design. This passage in particular made me laugh:
The Mac’s user interface is undergoing plastic surgery by the hand of surgeons who have studied on iOS books. The result is pretty much the same as when you see a favourite celebrity after a procedure. They look ‘younger’ but there’s also something weird about their appearance. Their traits have changed a bit. In certain cases you almost fail to recognise the person at first glance.
I’ve not upgraded my aging 2013 MacBook Air just yet, but I’ve experienced Big Sur when briefly using my girlfriend’s laptop. I agree there is something that feels slightly ‘off’ about the new design. Even small details, like the fact that the new control centre glyph looks like a set of miniature switches – which are a UI components themselves. Whether the new UI will grown on me as iOS 7’s did (I was an iOS 6 holdout for many months) will depend on how much Apple refine the new look over the coming months a years, as they did with iOS. Perhaps my theory will one day hold true, that Big Sur’s big surprise is that it will support touch screens after all.
My fondest memories of Mac OS X was probably Puma. This was a free updated related after 10.0’s abysmal stability and performance problems. I remember picking it up for free from John Lewis. (In lieu of an Apple Store – there were none in the UK at the time – they were the one of the few places to get such things.) Back then Mac OS X seemed like a new frontier in user interface design. Here is what 16 year old me’s desktop looked like in 2002: