Apple releases macOS Big Sur 11.3 update with revisions to Apple Music, game controllers

After several public and developer beta tests, Apple has now updated macOS Big Sur to version 11.3. The update includes new features in Apple Music, Game Controllers, Apple News +, and Podcasts.

As of now, or at least when it’s done rolling out worldwide, the current version of macOS Big Sur is 11.3. That’s the version installed on any Mac you buy, and it’s the version your current Mac will update to, assuming it can.

Users can wait for the automatic update to take place overnight or they can force it manually. A manual update can be initiated by opening System Preferences and accessing the Software Update interface.

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However, there are plenty of little ones that add convenience, new functionality, and much-requested enhancements across the operating system, and Apple stock apps.

AirTag and Find My network support

macOS includes support for the newly released Apple AirTag, the tracking chip that can be used to locate lost keys or other items through the Find My app.

There is also support for the Find My network, which enables the Find My app to display the locations of third-party devices and trackers that Apple supports from the platform, similar to a lost iPhone or other hardware.

Reminders, news, podcasts, and music

Apple’s to-do app, Reminders, has a couple of additional features that, once again, prove it to be better than one of the more basic task managers it competes with. Since macOS Big Sur 11.3, you can sort your tasks so they appear where you need to work.

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It also allows you to manually drag tasks to change the order of a list. There are much more powerful to-do apps, but for a quick way to decide what tasks to do right now, Reminders is great.

Podcasts

Similarly, Apple News for Mac receives tweaks that are small but useful. The News + tab has been redesigned to make it faster to find particular posts, and there is also an improved way to find or remove previously downloaded issues.

Apple Podcasts have also changed the way they work with downloads. Where previously there was a preference setting to download podcasts automatically, it has been superseded by a similar one Download episodes on save. Instead of downloading all the episodes, you can choose to download the recording simply by saving it.

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Individual podcast episodes now also have a save button. If you like an episode, you can now choose to “follow” the podcast, which is Apple’s new term for “subscribe.”

Top charts and popular categories are included in the search to help discover new shows. There has also been a subtle rearrangement of the Listen Now portion of podcasts. Once again, it’s about bringing out the most wanted items.

The same is visible on Apple Music for Mac, where your Listen Now will include the promotion of live events. There’s also an autoplay option, which means Apple Music will keep playing, even after completing an entire playlist.

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Autoplay on Apple Music will now keep music playing by automatically playing a similar song, once you reach the end of a song or playlist. The city charts will also show what is popular in more than 100 cities around the world.

Safari

Apple’s browser now allows users to customize the order of home page sections to their liking.

An additional WebExtensions API allows developers to offer extensions that replace the new tab page. Meanwhile, the Web Speech API allows developers to add speech recognition to their web pages, which could be used for dictation, voice navigation, or captions in real time.

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Finally, it includes support for WebM and Vorbis audio and video formats.

Hardware support

Apple Music users have long been able to stream their music to stereo-paired HomePods, while other Mac audio outputs could only go to one. Now as of macOS 11.3, a stereo pair can be configured as Mac output.

This was a feature that turned out to be erratic during beta testing, however,

Also on the hardware side, Big Sur 11.3 now gains the ability to use certain game controllers. The playstation 5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S controllers are now compatible with Mac.

Macs running the M1 chip also get hibernation support.

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Use iOS apps on Mac

Mac support for iPhone and iPad applications – in Apple Machines Silicon M1 – has also seen some improvements. It’s not yet the case that iOS developers are rushing to release Mac-optimized versions, but for those that do, Apple has added a few little usability touches.

Apps on the iPad will take better advantage of the larger screen, for example, and on that device and the iPhone, there is a new setting. It allows you to use keyboard commands instead of playing.

The use of iOS applications on Mac is not widespread yet, but Big Sur has made changes to something that is. The Safari web browser has gained new features for both users and developers.

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For developers, there is a new Web Speech API that allows them to take advantage of speech recognition. They also get more options for the Safari extensions they can create.

Users will obviously benefit from them when developers release them, but this latest Safari also offers at least one immediately obvious improvement. The home page has been made more customizable.

Apple releases macOS Big Sur 11.3 update with revisions to Apple Music, game controllers

Other changes

Siri benefits from a few more voice options, giving users more variety in how they can configure the digital assistant to speak.

As with iOS 14.5, new emoji have been included, including faces, hearts, and the bearded woman emoji. There is also support for separate skin tones for each individual for all variations of the kissing couple emoji and heart couple emoji.

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No big changes, but important

Unless you’re a developer who has struggled with extensions, there’s not much in macOS Big Sur 11.3 that could be described as huge. However, at the same time, there is also not a Mac user who does not see some benefits of the update.

However, where there could be a big change is in Rosetta 2. This only affects Apple Silicon Macs, but this is how they can run older Intel-based applications.

During the beta period, Apple suggested that the feature can be removed, if not entirely, at least in certain countries and territories. That last point makes it difficult to determine if it has yet been removed.

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We’ll find out soon if it’s been removed somewhere, but we’ll also see how stable the audio output is for stereo-paired HomePods. Even after all the beta testing, the real test comes when a major version like a macOS update comes out and is used by millions more around the world.

Apple macOS 11.3 release notes read as follows:

AirTag and Find My

AirTag support to track and find your important items like your keys, wallet, backpack and more, privately and securely in the Find My app The Find My network with hundreds of millions of devices can help you find your AirTag, even when not Lost Mode notifies you when your AirTag is found and you can enter a phone number where you can be reached

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Apps for iPhone and iPad on Mac with M1

Option to resize the window of an iPhone and iPad application Support to display the highest resolution version of an iPhone or iPad application in full screen iPhone and iPad gaming keyboard support designed to use device tilt Keyboard, mouse and trackpad support for iPhone and iPad games that support game controllers

Emoji

Support for separate skin tones for each individual in all variations of the kissing couple emoji and heart couple emoji New face emojis, heart emojis, bearded woman emoji

Siri

Siri now includes more diverse voice options

Apple Music

Autoplay keeps music playing by automatically playing a similar song once you’ve reached the end of a song or playlist. City charts show what’s popular in more than 100 cities around the world.

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Podcasts

Podcasts Show Pages have been redesigned to make it easier to start listening Option to save and download episodes, automatically add them to your Library for quick access Download behavior and notification settings can be customized based on each program Main graphics and Popular categories in Search help you discover new shows

News

Redesigned News + feed allows Apple News + subscribers to quickly find, download, and manage magazine and newspaper issues An entirely new search experience that helps you find relevant topics, channels, and stories

Safari

The order of the home page sections can now be customized Additional WebExtensions API allows developers to offer extensions that replace the new tab page Web Speech API allows developers to incorporate speech recognition into their web pages for real-time subtitles, dictation and voice navigation Support for WebM and Vorbis video and audio formats

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Reminders

Ability to sort the Today Smart list Support to synchronize the order of reminders in lists on all your devices Option to print your reminder lists

Gaming

Xbox Series X Wireless Controller Support | S or Sony PS5 DualSense ™ wireless controller

Mac computers with the M1 chip

About this Mac

About this Mac screens Apple AppleCare + coverage and warranty status on the Service tab when you sign in with Apple IDSupport to purchase and enroll in AppleCare + for eligible Mac computers from About This Mac

This release also fixes the following issues:

Reminders created through Siri can be inadvertently set for the early hours of the morning

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