I'll try to stay away from the obvious ones.
The Mac menubar has dropshadows behind the text, again. We haven't seen this since 10.2.
A commenter on Hacker News said this:
The integration of tall title bars with toolbars is really reminding me of Gnome 3 here.
It's hard to unsee. As I pointed out last January, all of the newest, most innovative desktop computing stuff is going to be happening elsewhere. It's interesting and noteworthy to see this actually coming to life.
Long term, I am probably going to be on Linux. I made an attempt at a break, by moving to Haiku, and then got derailed by the pandemic and I'm back squarely on my Mac (though I still have been working on the data portability issue).
At a high level, the thing that makes Haiku a hard sell is really just that it doesn't have a mainstream browser on it. There's a WebKit port, but it was a little out of date, had some rendering issues and had choppy media playback. I know some improvements have been made, but if I'm going to use this machine seriously, I need a serious browser.
As for the rest of the Big Sur interface... it looks sorta strange.
Having said all of this, I will install Big Sur on to my system on Day 1 and explore. I'm not nearly as emotionally invested in the Mac as I used to be, and really there's nothing anyone can do to stop whatever "horrible" stuff they might be putting into Big Sur, so why fight it?
I think this pretty squarely answers the question I asked in my last post on this: Should I be focusing on native or web?
For me, it's definitely web - this is clear now. I have had a sinking feeling that the good old days of the Mac platform were about to be axed for the last few weeks. Plus there was the email app, app store fiasco from last week. So last weekend I retooled with VueJS and did some experiments with it. I have always liked this library and have used it to make a few small widgets on websites. The experiements were a success and further going into this direction will commence.
Vue is also a helluava lot easier to use and learn than SwiftUI, even though SwiftUI is more sophisticated than Vue or React. With Vue, I feel like I can almost put something together just by guessing. There's no way you can do that with SwiftUI... you need to memorize their components and then compose from there. I'm sure it's great when you get to that point.
I see the web as only expanding from here, taking over for most desktop software.
The ARM hardware is exciting. I'm glad to see Apple moving away from Intel, and I think this will be good for the platform. It will also turn off a lot of people who like control and power over their systems. General computer users, photographers, designers and the like will do just fine on this ARM hardware. For developers, those not developing for Apple's systems, it's game over and a lot of us are probably heading to Windows or Linux (hopefully running on ARM).