WWDC 2016 has been and gone in slightly underwhelming fashion, with Tim Cook and co showing off Apple’s latest software to the world before it becomes available to consumers later this year. Though iOS 10 took centre-stage, Apple’s desktop OS got plenty of love too.
Here’s everything you need to know about macOS.
Don’t You Mean OS X?
‘Fraid not. OS X is no more, with Apple officially rebranding it macOS (with a little m). The desktop operating system is no longer the black sheep of the Apple family, and can now hang out with iOS, watchOS and tvOS without fear of being singled out as an embarrassing anomaly.
The next version (first version?) of the software, which will no doubt be referred to as OS X 10.12 in some corners, has been given the moniker ‘Sierra’, like the mountain range. For me though, it conjures up nostalgic images of what was once the the car of my dreams.
Siri in the House
Starbucks coffee shops are going to become noisier and even more insufferable – Apple’s digital assistant is coming to macOS. Siri for Mac can carry out web searches, control apps (and musical playlists), and works with Mac and iOS's Continuity features, letting you pull Siri results from one device onto another.
It seems to live in the top right corner of a Mac desktop in its own little grey overlay, letting you copy and paste or drag results into documents and other apps.
Before you move on, muttering something about Siri being useless, Apple has also revealed that it’s opening up Siri to developers. Introducing third-party capabilities is a vital step that should see Apple make up ground on both Google and Amazon.
It doesn’t sound as ridiculous as you might think. Rather than requiring you to touch your Mac against a contactless terminal, this allows you to easily pay for stuff you’re buying online, as long as the site you’re on supports Apple Pay. Once again, it relies on Continuity.
Once you’ve hit the ‘Pay With Apple Pay’ button, you’ll see a notification pop up on your iPhone or iPad, asking you to authorise it with a fingerprint. A pretty slick way to help you part with your money.
Apple is also making iCloud better. With macOS Sierra, your desktop will now be available on all other Apple devices including your iPhone. In addition to that new functionality, it will make room for new files by automatically sending older files to the cloud using a feature called optimised storage.
It sounds boring and sort of is boring, but Universal Clipboard also happens to be really rather handy for serial note-takers. Through the power of Continuity, you can copy stuff on your iPhone and paste it on your Mac.
Communication will feature highly in the new world of macOS. Apple is introducing an auto-unlock feature that will make it easier to use an iPhone or Apple Watch as an authenticating device for unlocking your Mac laptop or desktop. Simply put, if you’re wearing an Apple Watch or have an iPhone nearby, you will no longer have to type in a password to unlock your computer. Because time is money and passwords are a pain.
macOS Sierra Release Date
macOS Sierra will be available to consumers as a free upgrade later this year, most likely in September or October. However, a developer preview is available right now, with a public beta coming next month.