At this year’s WWDC Apple unveiled an insane amount of new software. We go the first look at iOS 10, a look at watchOS 3—which is finally set to make the smartwatch useable, and a look at Apple’s tvOS 10 for the new Apple TV. However, Apple’s desktop operating system got lots of love too. First of all, the OS has been renamed from “OS X” to “macOS” keeping its capitalization and nomenclature in line with Apple’s three other OSes. The first version of macOS is called Sierra after the range of mountains in California and Nevada. And there’s TONS to love with macOS Sierra. Here are its biggest features.
Siri for the Mac
Yep, after being the sole domain for iOS over the last five years, Apple’s digital assistant is finally coming to the Mac. What’s really cool about Apple’s implementation of Siri in macOS is that it can do almost all the things Siri on iOS can do—and a lot more. Siri in macOS can find files on your Mac, do rich web searches for you, and even help find out system statuses for you. You’ll be able to ask Siri things like: “How much free space do I have on my Mac?”, “Show the PDFs in my Downloads folder”, and “Show my photos from yesterday”. As for rich web searches, you’ll be able to drag Siri web search results—such as pictures from the web—right from the Siri window into a document or the desktop. Best of all you can pin Siri results to your Notification Center so you can access them later.
Major Photos improvements
The iPhoto replacement app keeps getting better. Apple has now built in advanced computer vision technology that can identify objects and scenes within your pictures. This means that Photos now knows which pictures of your have, say, a lake in them, and which pictures have a teddy bear. Typing in either one of these topics into Photos’ search field will return all the images with the object.
The Photos app also gains vastly improved facial recognition, a much-needed dedicated Places album, a new People album, and a new Memories feature that automatically creates slideshows and shareable collections of your best photos based on people, places, holidays, and more.
Apple Pay on the web
For me, this is the best feature of macOS Sierra. Apple Pay is now available on the web through the Safari web browser. On any website that supports Apple Pay, simply click the “Pay with Apple Pay” button and you’ll be prompted to authenticate your purchase using the Touch ID on your iPhone. Do that, and your purchase is complete. No more having to enter credit card information on third-party websites. And while Apple Pay on macOS requires use of the Touch ID on your iPhone now, rumors have it Apple is adding Touch ID to its future Mac laptops later this year.
Unlock your Mac with Apple Watch
By now everyone probably knows that having a password on your computer is a good thing. The problem is that passwords are annoying because you need to enter them before being able to use your Mac. Apple has solved that with macOS Sierra. Now if you are wearing your Apple Watch your Mac will automatically authenticate you and unlock as soon as you are near it.
Another much-welcome feature is Universal Clipboard. This enables you to copy and paste things between your Mac and iOS devices. For example, if you are reading a web page on your iPad and found a bit of text you want to copy into your Pages document on your Mac, you no longer need to send that text to yourself via an email. Simply copy it on the iPad and then on your Mac select Paste and the text will be transferred over. Amazing.
iCloud Drive improvements
iCloud Drive is gaining an improvement: now it automatically syncs not just everything in the main Drive folder between your Mac and iOS devices, it will also sync everything on your desktop as well. Something tells me that this is simply preparation for Apple making the entire contents of our hard drives available in the cloud in the future.
Another nice feature is the ability for macOS to optimize the storage on your Mac. If your Mac’s hard drive is close to full you can run the optimization told and your Mac will help make more space by automatically storing rarely used files in the cloud, but they’ll continue to be available to you instantly at the click of a button. The Optimized Storage feature can also help you find and remove old files you no longer use.
Picture in Picture
This last little feature is pretty cool. macOS now supports picture in picture video. So let’s say you are working in Excel but want to keep an eye on that YouTube video you have playing in your browser. Simply click a button and that browser video pops out into its now PiP window that you can move around on your desktop.