Tuesday, 14 June 2016 06:28

macOS Sierra says goodbye to OS X branding, brings major new features including Siri

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The next version of the Mac OS is macOS Sierra, previewed at WWDC, and it lets you ‘access your desktop from anywhere, copy and paste between devices’ and more!

Apple has just concluded its WWDC 2016 developer keynote, which as always is a MUST-SEE event that you can watch a replay of here

I have already written up my notes from the keynote you can see here, but Apple has shared information on each of its new operating systems, so I’m sharing that with you, too.

Coming in the Australian spring (and US autumn) is macOS Sierra, Apple’s latest major update to what it says is "the world’s most advanced desktop operating system".

You can see all the details of macOS Sierra at Apple here – it’s definitely worth having a look.

As always, it includes new features that make the Mac smarter and more helpful than ever.

Siri has now arrived on the Mac with ‘brand-new capabilities’ to help with the things users do every day on their desktop.

  • With Siri, Apple has made it so that users can look up information, find documents, pin or drag and drop search results, and even adjust system preferences, all with your voice.
  • In addition, seamless integration with iCloud means that Apple has made "everything from your Desktop and Documents folder available on your iPhone and iPad so you always have access to the files you need".
  • It’s the kind of integration at a system level that others have tried, but it appears Apple will master.
  • Then there’s the "Universal Clipboard", which "allows you to copy content, including text, images, photos and video from one Apple device and paste it in another".
  • Apple Pay comes to the Mac in Sierra, too, so it is even easier to shop securely and privately online.
  • And Photos now helps you rediscover your meaningful memories, organise your library and perfect shots like a pro.

More below, please read on!

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice-president of software engineering, said: “macOS Sierra is a major update that makes your Mac smarter and more helpful than ever with improvements to the apps you know and love and great new features throughout.

“With macOS Sierra, you can get information, find files and multitask using Siri, access your Desktop and Documents from anywhere, copy and paste between Macs and iOS devices, and rediscover precious memories in Photos.”

So, what are some added details Apple wants to highlight with its new features?

Siri debuts on the Mac

Siri on the Mac is now just one click away. The familiar features are now on the Mac with brand-new capabilities specifically designed for the desktop. Easily accessible from the Dock, menu bar or keyboard, Siri lets you use your voice to search for information, find files and send messages.

For example, Apple explains that "you can ask Siri to locate a specific document you worked on last night, add a meeting to your calendar or start a FaceTime call. With Siri on the Mac, you can also drag and drop items from Siri search results into your documents or emails, pin Siri search results in Notification Centre to keep an eye on information like sports scores or stock prices, and even adjust system preferences, set reminders and search your Photos library".

With its debut on Mac, Siri is now on all four Apple software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — and handles two billion requests per week across 36 countries.

Your desktop and documents on all your devices

With macOS Sierra you can automatically have all the files on your Desktop and in your Documents folder on any Mac, iOS device or even PC. You simply save your files on your Desktop or within your Documents folder as you usually do and you will have them everywhere you need them. You can access your files on your iPhone and iPad in the iCloud Drive® app and on iCloud.com or the iCloud for Windows app.

When you log into a second Mac, your files are automatically on the Desktop and in the Documents folder, exactly where you saved them.

Copy and paste between devices

Continuity across your Apple devices also gets better in macOS Sierra. With Universal Clipboard, the contents of your clipboard are available across all your Apple devices via iCloud. You can easily copy and paste text, images, photos and video between your Mac and your iPhone and iPad.

Tabs in almost every app

To help you navigate your Desktop with more efficiency, macOS Sierra takes the popular Tabs feature from Safari and makes it available across Mac apps that support multiple windows, including Maps, Mail, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and TextEdit, and even third-party apps, with Apple stating it its keynote that there is "no third-party developer action needed to make tabs just work".

Apple explains that with Tabs, "you can browse multiple locations in Maps without losing your place, copy and paste between Pages documents in full screen, or quickly jump between multiple email drafts in Mail".

Picture in picture on the Mac

You can now keep an eye on one thing while working on another. macOS Sierra lets you float video from Safari or iTunes in a window over your desktop as you work, and even resize, drag and pin video to any corner of your screen. The video stays put when you switch spaces.

Shopping on your Mac with Apple Pay

Apple says that "users love to shop online using their Macs and with macOS the shopping experience in Safari is now even better".

Apple Pay on the web makes it easy to make secure and private purchases when shopping on participating websites. You no longer need to share credit or debit card numbers with an online merchant and actual card numbers are stored neither on your device, nor on Apple servers.

Just look for the Apple Pay button at checkout on many of your favourite shopping sites and complete your purchase with Touch ID on your iPhone or by using your Apple Watch. Strong encryption protects all communication between your devices and Apple Pay servers, and Apple Pay does not track your purchases.

Rediscover memories with Photos

The new Memories feature in Photos helps you rediscover favourite and forgotten moments deep in your Photos library by automatically creating curated collections of occasions like a first birthday party, wedding or family vacation.

With new advanced computer vision, Photos now understands the people, places and things inside your images using on-device facial, object and scene recognition and location information to group images into albums. The People feature automatically groups your photos into Albums based on who is in them.

Places now displays your photos on a world map so you can see where they were taken. And, perfecting your photos like a pro is now even easier with the new Brilliance tool, which pulls in highlights and adds contrast to enhance details throughout your images.

Additional macOS features

  • Auto Unlock lets you simply walk up to your Mac while wearing your authenticated Apple Watch and be automatically logged into your desktop.
  • Optimised Storage frees up space when your Mac starts getting full by storing infrequently used items in iCloud and reminding you to delete used app installers, and even clearing out duplicate downloads, caches, logs and more.
  • Messages makes conversations more interesting, now allowing you to preview web links and watch video clips within the app, post reactions like a heart, thumbs up and more directly onto a message bubble with Tapback, and use bigger emojis for more message impact.
  • Apple Music in iTunes makes it even easier to discover new music and browse exclusives and new releases.

Privacy in macOS

As always, Apple says that "security and privacy are fundamental to the design of Apple hardware, software and services".

iMessage and FaceTime use end-to-end encryption to protect your data by making it unreadable by Apple and others. Services like Siri and Maps send data to Apple’s servers, but this data is not used to build user profiles, and Photos uses on-device intelligence to organise your images using facial, object and scene recognition.

Starting with macOS Sierra, Apple is using technology called Differential Privacy to help discover the usage patterns of a large number of users without compromising individual privacy. In macOS Sierra, this technology will help improve autocorrect suggestions and lookup hints in Notes.

Availability

Apple has made the developer preview of macOS Sierra available to Apple Developer Program members at its developer site here

Mac users can also sign up for the macOS Sierra Beta Program today and download the software starting in July here, although as always, Apple does not recommend that end-users run beta software on their primary computers.

The final version will be available free from the Mac App Store this autumn, which is the Australian spring.

See all the details about macOS Sierra at Apple here.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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