Apple held its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier this year to give us a sneak peak at the changes headed to the software on the Apple iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, TV and the Macbook. With every WWDC comes a new version of the company’s desktop OS but this year, there’s more than just a new version.
What’s new, what’s changed and what’s more of the same? Let’s find out!
macOS Sierra: What is it?
On the Macbook front, Apple has a host of changes in store, not least with the name; after years of OSX, Apple’s desktop OS will be called macOS going forward. Considering Apple also has iOS (for the iPhone), TV OS (for the Apple TV) and WatchOS (for the Apple Watch), this move shouldn’t come as a surprise.
When is it coming out?
macOS Sierra will launch later this year and although there isn’t a confirmed release date, it’s likely a release will be forthcoming in September or October based on past history. Just like previous versions of macOS – and iOS for that matter – the developer preview is available for members of Apple’s Developer Program today. Of course, a public beta is in the works as well and you’ll be able to download it next month.
What are the new features?
Now you know what macOS Sierra is and what to look forward to, let’s take a look at the new features that the latest version of the update will bring. The underlying theme is one of unification with the desktop OS set to gain features that users have been requesting, and which have been available on other versions of Apple’s OS for sometime.
Siri comes to Mac… finally
Siri on the iPhone and iPad has improved drastically over the past few generations of iOS and after years of customers requesting it, Apple’s voice assistant Siri is now making its way over to the desktop OS.
Siri will be accessible from the Dock, menu bar or via a keyboard shortcut, and will bring additional features designed specifically for Apple’s Macbook range. On macOS Sierra, Siri will let you search for information, find files and send messages alongside the usual Siri features found on iOS.
For example, you can drag and drop Siri search results into your documents or emails, pin results in Notification Center or find items using contexual search, such as asking for a document you worked on last night.
Copy & Paste between Apple devices
If you have multiple Apple devices, the new Universal Clipboard feature could prove to be a godsend; copy something on one device and it’s available to paste on another. Whether it’s text, images, photos or videos, Universal Clipboard allows you to very quickly (and easily) copy and paste the same data regardless of which device you are using.
Remote access to your Desktop & Documents from anywhere
Apple’s iCloud service already allows you to sync some files across various Apple devices but with macOS Sierra, you will be able to use iCloud to access even more from any iPhone, iPad or Mac and even via a PC.
With the new macOS, any files you save to your desktop or documents folders will be automatically synced to iCloud and available on other devices. If you get a new Mac, the files are automatically synced while if you want to access them from any other devices, they’ll be available in the iCloud Drive app, iCloud.com or the iCloud for Windows app.
Safari Tabs come to almost every app
If you’re accustomed to switching between apps frequently, you’ll know that aside from Safari or Finder, opening different pieces of data in the same app can be a challenge. For example, opening multiple documents in your Office client requires opening multiple windows, yet some apps are able to open multiple tabs in the same window.
macOS Sierra brings this feature to most apps – both Apple’s own and third-party – and allows apps to open multiple tabs in the same app. For example, you can open up multiple locations in Maps via tabs without needing more than one window.
Of course, it’ll require extensive developer support before the tabs method becomes the ‘norm’ but there’s certainly potential in trying to unify the interface across all the apps available for macOS.
Picture in Picture comes to macOS
iOS 9 last year delivered Apple’s picture-in-picture mode that allows you to continue watching a playing video in a small pop up window while using the rest of the feature on your iPad or iPhone.
On macOS Sierra, you’ll be able to ‘float’ a video that’s playing in Safari or iTunes in a window and resize, drag and pin video to any corner of the screen. Like the mobile equivalent, the pop-up window remains in the same place as you swipe through screens or change apps.
Apple Pay comes to Mac (as long as you have an iOS device)
Apple Pay is coming to the Mac… sort of; no, Apple hasn’t (yet) announced a Macbook with a fingerprint sensor but instead is allowing you to use Apple Pay on your iOS device to authorise purchases on your Mac.
When browsing a website that lists Apple Pay as one of the supported payment methods, you can authorise the payment by verifying your identity using TouchID on your iOS device. As such, there’s no sharing of credit card or personal data with the merchant.
Now surely, the next step is for Apple to release a Macbook with an embedded TouchID fingerprint sensor and just cut out the middle man? Maybe it could be integrated to make the entire trackpad a TouchID sensor.
Relive the good times with Photos
Photos on macOS is most users’ default photo management and editing tool and in macOS Sierra, it has gained quite a few helpful new features. The biggest of these is Memories, which lets you relive good times from the past with automatically curated collections. For example, photos of your child’s first birthday party, a wedding or a vacation will all be collated together using advanced machine learning.
Photos also gains a People feature, which automatically groups your photos into Albums based on who is in the photo and Places, which displays photos on a world map to let you easily see where they were taken. Finally, a new Brilliance tool lets you tweak the highlights and contrasts to enhance and improve your images.
Of course, none of these features are new but with the addition of these different tools, Photos has taken a giant step towards competing with Google Photos. Although the latter has only been around for little over a year, it has proven to be a popular and effective photo management tool and with the changes in Photos on macOS Sierra, Apple is hoping to at least enjoy a similar level of success.
The rest – Optimised Storage, Auto Unlock and Messages
Each update to any of Apple’s platforms also come with a ton of new features that don’t get highlighted but a few that definitely improve the overall experience are listed below.
- Auto Unlock lets you automatically unlock your Mac as you approach it when wearing an authenticated Apple Watch.
- Optimised Storage helps to free up storage when your Mac starts getting full by clearing up items in iCloud and reminding you to delete used app installers and even duplicate downloads and cached items.
- Messages also gains an update and now lets you preview web links within the app (as opposed to having to open Safari), post reactions to messages and use bigger emoji.
What do YOU think about macOS Sierra?
With an interesting list of changes plus a lot more to be discovered when the Previews and Betas roll out, there’s a lot that macOS Sierra could offer. What do you think however? Is the new macOS name to your liking or do you prefer OS X? What about the new features, are they enough to get excited about macOS Sierra?
Let us know your views in the comments below guys and be sure to bookmark this page as we’ll be updating it as we learn more about Apple’s new OS for its Mac range.