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OS X is no more, here's everything you need to know about macOS Sierra

David Ludlow
13 Jun 2016
Apple macOS Siri
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It's a rebrand for the 15-year-old operating system, as macOS Sierra brings loads of features to your Mac

OS X, although it has gone through multiple iterations, has been around for 15 years, and doesn't really match the naming conventions of Apple's other operating systems: iOS, watchOS, tvOS. So, it's clearly time for a change, and the next version of the desktop operating system will be called, as expected, macOS. The new version will take the Sierra moniker. Due to launch in Autumn, here's everything that you can look forward to with macOS Sierra.

Auto Unlock

Rather than having to open your Mac up and type in a password to access it, Auto Unlock will automatically unlock your computer from your Apple Watch. According to the press conference, the system uses Time of Flight networking to ensure that it's really you say in front of your computer, so it's really secure. It's about time for this feature, as it's much easier to log into your phone that your computer. I can't wait to give it a go and find out how reliable it is.

Universal clipboard

Thanks to Continuity, introduced with iOS 8, you can share applications between devices, say starting a task on your phone and continuing on your Mac. With the Universal clipboard, you can now share what's in your clipboard across all devices: so, copy on your Mac and you can paste on your iPhone.

Optimised storage

Now, this sounds like a really cool feature. It uses iCloud to automatically backup files you haven't used in a long time to the cloud, saving physical disk space for new files. In the demo, Apple showed how on a Mac with a 250GB hard disk, it went from 20GB of free space to 150GB of space. Of course, you'll need to have enough iCloud storage to use this feature, but if you regular run out of disk space, this feature could be  life saver.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay is brilliant and I use it everyday with my Watch and on the iPhone in-app. However, the one place we haven't been able to use it is on the Mac, until now. With macOS Sierra, you can now use Apple Pay on the web. It uses Continuity to prompt you to authenticate the transaction on your Watch or iPhone once you've selected Apple Pay as a payment method. Arguably, it would be useful if you could authenticate using a password on your Mac but, for Watch users in particularly, authenticating should be quick.

Tabs 

Who doesn't love tabs as way a to keep everything organised? Well, with macOS Sierra, you can now have tabs for everything, as the feature is built in and requires no developer action. As good as that sounds, the one thing I don't know is how tabs will work with App Expose. With a three-fingered swipe on a Trackpad, you can see all open windows of the currently-selected app. However, this feature doesn't work with tabs; if we've got more tabbed applications, it would be good if App Expose could expose all of the open tabs, so you can more quickly jump to the one you want.

Picture-in-picture 

If you're watching a video and want to keep it in the foreground, you can hit the picture-in-picture button and the video will appear as an overlay on all desktops. This feature is very similar to the picture-in-picture mode that's already part of iOS 9.3.

Siri on the Mac

Siri is finally coming to the Mac, with the phrase 'Hey Siri' used to wake it up. As with the mobile version, Siri can answer questions, send messages, set reminders and more. New to the Mac, it can find files on your computer, too. How much you'll use this feature will come down to how useful you think Siri is now: if you love it, having it on the Mac is great.

Apple macOS Siri

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