The best bits of macOS Sierra


So long OS X, Apple’s renamed its desktop operating system macOS and introduced the follow-up to El Capitan, macOS Sierra. Like iOS 10, which was announced alongside it at WWDC 2016, the new OS will only arrive for the general public in spring. Those who want early access can register for the public beta, though, and start fiddling with it next month.

Whether you’re an early adopter (you daring tech-head, you) or like to wait for all the kinks to be ironed out before committing like we do, these are the most exciting new features macOS Sierra has to offer.

Here’s Siri

macOS Sierra 2We knew it had to happen eventually, and it has: Siri is coming to Apple’s desktops and laptops. It’ll come standard as part of macOS Sierra, but it remains to be seen just how comfortable people will be talking to their computers, especially in open-plan office environments, coffeeshops or other shared work spaces.

Expect Siri to be able to handle more than just the usual web searches and and entertainment requests when it shows up on your MacTop. Apple says the digital voice assistant will be able to do smart searches of your computer, with searches like “show me presentations I edited last month” presenting no challenge at all for Siri’s smarts.

Search results show up in a sidebar and are pretty smart themselves. If you’re likely to need certain results a lot you can pin them to the sidebar, and you can drag and drop content from the sidebar to whatever it is you’re working with. Smart, Siri, very smart.

No more password mishaps

macOS Sierra 3Got an iPhone or an Apple Watch? With macOS Sierra you’ll be able to use these devices to unlock your Mac laptop or desktop when they’re in range.

Support for Touch ID on your iPhone also means you’ll be able to use Apple Pay with websites on your computer. That is, if Apple Pay is available in your country. Sadly, despite the addition of regions like the UK and Australia to the list of Apple Pay enabled countries there’s still no word on when we’ll be seeing it in South Africa.

Given how easy this will make it to buy things online — you’ll be able to click a “Pay with Apple Pay” button on supported sites and confirm the purchase with Touch ID — perhaps its lack of local availability isn’t so bad after all.


Clearing out the cobwebs

macOS Sierra 4We’ve never cared much for iCloud, but with macOS Sierra Apple’s promising to make it a whole lot handier. A feature called “optimised storage” will track down cached web content and other digital fluff and delete it. And iCloud Drive will let you make your various desktops available on multiple Macs or let you browse the same files on your iPhone.

Now let’s just hope unlike many of iCloud’s other features over the years these ones actually work as advertised. Let’s hope, too, that AirDrop has had some troubleshooting courtesy of Apple’s engineers so that it actually, you know, works.

Video and clipboard updates

macOS Sierra 5Last, but certainly not least, macOS Sierra brings “picture in picture” and a “universal clipboard” to the laptop-and-desktop party.

“Picture in picture” lets you pop out and resize videos, and keep them on top of other content, so you can keep watching Game of Thrones while you polish up that spreadsheet.

The new clipboard, meanwhile, makes it possible to copy text on an iPhone or iPad and have it appear on said clipboard for easy pasting on your Mac. That could make us more useful and efficient, though those gains could well be offset by the newfound ability to distract ourselves with cat videos.

None of this is revolutionary, but it’s the sort of thing we can imagine we’re going to find it hard to remember living without once we’ve experienced it. Developers can play with macOS Sierra right now, but the free update will arrive for the rest of us in spring.



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