Everything old is new again. What Apple once called Mac OS, but later changed to OS X, is now macOS.
The goal stated by Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior PC of Software Engineering, is to bring the name in line with the nomenclature for iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. But Federighi did make passing reference to another reason: Apple’s laptops and desktops have been on OS X (pronounced OS 10) for fifteen years now, and it was time to pick a new number.
Beyond that, Federighi announced that the a version codenamed Sierra will be available this fall, and the executive gave an overview of new features to be expected.
In addition to the name change, perhaps the most significant change in Sierra is that the Siri personal assistant is jumping over from iPhone and iPad. This will allow macOS users to tap on an icon and issue voice commands like “What movies are debuting on Friday?” and a list will be displayed. The supercilious voice of Siri can even read the titles aloud.
Siri can even perform complex queries like, “Show all the files I worked on last Friday that are tagged Draft.”
Apple is bringing tabs, the popular browser organization scheme, to any application that uses multiple windows. Even better, the company is doing this in such a way that third-party developers don’t have to make any changes to their software to implement this feature. Everything necessary is going to be built into macOS.
Support for picture-in-picture video debuted on iPad last fall, and Apple is bringing it to Sierra.
macOS ❤ iOS and watchOS
Most Mac users also have an iPhone and many have an iPad, and thanks to the Sierra version of macOS, working in concert with the newly-announced iOS 10, any text or images that are moved to the clipboard on one device will automatically be on the clipboards of the user’s other Apple devices.
The macOS desktop was originally created as a place to put files while users are working on them. The iCloud cloud-storage service is embracing this by automatically making anything on the desktop available on other devices. This means an iPad user can open a file on a laptop’s desktop just by going into iCloud.
A nifty trick coming to macOS Sierra will be the ability to unlock a laptop with an Apple Watch. As long as the user has their watch on, they won’t have to type in a password when they activate their computer.
Apple is bringing Apple Pay to macOS through desktop browsers, giving users another option for paying for online purchases. Through Continuity, users can authenticate purchases through Apple’s TouchID on an iPad or iPhone, or an Apple Watch.
The new macOS Sierra enters public beta in July, and is expected to roll out to users in the fall of 2016.