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Here’s all you need to know about MacOS Sierra

To begin with, OS X is no more. Long live macOS! Apple’s last release, El Capitan was otherwise known as OS X 10.11. That nomenclature changed on Monday at Apple’s WWDC (world wide developer conference) currently under way in San Francisco, California. Apple platforms now follow the same naming convention, and are iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS, respectively.

“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,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. 

Here is all you want to know about macOS Sierra:

Siri debuts on the Mac

Siri comes to the Mac with capabilities specifically designed for the desktop. Apple’s personal assistant, accessible from the Dock, menu bar or keyboard, lets users use voice to search for information, find files and send messages, says Apple. For example, 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. Users can also drag and drop items from Siri search results into documents or emails, pin Siri search results in Notification Center to keep an eye on information like sports scores or stock prices. Other things Siri can help do? Adjust system preferences, set reminders, search Photos.

By the way, Siri, now available on all four Apple software platforms handles two billion requests per week across 36 countries, says Apple.

Desktop and Documents available on all devices

With macOS Sierra users can automatically access all files on the Desktop and Documents folder on any Mac, iOS device or even PC from anywhere. Files can be accessed on the iPhone and iPad in the iCloud Drive app and on iCloud.com or the iCloud for Windows app. If you log into a second Mac, the files are automatically available on the Desktop and in the Documents folder.

Copying and Pasting 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

Mac apps that support multiple windows, including Maps, Mail, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and TextEdit, plus some third-party apps, will allow the tabs functionality, which has been the prerogative of browsers so far. Tabs lets users browse multiple locations in Maps without losing their place, copy and paste between Pages documents in full screen, or jump between multiple email drafts in Mail.

Picture-in-picture

MacOS Sierra lets users float video from Safari or iTunes in a window over the desktop as they work. Users can also resize, drag and pin video to any corner of the screen. 

Apple Pay available on the Mac

Apple Pay is coming to the web. The Apple Pay button at checkout will let users complete their purchase with Touch ID on their iPhones or via Apple Watch. The authentication process is strongly encrypted between devices and Apple Pay servers, says the Cupertino giant; adding that Apple does not track user purchases.

Photos gets Memories

A new Memories feature in Photos automatically creates curated collections of occasions like a first birthday party, wedding or family vacation. Apple is using Computer Vision for on-device facial, object and scene recognition, combining it with location information to group images into albums. (Yes, Google Photos did it first.) 

A few more things:

  • Auto Unlock lets users walk up to the Mac while wearing their authenticated Apple Watch, and be automatically logged into your desktop.
  • Optimized Storage frees up space when your Mac starts getting full, by storing infrequently used items in iCloud. Users are also reminded to delete used app installers, or to clear out duplicate downloads, caches, or logs.

Differential Privacy in macOS

Starting with macOS Sierra, Apple says it is using Differential Privacy, to help discover the usage patterns of a large number of users without compromising individual privacy. What this means, is that Apple will be trying to maximize the accuracy of queries (like autocorrect suggestions, for example) from its statistical databases, while minimizing the chances of identifying individual records. 

MacOS Sierra availability

The developer preview of macOS Sierra is available to Apple developer program members at developer.apple.com. Mac users can sign up for the macOS Sierra beta, and download the software starting in July at beta.apple.com. The final version will be available for free from the Mac App Store this fall. 

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