Apple’s new version of macOS, called “Sierra,” is now available as a free update. Some of the major new features include Siri for the Mac desktop, Universal Clipboard, iCloud Desktop and Documents, Auto Unlock, and Apple Pay on the web.
Siri For Desktop
Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, came to the iPhone five years ago. Since then, it has kept evolving, as Apple continued to pour more resources into machine learning to make Siri smarter and sound more natural. Because we talk on our phones, talking to Siri on the phone was less awkward than doing it on the computer.
However, Siri on the Mac is now advanced enough that it can help users send messages and email, find documents, search a photo library, change system settings, and more. Users can drag and drop Siri search results into documents or pin them into their Today view for later reference.
Apple Pay For Web
Unlike Google and Microsoft, who want to use the W3C and FIDO Alliance’s standards for payments on the web with fingerprint authentication, Apple seems to be using its own Apple Pay and TouchID standards for web payments. The company said that over 300,000 websites will allow users to buy products online with Apple Pay and authenticate with TouchID to complete the payments.
According to Apple, the credit card information will not be shared with merchants, and the communication between a user’s device and the Apple Pay servers will be protected by strong encryption. By the sound of it, the user interacts only with Apple, and then Apple is the one interacting with the merchants on the user’s behalf.
The Photos application introduced “Memories,” a feature that can automatically create collections of pictures of birthdays, vacations, and other memorable events. Apple now uses machine learning to recognize users’ faces, objects, and scenes in pictures, so it can more easily group the relevant images together.
"Universal Clipboard" allows users to copy content from one Apple device and paste it into another. "iCloud Desktop and Documents" now allows users to see the files from their iPhones and iPads on their macOS desktop. Auto Unlock lets users log into their Mac, when they have an authenticated Apple Watch. Google has also had a similar feature for sometime, called Smart Lock, which works with Android devices, Chromebooks, the Chrome browser and a few select apps.The new macOS Sierra now supports “Tabs” for first-party applications such as Maps, Mail, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and TextEdit, and also for the third-party apps that have enabled the functionality or may enable it in the future. The Messages app got some upgrades, too, now allowing users to preview web links before clicking on them, and playing videos inside the app. The “Optimized Storage” feature will store infrequently used files in the cloud, and it will also prompt users to remove apps and files they no longer need.
Apple’s macOS Sierra is now available from the Mac App Store, and it can be installed on all Mac computers that are from 2009 or newer.