Apple has announced the next version of its desktop operating system at WWDC today, confirming a bunch of rumored features along with some new ones that we didn’t know about. First and foremost is a new name. Not just the version but the name of the OS itself, which is changing to macOS to better fit its entire range of devices. Now we have iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS -- this particular version is dubbed macOS Sierra.
Auto Unlock, Universal Clipboard
Among the highlighted new features is Auto Unlock, which as the name suggests will unlock your Mac automatically when you are near and wearing an Apple Watch. Also new is a universal clipboard that will allow users to copy something on their phones and have it available on their Macs too -- this has been possible with third party apps but having it as a native feature will certainly come in handy.
iCloud Drive, Optimized Storage
Apple also showed off some improvements to iCloud that will make managing files and freeing up local storage easier. With Sierra, iCloud will now include a folder for your desktop files, so all that file mess you’re always meaning to organize will be available across your devices. In addition, you can now decide which files to keep stored locally and which files are only available on demand on your iCloud Drive.
Another new feature called Optimized Storage can scan through your trash, web history, emails and more to automatically free up space from files you don’t need. We’re not sure how dramatic those gains will be in real life but in an on-stage demo Craig Federighi freed up 130GB of local storage from an almost full 256GB drive.
Apple Pay, Siri
As rumored, two major Apple services are coming to the desktop. First up, you’ll now be able to make purchases from Safari using Apple Pay on sites that support it -- as long as you have an iPhone handy to authenticate.
And last but certainly not least, you can now interact with Siri on the desktop to search for files, calling up playlists, creating tasks and so on. Although it wasn’t mentioned in the macOS part of the presentation, the big news here is that Apple is opening up Siri to third party developers, so presumably you’ll be able to do much more outside of Apple first-party apps which often have better third party counterparts.
Fall release, beta in July
As far as availability there were no surprises here: Apple plans to ship macOS to the general public in the Fall, probably around September, with a public beta launching in July. The operating system will be compatible with late-2009 and later MacBook and iMac, as well as 2010 and later MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini and MacPro.