As in previous years, Apple debuted another major version of its Mac operating system back during the June Worldwide Developer’s Conference, but with a slight twist this year — the company is retiring the traditional “OS X” name in favor of calling the new operating systems macOS, bringing the naming more logically in line with iOS, tvOS, and watchOS. While still continuing the same version numbering — it’s 10.12 under the hood — today’s public release of macOS Sierra (free) feels like the first pages of a new chapter in the evolution of the Mac operating system, bringing with it even more features to unify the experience with iPhone, iPad and even Apple Watch users.
For example, macOS Sierra brings Siri to the Mac, providing the same voice control capabilities that iPhone and iPad users have been enjoying for years, with the ability to send messages, create reminders and appointments, find documents, search for information, ferret out photos, and more, and it’s set up in a more natural way for Mac users — Siri results can be dragged and dropped into documents, or pinned to the Today view for quick reference. In addition, iPhone and iPad users get even more continuity integration with a new Universal Clipboard feature that allows seamless sharing of clipboard content between the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. A user’s Desktop and Documents folders can also now be automatically synced via iCloud, and Apple Watch users can unlock their Mac, without having to enter a password, simply based on the proximity of their Apple Watch. Additionally, apps like Photos and Messages get an upgrade to bring them in line with their iOS 10 counterparts, and Apple Pay has been extended to work for online purchases on the web in Safari. Picture-in-picture also comes from the iPad to allow users to float video playback windows from Safari or iTunes into a corner of the screen so that videos can more easily be watched while other tasks are being performed, and a new storage optimization feature will help automatically clear up disk space by storing less frequently used items in iCloud, while also helping to identify and remove files that are no longer required, such as iTunes movies and TV shows that have already been watched.