This week’s WWDC keynote also saw the unveiling of the next-generation version of OS X — now renamed as “macOS” to match its mobile counterparts (and likely to avoid confusion with iOS 10). macOS Sierra introduced a number of new “Continuity” features to build upon the tight integration between Apple’s Macs and iOS devices. Apple SVP Craig Federighi outlined several new features including automatic unlocking, Universal Clipboard, iCloud Desktop and Documents synchronization, and Apple Pay for Safari, all of which tie a user’s Mac into a closer relationship with their iOS and watchOS devices, and make it possible to work seamlessly across multiple devices. Here’s a closer look at those “crossover” features.
macOS Sierra will allow Apple Watch users to automatically unlock their MacBook, iMac, or Mac Pro simply by moving into proximity of the device, although unlike third-party apps such as MacID, this solution appears to be limited to Apple Watch users right now, as no mention was made of using an iPhone to unlock a Mac.
The new Universal Clipboard will provide automatic synchronization of iOS and macOS clipboard content, making transferring data between devices as simple as copy and paste. Items copied onto the clipboard on an iPhone or iPad, for example, will automatically be available on the macOS clipboard, and vice versa.
Enhancements to iCloud Drive in macOS Sierra will now automatically include the user’s Desktop and Documents folders for synchronization. While these folders don’t have any equivalent counterparts on the iOS side, users will see them in their iOS 10 iCloud Drive app, and be able to access anything synced from those folders while on the go.
Federighi also announced Apple Pay for Safari, which will allow websites to allow online payments directly using Apple Pay from a wide variety of merchant websites which will be supporting the technology. Users will click a “Pay with Apple Pay” button found on the vendor’s web site, and then be directed to authenticate the transaction using Touch ID on their iPhone or their Apple Watch. The new web-based Apple Pay appears to be limited specifically to macOS Sierra and the Safari web browser, so it won’t be as useful away from a user’s Mac. But it should make the process of purchasing online goods and services more seamless and — because Apple Pay uses virtual tokenization rather than actual credit card numbers — much more secure than keying in a credit card.
All of the new Continuity features will require macOS Sierra and iOS 10 on both ends of the connection.