WWDC 2016

macOS Sierra: Siri takes point

The voice assistant Siri is the standout feature of Sierra.
The voice assistant Siri is the standout feature of Sierra.PHOTO: APPLE

MacOS 10.12 marks a change in naming convention for Apple's desktop operating system (OS). The current one started 15 years ago, with the Mac OS X. That was shortened to OS X in 2012.

Unveiled last week, macOS aligns with the names of Apple's other platforms, like iOS and watchOS. It is also called Sierra, as Apple continues to name its desktop OS after Californian landmarks.

The voice assistant Siri is the standout feature of Sierra. While it might be late in the desktop OS game (voice assistant Cortana is already on Windows 10), Siri has been refined for four years in iOS.

Siri has its own app on the dock, or you can press Function and Spacebar to activate it. But no, you can't say "Hey Siri" to start it.

If you are unsure of what Siri can do, you can ask Siri. For example, you can ask Siri to open a certain folder, post messages to Facebook, set up a meeting in calendar, increase the volume of your Mac, reduce brightness of your Mac's display or even how well Stephen Curry played in his last game.

I tried using Siri to start applications, and it was able to do so for most apps, including Keynote, iMovie, Microsoft Word and VLC. But it can't seem to start Photoshop, though. And it is not able to close applications, or so said the beta version of Siri that I tried.

Other features of Sierra include the ability to sync your Desktop items across your different Mac computers.

While this might be handy, you need to have enough storage space in your iCloud to do so. I know I don't, as my files on MacBook Air's desktop is over 50GB.

Sierra also features Universal Clipboard. This allows you to find and copy a picture on your iPhone while you are on the go. When you reach your office, you can just paste it on the document on your desktop Mac.

Another cool feature of Sierra is Apple Pay on the Web. This allows you to pay for goods online using Apple Pay on the Web browser, by using the Touch ID on your iPhone for authentication. This just adds another layer of security for your online purchases.

macOS Sierra will be available as a free update in the autumn or around September this year.

Trevor Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'macOS Sierra: Siri takes point'. Print Edition | Subscribe