Say goodbye to Mac OS X. Say hello to macOS, the new name of Apple’s desktop operating system. The renaming follows the convention of Apple’s operating systems for its other hardware: tvOS, watchOS, iOS, and now macOS. The first version of this newly named macOS is called Sierra.
The new name wasn’t a product of “alleged members so of our marketing team going on a vision quest around California to find a new name,” said Apple senior VP of software engineering Craig Federighi, who announced the name change at WWDC 2016.
With a new name comes a few improvements too. Most notably, macOS marks the dawn of Siri for the desktop, and although this wasn’t made clear, that could also mean the sunset of Finder, the traditional app for scouring your hard drive. The new macOS isn’t available just yet. Federighi announced that Sierra is available for devs to preview today, and that a beta of the new OS will be out in July, with the public launch expected for later this Fall.
One of the biggest knocks on Apple Music is that it tries to do too much. Well, it’s still going to do a lot, but the goal of an upcoming redesign is to do it all in a more intuitive way. A major redesign prioritizes the features its 15 million-plus subscribers use the most.
That apparently doesn’t include Apple Music Connect, which has been dropped from the navigation tabs at the bottom of the app. The tab lineup is now Library, For You, Browse, Radio, and Search.
The new layout, demoed by Apple Music head of marketing Bozoma Saint John at WWDC today, keeps your music library front and center. You’ll also be able to see what you’ve downloaded from iTunes a lot more easily. By scrolling past the album art in the Now Playing screen, you can now view song lyrics. Saint John tried to lead the WWDC audience in a singalong to Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” It didn’t work out so well.
The For You tab gives you quick access to your recently played songs and also features Apple’s daily curated playlists. This is where the “Connect” feed of posts from artists will now live. It’s still alive, it’s just been demoted from tab status.
Browse hosts the chart-topping artists and songs on Apple Music, while Radio is the jumping-off point for all things Beats 1 Radio. The Radio tab also highlights featured and upcoming audio shows, and you can view all the available streaming content on the service. It’ll be available when iOS 10 is available to the general public later this year.
Until now, Siri’s been little more than a slightly sassy sidekick for iPhone users. It’s gotten better over time, in the sense that it’s more accurate in understanding what you’re asking, but it’s not a whole lot more useful than it was at launch.
Today, though, Apple made a big move to make Siri work for more people, by opening it up to third-party developers and bringing Siri to the Mac. Long-term, this means you’ll be able to connect Siri to the apps you actually use, instead of having to use Apple Maps and Apple Music and Apple Mail and all the other apps I stuck into a folder marked by the poop emoji.
Not only that, you’ll be able to use Siri on your PC, to make a lot of simple actions easier: adding things to your calendar, doing quick research and calculations, setting reminders, playing music, even searching your computer. Siri can search Finder, finding you files from last week about the offsite and then showing you the ones you tagged as draft. Click on a button and it pins into your notification center, for easy finding later. The voice assistant can do more on the Apple TV as well: Siri has improved topical searches for movies and TV shows (“Horror movies from the ’80s”) and you can now run voice searches for YouTube videos.
For the things Siri does well, it’s an unbeatably fast interface. Now Siri can do more things, and do them more places. Maybe Siri can fix its bad rap after all.
New capabilities are coming the Apple TV.
As expected, Siri will get some enhancements in the updated version of tvOS. The voice assistant can now search the system’s database of 650,000 movies and shows using more complex topical queries, such as the “high-school comedies from the ’80s” example Apple VP Eddy Cue used onstage at today’s WWDC keynote. Siri can also search YouTube if you ask it to, using spoken commands such as “search YouTube for Draymond Green repeatedly assaulting other players.”
For streaming channels that include live programming, such as cable-company apps and Watch ESPN, Siri can now launch them immediately without having to futz around in the menu screen. Saying “watch (app name)” will quickly bring up a big-screen view of the live feed. If you’d rather futz around in the menu screen without having to wear sunglasses, rest assured there’s a new “Dark Mode” that turns the background black.
Two of the biggest changes will use iOS as a proxy. The revamped Apple TV Remote app for iOS will now replicate all the features found in the hardware remote. It’ll use the phone’s mic for Siri queries, use its sensors for motion controls in games, and offer a touchpad interface. It’ll also (still) one-up the hardware remote by offering a keyboard for text input. Also, any Apple TV-compatible app you download on iOS will automatically show up on your Apple TV now.
And finally, forget having to input a boatload of cryptic codes on other devices to link accounts to your set-top box. The Apple TV has a new single sign-on feature, which lets you sign in once to authenticate all the apps that are part of your cable subscription. That update will also make it clear what you have access to in your app arsenal due to your cable package.
While there weren’t many details about additional tools for developers, Apple announced the new tvOS developer preview will be available today.
It’s not easy to know what to make of the Apple Watch so far. On one hand, it’s almost certainly the most successful smartwatch ever made. On the other, that’s still like saying you’re the tallest person in a room where it’s just you and Tom Cruise. Smartwatches haven’t taken over the world the way Apple (or Google, or Pebble) may have hoped. That’s at least in part because no one seems to have figured out what, exactly, a smartwatch is supposed to be for. Notifications? Texting? Fitness things? Apps? Games? Taking pictures? Sure, why not.
Today at WWDC, Apple announced a number of new and changed features for its WatchOS software. The new watchOS 3 gets several performance boosts and feature enhancements. Your favorite apps now launching much faster. Apps that used to take several seconds to load now show up in less than a second. You get the dock by pressing the side button, which used to bring up that constellation of apps. And the app previews are live, so you can see and launch, say, Calendar, all from the same place. Interactions within many apps have been simplified to a single gesture or a tap. To reply to a text, for example, you don’t have to pick “Reply,” you just tap on a thing or swipe down. The theme here is basically: everything used to take way too freakin’ long, now it doesn’t.
There’s a new way to write on the Watch called Scribble. It’s like Graffiti on the Palm Pilots of old. Also, there’s now an activity face for the watch, too, which puts those “wow, are you lazy” rings front and center. A new SOS feature, which you get to by pressing and holding the side button, puts you on a call to emergency services directly through your watch. It’ll automatically send an emergency notification to your contacts, and show your medical information.
The fitness-tracking app, Activity, now has a sharing feature, so you can rub your accomplishments in the faces of friends and family. Apple has also written new algorithms into Activity for wheelchair users, so their workouts and physical activity can now be tracked with the Apple Watch. There’s a new meditation app called “Breathe” that will remind you to spend between one and five minutes doing guided breathing.
Most importantly, Minnie Mouse is a watchface now. This is the biggest news of the day.
These new features will come to all users in the fall as a free upgrade.