by Jim Lynch

macOS Sierra: First looks from around the web

Jun 22, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsMacOS

The macOS Sierra developer preview is now in the hands of many bloggers and journalists. Find out what they are saying about macOS Sierra. Is it the best version of macOS yet?

When Apple announced macOS Sierra at WWDC many bloggers and journalists couldn’t wait to get their hands on it. Now that the developer preview has been out for a little while, the folks running it are beginning to share their thoughts about macOS Sierra.

Below you’ll find samplings of commentary about the macOS developer preview from around the web. Most of the writers running macOS Sierra seemed very pleased with it, even at this very early stage. Reading their thoughts will give you a good idea of what macOS Sierra has to offer. 

The Loop: Impressive improvements in macOS Sierra

Jim Dalrymple at The Loop was impressed with macOS Sierra, and found Auto Unlock and the ability to copy and paste across devices particularly useful. He also enjoyed the larger emojis and rich links in Messages.

My favorite feature using this strategy on macOS is Auto Unlock. Basically, when you walk up to your Mac wearing an authenticated Apple Watch, your Mac will automatically unlock and log into your account. This is absolutely brilliant. Using one Apple device to authenticate another, saving me the hassle of logging in every time I want to use my computer.

Another example of a convenient feature is the ability to copy and paste across devices. During my word day, I will use an iPad, iPhone and Mac. Depending on what I’m doing, where I am, and the time of day, I could be using any of those three.

More often than not, when I want to post a story to The Loop, I’ll use a Mac. It’s just what I feel the most comfortable using for that task. I’ve often recently found something, went to my Mac only to realize I can’t paste the link I just copied.

A small thing for a lot of people is the size of emojis. I don’t talk in emojis, but I do send the smiley faces now and then. I actually have a hard time seeing the emojis, even with my glasses on, so this is going to be great for me.

Rich links are a great thing in Messages. Instead of long links that leave you trying to figure out what you’re about to click on, rich links give you a visual preview, right in the Messages window.

More at The Loop

Ars Technica: Different name, same ol‘ Mac

Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica has a very detailed look at the macOS Sierra developer preview, and he notes that it refines the Mac experience but doesn’t transform it.

It’s tempting to read the “macOS” rebranding as some grand statement about the Mac, but, truth be told, “Sierra” is more indicative of what we’re getting. The name comes from a mountain range that encompasses Yosemite and El Capitan rather than moving away from them. It’s another year of building on Yosemite’s foundation, another year of incremental change, and another year of over-saturated mountain wallpapers.

Like El Capitan before it, Sierra focuses on a few marquee features, a couple of under-the-hood changes, a smattering of smaller tweaks, and one or two signposts pointing toward future development. It’s the next release of OS X, new name or not. And we’ve spent a week with the first developer beta to dig into some of the new features ahead of the public beta in July and the public release in the fall.

El Capitan and Sierra both designate one or two big “hero” features for Apple to plan its marketing around (window management in El Capitan, Siri in Sierra), a decent range of medium-sized changes, at least one big under-the-hood addition (System Integrity Protection in 10.11, the Gatekeeper stuff in 10.12, and APFS next year if all goes well), and a smattering of minor improvements to the core apps.

It has been a long time since the Mac was Apple’s favorite child, and there are places in Sierra like the Messages app where it clearly feels like Mac users are getting a second-tier experience compared to people on iOS. But the Mac feels like it has settled into a quiet and reliable groove, a groove that Sierra is happy to trundle along in. The name has changed, but otherwise it’s business as usual for Mac OS Mac OS X OS X macOS.

More at Ars Technica

The Verge: iCloud is close to fully baked

Dieter Bohn at The Verge notes that Siri is an important addition to the Mac, but he thinks that iCloud is really the star of macOS Sierra.

Yes, having Siri on your Mac is nice and perhaps even a Big Deal — but to me, it’s much less important than some other features that Apple is introducing with macOS Sierra (technically, version 10.12). For several years now, Apple has made the Mac feel nicer for iPhone users with Continuity features that made the devices work better together. With Sierra, it’s turned a corner: using a Mac is going to be substantially better for iPhone users than Android users.

And the reason, against everything we’ve come to believe about Apple’s strengths and weaknesses, is cloud services. With Sierra, iCloud has gone from something that you forget you have (and if you remember, you’re usually shaking your fist at it) to a thing that you’ll probably want to (perhaps begrudgingly) start paying for.

Okay, I’ll finally just tell you the two features I’ve been building up to here: “iCloud Desktop and Documents” and “Optimize Storage.” Both are things designed to automatically upload the contents of your Mac into Apple’s iCloud storage and both are incredibly important for everyday users because they make it simple, invisible, and seamless to store your files in the cloud and access them from other devices.

iCloud Desktop and Documents basically takes the contents of, well, your Desktop and Documents folders and automatically uploads them into iCloud Drive. They get mirrored over to your other Macs automatically and also show up in an app on your iPhone or iPad — when you turn on the feature on your Mac, your iPhone prompts you to put the app on your home screen. Once upon a time, Apple frowned at the idea that you might want access to such quotidian things as files on your iPhone, but with this update they can all just be there.

More at The Verge

The Next Web: iCloud is the killer feature

Nate Swanner at The Next Web also notes the importance of iCloud in macOS Sierra and how useful it is to have files synched across all of his devices.

The real winner in Sierra, to my mind, is iCloud. I know much of the sensationalism will involve Siri, but I’m going a different route.

For those who bounce between devices — and that’s all of us — having your files synced across all of your devices with zero effort is just plain sexy (yes, I called file sync and iCloud sexy; send help).

Case in point: I have a MacBook Pro that’s typically on my desk, and a MacBook I travel with. There have been several times I’ve written something on or saved a screenshot to my Pro, then forgot to add it to iCloud so I could access it on the road.

In syncing my files automatically, I never have to worry about that. I can just work and not have to think about which device I’m on, or if I saved something to multiple spots. That those files are also available on iCloud Drive on my iPhone or iPad is icing on the cake. It’s subtly brilliant.

More at The Next Web

Slash Gear: macOS Sierra is the ecosystem play

Chris Davies at Slash Gear notes that the real value of macOS Sierra comes from being part of Apple’s overall ecosystem.

Indeed, if there’s a common theme it’s that “life is easier if you buy into Apple’s ecosystem.” iCloud isn’t the only cloud storage option out there, but it is the the most consistently integrated across Apple devices. Apple Photos isn’t the only media organization option, but it’s interwoven with Siri and iCloud. Auto Unlock needs an Apple Watch; Apple Pay needs an Apple Watch or an iPhone. You only get the fancy effects and whimsical emojis in Messages if everyone you chat with is using it.

Power users will undoubtedly cherry-pick the features they really want and compromise on integration to keep using the third-party services they prefer. For the mass market, though, macOS Sierra – and iOS 10, for that matter – represents even more of a reason to furnish your desk, your living room, your pocket or purse, and your wrist with products bearing the Apple logo.

macOS Sierra is cleaner and more consistent, but you really have to jump into Apple’s world with both feet to get the most from it.

More at Slash Gear

Wired: Siri belongs on the Mac

David Pierce at Wired was quite enamored with having Siri available on his Mac, and he missed Siri when he stopped using the developer preview of macOS Sierra.

I’ve been using Sierra for about a week now: in my apartment, at my desk, and in the office. Basic “this is water“-esque problems aside, I really like having Siri on my Mac. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel talking to my laptop, especially in an office full of judgmental coworkers who communicate silently, through Slack. After a couple of hours, though, it felt almost natural. Natural to me, anyway: Everyone around me still thinks I’m talking to them when I’m talking to Siri, and it’s hard to overcome the shame of sitting in a coffee shop shouting “WHAT TIME IS IT IN BANGKOK” at my laptop. OK, so maybe it’s not really natural. But it is definitely useful. Even just a few days in, Siri already feels like a core component of how I laptop—even more than how I smartphone.

Siri is the big step forward in macOS. This isn’t the same Siri you’ve used (or tried to use) on the iPhone. Siri for Mac can handle multi-step searches, for instance, like “What time do the Warriors play?” followed by “What channel is it on?” It also feels Mac-specific in clever ways, and more thoroughly integrated. You can search for files, sorted by date or tag or filename or anything else you can think of. If you’re an obsessive file-organizer, Apple just rewarded your meticulousness. You can save searches for easy access later, and even drag and drop things right out of the window in the top right corner.

More than anything, now that I’ve stopped using the Sierra preview and gone back to my own MacBook, I miss Siri. There’s just no faster way to find that document I just signed than to just say, “Show me photos I edited today.” Siri belongs on the Mac. Even if she can’t always hear me.

More at Wired

Mashable: macOS Sierra is part of Apple’s merging of ecosystems

Christina Warren at Mashable notes that macOS Sierra is part of Apple’s big effort to merge the iOS and macOS ecosystems.

For years, I’ve been writing about the ways that iOS has influenced OS X — and now, macOS. It started with user interface changes and then shifted to certain apps (Game Center, Maps, Messages).

What’s notable about macOS Sierra is that most of its big features are also features that are either on iOS 10 or are tied to services that iOS uses.

Moreover, this is the first desktop OS release where you can really see Apple pushing its services capabilities. With Siri, Universal Clipboard and iCloud Documents and Desktop — not to mention Optimized Storage — Apple is finally making moves to really entice users to use iCloud and its other services in a meaningful way.

This isn’t to say iCloud wasn’t part of OS X before, but now it feels like the ecosystem is really coming together.

More at Mashable

Laptop: It’s not an OS, it’s a gateway drug

Mark Spoonauer, Editor in Chief of Laptop, emphasizes how important it is that macOS Sierra helps make all of Apple’s various devices work together to provide a unified experience.

…between cutting text on your iPhone and pasting it to your Mac, using your iPhone’s Touch ID sensor to pay for stuff you’ve bought on your Mac via Apple Pay and the ability to receive new interactive messages sent from iPhones, macOS Sierra seems like the world’s least subtle iPhone ad. Ultimately, macOS Sierra has great potential, but Apple needs to iron out plenty of kinks between now and the fall.

The…big story for macOS is the evolution of the Continuity features Apple began with OS X Yosemite in 2014. You’ll really need an iPhone and Apple Watch to take full advantage of these Continuity enhancements, highlighted by the handy Universal Clipboard feature, Apple Pay, Photos and Auto Unlock. Ideally, your friends and family will have iPhones, too, to make the most of the new Messages.

And that’s exactly the point and Apple’s business model — make the experience so seamless that you’re compelled to gobble up as many Apple gadgets as possible. Assuming everything comes together the way it should, I don’t envision macOS Sierra users complaining.

More at Laptop

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