macOS Sierra has more in it than just a rebranded name. All the changes can be divided in three groups: interface and features of the OS, its integration with other Apple gadgets and devices, file system. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Interface and features
macOS Sierra now has Siri. You can get access to Siri via Dock, keyboard shortcut, menu bar icon, you can launch in manually from Apps folder or use Spotlight to find and wake up your digital assistant. Siri search results can be pinned in Notification Center and then dragged-and-dropped from there into Desktop or any other apps. And when we put it “search”, we mean it. You can ask Siri search Web to find answers to your questions. What’s more, you can ask Siri questions about your system, e.g. how much disk space you got left, or you can ask Siri to turn on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or change the screen brightness. Yet, some system features are beyond Siri’s reach for security requirements. Sire can’t activate FileVault, for example.
macOS Sierra brings tabs into every document-based first or third party applications like Pages, Word, Photoshop, Maps, Finder.
Picture-in-picture feature allows you to play videos out of Safari and iTunes in an overlay that floats over your desktops and apps. You can drag it around and change dimensions of the overlay.
You can now optimize your storage space as well. The tab Storage in System Information shows what space your apps occupy and allows you to delete files or store them up in iCloud. With ever disk footprint than in previous OS X your storage options are enhanced tremendously.
Cloud Service and Sharing
The great feature about the macOS Sierra is the universal clipboard shared with iOS devices. You can copy a picture or a document on your Mac and paste in on you iPad or iPhone. Desktop and Document folder are synchronized with iCloud and other Apple devices automatically and old versions can be deleted even in thrashcan.
Gatekeeper now can hide unsigned apps from view.
iTunes can show lyrics and you can sing along.
Safari now supports Apple Pay.
Integration with Other Devices.
With macOS Sierra onboard you can unlock your MacBook with your Apple Watch without a password. For that your Apple Watch and your MacBook must share the same iCloud account and you Watch has to be unlocked, otherwise, MacBook won’t “see” you.
The core change lies in file system. Apple is going to switch from HFS+ to Apple File System (APFS). APFS has been developed with flash and solid drives in mind to meet growing demands for encryption, security, and reliability on desktop system as well as in on-line and cloud services.
What does it mean for end-users? macOS Sierra doesn’t run on APFS yet, you can just create an APFS disk image and copy files to and from it, that’s pretty all you can do about it now. But the new file system opens door to great possibilities. First, you can instant clone files and folders which is well for cloud saving. Second, APFS time-stamps files with one-nanosecond precision, so that your backups will be as precise as possible. Third, APFS encrypts disks and files with separate keys: one for the file and one for its metadata. With double encryption it will be even harder to hack your files. Fourth, APFS neatly arranges files on drive, taking care of sparse files, which don’t take up all the space allocated to them. Fifth, APFS disks can borrow free space from each other.
What’s the drawback of macOS Sierra then? It isn’t supported on iMacs, Macs and MacBooks older than late 2009. But there are some workabouts.
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