5 things to expect when you’re expecting macOS Sierra

19 Sep 2016

MacOS Sierra. Image: Hadrian/Shutterstock

iOS 10 has dropped following the launch of the iPhone 7, but Apple fans are still awaiting the imminent release of macOS Sierra. So what should you expect from the new operating system?

Having decided to ditch the X from its title, macOS Sierra now falls in line with Apple’s streamlined brand strategy, but does the new OS actually make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things?

Reaction to the launch of iOS 10 has been mixed. Some users have complained of poor performance, but welcomed the new look Messages and the ability to delete Apple’s default apps.

The free upgrade to macOS Sierra is expected to drop in Europe from around 6pm (IST) tomorrow (20 September). It will be available in the Mac App Store, and prompts will likely be sent to users when it is available to download.

Here are five new features that show where Apple is taking its computer-bound OS.

Siri has a new home

The first obvious upgrade for macOS Sierra is that Apple’s personal assistant software, Siri, is no longer confined to the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Among some of the features announced for Siri in macOS Sierra is the ability to ask Siri a question on your Mac and then click and drag the results screen on to your desktop as a saved image.

Siri will also be the personal assistant you would want on a desktop, allowing you to ask questions about documents in various folders, or telling you how much free space you might have left on your hard drive.

Makes better uses of Apple devices

For those of you who invested in an Apple Watch, that device strapped to your wrist can now interact on a whole new level with your Mac.

In macOS Sierra, the new Auto-Unlock feature allows an Apple Watch user to unlock a Mac screen simply by using it while wearing the watch.

Such contactless authentication is quite popular these days – particularly in cars towards the higher price bracket – and now it has progressed to Macs as well.

The only requirement for a Mac user looking to use Auto-Unlock is to set up two-factor authentication and a passcode enabled for the Apple Watch.

Based on user testing, it appears the range for the Mac to switch on automatically is about 4ft.

iCloud Drive

Apple’s cloud storage is getting a major overhaul that will allow files to sync online across Macs and iPhones.

This means that if you save a file on your desktop, it will appear on your iPhone, too.

This is exactly what you would expect from a cloud service, but it is now integrated in Apple’s software from the get-go, making it a welcome addition.

Optimised storage is also a key feature in this update, with older files getting automatically uploaded to the cloud to cut down on storage space on the device.

If you have a large quantity of files, ranging into hundreds of gigabytes, you’ll need to make sure you are prepared to pay for Apple’s cloud storage fees.

Tabs, tabs everywhere, let’s all create some tabs

Everyone at this point will be familiar with tab features in browsers like Safari, but now, on macOS Sierra, you can create tabs pretty much anywhere.

So, for example, you can create a number of tabs in the Maps app, each showing a different location.

A simple but welcome addition.


Ever wanted to do your work while watching a video at the same time? Well, now you can with this OS’s picture-in-picture upgrade.

By selecting certain apps, you can shrink down photos or a video to a thumbnail size, allowing you to do what needs to be done while potentially slacking off at the same time.

This will make it a handy feature for creatives working with pictures or videos, but also for your everyday person who can’t wait until they get home to watch the latest Game of Thrones.

An Apple MacBook. Image: Hadrian/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic