macOS Sierra preview: Goodbye OS X, hello Siri

Apps

Increasingly over the past few years, new versions of OS X have concentrated on improving the applications bundled with the OS rather than the system itself. Sierra is no exception, with major and minor tweaks to the core apps.

Photos

Arguably the biggest addition in the Mac’s apps is Memories, which is a new feature in Photos. As with the version in iOS 10, Photos carries out smart image analysis to group together pictures into “memories”, based on location, faces and more. The idea is to resurface your best pictures, such as a set from your camping holiday to France last year, or a set of photos featuring a particular person.

I have to say that although this feature could be really good, at present it doesn’t really add up to much. The moments Photos surfaces don’t hang together particularly well. However, given that this feature is based on neural-network analysis of images, it should hopefully get better over time.

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Apple Music

Apple Music has been completely redesigned – but it still forms part of iTunes, which remains a behemoth of an application that people love to hate. iTunes still includes far too much, but given the complexity of revamping the app in its entirety, it’s probably too much to hope at this point in its lifecycle to see the entire thing disassembled.

However, the redesign of the Apple Music part is definitely welcome. There’s a new “For You” section, which makes it easier to find stuff you might like, and a “Browse” section, which shows you new releases and charts. Finally, it also incorporates lyrics into the mini-player.

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Notes and Messages

Apple’s bid to make Notes more powerful continues apace. In this release, it gains the ability (along with iOS 10) to share notes with other people, allowing them to collaboratively edit them. Also, it’s now possible to change the default font size.

Of course, Apple needed to update Messages to support all the features it introduced in the iOS 10 version, so you will be able to send and receive big emoji, as well as receive the new mini-sketches and animations.

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