The new Mac operating system offers more than a name change. MacOS Sierra version 10.12 moves Apple's desktop OS closer to its mobile counterpart, gaining Siri, Apple Pay, and more.
Apple's digital assistant moves in: Siri, the iOS personal digital assistant, is available in Sierra. Ask for help by clicking Siri's icon in the Mac menu bar, tapping its Dock icon, or using a keyboard shortcut. Calling on Siri brings up a window with a waveform and a query asking what you need help with. Unfortunately, saying "Hey, Siri," does not work. The digital assistant works on Sierra much as it does on iOS, responding to your queries and helping you perform tasks.
Closer ties to iCloud: With iCloud Desktop and Documents, iCloud will sync the files and folders you've stored on your desktop and in your Documents folder across your Mac and iOS devices. You can also have iCloud take on some of your storage needs by moving photos and documents off your local Mac and into the cloud. Likewise, you can store seldom-used files and iTunes movies and TV shows on iCloud.
Unlock with Apple Watch: With an authenticated Apple Watch on your wrist and Auto Unlock, you can wake up a locked Mac and log in to it from up to three feet away.
Apple Pay for Sierra: Apple Pay, the company's mobile payment and digital wallet service, is now available in Sierra. With Safari, tap the Apple Pay button on a supporting e-commerce site and authorize your purchase on your iPhone or Apple Watch.
Messages: In iOS 10 the Messages update is huge; in Sierra, not so much. Still, Mac users get some of the improvements. For example, you can view some of the new iOS 10 chat features in Sierra, such as animations and Invisible Ink, but you can't create them. You can preview webpages, however, and watch YouTube videos in Messages.
Photos 2.0: With Sierra, Apple continues to move its photo-editing app forward with new editing tools and the ability to find and display photos in context. The Light tool, for example, can now make area-specific adjustments in an image. And -- hooray! -- you can edit Live Photos with Photos' editing tools. Photos also has a Memories tool that collects and presents images around an event.
iTunes: Apple Music gets a new look in Sierra. The For You section, for example, does a better job displaying recommended albums and playlists. And with Radio you now can more easily find and listen to Beats 1 and music-only stations.
Tabs in apps: Borrowing an idea from Web browsers, Sierra lets you use tabs in Apple-built apps -- including Maps, Mail, and Keynote -- as well as supported third-party apps.
It's free: Since Apple OS X Mavericks in the fall of 2013, the company has made its OS free, and Sierra follows the trend.
Generous system requirements: Sierra runs on a broad range of Macs, going back to some 2009 models: iMacs and MacBooks from late 2009 and later; and MacBook Airs, the MacBook Pros, Mac Minis, and Mac Pros from 2010 and later.
iCloud limitations: Apple mainly sees the cloud as an individual service. You can share photos and videos with friends and family and collaborate with others on iWork documents in iCloud. But if you want broad sharing and collaboration tools, such as those offered by Dropbox or Google Drive, iCloud comes up short.
MacOS Sierra is another solid update to Apple's desktop OS. While it can at times feel like the Mac gets the hand-me-downs from iOS -- Siri, finally, and a limited version of Messages -- the additions are welcome and makes MacOS an even better companion in your Apple device neighborhood.