Apple has officially opened its next-generation operating system releases to public scrutiny, sending betas of macOS 10.12 Sierra and iOS 10 live for members of the 'Apple Seed' beta programme.
Apple's macOS 10.12 Sierra release represents both a push to the future and a return to the past for the company: the OS X name its releases have been wearing for years now is no more, dropped in favour of a somewhat hipsterised version of its classic Mac OS nomenclature. Designed to replace OS X 10.11 El Capitan across all recent Mac, iMac, and MacBook devices, macOS Sierra has previously been available only to paid-up members of Apple's developer programme but today releases for all as part of Apple's free 'Apple Seed' beta programme.
New features included in macOS Sierra begin with the integration of Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant originally launched as an add-on application for Apple's iOS platform before being acquired and integrated into the operating system directly. The new release also includes an enhanced Photos app with object recognition capabilities, a customisable system tray, the ability to automatically unlock a desktop or laptop when compatible mobile devices are nearby, an Optimise Storage function to boost available hard drive space, a bundled slideshow application dubbed Memories, and various under-the-hood improvements. Promised additions due to get further polish as the beta progresses through to Gold Master (GM) status include shared clipboard functionality for connected iOS devices, Apple Pay support, and file synchronisation.
The macOS Sierra public beta release is joined by a similar release for iOS 10, which includes a redesigned lock screen, better on-screen notifications, support for third-party applications to tie in to the Siri ecosystem, a redesigned Control Centre, additional 3D Touch shortcuts, similar improvements to the Photos app as the desktop equivalent, a new keyboard dubbed QuickType with Siri-powered context-sensitive autocomplete, and new News, Music, and Maps apps.
Both operating systems are available to install for free now across all compatible devices, via the Apple Beta Software Programme