Apple giving Siri a leading role in next OS updates

Apple Inc. likes to use its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) as an opportunity to reveal a new round of product updates, and WWDC16 is no exception.

On June 13 the company previewed, among other products, the newest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 10; the first appearance of virtual assistant Siri on its desktop operating system, macOS Sierra; new Siri-based features for Apple TV; and even an update for the software behind its Apple Watch, watchOS 3.

“Our north star has always been about improving peoples’ lives by creating great products that change the world,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during his keynote address on June 13. “Now we offer you four incredible platforms to power these world-changing experiences.”

To start, macOS Sierra will introduce Siri for the first time to Apple’s desktop users – and as you’d expect, in addition to looking up information she can also be used to find documents, save search results, and even adjust system preferences.

SMB owners will also want to note that macOS Sierra will give users access to the company’s mobile payment service, Apple Pay.

iOS 10, meanwhile, will give app developers access to Siri, allowing them to add custom voice commands to their programs.

For those who use the Messages app to communicate with their colleagues, new features will full-screen animations such as balloons, confetti, or fireworks to help users celebrate special occasion; “invisible ink” that is revealed only when a recipient swipes over it; “rich links” that allow users to see content or play media inline during conversations; and a new feature called “Tapback” which, true to its name, allows users to respond to questions with a single touch.

Other updates will be implemented across systems: For example, macOS Sierra will take advantage of Apple’s cloud servers by automatically backing up any files in a user’s desktop or document folders on the company’s data servers. When users log into Apple’s iCloud app from their iPhone, iPad, or even Windows, they’ll find their files ready for them. Should users log into a second Mac, their files will be automatically transferred to Desktop and Documents folder, exactly where they were saved on the user’s first computer.

Another feature, Universal Clipboard, will allow users to copy content such as text, images, and links on one Apple device and paste them in another, while Auto Unlock will allow users to automatically log into their desktop by approaching it with an authorized Apple Watch.

Speaking of the Apple Watch, watchOS 3 will add a new “Dock” feature that users can access by pressing a side button, which will instantly display their favourite apps. Apple is also touting new fitness features such as the Breathe app, which encourages users to stop and smell the roses – or at least perform deep breathing exercises – at short moments throughout their day.

Preview versions of macOS Sierra and iOS 10 were released for developers this week, and Apple plans to release public betas for both systems in July. The final versions of macOS Sierra, iOS 10, and watchOS 3 will be available as free downloads in the fall.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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