Mac OS X drops the X to become macOS

— 4:50 PM on June 13, 2016

Apple's WWDC keynote today was all about its major software platforms. The company teased upcoming features in watchOS, iOS, and tvOS, but the biggest changes are coming to Mac OS X—now called macOS.

macOS Sierra, as the next version of the operating system is called, has a ton of new features, but Apple didn't even announce the biggest change to the Mac (and its other platforms) on stage. Noted Apple blogger John Gruber discovered that the company is holding a session tomorrow to discuss the Apple File System, or APFS. We don't know much about this next-generation file system yet, but Apple's description of the "Introducing Apple File System" session says the platform is "designed to scale from an Apple Watch to a Mac Pro." It's also "optimized for Flash/SSD storage, and engineered with encryption as a primary feature." Apple has a preliminary guide to APFS up on its developer site.

Siri is also coming to the Mac with Sierra. Users can invoke Siri from the Dock and ask her questions about the status of their Macs, their files and folders, and all the other sorts of queries we've grown used to on iOS. Another iOS feature Apple is bringing to macOS is Apple Pay. Using Continuity, users can choose Apple Pay as a payment method at supported retailers and approve the transaction on their iPhones or Apple Watches.

Continuity is also the brains behind a new feature called Universal Clipboard. When a user copies any object on their Mac or iOS device, that picture or text snippet or whatever will be available to paste on any of the user's other devices.

Apple may have given Mac owners a reason to wear an Apple Watch now, too. macOS can now recognize when a user is wearing Apple's timekeeper and use that as a security factor to instantly unlock a Mac when it's awoken from sleep, somewhat like Windows Hello.

Finally, Apple is introducing a global tab API that brings a tabbed interface to pretty much any application, not just Safari. The company presents its Pages word processor as just one example. Apple software head honcho Craig Federighi said the feature should work in existing apps without much work on developers' parts.

macOS Sierra will only run on some newer Macs. Ars Technica caught the slide with that info, and the site says you'll need a late-2009 MacBook or iMac, or a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, or Mac Pro made since 2010. Owners of older Macs will need to start thinking about upgrading if they want to run the latest macOS when it arrives this fall. A beta version is available now for developers, and Apple says it'll be conducting an open beta later this summer for the general public.

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