WWDC wish list: Predicting the next version of OS X

Siri on Mac
Could Siri be coming to the Mac? Image: Macworld

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7 June 2016 | 0

Not many people get a new computer every single year, but now that Apple has OS X on a yearly update cycle, our computers can feel refreshed and renewed while we bide our time waiting for new MacBook Pros or MacBook Airs.

New features add convenience and speed up tasks we do all the time, and developers can get new tools to delight us with their own apps too. This year’s WWDC keynote is bound to hold some surprises, and here’s what we could see in the next OS X – assuming that’s what it will be called.

Siri on the Mac, at last
Siri is on our iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and even the Apple TV – hopefully this is the year Apple’s personal assistant makes the jump to the Mac. Many observers have been jealous of Cortana (and its third party integrations) on the Windows 10 desktop since it launched, and talking to a computer feels more natural than yelling across the room at an always-listening connected speaker, a la the Amazon Echo.

According to 9to5Mac, Mac users will be able to summon Siri with a button or a keyboard shortcut, or say ‘Hey Siri’ when the Mac is plugged into power. The Mac has had dictation and voice commands for a while, but Siri should be able to do more – it would be cool to run natural-language Spotlight searches like “find that Excel spreadsheet Dave e-mailed me yesterday,” or jet off quick replies when you notice an important notification pop up: “Reply to Jon’s last e-mail: I’m on it”. Siri support for Apple Music on the desktop will go a long way too.

Overhauled apps
Each iteration of OS X has brought an extra layer of polish to Apple’s big apps, like Safari, Mail, Messages, Maps, and Calendar. This year, MacRumors predicts that Photos will get upgrades. And iTunes should get yet another coat of lipstick – maybe Siri support will make Apple Music easier to use.

Touch ID tricks
Thanks to Bluetooth, the next version of OS X could let you unlock your Mac with your iPhone’s or iPad’s Touch ID. If that sounds like a much clunkier way to log in than just typing your account password, well, it is – but it still sounds cool. (There’s an app called Knock that does a similar trick, which even has an Apple Watch version.)

But what’s even cooler is that once you can authenticate your Mac securely with your iPhone, this could lead the way to Apple Pay in the Safari browser, assuming your phone supports Apple Pay too. (Apple Pay is also rumoured to be coming to Safari in iOS.)

More developer tools
Jonny Evans at Computerworld wonders if Apple will expand its Continuity and Handoff tools to third party developers, to let you quickly pass off tasks from one device to another. Another possibility is a MapKit API for the Web to open up Apple’s Maps to online developers too.

A Siri SDK has been rumoured too, and is long overdue – Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana all have third party integrations, letting you accomplish tasks from searching for a Netflix movie to ordering an Uber.

The name’s the thing
Well, the name’s a thing, anyway. OS X may be getting a little long in the tooth as a moniker, and 9to5Mac uncovered clues that Apple might be renaming its desktop operating system MacOS. That could lead to a totally new naming pattern: Apple OS, anyone? MacOS 11?

And what about the California place names? We’ve had Mavericks, Yosemite, and El Capitan, but there are plenty of locations left. Lake Tahoe, Joshua Tree, Shasta, Point Reyes, Catalina, Mendocino, etc. Of course, none of Apple’s other OSs ship with public code names, just the OS name and a number: watchOS 2, iOS 9. It’d be a bummer to see the California trend come to an end so soon, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple move toward more consistent monikers.

Well know more about all of the above when WWDC opens on 13 June.

IDG News Service

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