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macOS Sierra - First Impressions

Wednesday, 21 September, 2016

Yesterday was the day I have been waiting for since the WWDC in June: the release of macOS Sierra featuring Siri on the mac. Why is this a big deal for me? Because my favourite personal computing platform is the desktop (or laptop for that matter) but I am also a huge fan of voice-controlled assistants which have been most prominent on smartphones - until now.

macOS Sierra - First Impressions banner image

The Update Procedure

The update was an extremely fast, pleasant and uncoplicated procedure. Having used Linux on the desktop for years I am used to “installing a new distro on top of another” thus retaining my home directory and various config files, but keeping all apps and system-wide configurations in tact without inducing any unforseen complications made the transition even smoother than I expected.

What’s New?

The new macOS looks familiar at first glance. In fact, apart from the slightly redesigned notification center, the “desktop shell” looks pretty much like El Capitan. Some of the core apps have been updated with Photos being especially notable. Its UI has been improved with an awesome visualisation and layout mechanism for moments, memories and albums as well as advanced machine learning for face, object and scene recognition “under the hood”.

Why I Like Talking to My Computer

As stated earlier macOS Sierra supports voice commands via Apple’s personal assistant Siri. Maybe it’s just me being a fan of “talking to machines” but I am totally thrilled about this addition and have been using it a lot today. Sure this is mostly due to the fact that you tend to play around a lot when you get a brand new toy but I am sure that I will stick to using it for a particular group of tasks:

Minor tasks that are not worth a UI context switch while being focussed on a different primary task. I can very well imagine asking Siri to play a particular song, playlist, artist or genre via Apple Music while coding. Opening iTunes would be a remarkable distraction that can be avoided.

Another example is the creation of reminders. When I am scheduling my next day I will probably always prefer a graphical user interface (Reminders and Calendar app) to organise my agenda, but when a (sub) task comes to mind while working on something else it is nice to be able to just quickly say “remind me to write documentation for module X in 2 hours”.