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Apple touts A.I. in iOS -- with barely a mention of the term -- and opens 'crown jewels' to devs

Gregg Keizer | June 14, 2016
Execs walk developers through new features, enhancements in all four of its operating systems.

Federighi also introduced OS X ... er, macOS.

As expected, Apple recast OS X as macOS today, putting the Mac's operating system into the same format as the company's other OSes. Federighi also tagged the upgrade as "Sierra" -- the long form as "macOS Sierra" -- to keep with the cadence of California place names.

Blitzing through the new features, Federighi introduced Siri -- Apple's digital assistant -- on the Mac, a migration that many have expected for years. Siri will respond to searches and commands, just as it does on the iPhone.

Also new in Sierra, said Federighi, are Continuity enhancements that include a link between an Apple Watch and a Mac for authenticating the user, eliminating the password necessary to log onto the machine; and a universal clipboard shared between multiple Macs as well as iOS devices.

iCloud Drive, Apple's online storage service, got some attention in Sierra as well, with an extension of the auto-copy feature -- previously only able to update the Documents folder -- to the Desktop folder, too. Another new feature, which Apple called "optimized storage," sweeps old-but-still-useful data and files into the cloud and dumps no-longer-needed data into the dustbin.

macOS Sierra, like last year's El Capitan, will go into public preview in July and ship this fall. Registered developers can grab the new operating system today.

What's up with the Watch, and tuning Apple TV

Apple also introduced watchOS 3, an upgrade to the year-plus-old Apple Watch, with several user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) tweaks, including Scribble, which lets owners trace letters on the watch face with their finger, one at a time -- say, C-A-L-L J-O -- to reply to an incoming message. Scribble works in both English and Chinese, the latter an obvious nod to Apple's critical market in the People's Republic.

Apple Pay can also be embedded within third-party developers' Watch apps with version 3.

WatchOS 3 was released to developers today, and will be available as a free upgrade to all Watches this fall.

remote app

Eddy Cue, Apple's top internet software and services executive, touted improvements to the Apple TV and its tvOS. Apple will release an iPhone app that duplicates the functionality of the Siri-powered remote, including gameplay, implemented via the iPhone's sensors. Also getting some serious applause from developers was single sign-on, which with one set of credentials logs the user onto all his or her network apps, whether DirecTV, HBO or Hulu.

Cue also briefly covered a revamp of Apple Music on the iPhone and called the user interface (UI) remodel "more intuitive" than the original. Cue then passed the baton to Bozoma Saint John, an Apple Music executive who brought some energy to the presentation -- and demonstrated that the audience wasn't willing to get up and dance -- as she stepped through the streaming service's changes.


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