Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

MacOS Sierra

Available now on the Mac App Store — remember the Mac App Store? — MacOS Sierra brings Siri to the Mac, allows you to offload storage of old files to iCloud, and adds Apple Pay to Safari, amongst miscellaneous updates and improvements.

There’s absolutely no replacement for John Siracusa’s legendary reviews, but Andrew Cunningham and Lee Hutchinson at Ars Technica have put together a very comprehensive review that’s worth checking out, featuring a particularly deep-dive into Apple’s new file system.

Stephen Hackett’s review is also very good — in particular, his explanation of pinned Siri results:

All conversations with Siri have a small button with a plus symbol. Clicking it opens Notification Center (which now sports a white theme to match iOS) and adds Siri’s results to the top of the stack of widgets.

Here’s the clever bit: the content of these is constantly being updated by the system.

This leads to all sorts of possibilities. Creating a widget during a sports game would keep the real-time score just a swipe away. Creating a Twitter search with a keyword can help you keep updated on what people are saying about your brand. The possibilities are nearly endless.

It’s a little frustrating that this kind of stuff is gated behind a spoken Siri command. Not only does this require talking to your computer — a task which I still find a little bit weird — it also means that the computer must interpret what you’re saying absolutely perfectly for this feature to be of any use. Siri remains not accurate enough for my liking, even on the Sierra betas; so, while I’ll try it out on my Mac, I’m not sure I’ll use it regularly.

Meanwhile, when Jason Snell tried the new iCloud storage optimization feature, he found it working like many of Apple’s other iCloud products:

Here’s what happened: I was editing a podcast in Apple’s Logic Pro X, and my project was stored on the Desktop. All of a sudden, the voice of one of my podcast panelists simply vanished from the mix. I quit and re-launched Logic, only to be told that the file in question was missing. Sure enough, a visit to Finder revealed that Sierra had “optimized” my storage and removed that file from my local drive. I’ll grant you, the file was a couple of weeks old, and very large as most audio files are. But I was also actively using it within a Logic project. Apparently that didn’t count for anything?

That’s not good. The automated storage features in iCloud have been a mixed-bag: iCloud Photo Library has worked perfectly for me so far, but iCloud Music Library has been fairly unreliable — so much so that I refuse to enable it. I doubt I’ll be touching the storage optimization feature in Sierra for a while.1

Michael Tsai notes some ongoing bugs in the GM, including a fix for a slow WiFi connection. As usual, upgrade with caution; be sure to make a full, verified backup.

  1. Especially since I upgraded to a 1 TB SSD in my MacBook Air a few months ago. If you’ve been hesitating on upgrading your SSD, you should know that prices have come way down. ↩︎