Apple unveils iOS 10, macOS Sierra previews

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Apple unveils iOS 10, macOS Sierra previews
Siri on macOS at WWDC 2016.

Opens up a handful of iOS apps to third-party devs.

Apple has released previews of its upcoming mobile and desktop operating systems, introducing several new features as well as opening up some built-in applications to third-party app coders.

Apple's desktop operating system is dropping the OS X moniker in favour of macOS, Apple said at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco today.

The Siri digital assistant will make it into the next version of macOS, which has been dubbed 'Sierra'. Siri on Sierra can be used to find files and documents, calendaring and messages. Search results from Siri in the macOS notifications centre can also be copied and pasted into apps and documents.

Apple Pay, already on the company's iOS and Watch devices, will also be available in Sierra.

Retailers will be able to create Apple Pay buttons on their sites to receive payments. Users can authenticate transactions through the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on their iDevices.

Other new features in macOS include logon via users' authenticated Watch devices, and copying and pasting from iOS 10 devices into macOS apps through Continuity's Universal Clipboard, which uses Apple's iCloud for sharing.

Users will also be able to access the desktop and documents folders that reside on macOS Sierra computers from all their devices, while a new optimised storage feature will free up space on Mac drives by clearing out caches and duplicates and moving infrequently used files to iCloud.

Photos has added artificial intelligence in Sierra to recognise people's faces, as well as scene and location information to build albums automatically.

The company also re-emphasised its earlier commitment to privacy by anonymising usage telemetry data to improve auto-correct and look-up hints in Notes, and pledged that services like Siri and Maps that communicate with its servers won't be used to build profiles on users.

iOS gets major overhaul with version 10

iOS 10 is the "biggest ever release" of the operating system according to Apple's head of software engineering Craig Federighi, boasting a range of new features and user interface revamps.

Chief among these is the refreshed Siri personal digital assistant, which now reaches deeper into iOS.

Third-party developers working with iOS 10 can integrate Siri into their apps for features such as messaging, phone calls, artificial intelligence-driven photo search, transport booking through Uber and Lyft, Apple Pay, physical activity, and home automation through the SiriKit software development kit.

Siri now also can control Apple CarPlay apps, as well as vehicle air conditioning and audio systems within car makers' apps. 

QuickType, Apple's predictive text entry system for iOS, also gets a Siri boost to provide relevant information based on location, calendaring, and contacts. The typing system in iOS 10 will also support multiple languages without users having to switch keyboards as in prior versions of the operating system.

Like macOS, iOS 10 users can use Apple Pay for purchases on websites that support the company's payments system.

Maps, Apple's once-derided attempt at taking on Google for navigation, is overhauled in iOS 10 and opened up to third-party developers through a set of extensions that can be used for app integration.

Messages and the Phone app have also been opened to third-party developers in iOS 10, allowing app coders to integrate features from the applications in their software.

Apple has also added more intelligence to Maps in iOS 10, with the navigation system attempting to predict where people are likely to go next based on their routines and calendared appointments.

Cisco and Apple have collaborated to make iOS 10 and the Phone app work better for enterprise users. This includes optimisations for Cisco wireless networks, data prioritisation for the company's WebEx conferencing and Spark Call voice systems, and the ability to make VoIP calls directly from the iOS People contacts app.

Siri can also be asked to use Cisco Spark to call contacts in the People app.

Developer previews today, public betas in July

MacOS Sierra and iOS 10 are available from today as previews for registered Apple developers, along with watchOS 3 and tvOS. 

For watchOS 3, Apple said it has achieved a seven-fold performance increase by storing apps in memory, allowing them to launch almost instantly. New features include handwriting recognition, user interface clean-ups, new watchfaces, and support for emergency calls globally, with the ability to transmit Medical ID health information.

Apple intends to release final versions of macOS, iOS 10, watchOS 3 and tvOS later this year as free upgrades, but did not specify an exact date.

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