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macOS Sierra review: Apple reaches for the clouds
For the last few years, nearly all of OS X's biggest updates have come in response to iOS. First, the Mac got iOS's apps. Then it got iOS's looks. And now it's even getting iOS's naming format. This year, OS X is gone and replacing it is macOS — a new iteration on the same operating system, with a changed but still comfortably familiar name.Perhaps the update is fitting for 2016. With today's release of macOS Sierra, the latest version of Apple's desktop OS, the Mac is at long last getting the one feature that's arguably come to define iOS more than any other, the feature that singlehandedly was supposed to alter the way we use our gadgets: Siri.It's an exciting addition and something Mac users have been waiting years for. Siri's been on the iPhone since 2011, and in the meantime, Microsoft and Google have both introduced voice-controlled artificial intelligence on their own desktop operating systems. But the strange, and maybe most encouraging part of Sierra is that, for how big of a deal Siri is, it's hardly the most useful aspect of the new software. Watch our macOS Sierra preview from June.Still, let's start with Siri. It's Siri! It's the virtual assistant with a helpfulness that's approximately inverse to the amount of public attention it's getting at any given moment. (Right as another celebrity showed up in a Siri ad, you were probably struggling to look something up.) But five years later, it's actually starting to pick up some useful skills.On the Mac, Siri lives in a bunch of different places — dock, menubar, keyboard shortcut — and pops up as a black box on top of whatever you're looking at, ready to start fielding questions (notably, it is wholly distinct from Spotlight, despite their similar functionality). It can do all of the stuff you've been doing with Siri on the iPhone until now, like display sports scores, look up movie times, and solve math problems, Siri can also just open apps for you (e.g., "Open Contacts" or "Open Spotify"). And one of the most useful functions it has on the desktop is the ability to search your files.