Apple WWDC: OS X is dead, long live macOS

Cook 'modernizes' OS name by going back in time 20 years

Apple Watch running MacOS 7.5.5

Apple WWDC Apple has rolled out its plans for updating all four of its major operating systems.

The 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco saw Apple showcase updates for iOS, OS X (now macOS), watchOS and tvOS. All four of the updates are being made available to developers today, with general release builds due to arrive this Fall.

Speaking to a packed Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (El Reg was not invited for some reason), Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed major updates to the mobile and desktop platforms, as well as new developer tools and an education push.

OS ex-X

Among the most noticeable moves was a re-branding of Apple's oldest remaining software offering: the Macintosh operating system. Known for the last 15 years as "OS X," the operating system that helped drive Apple's resurgence in the early 2000s will now be known as "macOS." The new moniker will bring the brand in line with the iOS, tvOS and watchOS names.

Under the hood, the macOS "Sierra" build will offer the ability to log on to a Mac via Apple Watch authentication, a new Universal Clipboard feature, new iDrive automation to optimize hard drive space (by storing little-used files and media in the cloud), and new file organization options.

The Sierra update will also introduce Siri functionality to the Mac. Using the built-in microphone on MacBooks and iMacs, the Apple assistant will be able to launch applications, perform basic scheduling and messaging tasks, and organize files.

Out with X, in with 10

Software engineering boss Craig Federighi was tasked with showing off the next version of iOS. The update for the iPhone and iPad operating system was hailed as the "biggest ever" for Apple.

Among the new additions for iOS are new messaging, photo and phone applications from Apple, as well as updates to Siri and expanded 3D-touch and notification options.

The Cupertino giant is also opening up more parts of the operating system for developer use, adding APIs for Siri, Maps, and Messaging that will allow third-party apps to tie into more iOS functions. Other additions include a new app for the HomeKit platform and API calls that will let carriers include alerts on suspected spam robo-calls.

Watch TV, watch Watch

The Apple Watch will get more functionality as part of a push to make the wearable better-integrated with iOS and macOS apps and devices. In addition to letting you log into your Mac and control HomeKit appliances, the watchOS will include a new interface to better switch between apps, screens and watch faces.

A host of new health options will include new screens for monitoring activity and an "SOS" function that automatically places an emergency call and sends medical ID information (such as allergies or health conditions) when the side button is held down.

For the Apple TV, this Fall will bring with it an update for the tvOS that will include new apps and the ability to sync apps with iOS and control the TV with a Siri software remote on the iPad or iPhone. Users will also get a single sign-on option for activating new app subscriptions and an automatic "dark mode" to adjust for lighting conditions.

Developers, developers, developers, developers!

Cook chose to close out the developer conference keynote with a segment especially for the Apple coders who ponied up $1599 apiece for tickets they could purchase only if they won a lottery drawing.

Praising the third-party developers who make up Apple's ecosystem, Cook talked about how apps were "changing the world," and posted a doting video bigging up those who write software for iOS and macOS.

Cook also introduced a new educational app from Apple that aims to teach kids how to code. Dubbed "Swift Playgrounds," the app includes basic coding techniques and exercises aimed at getting young people to develop for the Swift programming language.

The Playgrounds app will be offered by Apple for free and has been designed specifically for the iPad. ®

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