Why Is MacOS Named Sierra? The Apple Event Revealed Its Latest “Naming Controversy”

On Monday, at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced that OS X is now being called MacOS Sierra. Sierra is more of an update to than an overhaul of Apple's operating system. It's still based on the Unix family of operating systems, though it comes with some new features. The rebranding brings the Mac operating system's name in line with that of other Apple products, like watchOS for the Apple Watch and tvOS for Apple TV, but it doesn't indicate a whole new desktop operating system.

Apple's macOS Sierra contains several features that make it easier for various Apple devices to interact with one another. Apple Insider reported that Sierra will allow users to unlock their desktops without logging in if they are wearing an Apple Watch in close proximity to the Mac. This is called the auto unlock feature. People will also be able to use Apple Pay on their desktops by authenticating purchases with their iPhones or Apple Watches. Sierra users will also be able to copy files from one device — say, an iPhone — and paste it on another — say, a Mac.

Sierra has a couple other fun features. It will allow Mac users to watch videos in a separate, resizable window while doing other things on the computer. And as The Verge reported, Siri is coming to the Mac. In addition to doing the cool stuff it does on other devices, like scheduling reminders, sending messages, and looking up movie times, people will be able to search through their computer files with it.

The rebranding doesn't indicate a whole new product, but it creates continuity in operating system names between Apple products, and it comes with some features that Mac users may find useful. And of course, Apple is likely hoping that a fresh name will drum up excitement among its customers.

Those who are eager to get in on macOS Sierra's new features will have to wait a bit, though. According to Apple Insider, the free upgrade will be officially available sometime in the fall of 2016, though a beta version will be open to the public in July. Apple made Sierra available to developers Monday.