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Laptop vs tablet | Best convertible laptops and tablets 2016 UK


Laptop vs tablet | Best convertible laptops and tablets 2016 UK

If you need the best of a laptop and a tablet at the same time then check out the best convertibles, hybrids and 2-in-1s you can buy right now. This might be the answer to your laptop vs tablet debate.

Do you need a tablet or a laptop? These aim to be both at once


By | 6 hours ago

It the classic laptop vs tablet debate, but you can have both if you’re fed up of carrying around a laptop2 and a tablet.3 A convertible, hybrid, 2-in-1, might be the answer. Since the launch of Windows 10 there has been a wave of new devices aiming to be all things to everyone. Here are the best convertible laptops and tablets of 2016 you can buy in the UK. See also: Best laptops 20164 and best tablets 2016.

New entry: Samsung Galaxy TabPro S. Although many of them will come with Windows 105, which makes sense, there are a few in this chart which come with an alternative operating system including both Chrome OS and even Android so there’s lots of choice. We’ve also added the iPad Pro 9.7 which will be a legitimate option for some users. As usual, there are a lot of devices out there from a larger number of manufacturers so these are the best ones which we’ve reviewed. These are the best convertible laptop and hybrid tablet reviews.

You can also take a look at our round-ups for best budget laptops6 and our best Chromebooks7. For something more portable see best ultraportable laptops8, and also best gaming laptops9.

Laptop vs tablet: What is a hybrid?

Although they’ve been around for a while, these devices vary quite a lot and so various different names have been used to pigeon hole them without a real front runner which was settled on. We’re going mainly with convertible here. Across the media, retail and the manufacturers you’ll hear names such as convertibles, hybrids and 2-in-1s. They all mean the same thing in essence a device which is trying to be both a laptop and a tablet. As we’ll explain next, there are essentially two different types here and we’re going to round up the best of them all in one place.

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

Laptop vs tablet: Tablet or laptop first?

There are some big differences between a convertible laptop and a convertible tablet. While both are a 2-in-1 device aiming to be a laptop and a tablet at the same time, design challenges mean that you’ll typically get more of one than the other. However, some do manage to sit somewhere in the middle. A convertible laptop comes in various different styles but is likely to have a screen which flips almost 360 degrees (above) in order to change it into a tablet, for example. That’s the main part of the design and doesn’t vary too much across the market. It also means you can use it in other ‘modes’ such as tent or display.

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

Examples include Lenovo’s Yoga range which has been the inspiration for many rivals. A recent exception is the Microsoft Surface Book which is laptop-first but still has a removable keyboard. Meanwhile, a convertible tablet (below) is more like a regular tablet but either has a keyboard which attaches magnetically or a fancy case which creates a laptop-like experience. The keyboard may connect over Bluetooth in some cases.

Examples include the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Samsung Galaxy TabPro S10 and the Huawei MateBook11. We’re likely to add the latter two once we’ve had them in for a proper test. Which one is right for you depends hugely on what you want to do with it. Do you mainly want a laptop on which to do regular work but can also shapeshift into a tablet for the odd task? Or do you want a tablet which you can also do a bit of typing on when the need arises?

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

Laptop vs tablet: What to look for in a hybrid

Much of what you need to look for in a convertible laptop or convertible tablet is the same. Like almost any tech device you’ll want to get the best specifications for your money including the processor, memory, storage and screen. Make sure you click through to the in-depth reviews of each device to find out what they offer, including benchmark results. As alluded to, the design is going to be a big part of your buying decision here and you need to choose a device which fits your needs best. A convertible laptop is likely to be bigger and heavier but is likely to offer longer battery life (there’s more space for a bigger battery). Since it is laptop-first, it will also provide a better typing experience and there’s normally room for things like more physical ports should connectivity be an issue.

Although a convertible tablet might not have many physical ports (some have full-size USB), they are smaller and lighter than a hybrid laptop making them great for travelling around. As the device is a tablet-first with a keyboard dock/case, using it like a laptop is often fiddly and awkward. Look for one with a clever design and proper keys. A trackpad is also a boon, despite touchscreens, but not all feature one.

Laptop vs tablet: Best convertible laptops and tablets 2016

1. Microsoft Surface Pro 412

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

There is a great deal to like and rave about the Surface Pro 4. The design is thinner and lighter for starters. The screen is awesome, there’s plenty of power available, the new Surface Pen is better and the Type Cover is a vast improvement on the last one. However, the design is inherently awkward at times, it’s more expensive that a lot of laptops and the Type Cover, which you’ll pretty much need, isn’t included lowering the value. Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review13.

2. Lenovo Yoga 90014

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

The Lenovo Yoga 900 is a laptop that really asks you to believe in its design style. After all, it doesn t come cheap and for the price you can get a laptop with much more power if you re not out for something immensely portable. That s where this laptop excels: portability. As well as being slim, light and all-round lovely, the smart hinge lets it sit where most other laptops just can t. The battery should last through a full day s work as well. The trackpad can feel fiddly and the display isn t perfect, but if you re feeling flush this is one of the top ultraportables around. Read our Lenovo Yoga 900 review15.

3. Microsoft Surface Book16

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

It’s expensive but the Surface Book is an amazing piece of technology combining excellent (and unique) design, top-notch build quality and high-end specifications. Battery life is amazing and there’s a lot you can do with the Surface Book model with the Nvidia GPU. The big question is can you afford one? Read our Microsoft Surface Book review17.

4. Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch18

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

There s no doubt that the iPad Pro 9.7 is the best tablet Apple has ever made, combining the power of the original into the stunning form factor of the iPad Air 2 (with a camera bump). Apple has also added new features such as upgraded cameras and one of the best displays we ve seen on a tablet. Whether you should buy one is another question, though, and depends on your perspective (see above). For some, the iPad Pro 9.7 will be the perfect balance between work and play while for others it will simply not be up to the job. What we can say is that it s certainly not the ultimate PC replacement as it s trying to do too many things at once. Read our Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch review19.

5. Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA20

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

Whether the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA is a good buy or not depends entirely on your priorities. If you want to open up loads of browser windows and have plenty of apps open at once, this isn t for you. The Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA only really runs well with an app or two running, and no data-intensive background processes going on. In laptop terms it s a whelp. However, good stamina, a smart design and good, non-cramped keyboard make it a great low-cost choice if you want something to do some writing/emailing/browsing while you re away from home. Read our Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA review21.

6. Samsung Galaxy TabPro S22

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

The TabPro S is undeniably a beautiful and capable piece of hardware and it can be a joy to use. The problem is, it s not a joy to use all the time. The 2-in-1 form factor can work, and we still think that the Surface Pro 4 is the best example of this, thanks to its build quality and integrated kickstand. The TabPro S is an excellent computer, but it remains frustrating that it doesn t always excel in being one. Hopefully Samsung will consider improving simple things like the stand on the inevitable sequel if it is to continue to charge this much money for it. Read our Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review23.

7. Microsoft Surface 324

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

Objectively, the Surface 3 is the best compromise between a laptop and tablet. It’s a highly portable gadget which can run full Windows programs and it costs less than the Surface Pro 3. It’s not exactly cheap by the time you’ve added the keyboard and stylus, though. It’s also only good for lightweight duties – it’s less powerful than laptops costing the same – and some people will find the screen is too small for ‘proper’ productivity. It’s a better work tool than an iPad and Bluetooth keyboard, it has to be said, and if you only need to use office apps and a web browser, it could be exactly what you’re after. Most people are better off spending more on the Surface Pro 3 or, if you don’t need a touchscreen, a Core M laptop such as the Asus UX305F. Read our Microsoft Surface 3 review25.

8. Chromebook Pixel (2015)26

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

As we ve stated in pretty much every Chromebook review, they re not for everyone. Being tied to the web, and Google s version of the web in particular, isn t going to be ideal for some users. The same goes for those that want to edit video, record music, or play AAA games. Those users would be better served by a decent PC, which you could certainly buy for the same money as the new Pixel. But, and it s a very big but, if you embrace the ideals of Chromebooks, and have the money to spare, the 2015 Pixel is a truly beguiling device that is a genuine pleasure to use. Do we want one? Unquestionably. Will we be buying one? Hmmmm. Read our Chromebook Pixel (2015) review27.

10. Google Pixel C28

Laptop Vs Tablet | Best Convertible Laptops And Tablets 2016 UK

As a standalone tablet, the Pixel C is superb. It s better than the HTC-made Nexus 9 which was great but not exceptional. Which the ‘C’ most certainly is. Storage is a bit limited, but if you can live with 32GB it s good value at 399. Paying an extra 119 for the keyboard is something we can t see many buyers doing. If typing is a priority, you d be better off spending your 518 on a decent ultraportable laptop as Android Marshmallow good as it is isn t nearly as versatile as Windows. And while the keyboard is well designed, you ll still prefer a full-size laptop keyboard. If you need to run Windows apps, the consider the Surface 3 which is slightly cheaper – even with the optional keyboard – but remember that there are even cheaper options such as the Asus Transformer T100HA.

Read our Google Pixel C review29.

References

  1. ^ (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  2. ^ laptop reviews (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  3. ^ tablet reviews (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  4. ^ Best laptops 2016 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  5. ^ Windows 10 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  6. ^ best budget laptops (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  7. ^ best Chromebooks (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  8. ^ best ultraportable laptops (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  9. ^ best gaming laptops (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  10. ^ Samsung Galaxy TabPro S hands-on review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  11. ^ Huawei MateBook hands-on review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  12. ^ read full review for Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  13. ^ Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  14. ^ read full review for Lenovo Yoga 900 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  15. ^ Lenovo Yoga 900 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  16. ^ read full review for Microsoft Surface Book (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  17. ^ Microsoft Surface Book review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  18. ^ read full review for Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  19. ^ Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  20. ^ read full review for Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  21. ^ Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  22. ^ read full review for Samsung Galaxy TabPro S (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  23. ^ Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  24. ^ read full review for Microsoft Surface 3 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  25. ^ Microsoft Surface 3 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  26. ^ read full review for Chromebook Pixel (2015) (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  27. ^ Chromebook Pixel (2015) review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  28. ^ read full review for Google Pixel C (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  29. ^ Google Pixel C review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)

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macOS Sierra review: Apple’s new computer operating system brings small, stable, stunning tweaks


Earlier this week, Apple released its latest software for its computers. This latest version of macOS is called Sierra, continuing the natural landmark theme of previous editions Yosemite and El Capitan.

I ve been using the public beta version since June and watched it become more accomplished, stable and reliable.

There are lots of new features in Sierra, and the good news is that downloading and installing the update is pretty quick. And the stability of the program means you it installs painlessly, too.

As in previous years, this update brings Apple s mobile and Mac software (iOS and macOS) even more closely integrated. So Siri, the voice-activated assistant has finally arrived on the computer. Windows, to be fair, had put Cortana into its PC operating software, and now Apple has the same simple way of interacting with your computer.

The 10 biggest changes in iOS 10

Siri works extremely well on the Mac, though I do miss the hands-free Hey Siri command that makes the iPhone or iPad respond even when you re too far away to touch your phone or tablet.

MacOS Sierra Review: Apple's New Computer Operating System Brings Small, Stable, Stunning Tweaks

On the Mac you can send Messages, dictate emails and perform Spotlight searches with ease. I ve noted before that Siri is great at recognising most words but not ideal for names. Still, that s the case with most voice-control systems, or maybe it s just my friends have weird names. You can save Spotlight searches by clicking on a Plus button and it ll appear in your notifications bar on the right edge of the display. It updates, too, so if you ask what time it is in Peru, the bar will show the current time continuously.

Then there s iCloud Drive, which now lets you store all the files from your Desktop and Documents folders in iCloud, downloading them as you need them, or keeping them to hand on your hard drive as well. This is very handy, though be warned that when you set this up, it s momentarily panicking as the contents are moved from where you left them into the Documents and Desktop sections of iCloud. They are still there, it s just a slightly different way to access them.

Once you re used to it, iCloud Drive for Desktop and Documents is very handy as you can access documents from other Macs you use, or from icloud.com1. And it certainly makes for a tidier desktop than I formerly had. Note that when you first start backing stuff up to iCloud it can slow your Mac down until the backup is finished.

Apple Watch users can now unlock their Mac via their timepiece. You need the latest software on the Watch as well as the computer and it s the more recent Macs that can do this. Setting it up isn t quite as simple as it might be but when it s up and running it s a real treat.

No more typing in a password to unlock your screen (except when you power up the computer), you tap the mouse or keyboard and the screen unlocks. It feels intimate and personal.

Then there s Universal Clipboard. The first time you use it, it s almost unnerving, it s so good. Choose a photo on your iPhone and click the Share button. Choose copy from the menu that appears. Put the phone down and in the Word document open on your Mac screen, say, press paste. The photo appears. It s done so well that it beguiles you with its simplicity.

Of course, you can paste more than photos that painstakingly crafted paragraph on your Mac appears in the email on your iPad in a second, for instance.

It s so simple it s astonishing it hasn t appeared before and it s the kind of feature that becomes increasingly useful Oh, wait a minute, I can just paste it

There are plenty more features, some big, some so discreet you ll catch yourself arching an eyebrow as you spot something s changed. Like the way that tabs are no longer restricted to Safari if in Maps you have several pages open, they ll sit together with tabs at the top. This also works in Mail, Pages, Keynote and more.

If you like to watch video while you work, you multi-tasker, you, then you ll be glad of a floating video window that can sit on the desktop while you do other stuff.

And there are more of the features which have just launched on the iPhone. Like Photos which creates collections of photos of a party or holiday into one place making them easier to access. The facial recognition from earlier versions is incorporated here, too, so you can see who was there. And the Search feature that s tremendously good on the iPhone is here, too, so if you type dog it ll locate all the four-legged friends pics, even though you haven t categorised them or anything.

Best features of iOS 10

Other features are subtle tweaks. If you didn t like the idea in Messages that everyone knows when you ve read their incoming text, you can turn read receipts off. Now you can have it on or off by each individual conversation. There are scores of changes of this little magnitude, most of them entirely pleasing.

The now-annual updates Mac users enjoy mix small and huge changes easily. This year, I d say the real ground-breaker is iCloud Drive s extra features it s certainly the one I ve encountered most, Siri notwithstanding. Siri is great, but won t suit every situation (please don t use it on the train, for instance).

Together, these are certainly strong advances in a still-familiar world, designed to enhance how you use your Mac in such small ways you may hardly notice at times. But try taking these advances away and, oh boy, then you ll see how much difference they make.

MacOS Sierra Review: Apple's New Computer Operating System Brings Small, Stable, Stunning TweaksReuse content2

References

  1. ^ icloud.com (icloud.com)
  2. ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)

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Apple macOS Sierra – PC Magazine


Apple MacOS Sierra - PC Magazine

If you already have a Mac dating back to 2010 (or a MacBook2 or iMac from late 2009), an upgrade to Sierra gives you dozens of advantages including faster performance and, as far as I can tell, no major disadvantages. But, unless you’re really impatient, it’s always safest to wait to upgrade until Apple releases the first point release, which typically arrives three or four weeks after the initial launch.

Mac and Windows
If you’re choosing a new computer and deciding between a Windows 103 machine and a Mac, then the choice is more complicated. I’m bilingual in Windows and the Mac, and I use both every day, but when I have to choose one or the other for example, when packing a laptop I choose a Mac with the Mac version of Microsoft Office4 installed. macOS strikes me the more transparent, usable, enjoyable, and hassle-free OS, and the built-in macOS apps like Safari, Mail, Photos, Maps, Contacts, Reminders, iTunes, and Messages combine consistency, power, and ease in a way that no built-in Windows apps can match. It’s worth noting, however, that in some ways Microsoft has been more innovative, with things like support for touch and pen input and Continuum for switching between desktop, tablet, and phones. Not to mention that it’s included a desktop AI-powered voice-responsive digital assistant in Cortana more than a year before Apple got around to it. Windows Hello authentication, which lets you log in with your face, is another unique innovation. And Microsoft’s main Office apps5 Word and Excel outclass Apple’s Pages and Numbers in power and flexibility, and much of the business world relies on Microsoft’s Outlook. But by using the Mac versions of Word, Excel, and Outlook on a Mac running macOS Sierra, you can enjoy benefits of both Apple’s and Microsoft’s software.

Marquee Changes
The big features that Apple wants you to know about in macOS Sierra include the voice-activated digital assistant Siri, a universal clipboard that lets you copy and paste among any devices using your iCloud account, and a few other features that tighten the Apple ecosystem, such as the ability (not tested by me) to unlock your Mac when you get near it while wearing an Apple Watch6.

Apple MacOS Sierra - PC Magazine

You can click the Share button in Notes to share notes with anyone using an Apple device so that everyone who shares it can make changes for example, a list of family errands or shared planning for an event. Further iCloud integration includes a new feature that automatically uploads to your iCloud Drive7 any files on your Desktop or in your Documents folder unless you switch this feature off. This means that all these documents are available almost instantly on all your Apple devices. This is a feature that won’t come into its own until the next full version of macOS arrives next year. That’s because it will use Apple’s forthcoming APFS file system8, which will make this kind of upload more or less instantaneous. But it works at impressive speed even with the older HFS+ file system still used by Sierra. And note that all these new features that use iCloud storage mean it’s likely that you’ll be paying a subscription fee: You only get a measly 5GB free; upgrade options cost 99 cents per month for 50GB, £2.99 per month for 200GB, and £9.99 per month for 1TB.

Storage and Clutter
A related option (turned on by default) lets macOS save space on your Mac when your disk starts running out of space. When space is low on your Mac, the copies on your Mac of older documents in your Desktop or Documents folder, or anywhere else in your iCloud Drive folder, automatically get removed from the Mac and stored only in the cloud. They get downloaded again when you click on them to open them. I’m a bit leery of any system that stores the only copy of any file in the cloud, but you may find it worthwhile for large files that you’ve copied to a local backup disk or that you can afford to lose.

Finally, macOS includes an option to empty Trash items more than 30 days old (you’ll find this in the Finder’s Preferences, not in the System Preferences app), and it now prompts you to delete an installer after installing an app. Safari flags duplicate downloads and deletes the second of two identical copies. System caches and logs are cleared automatically, so expert users may stop using third-party apps to clear out system detritus that accumulated in earlier versions.

Apple MacOS Sierra - PC Magazine

The New Look
Interface improvements always a feature of new macOS releases include an optional tabbed interface in virtually any application that uses standard macOS interface design. So Maps, TextEdit, Mail, Pages, and other Apple apps now get tabs but so do many third-party apps like VMware Fusion9. Live thumbnail previews of Web links now appear in Messages not only in Spotlight along with larger-scale emoji so that you can finally figure out whether your friend is laughing or crying. If you’re really impatient, you can respond to texts by clicking an icon on a pop-up menu that includes a thumbs-up icon and a heart.

From iOS to macOS
Every recent macOS version borrows new features from iOS. Some of these are more valuable than others. For example, you can now set a System Preference that types a period when you type two spaces at the end of a sentence even though the period key is just as easy to type on a Mac keyboard as any other symbol, and you’ll end up making two keystrokes when one would work equally well. More usefully, by default macOS now automatically capitalizes the first letter of your sentences, though you can turn this option off in the Keyboard pane of the System Preferences app.

Hey Siri
I’m impressed by all the things that Siri can do on the Mac, but I have a few mixed feelings about her. The first thing you should ask Siri is “What you can do?” The answer is a long list of abilities ranging from telling you the time in Tokyo to opening a Finder window on a specific folder to sending an email message when you tell Siri the recipient, the subject, and what you want to say. I like being able to ask to see (for example) all the files I created in the past week and all the questions about directions, coffee shops, sports scores, and weather that you probably ask Siri about when using your phone. If Siri’s answer has a plus sign in the upper-right corner of its result window, you can pin it to the macOS notification area, where the results will always be up to date. Stocks, sports, weather, and similar data are pinnable and updatable this way. It’s a bit awkward to get Siri’s attention on the Mac, and you can’t simply say “Hey, Siri.” You can only get Siri’s attention by clicking on a menu-bar icon or holding down the Command key while pressing the space bar, and you have to do the same thing again if you have a follow-up question. Unlike Windows’ Cortana, which can wake up when you say “Hey Cortana” and accepts spoken or typed or even handwritten questions, Siri only accepts spoken questions. You can click in the transcript that appears on-screen in which Siri repeats in text what she thinks she heard you say, and you can type in modifications to your question, but you can’t start by typing in a question. I’m used to waiting a few seconds for Siri to respond on my phone, but on a high-powered Mac, it felt slightly frustrating to wait while Siri processed my questions, typed them out, and slowly answered them.

Apple MacOS Sierra - PC Magazine

If you don’t want to chat with Siri, you can type a Siri-style question into macOS’s Spotlight field, just as in previous macOS versions. Strangely, Spotlight tends to give different answers from the ones that Siri gives you for example, a completely different list of nearby places to get coffee. Windows’ Cortana sometimes gives you different answers to typed versus written questions, too, and it’s puzzling that neither Windows nor macOS hasn’t done a better job of integrating spoken and written questions. One positive note: Spotlight in Sierra has many new powers. You can now ask Spotlight for files that you created yesterday or messages received today, and you can ask Siri the same question, though the results when you ask Spotlight will appear in a Finder window and the results when you ask Siri will appear in a notification-style box. I’d prefer to be able to choose one style or the other for both Siri and Spotlight, and maybe Apple will give me the choice in some future macOS version.

Overdue Changes
Some of Sierra’s new features are nifty enough to make you ask why Apple didn’t offer them before. My favorite is Picture in Picture, which lets you detach a miniature version of an iTunes or Safari-based video and watch it in a corner of the screen. It stays in that corner even when you switch desktops. You start it by Ctrl-clicking in a video and selecting Picture in Picture from the pop-up menu; in YouTube videos you’ll probably need to Ctrl-click twice, once to bring up the standard YouTube context menu, then again to bring up Sierra’s menu with options for full-screen, picture-in-picture, and more. Other neat tricks include a drop-down menu at the top of the message list in Mail that lets you see only messages that are unread or flagged, or only addressed or copied to you, or only that have attachments. These filters were available in earlier versions with a bit of typing, but Sierra makes them available with two clicks. Users of Microsoft Exchange can see mail messages and calendar events as soon as they’re sent, just like messages and events in Apple’s native apps. After Sierra is released, Safari extensions will be accessible from the App Store and won’t require manual downloading and installing as they do now.

Apple MacOS Sierra - PC Magazine

Photos
Other changes in Sierra include an overhauled Photos app that includes a new “Brilliance” filter (hidden under Adjust>Light) that intelligently makes photos look richer by adjusting different regions separately. Photos also uses high-powered automation to produce albums called “Memories” that combine photos taken at a single event or on a single day, and, by default, displays them with pseudo-animation that zooms images in and out. There’s a similar feature in iOS 10’s Photos app, with a different set of customization options, and my phone created a completely different set of Memories from my Mac. Sierra provides various themes for Memories, including the Ken Burns effect, Origami, Sliding Panels, and other fancy-looking transition effects. Maybe you’ll like having your Mac compile movies for you, but, for me at least, this feature gets tired fast, and there seems to be no way to disable it other than to delete the Memories that Photos creates.

Experts Only
Some changes in Sierra aren’t mentioned in Apple’s publicity but will interest expert users nevertheless. For example, System Preferences used to offer an option to run apps downloaded from anywhere simply by clicking on them just as you can do with apps downloaded from the App Store or from registered Apple developers. This option is now gone (though it can be restored with an expert-only command in the Terminal), so if you download an app from an unknown developer, and launch it for the first time, Sierra will display a message saying that your security settings block apps from unidentified developers. You can still run the app by Ctrl-clicking it and choosing Open, or by going to the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences and clicking an Open Anyway button, but Apple is trying to make it harder for you to compromise your system by running malware. These precautions are similar to Windows’ Smart Screen, and they’re worth having, even if expert users have to click once or twice before launching an app for the first time.

Apple has cleaned up the System Preferences app by reducing the number of panes and consolidating separate panes into one. For example, the old Dictation & Speech pane is now divided between the Keyboard pane and the Accessibility pane. As always, it’s easy to find the controls you need by using the search box at the upper right of System Preferences, and Windows 10 users will wish they had a single unified app like System Preferences instead of the baffling division of controls into the Windows Control Panel and the Settings app.

Apple MacOS Sierra - PC Magazine

Subjectively Snappier, Objectively Smaller
How does Sierra feel when you upgrade from the previous version, El Capitan? Subjectively, it feels snappier and more responsive. It also takes up less disk space, because it deletes some dictionaries and fonts that you’ve never used, and downloads them when needed. One way in which macOS and Windows continue to differ is that Windows now looks and feels more or less similar on all devices, and makes a touch-enabled interface on any hardware that supports it, while Apple reserves macOS for desktops and laptops and iOS for tablets and phones, with touch only available on iOS. I’m not the only Mac user who has tried to control my MacBook Air by touching its screen after spending the day with my iPhone10.

On the whole, I think Apple is right to keep the two OSes separate, partly because, for me at least, Windows doesn’t feel at home on a tablet or touch-enabled laptop in the way that iOS feels at home on the iPad. But some touch controls might come in handy in macOS someday, and someday I would like to have a Mac laptop that works with a stylus like the Apple Pencil11 so that I could interact directly with the screen for example, for drawing or for signing forms without smearing it with fingerprints. Windows Anniversary Update, by contrast, made a big deal about the OS’s pen input and digital inking capabilities.

All-Encompassing OSes
Windows and macOS are now impressively mature systems, massively capable and highly reliable. Some of my PCMag.com colleagues will disagree, but I think macOS has the edge in coherence, convenience, and intelligent interface design. Apple also has the edge in its built-in applications. For advanced users, macOS has the advantage of its Automator and AppleScript features that make it easy for non-programmers to create custom workflows and other automated features that require far more expertise to reproduce in Windows. For advanced users, Apple’s OS also has the advantage of being built on Unix, which means that a vast range of specialized and open-source software written for Linux is also usable in macOS. But what matters most to millions of nontechnical users is whether an OS helps make life and work easier and that’s what macOS does best.

References

  1. ^ iOS (www.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ MacBook (www.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ Windows 10 (www.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ the Mac version of Microsoft Office (www.pcmag.com)
  5. ^ Microsoft’s main Office apps (www.pcmag.com)
  6. ^ Apple Watch (www.pcmag.com)
  7. ^ iCloud Drive (www.pcmag.com)
  8. ^ Apple’s forthcoming APFS file system (www.pcmag.com)
  9. ^ VMware Fusion (www.pcmag.com)
  10. ^ iPhone (www.pcmag.com)
  11. ^ Apple Pencil (www.pcmag.com)
  12. ^ >

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