Apple has finally released its highly anticipated feature update for Mac users, macOS High Sierra. The free update comes with a slew of new functionality that enhances a users' experience, such as the new Apple File System (APFS), support for High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), Metal 2, Core ML developer framework, and support for Virtual Reality. The upgrade also brings several refinements in apps like Safari and Photos.
Here are the highlights of the update:
The Apple File System is a new storage architecture providing an extensible foundation to support new features and future storage technologies on the Mac. The improved system will execute common operations such as copying files and directories instantaneously, and brings support for the latest high-capacity storage devices while delivering"enhanced performance, security and reliability". Its data integrity features also allow the system to prevent data loss in the event of a crash or sudden power outage.
HEVC (H.265) is a new industry-standard that facilitates efficient compression and streaming of the media. You can also watch 4K videos at full quality even as the files take 40% less storage when compared to H.264 standard. This can now be achieved on your Mac with High Sierra. Apple claims that the "Hardware acceleration on the new iMac and MacBook Pro delivers incredibly fast and power-efficient HEVC encoding and playback".
Metal is Apple's new graphics technology. Metal 2 brings support for "next-generation experiences" like machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. It also features a refined API and improved performance that, according to Apple, is helping developers like Unity, Epic, Valve, Pixelmator, and more, accelerate their future apps.
Core ML is bringing the power of machine learning to Apple's desktop platform and "enabling the creation of entirely new kinds of apps," delivering "incredible power, speed, and efficiency of machine learning operations such as computer vision, natural language, and support for convolutional and recurrent neural networks". All the computation and processing of Core ML doesn't keep track of the user's personal data. Apps like Pixelmator Pro are already using the framework.
Virtual Reality Support
VR has finally landed on Mac. Now, developers can create immersive, 3D and VR content tailored for Apple's platform. Valve is optimizing SteamVR platform for macOS and enabling connection of the HTC Vive headset. Unity and Epic are bringing their VR development tools to Mac, too. Final Cut Pro X will also add support for professional 360-degree VR later this year.
App refinements have come aplenty for users as Photos gets a bunch of new features and even a refreshed editing UI. There are new effects that can be added to Live Photos. Third-party editors such as Adobe Photoshop can be opened from within the photos app, with edits saved back to the Photos library. Apple has also added support for third-party extensions providing "access to printing and publishing services from Shutterfly, WhiteWall, Wix, ifolor, Mimeo and Mpix from right within the app".
Safari got its share of upgrades with Intelligent Tracking Prevention which detects and eliminates cookies and other data used by advertisers for cross-site tracking, to help keep a user’s browsing private. The browser can also block videos from autoplaying, much like the planned Google Chrome feature.
Siri can now learn your music preferences and even make custom playlists suited to your taste. The personal assistant can also answer music trivia when using Apple Music; while Spotlight can fetch you flight status information, including departure and arrival times, delays, gates, terminals and even a map of the flight path. Interestingly, Apple is also switching the search engine it uses for Siri and Spotlight, from Bing to Google.
Additionally, the update also comes with a few security features such as a utility that verifies the EFI's integrity every week.
macOS High Sierra is available as a free update for Macs introduced in late 2009 or later and can be downloaded from the Mac App Store.