Apple Touts Speed and Privacy Upgrades in macOS High Sierra
The most significant improvements are behind the scenes, but there's also better tracking protection and browsing performance in Safari, among other new features.
Apple's latest operating system, macOS High Sierra, will bring several incremental improvements to Apple's own apps as well as a significant file system overhaul behind the scenes to make Cupertino's laptops and desktops more responsive.
Unveiled at Apple's WWDC in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, the new operating system runs on the Apple File System (APFS). While the current macOS Sierra partially supports APFS, the full rollout coming when High Sierra launches this fall will bring improved features like native encryption (so you don't have to turn on File Vault to encrypt your entire hard drive), and better support for file manipulation and reading data from external and internal flash storage devices. In a pre-recorded demo played at WWDC, a system running Sierra took several seconds to duplicate large video files, while High Sierra completed the task instantly.
APFS in High Sierra will also support the H.265 video codec, which is much better suited to 4K resolution than the current H.264 standard. For developers creating virtual reality games and apps, there's a new version of Apple's Metal graphics API, which the company says is optimized for VR and machine learning tasks. As a further sign that Apple is buying into the rest of Silicon Valley's VR obsession, it also announced support for the three main VR development platforms from Unity, Unreal and Steam.
Meanwhile, High Sierra also includes a few mostly minor changes for how people interact with the OS and its built-in Apple apps. Chief among them are changes to the Safari web browser, which now delivers 80 percent faster browsing performance than Google Chrome, according to Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi.
Safari also includes a new autoplay blocking feature, which will stop websites from automatically playing video or audio content, along with better protection against website trackers. Instead of asking a website to not track your activity, Safari in High Sierra will use machine learning to actively block the trackers.
"It's not about blocking ads," Federighi said of the new tracking blocker, but instead will reassure users that less of their data is being spread around the internet.
Other High Sierra improvements include new editing tools and sorting filters in the Photos app, along with better face detection that syncs people's names across all of your Apple devices. There's also a new split-screen view in the Mail app.
Developers will get early access to a beta version of High Sierra starting on Monday, while a public beta will be available later this month. Apple will make the finished version available as a free download for all Macs that support Sierra this fall.