Apple Announces macOS ‘High Sierra’ and MacBook Pro Upgrades

Apple Announces macOS 'High Sierra' and MacBook Pro Upgrades
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Apple on Monday announced the newest version of its Mac operating system, as well as incremental updates to its MacBook and MacBook Pro lineup. The new macOS, called High Sierra, places particular emphasis on “deep technologies” and performance enhancements, while also adding a host of features aimed at the developer and pro communities.

Safari Enhancements

The macOS High Sierra version of Safari has been benchmarked as the fastest browser in the world, according to Apple’s Craig Federighi. Additionally, the browser’s JavaScript performance is 80 percent faster than Chrome. Safari is also getting some security and privacy upgrades, including what Apple calls Intelligent Tracking Prevention. The feature uses machine-learning to block cross-site tracking scripts — as Federighi put it, “your browsing history is your own.”

Photos Enhancements

The Photos app is also getting refreshed in macOS High Sierra. User Interface upgrades include a consistent sidebar as well as better organization tools — like the ability to filter by options like media type or whether a photo has been edited. Facial recognition is now better than ever, and Apple also added support for printing and publishing services, so you can get physical copies of photo albums through platforms such as Animoto and Shutterfly.

There are also a slew of enhancements to Photos’ editing abilities. There are new editing tools like Curve and Selective Colors, as well as integration with third-party software. Now, you can push a picture from Photos to a platform like Photoshop, and any edits performed in the third-party software will automatically be saved to the photo itself.

Other App Improvements

Mail is getting some incremental updates in macOS High Sierra, including the integration of a Top Hits feature into the app’s existing search bar. The storage has also been optimized, with email content now taking 35 percent less space than the previous generation. Notes is getting simple tables that allow for easier sorting and organization, Spotlight search will now have the ability to retrieve flight status information, and Siri is now more responsive and natural-sounding as ever.

Under-the-Hood Technologies

Probably the biggest change to the under-the-hood performance in macOS High Sierra is the switch from HFS+ to Cupertino’s new Apple File System (APFS), which is built top-to-bottom in 64-bit architecture. In the new upgrade, common operations like file duplication are now nearly instantaneous, and storage space, compression, security and file reliability have all been optimized.

Apple also announced the latest iteration of its graphics tech: Metal 2, which will bring a 10 times improvement in graphical capability over its predecessor. The new graphics API will bring a slew of improvements, including faster and smoother animations, frame debugging and machine-learning enhancements. Metal 2 also doubles-down on the Pro community with the added ability to create and render virtual reality content.

Apple has also added support for the industry-leading High-Efficiency Video Coding (H.265), which will allow for streaming and playback of 4K video that is also 40 percent smaller than the previous generation of HEVC.

MacBook Pro Refresh

Apple also refreshed its MacBook and MacBook Pro lineup with a host of incremental upgrades. All of the new notebooks will run on Intel’s latest 7th generation Kaby Lake processors, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar will achieve faster graphics via Metal 2.

Cupertino is also boosting the value for its MacBook Pro lineup, with the entry-level configuration of its non-Touch Bar, 13-inch model starting at $1299. The 12” MacBook will also start at $1299. Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro models will start at $1,799 and $2,399 for the 13-inch and 15-inch configurations, respectively. The new MacBook lineup is available starting today.

As for macOS High Sierra, a developer preview will be made available to developers today. It’ll rollout as a free upgrade to the general public in the fall, Apple announced.

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