Apple has kicked off WWDC 2017, where it just announced a slew of updates to its products, including an update to MacOS Sierra.
The company said it decided to perfect the operating system powering its Mac machines, as it does every year. But instead of announcing an all-new system with an all-new name, it announced MacOS High Sierra. It's a major update to Sierra, which Apple announced and rolled out last year. And Apple executive Craig Federighi wasted no time telling developers that High Sierra is "fully baked".
Everyone expected a new version of MacOS, and that it would be a California-themed name, but no one expected it to be a continuation of Sierra. However, Apple has done this in the past. For instance, the OS X Mountain Lion update for Macs was a refinement to OS X Lion. Anyway, in terms of what's new, the new macOS is about deep technology but also added some refinements, Federighi said.
He explained that Safari is now the "world's fastest desktop browser" with High Sierra. Speaking of Safari, Apple is going after Chrome and its upcoming ad-blocking features. Safari now offers AutoPlay blocking and no longer has intelligence tracking prevention. "Now, your privacy, your browsing history is your own. It's not about block ads, the web behaves like it always has," Federighi said.
Moving on, Apple said its biggest area of refinement in High Sierra is in photos. There's now a persistent sidebar and a view that has all of your imports in chronological order. Apple has also improved Faces, so when you put effort into categorising and naming people, that's now synchronised automatically across your devices.
Apple File System
Another big update announced is the new Apple File System. It's 64-bit, from top to bottom, as well as safe and secure with built-in crash protection and native encryption, Apple explained. It offers instant file and directory cloning. Other new High Sierra features involve video and graphics; for instance, it now supports the H.256 standard for video ("newest Macs" will get hardware acceleration for H.265 videos).
Metal 2 and Metal for VR
Apple's API for high-performance graphics is Metal.
Apple even use Metal inside of Photos for machine learning and identifying photos. The latest version is Metal 2, and it'll give MacOS gaming a big boost. It's described as "tremendously fast" with "great optimisations and tremendous APIs". It offers up to 10X better draw call throughput. Remember, VR and AR apps need heavy GPU power, so we're not surprised to hear Apple announce is doubling down.
Apple is also introducing Metal for VR. Steam VR SDK is coming to the Mac as well, and Unity and Unreal engines are coming to the Mac, too, which means people can make VR stuff on the Mac now. Keep in mind this is a developers conference, so some of these announcements are really technical. We'll keep you posted as we learn more about High Sierra and its more consumer-focused features.
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Pocket-lint is also live at Apple's annual developers conference, so we will bring you the latest as it happens. Check out our WWDC 2017 round up for more details about the show, including what's being announced and how to stream Apple's main keynote yourself.