Every year Apple introduces new versions of macOS and iOS for iPhone and iPad. This year is no different, but for Mac users some of the best new features and functionality may be the ones you can’t see. Sure, each new update fixes bugs, adds more functionality, and Apple rightly posts and displays those to keep interest in the newness of macOS and iOS sufficiently high to sell more products, and discard those of the past.
What’s coming in macOS High Sierra late this summer?
The name alone, elevated from macOS Sierra from last year, implies polish and improvements, but not too many visible changes to apps and basic functionality. Underneath the hood, so to speak, you’ll find a completely new package of goodies that could change how you use your Mac.
APFS - that’s the name for the new Apple File System, a new 64-bit architecture that also graced iPhones and iPads with an update just months ago. This is not your father’s HFS. Encryption is built-in, and data is safeguarded in ways macOS Sierra could not do.
HEVC & HEIF - are new video and image file formats. HEVC is really H.265. High Efficiency Video Coding. That’s the future of video. Higher quality, smaller file sizes. Likewise, High Efficiency Image Format, HEIF, is an attempt to replace the aging JPG or JEPG format. Again, higher quality, smaller file sizes. Both are attempts to bring some of the future to the present. You gotta start somewhere. These start in macOS High Sierra.
More Metal - is Apple’s present and future for graphics. The very aging OpenGL is going nowhere so Apple created their own layer between CPUs it designs itself (and Intel CPU’s that Apple uses on the Mac; for now). Metal is the name. Basically, Metal gives app developers a way to increase graphics performance, particularly in games, and gives customers Macs which run those games faster.
Better Apps - are on the horizon, too, including some editing functions to Photos, easier organization options, an improved sidebar, and better integration between Photos and third-party apps, including Photoshop. Machine learning is all the rage and Apple tosses the phrase around as if they’ve been using it a few years. They haven’t. But Safari in macOS High Sierra gets some ad tracking and blocking tools, and there’s an always on option for Reader.
Siri can do more on macOS High Sierra and iOS 11, and is much better with context memory. What we’re getting both updates are polished features, more than new functionality at a base level. Way down at the bottom of Apple’s promo page for macOS High Sierra is an old option but expanded to be more user friendly.
iCloud - has been a troubled app and service, but seems to have come of age in the past year or two. Just recently I turned on iCloud Photo Library and walked slowly into moving Documents and Desktop folders onto iCloud Drive. Both options sync photos and files between different Macs, iPhone, and iPad. And, so far, it works, albeit slowly (both the initial uploads and syncs, and subsequent syncs).
I’m on the 200GB for $2.99 plan but may very well move to the 2TB plan for $9.99. And, yes, everything that goes to iCloud for storage and use also gets backed up onto multiple Macs and externals disks.
I like Apple. I use Apple products. I trust Apple. But trust only goes so far.