Home / Gaming / macOS 10.13 High Sierra Focuses on Performance, Launches Fall 2017

macOS 10.13 High Sierra Focuses on Performance, Launches Fall 2017

On stage at today’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote, Apple SVP Craig Federighi gave us a glimpse at the next version of macOS: High Sierra. Drug jokes aside, this derivative name harkens back to the days of Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion — polish-focused releases that eschew loads of flashy new features in favor of performance and quality of life improvements.

Some new and notable user-facing features include HEVC video support, enhanced privacy controls for Safari, faster web rendering, better text-to-speech, and more sophisticated editing tools included in the Photos app. To be sure, those are all excellent improvements, but we’re obsessed with two features in particular: The new file system and VR support.

APFS

File systems are easy to forget about. They’re not sexy like virtual reality or sassy AI secretaries, but they play a major role in the overall computing experience. Speed, resilience against corruption, data security, and ease of search are all impacted by which file system you’re using, and it’s clear that HFS+ has overstayed its welcome.

In the late aughts, Apple flirted with ZFS from Oracle, but it sadly fizzled out. However, Apple finally announced last year that their own in-house replacement (dubbed Apple File System or APFS) would be coming soon. When High Sierra ships this year, APFS will be the default file system for new installations, and we’re disproportionately excited about it.

Many people won’t even notice the change. But the move to a proper modern file system is much appreciated by Mac nerds like us. Changing or inspecting large files and folders in the Finder has long been painfully slow, but APFS’s improvements in these and other areas will go a long way toward keeping us from yanking out fists full of hair.

Metal VR

While early virtual reality devkits had decent Mac support, the consumer-focused products have been almost entirely Windows-focused. With High Sierra and a string of new high-end Macs, consumer VR will finally be a reality for Apple diehards.

Metal, Apple’s answer to the likes of the Vulkan API, is being updated with improved support for external GPUs, machine learning tasks, and virtual reality. And since Metal 2 is doing a fair bit of the heavy lifting for VR, Apple is hoping that devs will be willing to put in some extra effort to support macOS as well.

Both the Unity and Unreal 4 engines will support VR on the Mac from the get-go, and the HTC Vive is the headset of choice. Oculus will almost certainly make its way to the Mac as well, but Facebook and Microsoft’s partnership might make that a bit more difficult.

Interestingly, Final Cut Pro X is getting thrown into the VR discussion as well, so it seems that Apple remembers fondly the good ol’ days of QuickTime VR. And since Apple has historically been lukewarm (at best) to video games, we’d expect a focus on 360 video and VR “experiences.”

Support

If you’re running particularly old hardware, you can rest easy. You won’t be able to run a VR helmet, but the minimum requirements seem to have stayed the same as 10.12. MacBooks and iMacs from 2009 and on are supported, and 2010 models of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, and Mac Pro are still good to go. As this very post was written on a 2011-era iMac, we’re pretty stoked about the long-lived support.

Developers will have access to the beta OS today, and the public can sign up for beta access later this month. And as expected, the full-fledged release will hit this fall at no additional cost.

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