It’s an exciting time to be a Macintosh user as it seems like Apple is getting refocused on improving the Mac experience. For the past seven or so years it’s seemed like Apple wasn’t too interested in the Mac platform. Most of the new software features were being introduced in iOS, the Mac hardware started falling behind the competition, and upgrade cycles for the Mac started getting much wider apart. For instance the Mac mini has not received an update in almost four years, and the Mac Pro has almost gone five years! That being said, now in 2017 Apple has released some incredible Mac hardware.
The new iMac models are blowing CPU performance out of the water. Apple is also putting some killer GPUs in the iMacs. Apple’s 2016 MacBook Pro was criticized for using last generation Intel CPUs and low end graphics. Introduced at WWDC 17, Apple put the current generation Intel CPUs and great graphics in the MacBook Pros. The MacBook also got an update which included new powerful processors. I still question why the base models of the MacBook and MacBook Pro are the same price but that’s for another time.
Apple’s new iMac Pro looks like a serious gaming Mac too which is really cool to see. It makes me really hopeful to see a new Mac Pro and I’d love to see a new Mac mini that uses a similar architecture as the MacBook which would allow the Mac mini to be the same size as the Apple TV. Now I do need to get a complaint of my chest. The new version of macOS has a version number of 10.13. I was really certain that this year we would see macOS 11 to go along side iOS 11 and tvOS 11. I thought it would’ve been a really nice time to make the transition.
Now that you bought your new Mac and it doesn’t have enough graphics power? You cannot upgrade the GPU but in macOS 10.13 “High Sierra” you can now hook up an external GPU (eGPU) to your Mac (requires Thunderbolt 3)! This means that if you bought a low end Mac but now down the line you want more powerful graphics, you can hookup an eGPU to your Mac and drive an external display with a standard PCI graphics card! This is just so cool to me! I purchased the high end 2012 iMac and while I love it, the graphics card I had put in it will not last me forever especially now that I’m working with 4K video and would like to play more powerful games. Unfortunately eGPUs require Thunderbolt 3 and my iMac only has Thunderbolt 2. It’s true I could use a Thunderbolt adapter but it simply wouldn’t have the bandwidth to use the external graphics card. That being said, technically speaking if there was an adapter that used two Thunderbolt 2 ports and translated it into one Thunderbolt 3 port it would have sufficient bandwidth to use the eGPU. Unfortunately I am not aware of a product like this. That being said I have read online that people have been able to connect an eGPU with Thunderbolt 2 as long as the machine doesn’t boot with the PCI cage attached.
Graphics and VR
A huge criticism of Macintosh was that they just were not powerful enough to drive a VR headset. It’s sad but it’s true. Now with the new Macintosh computers along with High Sierra, you will now be able to hookup a VR headset to your Mac! Apple is calling this Metal for VR and is being included as a part of Metal 2. Metal was announced a few years ago and it was a way for graphics apps to tap into the GPU directly without having a huge overhead so lower end devices could get much better graphics performance. Metal originally launched with ten times the graphics than prior versions of macOS and now Metal 2 also has ten times the graphics performance over the previous Metal! That means Macs running High Sierra will have 100 times the graphics ability than macOS Yosemite (previously OS X)!
Along with iOS 11, macOS 10.13 is getting the new HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) video format support. This allows your Mac to not only play HEVC videos but apps will be able to write to the new format. To sum it up, HEVC uses almost half the disk space of H.264 and can have a higher quality image. HEVC is not an Apple owned technology and is completely open source so any operating system can build in support.
Photos in macOS 10.13 is getting a huge update. For one thing, the sidebar is cool again. When Photos launched in macOS Yosemite (previously OS X) it included a sidebar but was hidden by default. Now Apple is not ashamed of the side bar and is making it better than ever. There are also new great photo editing tools which allow mere mortals to edit their photos with more complexity. You also will now be able to edit photos in 3rd party image editing applications like Pixelmator which will automatically save your edits right back to Photos. There’s also new Live Photo effects. My personal favorite is the long exposure effect. There’s also a new photo format HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) which allows photos to consume less disk space and can capture more colors. HEIF also can support transparency (like PNGs) and can have motion images (like GIFs). To me this may be the one image format that can rule them all. I hope that image editing apps like Pixelmator and Photoshop will support reading and writing HEIF images as I am very anxious to save my graphics in the format.
Safari in macOS 10.13 is getting quite a overhaul and actually can now out benchmark Google’s Chrome. As a fun fact, Apple took an open source project and developed WebKit from it. Google then adopted Apple’s WebKit to run their browser. Now Safari is even faster, and is now safer than ever. What I mean by that is that websites can no longer track your browsing history. Have you ever bought something embarrassing on Amazon and then you’d go to another website and that embarrassing thing is being advertised to you? It’s really creepy isn’t it? Now Safari blocking all of that web activity. This isn’t blocking ads but it won’t give ads information about you. This is one of many reasons I no longer support Google ads in my iOS applications. Safari also will block content that auto plays. Have you ever been on a site that automatically played a video or audio and you could never turn it off and you threw your computer out a window? Yeah me too. But seriously I never would go back to those sites. You can also customise preferences on specific websites too. Let’s say you want a website to use certain Safari extensions or auto open Reader view when you click on an article. Safari also will use less energy when playing videos and Apple says that you can watch three more hours of Netflix on a single battery charge.
iCloud and Files
Coming later this year, iMessages will be stored in iCloud so they will be in sync with all of your devices. Let’s say you delete a message on one device, it’ll delete it on another or if you setup a new Mac all of your messages will be on that device right where you left off. iCloud is also getting new file sharing. So you can share a link to a file you have stored on iCloud Drive without having to manually send the item. This was kind of in earlier versions of macOS in the form of MailDrop. Now in macOS your primary storage device will get APFS (Apple File System) support. For starters this will only be supported on solid state disks and will not work on mechanical hard disks or Fusion Drives. APFS allows for faster data access on your drives so your Mac will instantly feel faster. I’ve been using APFS on my iMac and it works really well. That being said there are a few drawbacks. APFS drives cannot be read on a Mac running <macOS 10.13 and you cannot setup a AFS (Apple File Sharing) share point on an APFS drive. Apple also has no plans to supply an APFS driver for Bootcamp so you will no longer have the ability to access your Mac partition in Windows.
Siri has a whole new identity in macOS 10.13 and she sounds fantastic! There’s new flight information in Siri (and in Spotlight), new sports scores, and a new “Personal DJ” mode. That being said it’s not all rainbows and unicorns with Siri on Macintosh. For me macOS is already the best desktop operating system I have ever used and was not expecting (or needing) Apple to make many changes so when I watched WWDC 17 I had just one thing I wanted Apple to add to macOS. HomeKit support for Siri. Is that too much to ask? I just want to control my lights with my voice from my 27” iMac. Okay I joke around but I really would like to control my Home from my Mac. For whatever strange, blizzard, absurd reason there is still no HomeKit support for macOS. I don’t mean to sound like I’m ranting but it just seems like such an obvious feature to add. Here’s to next year…
If you are on a FaceTime call with someone who is running macOS 10.13 or iOS 11 (assuming the feature is enabled on their device) you can take a Live Photo of the call. This also will display a notification on both of your devices stating that a photo was taken. These photos are saved automatically to your Photos library. Mail in macOS 10.13 also takes up dramatically less disk space so if you have a bunch of mail on your Mac, you’re about to get a bunch of disk space back!
macOS 10.13 “High Sierra” will be compatible with the following Macs. I will say that I installed High Sierra on the oldest hardware possible, that being the 2009 MacBook. Theoretically it should be awful but it works great! It’s speedy and everything seem to load just fine. I even had 4GBs of RAM installed and a mechanical hard drive. It’s even packing an Intel Core 2 Duo. So you shouldn’t have any issues with High Sierra on your Macs. It’s a fantastic release with a bunch of small improvements that make the Mac experience even better.
- iMac Late 2009 or Newer
- MacBook Late 2009 or Newer
- MacBook Pro Mid 2010 or Newer
- Mac Pro Mid 2010 or Newer
- Mac mini Mid 2010 or Newer
- MacBook Air Late 2010 or Newer
- iMac Pro Late 2017 or Newer