Apple announced today that macOS High Sierra, the next version of its desktop operating system, is now generally available. As with previous macOS versions, High Sierra is a free update.
“macOS High Sierra is an important update that makes the Mac more capable and responsive, while laying the foundation for future innovations,” a prepared statement credited to Apple senior vice president Craig Federighi reads. “High Sierra introduces new technologies for VR, high-efficiency video streaming, advances in storage technology and more, while apps such as Photos, Safari, Mail, and Notes are refined to give users even more reasons to love their Mac.”
As with iOS, I’ve been testing macOS High Sierra all year, though in this case, I only have a single device, a MacBook Air. I won’t be looking more deeply at individual macOS High Sierra features on the site, as I’m doing with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, iOS 11, and Google’s Android 8.0 Oreo.
But here’s a quick rundown of some key new features.
Apple File System (APFS). Apple’s new file system is extensible and offers better performance, security, and reliability. In this initial release, APFS is only supported on flash storage-based Macs; support for Fusion and HDD-based Macs is coming in a future update.
High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) support. Like iOS 11, macOS High Sierra supports the HEVC–or H.265—video format. 4K video recorded in this format takes up 40 percent less storage space than with H.264, Apple says.
Metal 2. Apple has updated its Metal APIs for GPU access to version 2, adding machine learning capabilities for speech recognition, natural language processing, and computer vision.
Virtual reality support. As Microsoft first did in the Windows 10 Creators Update, macOS High Sierra natively supports virtual reality (VR) technologies for content creation and compatibility with SteamVR and the HTC Vive VR headset.
Photos app improvements. Apple’s Photos app has been updated with improved UI, navigation, and photo organization; new photo editing tools, Live Photos effects, and support for third-party editors and project extensions.
Safari improvements. Safari users get two major improvements: The ability to prevent auto-play media content from firing when a page loads, and an automatic Reader view so that you always read web articles in a clutter-free way.
You can upgrade to macOS High Sierra on compatible Macs by opening the App Store and navigating to Updates. And you can learn more about this product version from the Apple website.