macOS High Sierra release date, features & name: macOS reportedly already protected against Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities

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12/09/2017: Apple reveals macOS High Sierra to release on 25 September

Apple has announced that it plans to release macOS High Sierra on 25 September.

The announcement was made via its website and the upgrade will be free.

The name of the update was released at WWDC and features a number of tweaks to the operating system. Updates include a new Apple file system, a new HEVC video codec to make videos smaller and Apple VR support.

The announcement was not made during Apple's livestream, where it announced the iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3, but was instead an update on the website.

05/06/2017: Apple today announced the latest update for its desktop operating system. Instead of introducing major new user-facing features, the company instead opted to focus on behind-the-scenes tweaks and upgrades. To reflect this, Apple has opted to call the release 'High Sierra', rather than using a new name.

One of the biggest changes is a heap of new support for VR technologies. SteamVR is being optimised by Valve to run on macOS High Sierra, Apple announced, with Unity and Epic doing the same for their VR content creation utilities. On top of that, the HTC Vive will also be adding support for macOS, giving Apple fans their first taste of desktop VR.

This is partly powered by the launch of Metal 2, Apple's second-generation hardware acceleration API for graphics. In addition to increased performance, developers will have access to machine learning toolkits and Thunderbolt 3-powered external GPUs.

High Sierra also introduces HEVC, a new video codec designed to help with the quality and compression of high-definition 4K video. The move is designed to make 4K video even more flexible, and new macOS devices will even feature hardware acceleration for HEVC video.

Another major announcement was the news that macOS High Sierra will bring the Apple File System to the Mac for the first time. APFS is optimised for modern, high-capacity storage technologies, and improves performance for file transfers and backups. It also helps with data security and reliability, providing crash protection and native encryption. APFS is designed to be future-proof in terms of compatibility with future storage technologies, but also fully compatible with the older HFS file system.

According to Apple's own benchmarking, Safari is the world's fastest browser available on High Sierra, delivering 80% faster speeds than its rival Google Chrome. The OS will also introduce an 'Auto Blocking' feature, which, as the name suggests, will block video ads that automatically play on websites. It will also allow for a 'Split View' option for email, and improved management options for imported files, such as category search and facial recognition.

The Photos app has also seen some major improvements, including a new Edit view that allows for the fine-tuning of colours and contrast, as well as tools for editing live videos with animated effects. It will also for the first time support third-party extensions, granting users access to publishing services like Animoto, Shutterfly and Wix from within the Photos app.

High Sierra is available in developer beta today, while a public beta is planned for later this month. The OS is expected to arrive as a free upgrade this autumn.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.