Apple has announced an updated iMac line-up that includes faster processors and new display options. The revised hardware was accompanied by the announcement of macOS “High Sierra,” the next version of Apple’s desktop operating system set to launch later this year.
2017 iMac Range
Apple said the updated iMac range is supposed to set the “gold standard” for desktop computers. After being criticized for appearing to neglect its most powerful products, Apple has debuted a comprehensive set of upgrades for the entire line-up. The company is intending to reclaim its favor with professional audiences.
The iMac now comes with Intel’s latest seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors. Specifications will vary by model, but you can expect clock speeds of up to 4.2GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz. The processor is accompanied by a brand-new Radeon Pro graphics card from AMD’s recently launched RX 500-series. According to Apple, graphics performance on the new iMacs is up to three times greater than the outgoing models.
Further changes to the internals include a 50 percent faster solid state drive and the inclusion of a Thunderbolt 3 port. This allows the transfer of power, data and monitor connections using a single cable. Apple is one of the main adopters of the Thunderbolt standard as opposed to standard USB-C, though it should be noted that Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C connector. While it’s not so widespread, Thunderbolt is a capable connection with fittingly high performance.
Although the new components are significant, Apple hasn’t been content to stop at what’s inside. It has also upgraded the most visible element of the iMac, its large and vibrant display. The company said it is now better than ever with brightness up by 43 percent and the available color palette expanded to include 1 billion distinct shades.
macOS High Sierra
The new hardware is designed to work best with macOS High Sierra, Apple’s upcoming macOS update which will be released later this year. As with the new Macs themselves, High Sierra focuses primarily on the internals. There are a few surface-level tweaks and minor features added throughout but most of the development has been under-the-hood.
Apple is launching a new robust file system, imaginatively called Apple File System. It will gradually replace HFS on new Mac PCs. Apple said it’s a faster and safer way to store files, offering “instantaneous” basic storage operations and safeguards against common causes of data loss. These include protections against unexpected power loss incidents, keeping your files secure if you’re stuck during a blackout.
Apple has also added virtual reality support. For the first time, developers will be able to use the Mac to create and view virtual reality content. Later this year, Valve will bring its SteamVR VR gaming platform to the Mac, letting players experience virtual worlds without having to use Windows. This milestone launch of Mac-based virtual reality goes hand-in-hand with the graphical performance improvements of the new iMacs.
High Sierra comes with some more immediate changes too. Siri is more advanced and has an “expressive” voice, Safari includes a built-in autoplaying ad blocker and search in Mail is faster and more relevant. Spotlight search can show you details of flights you’re tracking and iCloud now lets you share files to collaborate with others.
These improvements are relatively basic as Apple has clearly dedicated its time to creating the big architectural leaps that High Sierra is introducing. The smaller tweaks to the interface will help to make Mac easier and more convenient to use every day and are likely to be welcomed by users. Apple said it has concentrated on the internals of the OS this year so it can “push the Mac forward” in the future.
“macOS High Sierra delivers important forward-looking technologies and new opportunities for developers wanting to tap into the power of machine learning and create immersive VR content on the Mac,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “The core technology innovations in macOS High Sierra, combined with our advances in hardware, will continue to push the Mac forward in exciting new ways.”
The new iMac models are available to pre-order now and will start shipping next week. Pricing varies by configuration and region. Apple has also launched a new set of MacBook laptops if you’re more interested in purchasing a mobile-first device.
macOS High Sierra is available now as a developer preview to members of the Apple Developer Program. A public beta will launch later this month before the update is released to existing devices in the fall. It will support all Mac desktops and laptops currently running last year’s Sierra release.
[Featured Image by Apple]