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by Tom Nelson

When asked what browser they use on their Mac, most people will respond with Google Chrome or Apple Safari. Some will mention Firefox and Opera as alternatives to the big two.

It seems each browser has its advocates, with browser features, speed, and user interface being the most often named reasons for a preference. It would be difficult to try to measure the benefits of a browser’s features, or its user interface, but we can test a browser’s speed, and who doesn’t enjoy a good race?

So, let’s line up the competitors and see who gets to the finish line the fastest.

The Browsers
The four most popular Mac browsers are included in our benchmark testing, along with Safari Technology Preview (STP), a browser in beta form designed to showcase new technology that will likely make its way into Safari at some future date. We’re including it just to provide a sneak peek at what will be coming down the line.

Chrome: Google Chrome has become the most used desktop browser, with an estimated 68% share of the desktop market (2018). It was first released in 2008, and made use of the WebKit rendering engine, the same one used by Safari. In 2013, the Chromium project was announced; it included the new Blink rendering engine. Blink was a fork of the WebKit code, and since the two have parted ways, each rendering engine has seen a frantic pace in its development.

Firefox: Could be considered one of the oldest browsers available. Firefox can trace its heritage back to Netscape Navigator, one of the first widely available web browsers. Firefox may have a long history, but it is, in all respects, a modern browser. It includes the newest version of the Quantum rendering engine, designed to bring new technologies to Firefox by building on the foundation of the older, but very stable, Gecko engine.

Opera: Another browser that can follow its heritage back into the dim beginnings of the world wide web. Although Opera has been around for a very long time, its technology is quite new; it’s based on the same Blink rendering engine used in Chrome.

Safari: Apple’s Safari web browser has been the default browser app since 2003 and the release of OS X Panther. Safari makes use of WebKit as its rendering engine.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

In a bit of a surprise move, Apple unveiled new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros on Thursday, July 12. The surprising bit is the hush-hush update occurring just over a month after the annual WWDC event, where new products aimed at developers and pro users are usually revealed. This has us wondering why the new 2018 MacBook Pros weren’t part of the WWDC keynote event.

While they didn’t make the keynote, they do pack quite a wallop over earlier models of the MacBook Pro, especially the 15-inch model, which we’ll look at in detail here.

15-inch MacBook Pro (2018)
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, I want to point out that this isn’t an in-depth review of the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro. Instead, we’re looking at the specs and how they compare, and what kind of improvements and changes the new MacBook Pro models bring.

First off, the 2018 MacBook Pro isn’t a typical speed bump update. Instead, it brings new features and benefits to those lucky enough to be upgrading at this time. Instead of just dropping in a slightly faster processor, or perhaps a different battery, Apple added a number of new features and capabilities.

Eighth-generation Intel Core i7 and i9 Processors
The 15-inch MacBook Pro leaps from quad-core i7 processors to new six-core i7 and i9 Intel processors in the Coffee Lake family. The Coffee Lake processors have a good deal going for them beyond just two extra cores. Both the i7 and i9 processors support hyper-threading, allowing two threads to run concurrently on each core for a total of 12 active threads. Level 3 caches have also been increased to 9 MB for i7-equipped MacBook Pros, and 12 MB for i9-equipped MacBook Pros.

Eighth generation Intel Core i5, i7, and i9 processors used in the new MacBook Pro product family. Image courtesy of Intel.

The increase in level 3 caches should speed up overall performance, especially when instructions or data are being shared between cores.

The Coffee Lake processor equipped MacBook Pros are offered in speeds of:

  • i7: 2.2 GHz with Turbo Boost speed of 4.1 GHz
  • I7: 2.6 GHz with Turbo Boost speed of 4.3 GHz
  • i9: 2.9 GHz processor with Turbo Boost speed of 4.8 GHz

Sharp-eyed readers may notice that the 2017 models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro had slightly faster base processor speeds, clocking in at 2.8 GHz and 2.9 GHz. But the earlier generation i7 Kaby Lake processors had smaller level 3 caches, two fewer cores, and slower memory architecture than what is present in the new Coffee Lake models.

With the processor and memory architecture upgrades in the new 2018 MacBook Pro, Apple claims a 70 percent increase in performance. We haven’t been able to put the new MacBook Pros through any benchmarks, but a quick perusal of the GeekBench Benchmarks shows an i9-equipped 2018 MacBook Pro with a 5289 Single-Core score and a 22201 Multi-Core score. Compared to a 2017 2.9 Ghz i7 model with a Multi-Core score of 15252, that works out to just a bit more than a 68.69 percent improvement, at least in artificial benchmarks. Real-world usage will be quite a bit different, but the performance increases in the benchmarks are impressive.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

I was expecting a version of the macOS that would mostly be about security and performance, but while I expected a fastball, Apple threw us a curve. Apple announced that macOS Mojave not only included the expected security, performance, and privacy improvements, but also an OS loaded with new features.

I installed the developer beta of Mojave on an external SSD that housed a recent clone of my High Sierra startup drive. The upgrade install of macOS Mojave went without a hitch.

I also tried to install Mojave beta as a guest OS in my favorite virtual machine app. That didn’t go as well, but it’s the first beta, and the VM people will need some time to track down what appears to be graphics display issues.

I chose to test Mojave on a 2014 27-inch Retina 5K iMac with a 4 GHz i7 processor and 16 GB of RAM. Mojave will support most Macs from the year 2012 on, however, there are exceptions that can allow older models to work, as well as prevent newer models from being able to install Mojave. You’ll find all the details in A Complete List of Mojave Compatible Macs.

This is a first impression of macOS Mojave, which was just made available in a developer beta. As such, features we see today may not make it all the way through the beta, or they may undergo significant changes before a public release.

With the background out of the way, let’s move on to what’s new in macOS Mojave.

Dark Mode
One of the new features that’s getting a bit of press is Dark Mode. This system-wide theme is an extension of the current Dark scheme introduced with OS X Yosemite that can be enabled for menus and the Dock. The new version of Dark Mode extends the dark theme to most of the system, and applications that Apple bundles with the OS. The apps most of us routinely use, including Mail, iTunes, Finder, and Photos, have all moved to the dark side.

The new Dark Mode theme is applied not only to menus and the Dock, but also to most Apple apps; in the near future, third-party apps will be able to use the theme as well. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Apple is also making the Dark Mode API available to third-party developers, so your favorite apps will likely support Dark Mode sometime in the future.

Dark Mode is a user-applied theme; you can turn Dark Mode on or off as you wish, using the Mac’s General preference pane. You can also customize Dark Mode slightly by selecting from one of eight accent colors used to highlight menus you select.

Dark Mode can be helpful when working within certain apps and workflows. Generally, apps that benefit from having work surfaces, such as menus, toolbars, and palettes, blend into the background while the creative content you’re working on takes center stage, will benefit from Dark Mode. Other apps, such as web browsers, don’t seem to benefit as much. Give Dark Mode a try with Photos, video editing apps, audio production, CAD, CAE, and 3D modeling apps; even Apple’s Maps app seems to benefit from this UI change.

Dark Mode is a system-wide selection; you can turn it on or off across the entire system, but not by individual apps.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

One of our favorite pastimes is predicting what new Mac-related goodies will be coming down the pipeline from Apple. Let’s start with an obvious prediction: Apple’s Campus 2 will definitely open in 2017. Then we’ll finally be able to say the mothership has landed.

The nickname comes from the main building on the campus. It’s going to look as if a spaceship has landed and nestled itself into the surrounding terrain.

applecampus2
Image courtesy of Apple

Apple expects Campus 2 to be up and running sometime in 2017. I imagine Tim Cook would love to give a few tours of the facility after WWDC 2017 so the summer developer’s conference may be a soft deadline for a ribbon cutting at Campus 2.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The macOS Sierra release on September 20th, 2016 marked a few milestones. It’s the 13th release of the Mac OS, the fourth release of the Mac operating system based on place names (the previous naming convention involved cats), and the first with the new moniker of macOS instead of OS X.

In the roughly four months since it was released, Sierra has seen three updates that mostly addressed bugs and security fixes. Apple also released a fourth beta of macOS Sierra which, at least in beta form, includes a new feature, an unusual event for Apple, which rarely includes new features between major Mac OS releases (more on the new feature a bit later).

encryptingestimate

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

September 20th, 2016
Apple had already released multiple versions of the new macOS Sierra via both the developer preview program and the public beta program. Both beta systems are designed to give users the opportunity to work with a new OS, with the developer version being updated often and a bit more likely to have a few bugs. The public beta version tends to be more stable, but it still has the potential for bugs and crashes.

The first general release of macOS Sierra was meant to be stable, with few if any major bugs. Ah, the best laid plans…

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

macOS Sierra will see its first public beta release in July of 2016, followed by a full release in the fall of 2016. Along with giving the operating system a new name, Apple is adding a lot of new features to macOS Sierra. This isn’t just a simple update, or a bunch of security and bug fixes.

macOSSierraSiriRedSox

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Instead, macOS Sierra will add brand new features to the operating system, including the incorporation of Siri, expansion of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi based connectivity features, and a whole new file system that will replace the venerable but quite outdated HFS+ system that Macs have been using for the last 30 years.

When an operating system encompasses such a wide range of new features and capabilities there’s bound to be a few gotcha’s; in this case, the list of Macs that will support macOS Sierra will be trimmed back by quite a bit. This is the first time in five years that Apple has removed Mac models from the list of supported devices for a Mac OS.

The last time Apple dropped Mac models from the supported list was when OS X Lion was introduced. It required Macs to have a 64-bit processor, which left the original Intel Macs off the list.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The WWDC 2016 keynote kept to the script, providing previews of the four major Apple software platforms: watchOS, tvOS, macOS, and iOS. You may notice OS X is missing from the list, but only in spirit. As we mentioned in our WWDC 2016 rumor roundup, OS X underwent a name change to bring it into alignment with the naming conventions used for Apple’s other operating systems, transforming it from OS X to macOS.

macOSSierraMacBook

Image courtesy of Apple

The name change appears to be strictly a branding change, and not an indication of any merging (current or future) of OS X and iOS into a single monolithic operating system.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Early today, Apple revealed the newest version of the 12-inch MacBook, along with a minor upgrade to the 13-inch MacBook Air.

MacbookRosegold

Image courtesy of Apple

2016 12-inch Retina MacBook

Apple has released the next-generation 12-inch Retina MacBook. The new 2016 version of the 12-inch MacBook receives faster CPUs in the form of Intel’s Skylake family of Core M processors, faster GPU using the new Intel HD Graphics 515, longer battery life, with some reports suggesting up to an additional hour of battery time, faster RAM, and faster flash storage.

I guess we can say the keyword for the new 12-inch MacBook is faster.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Apple has released OS X El Capitan 10.11.4. This update comes on the heels of Apple’s “Let Us Loop You In” March media event, at which Apple showed off the new iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Along with the hardware, iOS 9.3 was released to the public, which required Apple to move forward with the El Capitan release to keep feature parity in the Notes application.

OSXElCapitanDock

El Capitan Notes Update

One of the new Notes app features is the ability to protect the contents of a Notes entry using a passcode.

In iOS 9.3, the passcode can be a password or a fingerprint. In OS X El Capitan 10.11.4, the passcode is a password you set.

Notes in OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 also added the ability to sort notes alphabetically, by date created, or by date updated; also, Notes can now import from many popular note-taking services, including Evernote.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Apple’s “Let Us Loop You In” media event focused on new Apple Watch bands, an iPhone SE, and an iPad Pro, plus iOS and tvOS updates. And as expected, the event didn’t have content directly related to our favorite product, Macs, although Apple will likely hold Mac events as the year rolls on. In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at some of the key announcements today, starting with new Apple products.

iPhoneSE

Image courtesy of Apple

iPhone SE

Surprising no one, Apple officially released the new iPhone SE. While the iPhone SE has impressive capabilities, perhaps the most important bit of information is that the new SE represents Apple’s commitment to having a modern iPhone lineup that encompasses both the classic 4-inch display size (iPhone SE), and the larger displays seen in the iPhone 6s products.

Apple will continue to sell the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but these models represent older technologies, and customers upgrading or purchasing new will likely consider the new iPhone SE or the current iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus instead.

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