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Posts tagged with "macOS Ventura"

Resident Evil Village, Featuring Metal 3, Debuts on the Mac App Store

Apple spent a considerable amount of time during June’s WWDC talking about Metal 3, the latest iteration of the company’s graphics frameworks for videogames. The suite of technologies offers numerous technologies and tools for developers, including hardware-accelerated graphics, MetalFX Upscaling, which render scenes faster by taking advantage of upscaling and anti-aliasing, fast resource loading that uses asynchronous I/O techniques to speed up the delivery of data to Metal textures, and more. With the release of macOS Ventura, Metal 3 gaming is now available to all Mac users.

Resident Evil Village at WWDC.

Resident Evil Village at WWDC.

At WWDC, Apple announced three games that would be coming to the Mac later in the year that will take advantage of Metal 3:

The first of the games to be released publicly is Resident Evil Village, which is available in the Mac App Store now. I’ve had a chance to test the game in advance of its release for a few days, and from what I’ve seen in my limited time with the game, what Metal 3 enables is impressive.

For those unfamiliar, Resident Evil Village from Capcom was first released in mid-2021 and is available on every major platform. The eighth game in the Resident Evil horror series, Village follows the story of Ethan, whose wife has been assassinated and child abducted. Ethan is abducted, too, but escapes from his captors after their vehicle crashes. In short order, Ethan finds himself in a European village terrorized by zombie-like creatures.

I don’t have a lot to say about the game itself because I’ve only been playing it for a few days and horror games generally aren’t one of my favorite genres. Instead, I spent my time testing the game at various settings to get a sense of what Metal 3 can do, repeating the same section of the game multiple times at different resolutions and with other settings enabled.

I started the game on my M1 Max Mac Studio and Studio Display at 2560 x 1440 with the game’s Prioritize Graphics preset enabled. At those settings, Village generally maintained 60-70 fps with a rare dip into the 50s during one particularly intense scene. Next, I enabled MetalFX Upscaling, which helped hold the frames above 60 and allowed me to increase other settings, like mesh quality, while maintaining 60fps.

At higher resolutions, the frame rates took a hit. For example, 2880 x 1620 dropped the frame rate to around 50 fps. However, once I enabled MetalFX Upscaling, I was right back up to 60 fps. I was even able to maintain a steady 60 fps when I bumped the resolution to 3840 x 2160 and switched the MetalFX Upscaling from the Quality to Performance setting. Bumping up other settings like the shadow and mesh quality didn’t significantly degrade performance either.

I also ran some tests with the game running on my M1 MacBook Air, where I was able to use the same sort of settings tweaks to maintain around 30 fps. The experience wasn’t bad, but Village definitely looked nicer, running on more powerful hardware paired with a Studio Display.

Overall, my first impressions of Metal 3’s enhancements to gaming on the Mac are positive. The results aren’t in the same league as a gaming PC with a dedicated graphics card. For example, I’ve seen benchmarks for Resident Evil Village running with an NVIDIA 3080 card that can run the game at over 120 fps. That’s double what I saw with my Mac Studio, but it’s still better than I’ve experienced in the past with games as recent as Village.

Metal 3 is promising. With just one big-name game taking advantage of it at the moment, it’s too early to judge its impact on Mac gaming, but it’s a step in the right direction. Hopefully, more game publishers will adopt the technology and bring their games to the Mac soon.

Resident Evil Village is available on the Mac App Store for $39.99.


512 Pixels’ macOS Screenshot Library Updated with Ventura Screenshots

Every year, our pal Stephen Hackett updates his macOS Screenshot Library with images from the latest macOS release. Today, on 512 Pixels, he released an extensive set of light and dark mode screenshots from macOS Ventura, which joins sets for each release extending all the way back to the Mac OS X Public Beta.

The Snow Leopard desktop. Source: 512 Pixels.

The Snow Leopard desktop. Source: 512 Pixels.

The collection is a terrific resource for anyone researching the evolution of Apple’s design language over the decades or if you just want to have your own Snow Leopard Moment.

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macOS Ventura: The MacStories Review

macOS Ventura is a hard release to pin down. I’ve been running it for months, and it’s been running well for all my everyday work and personal tasks. Features like Continuity Camera, iCloud Shared Photo Library, and the many system app updates have, on the whole, been stable, worked as advertised, and helped me do more with my Mac. So, from an everyday workflow standpoint, Ventura is an excellent release that delivers on the promise of an OS that moves in step with Apple’s other OSes and erases artificial barriers to users coming from iOS and iPadOS. And yet, I worry about the clouds on the horizon.

The release of Ventura is just one moment in time along macOS’s evolutionary path, but it’s an important one. Each fall release is a marker laid down by Apple that says something about where the Mac has been and where it’s going.

The story of macOS Ventura didn’t begin at WWDC in June. As I wrote in last year’s macOS Monterey review, it started five years ago:

For the past few years, no narrative thread has been more important to the Mac and its operating system than their realignment within Apple’s product lineup. It’s a fundamental transformation of both hardware and software that has taken shape over years, beginning publicly with Craig Federighi’s WWDC Sneak Peek in 2018.

Before Mac Catalyst, there was Craig Federighi's 2018 Sneak Peek.

Before Mac Catalyst, there was Craig Federighi’s 2018 Sneak Peek.

Last year’s release of Monterey went a long way toward validating what came before with Catalina and Big Sur:

Monterey is one of the most tangible, user-facing payoffs of the past three years of transition. More than ever before, Apple is advancing system apps across all of its platforms at the same time. Finally, everything is everywhere.

Ventura is, in many ways, a continuation of Monterey’s storyline. Apple has delivered a second year of parallel development across its system apps, with the notable exception of Shortcuts, which I’ll cover later. That’s a big win for Mac users who, in previous years, waited multiple releases for apps like Maps and Books to catch up with their iOS and iPadOS counterparts.

The familiar interface and feature set across multiple platforms are one of the biggest and most tangible achievements of the past few years.

The familiar interface and feature set across multiple platforms are one of the biggest and most tangible achievements of the past few years.

So, with Monterey’s success of moving system apps forward in unison across all OSes looking more like a trend than a one-off novelty, what are the clouds I’m seeing on the horizon? There are three:

  • Stage Manager: Stage Manager is in far better technical shape on the Mac than on the iPad. In fact, I’ve been using it every day since WWDC and will continue to do so. There’s lots of room for improvement, which I’ll cover below, but my concern extends beyond the Mac-specific issues to what the feature’s problems on the iPad mean for Mac users long-term, which is something I covered last month for Club MacStories members and will expand on below.
  • Shortcuts: Shortcuts was in rough shape when it launched on the Mac last year. The app is in a much better place today, although bugs continue to be a problem. More concerning to me, though, is the lack of new system-level actions on the Mac. A lot of resources undoubtedly went into stabilizing Shortcuts on the Mac over the past year, which is understandable, but unfortunately, those efforts seem to have been at the expense of introducing new system-level actions or maintaining parity with new actions on iOS and iPadOS.
  • System Settings: So much of the design work we saw introduced with Big Sur was so carefully considered to harmonize macOS with iPadOS while retaining its Mac nature that System Settings is a shock to, well, the system. System Preferences was long overdue for a refresh, but System Settings isn’t the redesign we needed. Instead, it’s a clear example of why you can’t just graft iOS or iPadOS design onto macOS and call it quits.

Although each of the items above concerns me, it’s equally important to put them in context. For most users, macOS is in a very good place. My day-to-day work on the Mac isn’t affected by whether the iPadOS version of Stage Manager is buggy. I may feel constrained by the lack of some actions in Shortcuts on my Mac, but at the same time, I’ve got Shortcuts on the Mac, something I’d hoped for for years. And Systems Settings are, after all, just settings that may not be great to look at, but they still work.

However, while the issues with Ventura may not be immediate, they’re still important because they threaten the viability of the Mac in the midst of its hardware renaissance. I want to see the Mac continue to grow and flourish, and I’m convinced more than ever that aligning it and the iPad is one of the ways to accomplish that. Unfortunately, Ventura doesn’t move that ball forward in a meaningful way.

With Apple firing on all cylinders when it comes to hardware, now is no time to let macOS stall. Source: Apple.

With Apple firing on all cylinders when it comes to hardware, now is no time to let macOS stall. Source: Apple.

By tying the two together, Apple has set the stage for a healthier third-party app ecosystem that benefits both platforms by making it more economical for developers to create apps for both. I’m sent a lot of apps to try, and I can tell you that this is absolutely happening already. The vast majority of the apps I’m sent today aren’t Mac-only or iPad-only – they’re universal apps that work on both and usually the iPhone and Apple Watch too.

However, the work and the story that started with Federighi’s Sneak Peek aren’t finished. For the Mac and iPad to thrive, now is not the time for Apple to take its foot off the gas. Yet, that’s what Ventura feels like after several years of foundational changes to macOS. It’s not a bad update. There’s a lot to like among the system apps and other changes, but I can’t shake the nagging sense that Apple has taken its eye off the long-term vision for macOS with Ventura. That won’t affect your day-to-day use of the OS, but it’s certainly something worth keeping a close eye on as Ventura is updated and WWDC rolls around again next summer.

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The 2022 MacStories OS Preview Series: Maps and CarPlay

I recently moved from Illinois to North Carolina, and I don’t know the area at all. As a result, I’ve been using Maps and CarPlay a lot since I got here. The new features coming this fall to each aren’t as extensive as they’ve been in past years, but there are several small changes that represent the kind of incremental, ‘quality of life’ improvements that I expect users will appreciate.

Maps

Because so much of Apple Maps relies on methodically mapping the world bit by bit, many users are stuck waiting for Maps’ underlying data to catch up with the app’s features. The more detailed maps and 3D models of landmarks introduced last year are good examples. Both came with asterisks because they were only available in certain cities or countries at launch.

This year is a little different. Apple announced new countries and cities where you’ll find the company’s more detailed maps, 3D landmarks, and other changes, but this year, multi-stop routes and tweaks to Maps’ routing UI will be available to everyone at the same time. It’s a nice mix of brand-new features and incremental improvements that includes something for everyone.

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Ventura Adds Shortcuts to Its Share Menu

When Shortcuts debuted on the Mac in Monterey, Apple added more ways to run an automation than anyone expected, but there was one big omission. Shortcuts wasn’t included in Monterey’s share menu. That was a big disappointment for anyone (like me) who has built a lot of shortcuts that rely on the share sheet on iOS and iPadOS. That’s why I’m happy to report that this fall, when Ventura is released, Shortcuts users will, at last, be able to trigger their shortcuts from the Mac’s Share menu.

Enabling Shortcuts's share extension in System Settings.

Enabling Shortcuts’s share extension in System Settings.

Shortcuts was toggled off by default in Systems settings on my Mac, so you may not see it if you go directly to the Share menu. To enable it, open System Settings and go to the Extensions section of the Privacy & Security section, where you’ll find it under Sharing. Once toggled on, you’ll be able to select it like any other Share menu item, which will display a list of shortcuts that accept the input that the app you’re using offers.

Running a Shortcut from the share menu in Safari.

Running a Shortcut from the share menu in Safari.

My testing is ongoing, but despite some bugs, the new Shortcuts share item works well across a variety of system and third-party apps. For example, Safari can pass the active webpage, its URL, and a PDF to Shortcuts, where I’ve used the input with actions like Get Current Web Page from Safari, Get Details of Safari Web Page, and Get Contents of Web Page.

Safari’s inputs also work with File actions like Save File, which can be used to create nicely-formatted PDFs of webpages. However, due to what appears to be a bug in Shortcuts, PDFs can only be saved if the URL is also passed as input to the Save File action, resulting in the creation of a PDF and two HTML files of the webpage contents. Another limit of Safari’s Share menu support is that it currently doesn’t work with text selections.

A PDF of a MacStories article created using Shortcuts via the Share menu.

A PDF of a MacStories article created using Shortcuts via the Share menu.

Safari is where I expect to use Shortcuts’ Share menu the most, but it works with other apps too. So far, I’ve used Shortcuts from the Share menu to:

  • Convert a PNG image to JPEG
  • Open a file from Finder
  • Add a PDF to Keep It for Mac
  • Send a PNG from Pixelmator Pro to Keep It for Mac
  • Add Mac App Store URLs to the Trello board we use to organize our Club MacStories newsletters

There are other ways to accomplish any of these things without a share extension, but the Share menu lets you trigger your shortcuts from the context in which you’re working, which I prefer.

The addition of Share menu support is promising, but it still needs work. In addition to the Safari limitations and bugs I mentioned above, it’s worth noting that if a shortcut fails from the Share menu, the app becomes unresponsive and needs to be quit and restarted before it will work again. Also, Shortcuts’ picker window opens behind the app you’re using, so if your app window is in the center of the screen, Shortcuts’ picker might be hidden. Interaction with the app from which you trigger a shortcut is blocked while your shortcut is running too.

The Share menu, which has undergone a redesign in Ventura, removes a couple of features that would be useful with Shortcuts that I hope are added back. First, it’s no longer possible to reorder share extensions in System Settings. I’d like to move Shortcuts to the top of my list, but I can’t. Second, because the Share menu is now an independent floating pallette instead of a submenu of File → Share, individual share extensions can no longer be assigned a keyboard shortcut in System Settings.

Notwithstanding some rough edges, though, it’s good to see Shortcuts come to the Share menu. I’ve found ways around its omission from Monterey, but none have ever seemed as natural as clicking the share button in an app’s toolbar. Hopefully, by the time it’s released in the fall, Shortcuts’ share extension will do everything on the Mac that it can do on the iPhone and iPad.


macOS Ventura: The MacStories Preview

With the release of the macOS Ventura public beta today, macOS takes another step down the path to syncing up its platforms that began four years ago. Where once the Mac hung out doing its own thing with scant regard for where iOS, and later, iPadOS was heading, today the Mac feels like part of a coherent family of products more than ever. Fewer of the differences among Apple’s product lines are the result of historical accidents than ever before. Instead, they’re intentional differences that speak to the ways the devices are used, not how they were developed. As a result, it’s never been easier for someone to move between devices up and down the company’s computing lineup. The same is true for developers looking to bring their apps to all of Apple’s platforms.

This year, the process of harmonizing the Mac with Apple’s other devices continues with Stage Manager, a new window management system available on macOS and iPadOS that offers users a similar windowing experience on both systems for the first time. On the Mac, Stage Manager is very different from the Mac’s traditional windowing systems, but it’s also very easy to get the hang of, which bodes well for new users coming from the iPad. And, of course, the feature is entirely optional, so anyone with whom it doesn’t click can ignore Stage Manager completely. However, as you’ll read below, I think everyone should give Stage Manager a chance because I’ve been surprised at how much I enjoy using it.

Another thread from Monterey that is even more pronounced in the Ventura beta is Apple’s renewed emphasis on collaboration and sharing. Last year, SharePlay enabled new experiences that connected people with family and friends no matter what Apple device they use. This year, macOS Ventura expands macOS’ collaboration across devices with Continuity Camera, collaboration features in system apps that are also available to third-party apps, the integration of Messages into collaboration functionality and SharePlay, and more. These are features that are available across macOS, iOS, and iPadOS and are serving as a new thread that strengthens the ties between the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Notes' Smart Folders are far more powerful in macOS Ventura.

Notes’ Smart Folders are far more powerful in macOS Ventura.

Finally, no macOS update would be complete without updates to system apps. One of the dividends Apple is enjoying from the unification of the technologies on which its apps are built is they have been able to advance system apps across all platforms simultaneously. We saw that most strikingly last year with Monterey, but the trend will continue with Ventura, which includes significant updates to Mail, Messages, Notes, Photos, Home, and more. This year’s crop of updates shows that last year wasn’t a one-off push to synchronize system apps. I think it’s now reasonable to expect simultaneous annual app updates across all platforms going forward.

I’ll have more to say about what Ventura means to the Mac and where Ventura succeeds and fails in my annual macOS review this fall. However, because the public beta of Ventura is available for anyone to download for the first time today, and I know many readers are eager to give it a try, I want to provide a preview of what you can expect to find if you install it along with my first impressions of using it for the past few weeks.

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TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino Interviews Craig Federighi About Stage Manager

Stage Manager is a very different approach to multitasking on the iPad and Mac for different reasons. TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino explored the design choices made by Apple on both platforms in an interview with Craig Federighi, the company’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering.

As Panzarino explains, Stage Manager feels very iPad-centric, but Federighi says it’s the result of the Mac and iPad teams meeting in the middle after developing similar approaches to a more streamlined version of multitasking:

“There were many of us who use the Mac every day who really wanted this kind of focused experience that gave us that balance. So we were on the Mac side, picking this idea up and saying we think that’s in reach, we want to make this happen. And separately on the iPad side we were thinking about [it]. And believe it or not two independent teams who are brainstorming and designing converge on almost the identical idea.”

In response to why Stage Manager is only supported by M1 iPads, Federighi pointed to memory, storage, and graphics as factors:

“It’s only the M1 iPads that combined the high DRAM capacity with very high capacity, high performance NAND that allows our virtual memory swap to be super fast,” Federighi says. “Now that we’re letting you have up to four apps on a panel plus another four – up to eight apps to be instantaneously responsive and have plenty of memory, we just don’t have that ability on the other systems.”

It was not purely the availability of memory that led Apple to limit Stage Manager to M1 iPads though.  

“We also view stage manager as a total experience that involves external display conductivity. And the IO on the M1 supports connectivity that our previous iPads don’t, it can drive 4k, 5k, 6k displays, it can drive them at scaled resolutions. We can’t do that on other iPads.”

There’s no doubt that Stage Manager takes some getting used to, and as Federighi acknowledges in the interview, it’s not finished, but I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. Stage Manager has the potential to make the iPad a more productive device while serving as a bridge for users coming to the Mac from the iPad. That seems to be what Apple is going for, and with some refinements, and although the feature won’t be to everyone’s tastes, I think it could be a great solution for a lot of iPad and Mac users.

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macOS Ventura: The MacStories Overview

At this morning’s WWDC keynote presentation, SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi took the stage to announce the latest update to Apple’s desktop operating system: macOS Ventura. Ventura introduces a host of improvements, with many going hand-in-hand with their iOS and iPadOS 16 counterparts. A new windowing mode is perhaps the most intriguing addition, but the clearest wins come in the form of smaller app-specific features such as scheduling outgoing emails in Mail or marking conversations as unread in Messages. Altogether, Ventura looks like a very solid year-over-year upgrade for macOS.

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