Inside High Sierra: Safari's Javascript engine much faster, accursed autoplay videos (most...

Posted:
in macOS edited September 2017
While marquee features like APFS have stolen most of the spotlight, Apple has implemented significant improvements to Safari with the goal of making a user's time with it easier, and less annoying.




Editor's note: This story originally ran in July when High Sierra was in beta. It has been updated and republished for the public release of macOS 10.13.

Javascript improvements

During the WWDC rollout of High Sierra, Apple claimed Javascript is 80 percent faster on the new Safari than it is on Chrome on the same machine. This is all fine and good, but for most Mac users, a better comparison is between Sierra's Safari, and High Sierra's version.

Our test machines are a 2015 MacBook Pro running High Sierra, and a 2016 MacBook Pro on Sierra. Both are i7 machines, with 16GB of RAM. General computing benchmarks are very close, with the 2016 MacBook Pro edging it out just a bit.
This isn't just relevant to High Sierra -- iOS users get the improvements too.
We spent a few hours doing timing, and looking at possible vectors of speed or slowdown, and there really wasn't much to glean. In general, it looks like High Sierra's Safari is about 15 to 20 percent faster across the board than Sierra's Safari on a very fast connection.

But, for whatever the reason, most broadcast news websites both consistently load slower on High Sierra's Safari than on regular Safari, but not by much.

Blocking of auto-play videos

Also highlighted to fanfare at the WWDC is Safari's new ability to stop the loud and annoying auto-play video and audio ads from playing. In theory, Safari inspects the content, and just won't load it, with most of the offenders just presenting either nothing in the place of the ad, or a black block.

Most reputable sites don't allow them, and kill them on the spot when they slip through.



In practice, both with ad vendors contracted by sites and the new Safari, a few still squeak through -- but it is notably less using High Sierra's Safari than Sierra's version. We hit them daily if not hourly in Sierra, but we've had only a couple blare at us randomly in the new Safari at a smattering of tech enthusiast sites, as well as a news venue now and again.

Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. The aforementioned news sites is a possible exception.

In High Sierra, control over the auto-play block is as granular as users want. A universal stop can be put in place, or it can be enabled or allowed on a site-by-side basis.

We're sure this will be a back-and-forth battle between Apple and the various video purveyors, as it is with any revenue-generating content blocking feature in any browser.

Intelligent Tracking Prevention

Another High Sierra Safari improvement that will irritate ad vendors is Intelligent Tracking Prevention. Apple notes that it now uses machine learning to reduce cross-site ad vendor tracking, which should help with privacy protection.

In Apple's discussion of the matter, it notes that in testing it found popular websites using 70 cross-site trackers, all silently collecting data on users.



According to Apple, Intelligent Tracking Prevention collects statistics on resource loads induced by a cookie, as well as welcome user interactions such as clicks and text entries on a visited site.

Cookies that Intelligent Tracking Prevention considers allowed can be used by third parties for one day after the user last visits the relevant site. After the first day, and out to 30 days, the cookie is partitioned allowing for users to stay logged in and similar positive uses of the technology, but not to harvest information for ad serving and the like. After no willful user visits to a site for 30 days, the cookies are purged.

Intelligent Tracking Protection is possibly the biggest addition to Safari, and the hardest one to quantify. In Sierra, our served ads tend towards repetition, based on search terms we've entered in Ebay, Amazon, or Google.

In High Sierra, we still saw some of this, presumably based on the frequency of those searches, and High Sierra deciding that we were fine with it. But, the mix was far lower, and actually restricted to ad results from the relevant sites, and not other vendors hijacking that information to return its own results.

WebKit, macOS, iOS

This isn't just relevant to High Sierra -- iOS users get the improvements too. The improved Javascript engine appears to have been migrated to iOS, but with less improvement. It's still there, but seems to be closer to 10 percent than 15 in our testing.

Personal preferences vary, of course, but from what we've seen so far, the improvements to WebKit in High Safari leapfrog Apple's Safari over Firefox and Chrome.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    maltzmaltz Posts: 93member
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    StrangeDaysstompywilliamlondonspinnydbaconstanglostkiwijohn.bbonobob2stepbaycornchip
  • Reply 2 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,806member
    maltz said:
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    Yup, never come across one of those. Would love an example. 
    StrangeDayswilliamlondonspinnydjohn.banton zuykovcornchip
  • Reply 3 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,936member
    Stuff like this is what I love about Apple's perspective. You'd never see Google going out of their way to produce baked-in tracking blockers. I do know about their new ad-reduction feature, but that seems a reaction to pissed off users taking matters into their own hands w/ content blocking extensions of a scored-earth sort. Plus they never honored the do-not-track feature in Safari and in fact actively hacked around it. They suck.
    williamlondonspinnydbaconstanglostkiwijohn.bwelshdoganton zuykov
  • Reply 4 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,678member
    Rayz2016 said:
    maltz said:
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    Yup, never come across one of those. Would love an example. 
    I can think of lots of examples where I want video to auto-play. When I select a title on the DVR, I don't it to load up not play. This is what QuickTime X does. There is/was a hidden PLIST feature to make videos auto-play. The same goes for video streaming sites. When I select, say, a music video on YouTube, a Funny or Die video, or Netflix title I want them to auto-play. Facebook Livestreams are another source I want to auto-play when I click on the video page. The only thing I absolutely don't want auto-playing are ad videos, but even then I may agree to it if it's a prerequisite for playing the intended video.
  • Reply 5 of 21
    maltzmaltz Posts: 93member
    Soli said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    maltz said:
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    Yup, never come across one of those. Would love an example. 
    I can think of lots of examples where I want video to auto-play. When I select a title on the DVR, I don't it to load up not play. This is what QuickTime X does. There is/was a hidden PLIST feature to make videos auto-play. The same goes for video streaming sites. When I select, say, a music video on YouTube, a Funny or Die video, or Netflix title I want them to auto-play. Facebook Livestreams are another source I want to auto-play when I click on the video page. The only thing I absolutely don't want auto-playing are ad videos, but even then I may agree to it if it's a prerequisite for playing the intended video.
    I would gladly trade having to click on a play button in those situations if it meant never again suffering the unexpected blast of audio from an auto-play video.  Also, I often open multiple videos in multiple tabs.  It's a huge pain when I have to chase them down and stop them as I open them.  Much easier to just click play when I'm ready.
    edited July 2017 williamlondonspinnydStrangeDaysbaconstangjohn.bcornchippichael
  • Reply 6 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,678member
    maltz said:
    Soli said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    maltz said:
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    Yup, never come across one of those. Would love an example. 
    I can think of lots of examples where I want video to auto-play. When I select a title on the DVR, I don't it to load up not play. This is what QuickTime X does. There is/was a hidden PLIST feature to make videos auto-play. The same goes for video streaming sites. When I select, say, a music video on YouTube, a Funny or Die video, or Netflix title I want them to auto-play. Facebook Livestreams are another source I want to auto-play when I click on the video page. The only thing I absolutely don't want auto-playing are ad videos, but even then I may agree to it if it's a prerequisite for playing the intended video.
    I would gladly trade having to click on a play button in those situations if it meant never again suffering the unexpected blast of audio from an auto-play video.  Also, I often open multiple videos in multiple tabs.  It's a huge pain when I have to chase them down and stop them as I open them.  Much easier to just click play when I'm ready.
    I think most of those I mentioned will not auto-play from their webpage if the tab or window is in the background.
  • Reply 7 of 21
    I never want a video to auto-play, never ever ever. LinkedIn autoplays videos, and I find that more than annoying. I find it invasive and a violation, it's like being forced to watch an advertisement, it grabs your attention, uses your bandwidth without your permission and basically is a way to scream words at you that you have no intention of ever reading (or listening to). I applaud Apple for fixing these obvious faults with the internet, I can't believe it's not a universal setting that every single page must abide by already, guess why that is?!
    baconstanglostkiwijohn.bpropodcornchip
  • Reply 8 of 21
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,382member
    Soli said:
    maltz said:
    Soli said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    maltz said:
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    Yup, never come across one of those. Would love an example. 
    I can think of lots of examples where I want video to auto-play. When I select a title on the DVR, I don't it to load up not play. This is what QuickTime X does. There is/was a hidden PLIST feature to make videos auto-play. The same goes for video streaming sites. When I select, say, a music video on YouTube, a Funny or Die video, or Netflix title I want them to auto-play. Facebook Livestreams are another source I want to auto-play when I click on the video page. The only thing I absolutely don't want auto-playing are ad videos, but even then I may agree to it if it's a prerequisite for playing the intended video.
    I would gladly trade having to click on a play button in those situations if it meant never again suffering the unexpected blast of audio from an auto-play video.  Also, I often open multiple videos in multiple tabs.  It's a huge pain when I have to chase them down and stop them as I open them.  Much easier to just click play when I'm ready.
    I think most of those I mentioned will not auto-play from their webpage if the tab or window is in the background.
    I've had multiple experiences with video and audio playing in a tab that wasn't in the foreground.  In fact if I recall correctly, Apple made a point of mentioning this annoying experience when they added the click off sound icon at the right side of the navigation bar specific to that page in Safari at the launch of Sierra (or perhaps an earlier OS).

    I love High Sierra stopping on the auto play feature but I wonder how long before we see a message saying "We see you are blocking auto play on this web site, please disable this to continue reading this page" as I see all the time with any ad blocker on static content now with older versions of Safari.

    By the way for those still using Sierra and not intending to upgrade to High Sierra just yet, Apple's Safari Technology Preview already has this feature for Sierra users.  It works perfectly.
    cornchipmacgui
  • Reply 9 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,678member
    MacPro said:
    Soli said:
    maltz said:
    Soli said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    maltz said:
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    Yup, never come across one of those. Would love an example. 
    I can think of lots of examples where I want video to auto-play. When I select a title on the DVR, I don't it to load up not play. This is what QuickTime X does. There is/was a hidden PLIST feature to make videos auto-play. The same goes for video streaming sites. When I select, say, a music video on YouTube, a Funny or Die video, or Netflix title I want them to auto-play. Facebook Livestreams are another source I want to auto-play when I click on the video page. The only thing I absolutely don't want auto-playing are ad videos, but even then I may agree to it if it's a prerequisite for playing the intended video.
    I would gladly trade having to click on a play button in those situations if it meant never again suffering the unexpected blast of audio from an auto-play video.  Also, I often open multiple videos in multiple tabs.  It's a huge pain when I have to chase them down and stop them as I open them.  Much easier to just click play when I'm ready.
    I think most of those I mentioned will not auto-play from their webpage if the tab or window is in the background.
    I've had multiple experiences with video and audio playing in a tab that wasn't in the foreground.
    Yeah, we've all had those experiences, but that wasn't what was asked, now was it?
    gatorguy
  • Reply 10 of 21
    2stepbay2stepbay Posts: 106member
    Glad to see these changes being implemented. Wish as much attention were directed toward making Safari's RAM requirements much, much leaner. Historically, Safari has been the quintessential RAM hog in the browser software development realm. Yet,I suspect this latest version will continue that reign.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 21
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 500member
    Rayz2016 said:
    maltz said:
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    Yup, never come across one of those. Would love an example. 
    Youtube
    Stuff like this is what I love about Apple's perspective. You'd never see Google going out of their way to produce baked-in tracking blockers. I do know about their new ad-reduction feature, but that seems a reaction to pissed off users taking matters into their own hands w/ content blocking extensions of a scored-earth sort. Plus they never honored the do-not-track feature in Safari and in fact actively hacked around it. They suck.
    Of course not - Google is in the business of collecting and monetizing our personal data, making some other products on the side to further this goal. This goes squarely against their business model. Apple is in the business of making a good user experience through good hardware and software. They may not be perfect, but I'll take Apple over Google any day.
    williamlondoncornchip
  • Reply 12 of 21
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,036member
    Rayz2016 said:
    maltz said:
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    Yup, never come across one of those. Would love an example. 
    Anything is a good enough example. The point being that if you want something to play you press the play button, when YOU want it to start.
    williamlondonanton zuykov
  • Reply 13 of 21
    starwarsstarwars Posts: 65member
    Many sites autoplay videos and I hate it. It consumes bandwidth unnecessary, sudden audio blast that irritates. It annoys most. Yahoo is one of the worsts, it auto hops its video playlists.
    williamlondonanton zuykov
  • Reply 14 of 21
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,583member
    Weird. Not a single post screaming about Javascript and how it is the Devil's spume. Surprising.
  • Reply 15 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,806member
    Rayz2016 said:
    maltz said:
    AppleInsider said:
    Auto-play video you actually want is a different matter, though. 
    There's no such thing.
    Yup, never come across one of those. Would love an example. 
    Anything is a good enough example. The point being that if you want something to play you press the play button, when YOU want it to start.
    Yup. So I press the button. 

    I still don't want it to start playing on its own. I don't like stuff that autostarts, full stop. 

  • Reply 16 of 21
    macguimacgui Posts: 772member
    I never want a video to auto-play, never ever ever.
    This. Never ever ever. The level of annoyance of forever having to click a video to get it to play, aggregately, will not even wiggle the needle of the Annoyance Meter, nor even approach the level of just one auto-play video. There is no example for me of video that I want to auto-play. 

    I often have many tabs open and after awhile one or more starts playing. Fortunately Apple added that icon so I can quickly find the offenders, though it's never quick enough!

    So even if this turns out not to be perfect (what ever is?) I'll be happy for a noticeable reduction. I don't plan on whitelisting any sites.
  • Reply 17 of 21
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,091member
    welshdog said:
    Weird. Not a single post screaming about Javascript and how it is the Devil's spume. Surprising.
    That’s because Javascript is not Java. Javascript and Java have no relationship to each other than similar names. Javascript is fine and is the language of browsers. Java, on the other hand is the spawn of Satan as you said.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 18 of 21
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,678member
    I hope this new OS will fix out of application memory problem that have happened to my MacBook Pro multiple times. I use Activity Monitor to find who is using up the 8 GB memory. I can seen that every single web site uses memory.  Some use more than 1 GB. 
  • Reply 19 of 21
    croprcropr Posts: 794member
    AppleInsider said:

    Intelligent Tracking Prevention

    Another High Sierra Safari improvement that will irritate ad vendors is Intelligent Tracking Prevention. Apple notes that it now uses machine learning to reduce cross-site ad vendor tracking, which should help with privacy protection.

    According to Apple, Intelligent Tracking Prevention collects statistics on resource loads induced by a cookie, as well as welcome user interactions such as clicks and text entries on a visited site.


    Many publishing companies that uses Macs and can only survive by ads and trackers. I am not so sure that this features is in the interest of all Mac users 

    AI might even belong to this group of publishers. 

    I could live with this feature, if a user has the choice to switch it off, but I could not detect in the article if this is possible.   Luckily I still have the choice to use Chrome or Firefox 



  • Reply 20 of 21
    lkrupp said:
    welshdog said:
    Weird. Not a single post screaming about Javascript and how it is the Devil's spume. Surprising.
    That’s because Javascript is not Java. Javascript and Java have no relationship to each other than similar names. Javascript is fine and is the language of browsers. Java, on the other hand is the spawn of Satan as you said.
    Good thing that Java's aura has now deflated...  And I no longer have to bother using it because some client wants it. Though, I have to integrate our company's SW/HW with legacy client systems that use this crap and that hurts...

    I couldn't even bother to become an expert in it when it was in vogue in the late to early 2000s (I'm pretty good at it, but I hate so much of it that I'm repulsed by even the books and code); and I can create major large systems in just about everything from ASM to RUST. it is a horror show of a "language".

    I put this in the same boat as Flash, some thing looks like a good idea at first, but in fact you soon find out is a very terrible idea.

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