Apple seeded its latest beta of Safari for developers yesterday, as it does every two weeks. Whilst the seeds usually contain little of interest to non-developers, the newest seed (Release 23) includes a few interesting changes.
Most notably, it includes Mac laptop battery life improvements for WebGL content by relying less on the dedicated GPU.
Safari WebKit is going to incorporate a more advanced algorithm to decide whether to enable the dedicated graphics hardware in MacBooks on a particular page. As it stands today, all 3D web content rendered by WebGL will spin up the dedicated GPU even when it isn’t necessary.
With these changes, Safari will require the dedicated GPU far less frequently as small page elements will be rendered by the integrated graphics. It was effectively overkill to use the dedicated GPU for the majority of web rendered canvas content.
- Improved switching between GPUs for WebGL content in order to maximize battery life
By tuning the heuristics to recognize what would actually benefit from the additional power, the dedicated GPU gets turned on less overall. Anything that uses the dedicated GPU less will result in significant improvements to battery life for laptops with dedicated graphics cards, namely the MacBook Pro line.
The optimization comes after much community controversy regarding 2016 MacBook Pro battery life, which led to Consumer Reports not recommending the laptop. Apple fixed a (different) bug in Safari which led to the laptop being recommended, although some customers still report worse battery life than with the previous generation of MacBook Pro. The graphics fixes seen in this latest seed will help to further extend the MacBook’s battery life when browsing the web.
Features included in Safari Technology Preview is a testing ground for features destined for future public Safari versions, usually included alongside macOS point updates. You can see the full list of changes here.