the arrival of the APFS (Apple File System) to the disks of their devices. Its goal is to replace the HFS+ we have been using for almost 20 years.
APFS, as we discussed in the middle of last year, is a new file format prepared specifically for SSDs that encrypt their data . At that time it didn’t work with Fusion Drive, and we don’t know about it yet, but it is intended to do so. Apple already has a priority list for APFS deployment.
You will be using APFS, whether you like it or not, as soon as you upgrade your iOS devices to iOS 10.3 . This is what Apple says in their beta documents:
iOS 10.3 will reformat the iPhone and iPad to APFS without deleting our data
Somehow, iOS 10.3 will reformat the storage of the iPhone and iPad by abandoning HFS+ and switching to APFS without deleting our data . Apple always recommends it, but seeing the process, I would insist on the previous step of backing up to iCloud before you upgrade to iOS 10.3 when the time comes.
Will we notice any changes in the performance of our devices as soon as we use APFS? Well, that’s something we’ll have to see after we upgrade. But in theory, and since all iOS devices are encrypted, we should notice something. Perhaps we will see it more when updating or restoring the terminals, or when making backups.
That’s going to be a much more delicate step . As iOS is a very closed system, Apple has all the freedom to get you through the hoop with a simple upgrade. You don’t have access to the system’s folders from your iPhone or iPad, so changing their format is relatively easy for the company. You don’t even realize that something has changed at a low level.
This scenario changes completely on the Mac. On Apple computers you access system directories, you can format internal and external drives, you can create and manage partitions, you use Time Machine… so there are many more factors to consider before encouraging you to format your drive to APFS.
The transition to APFS on Macs will be much slower
We may see it transparently with the next update to macOS 10.12.4, but I’m betting on something more likely: it will come with macOS 10.13. And that upgrading to that version does not make any reformatting, that we have to do it manually as we are interested and that from that moment on all Macs arrive pre-formatted to APFS. On computers, will be a much slower transition , and let’s not talk about third party manufacturers pre-formatting their external drives.
But in the end, Apple’s plans are to make that transition on all of its devices , including the Apple Watch and the Apple TV. So sooner or later, HFS+ will end up being what it already is: an obsolete file system for the times.