WordPress today released version 4.4, aka “Clifford” in honor of jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown, which includes several improvements to existing features and a number of brand new features that make your  job easier. You can take a look at all of the changes in the WordPress Codex.

What Can You Expect In WordPress 4.4?

Twenty Sixteen

As with most WordPress releases, there is now a new default theme–say hello to Twenty Sixteen! Twenty Sixteen is a modern take on the classic blog design. It is completely compatible with all screen sizes and was built to provide  a fluid experience no matter the screen: laptop, smartphone, tablet, you name it.

Responsive Images

WordPress 4.4 also introduces responsive images, meaning 25 percent of the Internet has adopted a new standard in responsiveness. Responsive images will pull appropriate images based on screen size. For instance, if you navigate to a page on a smartphone your site is now responsive enough to display a smaller version of an image vs. scaling the originally embedded image down!

New Embeds Feature

WordPress has long supported consuming oEmbed content. With 4.4 WordPress is now a provider of oEmbed content. Now you can embed your posts on other sites, even other WordPress sites. Just drop a post URL into the editor you will see a preview of the title, excerpt, and featured image.

Also included in the 4.4 update are new oEmbed providers: Cloudup, Reddit Comments, ReverbNation, Speaker Deck, and VideoPress.

REST API Infrastructure

At long last, infrastructure for the REST API has been integrated into core. It is important to note that this does not mean that the endpoints for the REST API have been merged; you will still need the REST API plugin for the endpoints.

For a full list of updates and changes included in WordPress 4.4, check out the WordPress blog.

How WP Engine Handles WordPress Upgrades

Here at WP Engine, one of our goals is to make WordPress upgrades as smooth and painless as possible, and to take the weight of upgrades off of your shoulders.

According to our WordPress Update policy for non-security WordPress releases, we start automatically updating customer sites two weeks from the launch date. For this update, due to our customers’ need for stability during this high traffic season, we will begin on January 4. Since the stability, security, and functionality of your sites are our top priority, we are purposely giving you time to test WordPress 4.4 against your current configuration to make sure the update goes smoothly. However, if you would like to upgrade your site on your own schedule prior to our automatic upgrade, you are welcome to do so at any time through WP Admin.

How does our WordPress update process work? We will send you two notices before the update process starts; one will be sent seven days prior to your scheduled update, and the second will be sent on the day of the update. Our Automated Upgrade Protection process then creates a backup of the current state of your site, then our automated script performs the update to version 4.4. Once the update is complete, we’ll test the site to make sure it is loading.

If the site comes up without any detected problems, we will notify you that your install has been successfully updated to WordPress 4.4. In the case that something appears off, our script will automatically roll your site back to the previous version, and let you know something has gone wrong. And all of this will happen without any intervention required from you!

If you need more time to prepare your site(s) for WordPress 4.4, you can request a deferral for up to 60 days. We’ve made the upgrade deferral process super easy.

Automatic WordPress upgrades are just one of the many benefits you receive as a WP Engine customer. As always, thank you for trusting us to host and manage your WordPress site!