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On Thursday, 24th July 2014, Apple is doing something they’ve never done before. They are allowing members of...
On Thursday, 24th July 2014, Apple is doing something they’ve never done before. They are allowing members of the public to road test the latest beta version of the forthcoming OS X operating system, named Yosemite, before it is formally released.
Usually, access to beta tests of this nature is restricted to developers, and sometimes the wider technical community. The news that Apple is allowing normal consumers have a play with a pre-release version will surely be exciting to many of the Apple enthusiasts out there.
What makes this public beta test even more exciting is the fact that OS X Yosemite is the most significant upgrade to OS X in several years. Although Apple has steadily added new features to the operating system, Yosemite comes with significant cosmetic changes, and several new features that make it integrate with Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS.
The new features include:
Instant Hotspot: This is a feature that allows your Mac to instantly connect to the Internet via your iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature without passwords or configuration.
Handoff: This allows you to seamlessly switch between your Mac and iOS devices when performing tasks.
Phone Calling: If you have an iPhone, you can now make calls directly on your Mac, while it’s connected to the same network.
Mail: The Mac Mail application now includes all kinds of exciting new features, including the ability to send huge attachments to fellow Mac users as downloadable links, and functionality to add annotations to attachments.
There are countless other new features, and you’ll find more details on Apple’s website here.
If you want to try the public beta version of Yosemite, the first thing you must do is be quick, as the preview is only available to the first one million applicants.
The beta program signup form is available here. Once you have successfully signed up, Apple will make the Yosemite upgrade app available in your Mac App Store.
Once you have this, the upgrade process is very simple; you simply download Yosemite from the store and wait for the upgrade to complete. You should, of course, perform a full backup first. Apple has also included a “Feedback Assistant” app, so you can report any faults or issues directly to Apple.
If you’ve never participated in a software beta program, you need to be aware that beta software is, by its very nature, incomplete. As such, there will inevitably be some bugs and issues present. In fact, the whole purpose of beta testing is to help the vendor iron out these issues.
You may also find that some features are not yet fully functional, especially some of the iOS integration, which will undoubtedly be dependent on the use of the iOS 8, which is also unreleased at this point.
The fact that Apple has thrown open this particular beta to the masses suggests that the company is reasonably confident about the operating system’s overall stability. Apple certainly isn’t promising that the beta is free of bugs, though.
However tempting it may be, it would be very unwise to try out the Yosemite beta on your main (or only) Mac, especially if you use it for work. If you go ahead and do this, you are taking a genuine risk. If you have an older Mac lying around, it would make more sense to use that to try out Yosemite.
Alternatively, you can just wait until the fall (most likely September), when Yosemite will be fully released to the public. Apple has already announced that the upgrade will be completely free.