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Hands on: OS X 10.10 Yosemite beta shows off a new look and features

Michael deAgonia | July 30, 2014
The beta of Apple's latest operating system, OS X 10.10 Yosemite, promises a sparkling new design and some very useful features.

During this year's World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC) — where software is introduced and released in beta form to developers and masochists enthusiasts — Apple execs revealed that they would ship a public beta of the latest Mac operating system, OS X 10.10, popularly known as Yosemite.

Last Thursday, the public beta of Yosemite was finally available to download. This is Apple's first official release of an unfinished operating system since the OS X 10.0 beta back in 2000. The beta release will give fans a sneak peek into the future of the Macintosh lineup.

Yosemite marks a major UI overhaul for OS X. In addition to a new design, Yosemite also brings fresh features and capabilities, as well as built-in apps that take advantage of these features.

I installed the beta build on a 2012 Mac mini, and have been running the developer builds since their first release in June on a 2012 MacBook Pro. Since this isn't a final release, I haven't written a formal review, nor will I be discussing speed, stability or battery life. Instead, I'll be looking at the major additions since last year's release of OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), and detailing how the features are implemented.

Installing Yosemite

Before we start, let me be clear: Yosemite is beta. Expect that there will be bugs, some minor and maybe some major. "The Summer of Bugs" is what I like to call the period between WWDC and Apple's fall software and hardware releases. Don't install Yosemite on computers that you rely on because, by definition, beta software is at best unreliable. If you choose to proceed, make sure to back up your data beforehand.

Still interested in testing the software? You'll need to have Mavericks installed (which is a free upgrade you can download from Apple's App Store). Yosemite runs pretty much on any Mac that can run Mavericks — that includes any iMac from mid-2007, any MacBook from late 2008, any 15-in. or 17-in. MacBook Pro from 2007, any 13-in. MacBook Pro from mid-2009, any MacBook Air from 2008, any Mac Mini from 2009, any Mac Pro from 2008, and (if you have one) any Xserve from 2009.

If you can run the software, the question then becomes: Should you? The answer is up to you, but remember — I can't stress this enough — this is a beta. Apple execs have stated that the public betas will not be updated as frequently as the developer builds, so don't expect bugs to be remedied right away.

If, after all this you still want to give Yosemite a try, you can sign up at Apple's website. There are only a million beta slots allocated, so availability is limited.


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