Apple has announced that it will be providing public access to a beta release of its upcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite operating system later today, marking a major change in how the company handles betas.
Previously, Apple had provided beta access exclusively to members of its developer programme - membership of which attracts an annual fee. Its last update to OS X 10.9 Mavericks, however, was released to users who signed up to the Apple Seed programme - which has no such fee attached. When Yosemite was announced at the Word Wide Developer Conference earlier this year, it was suggested that the new release would follow the same path and become the first major software release from Apple to have a public beta programme in place.
Apple has now confirmed that Yosemite will be released on the Apple Seed programme later today, ahead of its formal launch in the autumn. As with its previous Apple Seed release, users will be asked to electronically sign a non-disclosure agreement before downloading the software. Once installed, participants will also receive a feedback tool which allows for bugs to be quickly reported back to Apple without the need for a developer account.
Yosemite promises several improvements over Mavericks, but the biggest new feature will only work following the release of iOS 8: Handoff, a system which allows a user to easily transfer tasks in progress from a mobile device to a desktop or laptop and vice-versa. So far, Apple has not indicated any plans to launch a public beta of iOS 8.
Interested parties with a recent Mac device can sign up to the beta programme here
, while the finished release will be made available as a free upgrade for all Mavericks users in the autumn.