Mac users will soon get their hands on Apple's newest operating system.
The company plans to release the beta version of Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite to the public on Thursday, giving consumers their first chance to try out Apple's latest advances.
Apple unveiled the computer software last month at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. The operating system has a new look, a refined toolbar, new notification-center features, and a dark mode. In addition, Yosemite will now synchronize with Apple's iOS mobile operating system through AirDrop file-sharing, iMessage messaging, and the ability to make and take phone calls.
"All in all, they come together for a gorgeous and more usable version of OS X, the best ever," Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, told developers at the conference.
Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite is key to Apple's efforts to grow in the computing market. Apple now generates less than 15 percent of its total revenue from Macs, but the devices help the company build its ecosystem. And Apple at times has posted strong Mac sales in periods when the rest of the PC market has struggled.
Apple on Tuesday reported Mac unit sales rose 18 percent to 4.4 million in the quarter ended June 28. CEO Tim Cook said the Mac boosted Apple's overall financial results, and it saw strong sales in some regions weak for other PC makers. The US, for instance, was a "very, very" strong market for the Mac in the quarter, he said.
To build customer loyalty and make sure users are accessing the most recent software, Apple last year made Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks free for download. The beta version of OS X 10.10 Yosemite will also be free, as will the official version released in the fall.
Developers have had access to the beta Yosemite software since WWDC, giving Apple feedback to improve the software. Only the first million people who sign up can access the beta version, per Apple limits.
To join the OS X beta program, consumers sign up using their Apple IDs. When the beta software is ready, they'll receive redemption codes that will allow them to download and install OS X Yosemite Beta from the Mac App Store. When users come across issues or bugs, they can report the problems directly to Apple with the built-in Feedback Assistant application.
The computer accessing the beta software must first be running OS X Mavericks, which was released about a year ago. Apple recommends that users install the beta version of OS X Yosemite on a secondary Mac rather than on a primary computer since it may contain errors or inaccuracies. The company also says people should back up their Macs before installing the beta.
In addition, some new features touted by Apple will not be available, such as phone calls, SMS, Handoff, Instant Hotspot, and iCloud Drive. Spotlight suggestions are US-based only, Apple said on its website. Some applications and services may not work properly with the beta software. When creating or making changes to documents stored in iCloud, documents will sync only with Macs running the OS X Yosemite beta and with iOS devices running iOS 8.