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Operating Systems

iOS 10 and MacOS Sierra public betas are available now

The open betas for the next versions of Apple's iPhone and Mac operating systems are now available to download.

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The first public betas of Apple's next big mobile and computer operating systems are about to be installed on millions more devices.

Both iOS 10 and MacOS Sierra can now be downloaded from Apple's website for users who had previously signed up for them. Until now, only registered Apple developers had access to the software packages, both of which were announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last month in San Francisco.

iOS 10 adds a laundry list of improvements and niceties to iPhone/iPad operating system, including changes to the lock screen and control center, smarter Siri interactions, improvements to the Photo app, colorful upgrades to Messages, a new look and feel to Apple Music and Apple News, a dedicated Home app for smart home control and wider use of 3D Touch on compatible phones. Read CNET's hands-on first impressions of the iOS 10 public beta.

MacOS Sierra, meanwhile, gets its own list of improvements, including iCloud desktop syncing among multiple Macs, picture-in-picture video and -- for the first time -- Siri on the Mac desktop. Sierra also tightens integration with the iPhone, adding Apple Pay authentication on the phone's fingerprint reader for Mac-based purchases, as well as the ability to unlock your Mac just by being in proximity to your Apple Watch. Read CNET's hands-on first impressions of the MacOS Sierra developer beta.

Apple fans interested in either operating system should note that not every new feature is available in these initial public betas. Furthermore, given the nature of beta software, we strongly discourage average users from installing either one. And even if you're doing so on a secondary device, make sure you have an iron-clad backup.

The other two operating system upgrades Apple highlighted at its developer conference, WatchOS 3 (for Apple Watch) and TVOS (for Apple TV), will not be offered as public betas. However, final versions of all four OS upgrades will be available later this year to the public as free upgrades on compatible devices. For iOS, at least, that timing is usually between the announcement and release of the next iPhone -- usually the middle of September.