Apple has opened up its beta testing program for OS X, to now include anyone who wishes to test developmental builds of Apple’s upcoming operating system software. However, this program is limited in comparison to its prior and ongoing AppleSeed program.
To get yourself set up with the bet program, simply log into the AppleSeed Web site with your Apple ID, and then follow the instructions for setting your Mac up for beta testing. Then download the latest unreleased versions of OS X that are available for testing, and be on your way as a beta tester.
This change effectively does away with the relatively private nature of Apple’s previous beta testing community, and while you still have to agree with and abide by Apple’s EULA for pre-released software, the requirement for being approved to join the program has been killed off. However, while everyone can get access to Apple’s pre-release software, members of the original AppleSeed program will still have benefits over general public access, which include:
- Private discussion board access
- More detailed bug report forms
- Access to detailed release notes
- Access to additional builds not available to the public
- Have reports read by Apple Engineers
This last note offers the greatest benefit for those in the official AppleSeed program as opposed to being part of the public test, since changes can be discussed, implemented, and tested far faster if you are a member of the AppleSeed community. Nevertheless, the public will now have more access to test builds than it has had in the past.
This development has been made possible by Apple’s strategy to progress towards giving its operating system software away for free. In the past, OS X versions cost $130 per license, but to increase adoption Apple has made releases progressively less expensive and available for digital download through the Mac App Store, to the point where OS X Mavericks is now free for anyone to install.
While this development might sound appealing to some people who might be eager to jump in and install the latest OS X releases, do keep in mind that this program is still intended to be a testing effort, with participants regularly reporting bugs they encounter.
Additionally, being pre-release software (and especially operating system software), this effort is not for those who rely on their systems for stability. Pre-release software can have severe bugs that could lead to crashing and data loss, so it is intended for use on test systems only.
UPDATED April 22, 4:30PM — added details on the difference between the public beta program and the continuing AppleSeed program.
Setting up a test system is an important caveat. Still, I expect to read complaints from people who don’t take that precaution. It will be a potential downside for Apple – they will need to emphasize the proper preparations and perhaps include a “hold harmless” clause in the EULA, if they don’t already have one. Apple could presume a certain level of competence with members of the Appleseed program. The general public is, in most cases, not nearly so capable.
Still, given how easy it is to set up a test system, on an external drive for instance, I expect a lot of enthusiastic involvement in the new, open beta program. I might even take a shot – once I get a new Mac capable of running Apple’s newest operating systems.
They have asked me over the course of the past 7 year to participate in their beta testing on their beta OSX’s but I keep declining since as far as I was and still am concerned they have enough people in the Apple Org to beta test themselves and I also was’nt prepared to risk messing my own MacBook Pro up for the sake of testing their beta OSX out. Others will but will find that I can lead to some very messed up system if not implemented correctly as the first person mentioned.