Apple's OS X Yosemite public beta opens July 24th

Apple promised a public beta for OS X Yosemite, and now it's delivering on that, with the work-in-progress software set to launch for eager early-adopters from Thursday, July 24th. The pre-release software won't require an Apple developer account in order to download, but will be the same version those coders are playing with to recreate their apps in time for the launch. However, you'll need to get in early if you want to try Yosemite first.

That's because Apple is limiting the number of activations it's allowing in this first stage of the beta. The company plans to distribute one million copies initially, but did tell us that it reserved the right to modify what number it has in mind depending on demand.

Yosemite brings features like the newly-supercharged Spotlight search, cross-platform AirDrop with support for OS X and iOS, and the latest version of Safari. It also introduces a new, iOS-inspired design, complete with translucent windows and a changed system font.

Unfortunately, since there's no companion public beta for iOS 8, some of Yosemite's more appealing features aren't available to try, even in the beta. Continuity, which allows a nearby iPhone to pipe its messages and calls through your Mac, won't work, for instance.

Apple also recommends loading the Yosemite beta on a secondary Mac, since as it's non-final software there are still bugs to be fixed. Any users spot can be reported using the integrated Feedback Assistant tool.

If you still decide to go ahead, the advice is to do a full backup before you install, and then use your Mac as you normally would. Periodic updates will be pushed out between July 24th and the full Yosemite release, while the final software itself will be a free upgrade too.

For more on how OS X Yosemite holds up, check out our full review of the new public preview.

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