In a significant update to its operating policies, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduced a new “OS X Beta Seed Program,” which allows all Mac users to sign up for and test OS X betas before the final version is released to the public.
Anyone with an Apple ID can sign up here, and once they are enrolled, users can test a pre-release version of the upcoming OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks and give feedback to Apple to help improve the software before it is launched. The most recent OS X beta -- build 13D45a -- was released on Monday. Prior to the Beta Seed Program, users were required to subscribe to a developer account at an annual fee of $99 to help test Apple’s upcoming software releases.
“Join the OS X Beta Seed Program and accept the Beta Seed and Confidentiality Agreement. Apple will provide a Beta Access Utility for your Mac, which gives you access to pre-release versions of OS X in the Mac App Store Updates panel,” Apple said on its Beta Seed Program webpage.
According to the new program, users are required to sign a confidentiality agreement intended to discourage leaking of confidential information. After users sign up, Apple asks them to take a backup of data on their Macs before downloading a special Beta Access Utility App, which allows a Mac to be enrolled for beta software updates. All software updates will be delivered through the Mac App Store, similar to standard OS X updates, MacRumors reported.
According to AppleInsider, Apple has been working on launching the new open beta policy for quite some time through a "Feedback Assistant" app, which turned up in the build 13D38 of OS X 10.9.3 earlier this month. While the purpose of the app was unknown at the time, it is now believed to be part of the latest Beta Seed Program.
Apple is expected to unveil the next version of OS X Mavericks at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, in June. The update is likely to include many new features and improvements, such as a new Retina resolution option for 4K displays and the re-introduction of the ability to sync contacts and calendar info locally.