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.
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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.