Apple: macOS Sierra public beta available today

The public beta of macOS Sierra will be available for download from later on today, Apple has confirmed.

WWDC, Apple, OS X, macOS, Sierra, Mac, Macintosh

Apple keeps its promise to open up macOS Sierra public beta in July

Credit: Jonny Evans

The public beta of macOS Sierra will be available for download from later on today, Apple has confirmed. The final version is still scheduled for release in Fall.

Join the scheme

The beta software will be made available to members of the Apple Beta Software Program, a free scheme interested users can sign up for right now if they aren’t yet subscribed to it.

The beta will be made available for download via beta.apple.com later today.

Apple first announced a Public Beta for OS X Yosemite in 2014, following this up last year with a similar scheme for OS X El Capitan.

The scheme seemed pretty succesful: Once Apple finally shipped El Capitan it was installed at a faster rate than any previously released Mac operating system, according to NetApplications.

Along with its new name, macOS Sierra is packed with lots of interesting features, not least Siri support.

Here is my first look review of macOS, a guide to using Siri on a Sierra Mac and a good account of the many improvements to iMessages. (To help readers find the reports I’ve taken the liberty of collating all my recent WWDC 2016 coverage here).

Those taking part in the scheme are asked to share any problems they encounter with Apple so they can be rectified in time for the full fall release. Last year there were some problems with some MacBooks, but this was fixed soon after being identified, for example.

Improvements

The public beta introduces a range of improvements in comparison to recently released developer previews, these include:

  • Stability updates and fixes 
  • The keyboard shortcut for Siri has shifted from "function-space" to "command-space hold"
  • Auto Unlock is enabled, though this is only available to developers who have access to the developer beta of watchOS 3.

Installation guidelines

Apple warns users that: “This is beta software that is still in development, which means some applications and services may not work as expected.”

This is why if you plan to install the public beta you should make sure you follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t install the OS on your primary Mac
  • Do make a backup of your Mac before installing the new OS
  • Do expect the company to ship “periodic updates” to macOS Sierra

If you encounter any problems when you are using the new OS on your spare Mac you will be able to use the built-in Feedback Assistant app to report those problems to the company.

Compatibility

macOS Sierra is compatible with the following Macs

  • MacBooks from 2009 or later
  • iMacs from 2009 or later
  • MacBook Air from 2010 or later
  • MacBook Pro from 2010 or later
  • Mac mini from 2010 or later
  • Mac Pro from 2010 or later.

You will be able to upgrade to the final version of the OS from your beta version when the final version ships in fall. More information about the beta program is available in this Q&A.

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