updated 07:53 pm EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
Public beta, developer interest credited for unusually high percentage
Thanks in large part to the release of two public betas in a program that was limited to one million signups, the forthcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite is now running on approximately 2.6 million Macs, thought to be around 3.3 percent of the worldwide Mac user base, according to statistics from Net Applications. The figures come statistics gathered in August, and are 33 times higher than the pre-release version of Mavericks, though of course the latter didn't have a public beta component.
Assuming Apple's public beta signup has hit its limit, this would mean that approximately 1.6 million developers are testing Yosemite for compatibility issues, a promising sign that many applications will be ready for any needed changes in order to take advantage of the new operating system, expected to be released sometime this fall. The stats also showed that Mavericks continues to gain strength as by far the dominant OS version for Macs using the Internet, with penetration approaching 65 percent.
All other active versions of OS X have fallen to 10 percent or less usage, with the exception of Snow Leopard, which is falling in use at an equal pace but is currently at 12 percent adoption. It was at 19 percent in February.
Naturally, adoption of Yosemite saw a big spike with the first public beta was released, more than doubling the number of users from its initial release to now. Broad reports on Yosemite currently indicate that while not without some significant flaws, testers are happy with the level of functionality and improved look and feel. Some of the most significant features, however, can only be tested in Yosemite if the tester also has access to the developer-only iOS 8 betas.
Even without the public beta, developer interest in Yosemite has been seen as far higher than with Mavericks, which has also won public praise since its release last year. More than four times as many developers are testing Yosemite as tested Mavericks, though in part this is due to ongoing significant growth in Apple's developer program over the past few years.
The free OS upgrade is likely to handily beat Mavericks' adoption rate, a trend that has been growing and led by rapid adoption of new iOS upgrades. The current iOS 7 is the most rapidly-adopted OS platform in the history of computers, across all platforms, and previous versions of iOS and OS X also saw quick uptake by users, an unusual factor among mobile and desktop OS upgrades.
In addition to the increased interest overall, based on the strong reception of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, Yosemite and iOS 8 will benefit from increased inter-operative technologies the two platforms share, with features such as Continuity and Handoff being marquee new additions. Handoff, for example, allows OS X and iOS devices to be aware of what applications the user is using on other device, and if a corresponding app exists on the other (such as Mail, Safari or Pages for example), a small icon on the lock screen of an iOS device or on the dock of a Macintosh lets the user instantly pick up where they left off on the other device. Continuity allows nearby iOS devices to pass phone calls, messages (even SMS messages) to the Mac if desired, and set up automatic hotspots when needed among other features.
Other features of interest to developers in Yosemite include Spotlight results integration, the moving of "widgets" to the Notification Center, the forthcoming iCloud Drive expansion that will allow users to store and sync any sort of document to iCloud, and iCloud Photo Library, not to mention the newly-upgraded Swift programming language that promises to make future development for both platforms more efficient.