Update follows sixth developer beta released yesterday, minor tweaks noticed
As reported yesterday, the sixth developer beta for OS X 10.11 El Capitan has given way to a fourth public beta, available to pre-registered testers who signed up through the Appleseed program. Both of the recent betas, which share the build number 15A244d, are said to have very minor tweaks and under-the-hood fixes, including a new General icon in System Preferences, and at least one new wallpaper. Some notable flaws remain unaddressed, however.
Latest build may not have any notable changes beyond bug fixes
Exactly one week after the last developer beta of OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Apple has issued another update to the forthcoming OS X upgrade, which is scheduled to appear this fall, and likely to debut some time in September. The previous beta, 15A235d, did not list any significant changes or fixes, but focused primarily on small UI tweaks and bug fixes. The new beta, build 15A244d, is likely to have followed the same path.
Vox straddles the thin line between brilliant and unusable
This is the most beautiful, even mesmerising app and where you always want to shout loudly about great software, we wanted to stand on desks and bellow that Vox 2.5.1 is a gorgeous music player and service. Unfortunately, we more stood by desks arguing over it. It was 50/50 between one side of MacNN saying it is stunning with some problems and the other half saying those problems were just too much. Both sides are right: we long to recommend this to you but if we do, we have to prepare you for frustrations.
Follows same two-week schedule as iOS 8.4.1, release date unknown
Following an earlier release of a second beta of iOS 8.4.1 for developers, Apple late on Thursday released both the second developer beta and a public beta version of the next minor update to OS X Yosemite, 10.10.5. The new build, 14F19a, comes two weeks after the first beta, and has no new information on the usual assortment of tweaks and bug fixes such releases usually entail. The final version of the update is expected ahead of the next major release, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, which should appear in September.
Release is modeled on fifth developer beta, issued on Monday
About 48 hours after offering a fifth developer beta of this fall's OS X 10.11 upgrade, Apple has made a "public beta" version available to registered testers, just a week after the last public beta, suggesting that more-or-less weekly updates will continue to appear through the testing process, a significant increase from the Yosemite public beta releases. The latest beta has the same focus areas as the previous beta.
Releases follow latest developer betas, still have plenty of issues
As predicted yesterday, Apple has created public beta versions from the latest developer betas of OS X 10.11 El Capitan and iOS 9 for testing with registered testers. The betas are the second public incarnation, but are actually based on the fourth developer betas. Both upgrades, available to the public for free this fall, are still in early stages, and still have a long list of problem areas and issues. Testers are strongly cautioned to heed Apple's warnings about beta software.
No new changes listed at present, bug fixes and tweaks continue
Apple on Tuesday released new betas for the next updates to the present iOS and OS X versions, even as it concurrently tests its next major upgrades to both. The updates, iOS 8.4.1 and OS X 10.10.5, are likely to arrive before the major grades OS X 10.11 and iOS 9, which are anticipated for the fall. The new betas, intended only for developers, do not list any new changes, but the seed notes for 10.10.5 suggest it "improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac."
Thousands of Macs can be managed from central software server
Parallels today unveiled Parallels Mac Management 4.0 for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), which extends Microsoft SCCM functionality to manage and control Mac computers. The new version of Parallels Mac Management adds the capability for IT administrators to create OS X images which can be customized via Microsoft SCCM, or deploy a single OS X image to all users universally.
Revision corrects issues, crashing with 32-bit applications
One day after releasing the first public beta of OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Apple has issued a supplemental update to fix a problem that caused crashes and instability with 32-bit apps. For most users, the instability issues introduced in older apps by the public beta was among the worst problem encountered in initial use. Apple has promised to quickly fix the flaw yesterday.
Public beta begins despite long list of issues, problems
Apple has made available public betas for iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan, according to reports. The new software, based on the issue-laden third developer beta released yesterday, is available to users previously registered with the company's Beta Software Program. While the company normally waits until there is a fairly stable developer beta existing before issuing the first public beta, today's releases are fraught with issues and missing functionality.
New version brings Time Machine fixes, Profile Manager update
Hidden inside Apple's flood of releases last week, the Cupertino manufacturer released a point update to OS X Server for OS X 10.10.4 Yosemite. The server package that adds functionality to the base OS X "client" has been incremented to version 4.1.3, and brings security fixes, stability improvements, and importantly improved reliability of Time Machine backups and restores.
Sometimes you get the news, sometimes news gets you
Happy post-Fourth of July! We hope you emerged from the holiday unburnt from the sun, the grill, or explosives! Today marks our second iteration of a new column about the stories that entertained us, informed us, or just plain tickled us in the course of the week. We're not just highlighting our own writing -- anything that we've discussed behind the scenes here at MacNN is fair game. Read on for thoughts on the events of the week in the tech world, including a bevy of Apple Music stories, just as many OS X tales, and some goofy stories from around the web.
BlueStacks emulator allows Android apps to be used from Mac desktop
BlueStacks has released a completed version of its BlueStacks for Mac app, allowing for Android apps and games to be played from OS X. Originally launched in 2012 in alpha but only being finalized now, the BlueStacks App Player for Mac emulates the same functionality offered by Android tablets and smartphones, but on the desktop, and without the need for users to own an Android device in the first place.
Next version of Safari, coming in 10.11, will offer new features
Among a storm of major updates, Apple has also issues updated versions of Safari for the three versions of OS X currently supported: Mountain Lion (10.8), Mavericks (10.9), and Yosemite (10.10). In addition to the updated Safari versions (6.2.7, 7.1.7, and 8.0.7 respectively), the company also issued the first developer beta of the forthcoming Safari 9.0, which will accompany the release of OS X 10.11 this fall, and a pair of EFI updates.
New update excises troublesome DiscoveryD service, much more
Make customized B&W images that do more than remove color
Most people who don't work with the medium of black and white (B&W) photography regularly often assume that a B&W photo is simply one in which the color elements have been removed. Nothing could be further from the truth. In addition to being able to change to emphasis and tone of a B&W photo by using color filters, there are as many "looks," styles, film stocks, and manipulations one can make to change the feel of an image in B&W as there are in color. MacPhun's Tonality app is a program that truly "gets" this.
Second betas feature tweaks, but still have numerous bugs, issues
[Updated with new info on watchOS 2 beta, hidden feature in iOS 9 beta] Apple on Tuesday launched the second betas of its next major OS upgrades, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, iOS 9, and watchOS 2.0. The developer-only betas still have a long list of issues, and do not include any new features compared to the first beta, issued two weeks ago during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. All three betas offer some fixes for issues seen in the first betas, but continue to have problem and non-functional areas.
Sixteen years with cats and Californians
Get this: we're now in the 16th year of OS X, whereas the original Mac operating system that it replaced officially lasted only 15 years. Neither fact is entirely true, as the first OS X was for servers rather than general users like us. Also the old operating system stuck around for quite a while, but look at that. OS X started half the Mac's lifetime ago, and some of us still regard it as the new one.
Releases now set for before launch of Apple Music service on June 30
On Tuesday, Apple released the fourth developer betas of iOS 8.4 and OS X 10.10.4, the next updates for the current versions of iOS and OS X. As with previous releases, the new betas focus on bug fixes and other enhancements for each of the two platforms, while the iOS beta continues to feature the preliminary Apple Music application, which will replace the current Music app but continue its functions with a revamped UI that also includes an optional subscription component. In addition, the company has released its first beta of Xcode 7.
Update will focus on experience, performance gains
As part of the announcements made during the WWDC keynote on Monday, Apple has unveiled both the name and focus of the next OS X version, 10.11, now known as "El Capitan." As previously reported, the focus with the next update, scheduled for release this fall, will focus on improvements to the user experience as well as honing performance from the current 10.10, Yosemite. Although improvements are the focus, a few new features are also included.
The handy, powerful but confusing Finder feature
For 12 years we've had the sidebar: a list of folders at the left of every Finder window we open; you would think we'd understand it by now. Yet, new Mac users think all their music and movies are in every window, and get confused when they try to drag it to a backup. Old hands instinctively realize it's more like a menu, but still we wonder why we sometimes get a new window open that doesn't have the sidebar at all.
Conditions needed to make exploit work are untenable, but possible
A new vulnerability -- albeit one that is extremely unlikely to happen "in the wild" -- has been discovered by security researcher Pedro Vilaca, where a flaw in pre-2014 Macs could conceivably allow an attacker access to a portion of OS X that has access to the Mac's Open Firmware and EFI (what PC users might call the BIOS of the machine) and possibly exploit other vulnerabilities to perhaps overwrite it with malicious firmware.
Makes transcribing interviews less painful
We start the day thankful. We're running this Summer Project about researching, writing and publishing books and in looking up a link for you in it, we found that one of our favorite software tools has been seriously updated. We've no clue how we missed it, but we have transcribed so many countless, countless interviews using Transcriptions 0.8.0.1 that we've worn it out. Now we've found Transcriptions 1.1. So thank you for that, and we'll keep a better eye out in future.
Convenient color coding for visual thinkers
Naturally, you have not filled your Mac's desktop with folders. You've done it with files. But from time to time, when you can't see anything any more, you make some temporary folders and move everything into there. Job done. Until you now have millions of folders and unlike files, folders all look identical. Not any more. Not if you buy Folder Color.
Powerful replacement for Apple's Email
It used to be that free trumped everything, especially when that free was something built by Apple or Microsoft. When literally every Mac or Windows user has a particular type of software provided right there with their computer, it used to be that rivals simply died. Now we seem more open to persuasion, or at least to considering alternatives, and for some people Postbox 4 is going to be so ideal they'll wish they bought it two versions ago.
Gain extra utility with lesser-known functionality in the Dock
The Dock is one of the many features of OS X that is taken for granted -- and often underutilized. Sure, a fair number of users eventually figure out that the can take things off the dock -- usually by accident, resulting in some considerable alarm -- but it has come to our attention that shockingly few users really leverage the Dock as Apple intended. In this installment of Pointers, we'll go over some of the "hidden" powers of the Dock that turn it into a real productivity tool.
Stop that toothless grin look in iOS multitasking
Apple's iOS 8 introduced the very handy and surprisingly-controversial feature that when you press the Home button twice to swap between applications, you also see a row of your recent and favorite callers. The controversy is just that some people don't like the idea that anyone can pick up their iPhone and see who they've been talking to. We can help you with that, but we'd much rather sort out the Horrible Gap: the way that if you don't have a photo of a recent caller, iOS 8 displays their initials in a gray circle.
Apple's database of your inventory allows for quick, easy custom views
In the classes I often teach on OS X and iOS devices and how to utilize them, a great deal of confusion comes up about the concept of Smart Folders -- or, as they are known in iPhoto and Photos (and elsewhere) Smart Albums; or as they are known in Mail, Smart Mailboxes; or as they are known in iTunes, Smart Playlists. They certainly sound smart, so what does that say about us that we often can't figure them out? How are they different from regular folders, albums, mailboxes, and playlists? Read this edition of Pointers to find out.
An old friend returns, but you can't always go home again
For veteran Mac users, the mere mention of the name of DiskWarrior often brings stories of multiple bacon-saving incidents or helping in the resurrection of drives and data nearly written off from across the last three decades. There are few Mac programs that have earned genuine "legendary" status, but DiskWarrior, from tiny outfit Alsoft, is one of them. Recently the company released a version 5.0 for modern Macs after a nearly five-year hiatus since version 4.4, but in the meantime much as changed. DW is still awesome at what it does -- but is what it does as relevant now as it once was? Check out our review to find out.
Action rooted in security, but poses issues for jailbroken devices
Continuing with recent custom, Apple has stopped "code-signing" iOS 8.2 for security reasons. The move, intended to protect users, does make downgrading back to earlier versions impossible, and prevents users with jailbroken devices in iOS 8.2 from updating. The code-signing procedure, which applies to both Apple and iOS or OS X developers, is designed to prevent malicious apps from masquerading as legit ones, or for outside parties to inject code into applications.
Free version of Windows development suite heads to other platforms
Microsoft is bringing its Visual Studio suite to more platforms, the company announced at its Build conference keynote today. Visual Studio Code is a lightweight version of the long-standing code editing suite, with the new cross-platform version being made available in preview not only for Windows, but also OS X and Linux systems, and as a free download to developers.
OS X, iOS betas open to registered beta testers, but no focus areas listed
In addition to the company's fiscal second quarter results released on Monday, the second betas of OS X, iOS, and Xcode were all released as well. Although each is the second beta offered to developers, in the case of iOS and OS X the release is the first offered to pre-registered beta testers -- though as with the first beta, no release notes indicating focus areas or known issues were released. The OS X and iOS betas come one and two weeks, respectively, after the most recent release.
Text editor and outliner, all with Markdown
It's not as if you are stuck for applications to write in: whether you go for Microsoft Word or TextEdit, there are just about 40 different word processors for every man, woman and child on the planet. It's just that not many work in Markdown, which is a form of writing, a format, and a syntax that works well for the web. SmartDown is one of those, and it works very well.
Compulsive newsreading app became an obsession
The entire point of the Living With articles on MacNN is to examine what software and hardware are like after that initial first glow. To show how products have borne up under pressure, or have crumbled under the stress. Invariably and unsurprisingly, this long-term testing brings out problems that are just not apparent until you are months into it. Except now. There is one single issue with my use of Reeder that I might change if I could go back in time, and only one single feature of RSS newsreading in general that claws at me. Otherwise, this newsreader app is perfect for me – yet I do keep on looking around.
Superb tool for recording anything on your Mac's screen
Seriously, how often are you ever going to need to record a video of what's on the screen of your Mac? Unless you are the sort who routinely demonstrates things, you know it's not a very big number of times -- but we're going to tell you that it is precisely the same number of times that you should be using ScreenFlow 5.01.
So, anyway, why haven't you bought it yet?
BusyMac, the makers of BusyContacts, have been steadily adding to this address book app with the kind of attention you get when you've gone from a beta to a shipping product and now have customers all over the world stress-testing it every day. There have been many fixes to bugs we hadn't ever encountered ourselves and there have been improvements to features that we did spot and do like. However, regard this as less of a Hands On 2 review, more a nudge that we think you should get this app.
Your Mac and iOS devices come with a great dictionary
Some people collect dictionaries, some have never bought one in their lives -- but we all have them at our fingertips right now. If you have a Mac, an iPhone or an iPad, you've got a dictionary, and it is a good one. It's good enough to replace most concise dictionaries you can buy, and it's easier to look up than a book. We're not saying it's arduous looking things up a in book, but the fact that you have to turn away from what you're reading is reason enough that many of us pile on with a soon-forgotten vow that we'll look it up later. Here's an easy way to look up the definition of a word right there on your Mac -- and then if that isn't enough, we've an even easier way to do it at your fingertips.
Extend Apple's Spotlight features with this free utility
Those of us who have used Apple's built-in local search tool Spotlight through its early years to now often find they've outgrown it, and are now life-support-dependent upon Alfred 2. Yes, there was some notable improvement in Yosemite, but it was too little, too late. Now Flashlight could bring us back. It's a free application that extends Spotlight's searching facilities, and to give you quick access to different corners of your Mac. From the keyboard, you can search the web, start a phone call, email someone a file, or shut down your Mac.
Mid-range project management tool that works cross platform
When To Do apps just aren't powerful enough for you, when OmniPlan is too powerful and when Microsoft Project might be powerful enough but is only on Windows, there is Pagico. It is a mid-range project management app which means it doesn't have superpowers but it does have strength and it does have ease of use.
Scribe adds Penguin Random House Audio; 45,000 audio books available
Subscription reading service Scribd announced that it is expanding its audiobook offering to include more than 9,000 audiobooks from Penguin Random House Audio, increasing Scribd's audiobook selection to more than 45,000 titles. New titles include fiction and non-fiction by internationally renowned authors such as Alice Munro, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Anne Rice, Sue Grafton, Deepak Chopra, Danielle Steele and more. The monthly subscription fee remains at $9 per month, with a free one month trial available.
New beta comes on heels of 10.10.3 release, no change log yet available
Just a week after the official release of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 and days after the first beta of iOS 8.4, Apple has posted the first 10.10.4 beta for developers and testers, though it is has not been (and is not likely to be) made available to public beta testers until future builds are released. The sparse announcement of the new beta says only that the update focuses on "stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac," which suggests it will build on the improvements made in 10.10.3.
Safari troubles, Mighty Mouse programming and more
This week in the MacNN forums, members discuss problems they have been having recently with the copy bounding box in Safari on the iPhone as it seems to be broken at the moment. One Mac Elite who is new to OS X and the Mighty Mouse is wondering how to program the Mighty Mouse to work different.
This little known feature is sometimes better than forwarding
You know all about forwarding emails. If you get an email, and it's better answered by Burt down the hall or Susan in Australia, you forward it to them -- and actually, that's what you should do. For not only are you sending them the original email, you're probably also writing them a note about why you're lumbering them with this extra work. However, there are times when it's better to redirect than to forward: it's much the same, but the small difference is huge, and for some reason most people do not know this feature exists.
Photos app examined by AP, spiritual successor to iPhoto
The Associated Press may have spilled the beans on the release date of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3. In a review of the Photos app coming with the new release, the news agency said that the app would be "available Wednesday as a free software update" in the updated OS.
Extremely powerful and comprehensive backup solution
Roll up your sleeves, get a coffee, and watch ChronoSync backup your hard drives. Or alternatively, roll your sleeves back down and nip out to lunch, because you're not needed here: ChronoSync has it covered -- and you can look in on it remotely, with the companion apps ChronoAgent and InterConneX. This is surely the most comprehensive disk backup and management application we've seen, and possibly that nature ever intended. That does mean it's complex, but you're not going to turn to this if all you've used so far is Apple's Time Machine.
A vitamin pill for the average sluggish Mac
If you have the most powerful Mac Pro that can be made today, if you routinely go through the Apple Store clicking all the upgrade options, laughing like a crazy person, spending someone else's money, then we hate you -- and we want to come round your place to see it. However, invite us soon -- because even that Mac is going to slow down to a crawl, and you wouldn't like us when we giggle. The reason for that is because there are basic elements that determine whether any Mac is going to sing or sink, and these are all things that CleanMyMac 3 is designed to fix. Specifically, it's there to fix them so that you don't have to: it helps stop you running out of space, it helps make sure your RAM isn't used up, and it keeps an eye on the health of key components.
View Microsoft Project plans on Mac
The standard application for project managers is Microsoft Project for Windows, but there are two big reasons why you would buy something else: you're on a Mac, and Microsoft Project is expensive. As we said in our review of OmniPlan, a very good Mac-based project management application, even the price of MS Project is complicated. It ranges from $250-$850, but whatever price you get it at, you can count on it being too costly to buy for everyone who simply needs to view the plans. Seavus Project Viewer 1.8 is a Mac app that opens Microsoft Project files, and lets you examine them for the details you need.
Peg the dyno, keep the interval small, and race to victory
The more a game franchise expands, the harder it is to bring something new to the table. With driving games especially, subsequent sequels are usually considered as graphical improvements on the previous release, tweaking the existing formula without daring to step too far outside the box. Dirt 3: Complete Edition, an off-road racing game developed by Codemasters in 2011 and brought to Mac this year by Feral Interactive, not only manages to improve the basic game, but still manages to find new, unexpected items.
Get things done with this concentration app
Most of the time, the secret to getting things done is getting on with them, and doing things. The Pomodoro technique is a trick to get yourself going, and keep yourself going, which has been around since the 1980s and is perfect for being turned into an app. Consequently there are many such apps, but the newly-updated Pomodoro Time Pro is a solid, capable and versatile one.
Public beta updated also; screen sharing, Wi-Fi, languages need focus
On Monday, Apple issued a sixth beta of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 to developers, and an identical third beta to registered public testers. The new build, numbered 14D127a, is said to be mostly a security, compatibility, and stability bugfix release, though the company has added a request that testers focus on screen-sharing features as well as Hebrew and Arabic localizations, on top of the ongoing focus on Wi-Fi "captive portal" networks (such as hotels or coffeeshops).