"The OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 Public Beta improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac, and contains the new Photos app." - Apple Mac App Store
Alongside the bullet points detailing the highlights of Apple's new Photos app — which is set to combine the consumer-friendly iPhoto and pro-level Aperture apps into a prosumer amalgamation — Apple has remained silent regarding any specific bug fixes, the likes of which have been detailed in articles and even Apple's own Community Support forums since Yosemite's initial release.
Before moving forward, I wish to iterate a disclaimer that beta software is largely unfinished code, lacking tweaks and optimization. The purpose of beta staging software is to identify and iron out the bugs before software can reach gold (or master) status and is ready for mass consumption. Beta software is intended to be unfinished and will, therefore, have issues that range from minor to major. It will crash, issue kernel panics, and possibly make your computer unstable or unusable — even data loss is not uncommon.
Warning: Do not use this software on production systems and certainly never on mission-critical equipment, such as servers.
With that said, let's look at a few of the newest additions documented by Apple in OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 Public Beta.
The all new, redesigned Photos.app is a modern replacement to the aging iPhoto.app. While Photos does share some of its feature set with iPhoto, it has a lot more in common with iOS 8's Photos.app in both function and form. Those familiar with both iPhoto and Photos for iOS will feel right at home, as the applications for both OS X and iOS work cohesively.
One drawback to the Photos app is that Apple has also decided to discontinue support for its pro-level RAW photo editor, Aperture. Though it's not quite aimed at the professional user as Aperture was, Photos for OS X has managed to include some of the same granular control found in its pro version predecessor, giving it a step up from iPhoto that was more commonly used to archive and edit photos by end users.
Additionally, Photos has unprecedented integration with iCloud in the form of iCloud Photo Library. This is similar to iTunes Match service in that photos taken from an iPhone, iPad, or copied to Photos for OS X will be uploaded and stored within a user's iCloud account. This makes photo sharing — and to a lesser degree, photo backups — a breeze since the entire photo library will now be stored in iCloud, utilizing the storage space in your iCloud account and not the storage space on your Mac. This is great news if your device is short on storage space.
Support for 2-step verification for Google accounts
Google, like many other social media and service providers, has adopted two-factor authentication as a means to alleviate data loss through the use of unauthorized account access.
Many companies institute an authorized device policy, typically a cellular phone that has a multi-character code sent via SMS to the device when an account access attempt is made. Once the code is entered, account access is granted and the user may go about using the service unfettered. Some companies have taken a more secure route by using apps that, when installed on your smartphone, will generate codes that remain in sync with service provider's servers. When an account is accessed, the user must enter the randomly generated code in order to obtain access.
While great for protecting data and access to services, two-factor authentication is not widely in use, because it's based as an Opt-In service and many users find it restricting or cumbersome to use. But as of 10.10.3 for OS X (and the forthcoming iOS 8.3), beginning with Google accounts, two-factor authentication is baked right in at the software level, allowing users to gain the security benefits of the added layer of data protection without the caveats that affect SMS or token-based systems.
Newly designed and culturally diverse emoji
While it's not an enterprise feature, it is a welcome addition to the popular emoji keyboard used by many user to relate pertinent information in a quick and efficient manner.
The emoji keyboard has seen several new additions. For example, the Apple Watch added to the Objects category. Rumor had it that culturally diverse emoji were being designed, and 10.10.3 (and 8.3 to follow for iOS) do in fact contain artwork for emoji that represent individuals from all walks of life.
As stated in the disclaimer above, 10.10.3 Public Beta is still very much a beta OS. It has that familiar Apple feel and polish, but it's still prone to instability and is primarily directed at developers looking to test their apps for compatibility and for users that are part of the OS X Beta Program to actively use, identify, and report any bugs, glitches, and issues to Apple for correction in future builds.
What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming release of OS X? Let us know in the discussion thread below.
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.