If you don’t have an Apple developer account, and have been patiently waiting for the new El Capitan beta to drop, wait no longer. The public beta for the newest version of Apple’s operating system is ready to download and install on compatible Macs.
You won’t see a lot of big flashy changes, drastically new features, or a redesigned UI in El Capitan. Instead, the newest OS improves features and performance already built into Yosemite. Alternating between big changes and behind the scenes updates has become the standard plan for Apple in the last few iterations.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing new to play with in the El Capitan beta, though. As promised, the new Notes app has found its way in, with an expanded set of tools for handling non-textual media. Apple has also started rolling out transit directions for some cities, an improvement that users have been requesting for a while. Spotlight has a few new features, as well, and will continue to improve over the next few updates.
Most of the work is being done behind the curtain, with a number of performance and security improvements. Apple’s Metal graphics API has now been implemented, although for now it’s mostly used for Core Graphics and Core Animation. Once the OS is more widely adopted, it should find its way into video games. Photos now supports third-party extensions, and El Capitan will prevent all users from editing or deleting certain files that are essential to system operations.
The El Capitan beta is still pre-release software, and as such there are liable to be some hitches. That said, there’s already been three versions for developers, so hopefully most of the system-breaking bugs have been ironed out. It’s always a good idea to back up your data whenever you make changes to your operating system.