Tech titan Apple on Monday released the fourth developer preview of its next big OS, Yosemite. The new release comes only two weeks after the third version, and there are reports that a beta version will be offered to regular Mac users later this summer -- possibly as early as next week.
If a public beta is released, it would be the first time since the year 2000 that regular users would be allowed to sample a Mac operating system before its actual release. Users would need to have the most recent released OS, Mavericks, on their systems. No date has yet been set for the final release of the newest version -- tentatively called OS X 10.10 -- although there is speculation it might be in mid- or late October.
The new OS was introduced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The newest version offers what some are describing as an even flatter look, in keeping with Mac's updated visual style.
A new iTunes provides a streamlined look and a new icon, as well as support for Family Sharing. The Calculator app has been revised with flatter buttons to match the visual style of the new OS. There's a new checkbox to turn Dark Mode Settings on or off for the dock or the menu bar. Dark Mode changes translucent settings to a darker shade. The new OS is also expected to include updates to Spotlight, Messages, Safari, and Mail, as well as new Continuity and Handoff features for better integration with iPhones and iPads.
In other Apple news, a security researcher has released a new paper that describes what it says are backdoors built into iOS that enable Apple to more easily share user data with the government, without letting users know.
The researcher, Jonathan Zdziarski, said that Apple can readily access such information from default iOS applications, but not in applications from third parties or apps that utilize encrypted data. His findings were presented at the HOPE X hackers conference taking place this week in New York City. He said he has contacted Apple on several occasions about this, but has not received answers to his questions.
However, the company has issued a statement to the Financial Times, denying the allegations.
"We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues," the statement said.
"A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited data," the statement continued, adding that users must agree to share the data and that it cannot be transferred without their consent.
As it has done previously, Apple flatly asserted it has "never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products [or] services."
Meanwhile, there are reports that Apple is planning its biggest iPhone launch ever for the new version 6, according to the Wall Street Journal. The initial production run is estimated to be 70 million to 80 million iPhones, including both 4.7- and 5.5-inch models, beating the production runs of the 5s and the 5c by 20 million or more.