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Apple Offers First Public Beta of iOS 9

The newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system is set for release this fall, but the company is — for the first time — offering the public a chance to take iOS 9 for a test drive. The public beta is now available for anyone to download, although Apple recommends that users first back up their devices and/or use secondary devices in case the preview OS has errors or functional problems.

When it announced the coming release of iOS 9 earlier this year, Apple said the new software will help devices become more intelligent and proactive. The updated OS will also feature a new design for Apple’s Siri digital personal assistant, along with improved search capabilities.

The beta version of iOS 9 was released to members of Apple’s iOS Developer Program in June. The full, market-ready version of the mobile OS is expected to become available later this year, first as a free software update for iPhone 4s. An OS update for other devices — including iPods and iPads — is set to be released sometime after that.

OS X El Capitan

Apple offered its first-ever beta testing program for iOS 8.3 in February, although participation was by invitation only to members of the company’s AppleSeed program. By contrast, anyone with an Apple device and Apple ID can sign up for the iOS 9 program and download the beta software.

Public beta testers will also be able to try out the trial version of Apple’s new desktop OS, OS X El Capitan. Released on Thursday along with the iOS 9 beta, the test version of OS X El Capitan has already been updated with a supplemental release issued Friday by Apple, according to MacRumors.

The supplemental update reportedly “fixes an issue that may cause some 32-bit apps to quit unexpectedly,” Apple said. The company is touting OS X El Capitan as a smarter, more efficient and “snappier” operating system that will let desktop users work in multiple apps at the same time, enjoy higher performance as well as faster and more fluid graphics for gaming and other uses.

Built-In Apps for Feedback

Apple said its public beta program is designed to gather feedback on software ahead of its release. By contrast, the developer program enables approved members to both test and build new applications for Apple devices.

Both the iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan public betas offer free, built-in apps that let users submit their feedback to Apple. The Feedback Assistant app can be accessed either from the second page of an iOS device home screen or from the Dock on desktop Macs, as well as from the help menu of any app.

Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said in June that iOS 9 “delivers big updates to the apps customers use most.” Those include new support for public transit in Maps, a redesigned Notes app and changes to the News app that let users see more personalized content.

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