So You Want to be a Dummy and Install OS X Yosemite Beta…

Now that the amazing developer-centric WWDC is over, there is a lot of excitement around OS X Yosemite. Hell, it’s sharing the Apple front page with iOS 8, which has not been the norm for quite a long time. Apple is excited about the Mac, so should you download the new OS X Yosemite beta and install it on your primary machine? No, you absolutely should not. It’s neither smart nor safe, and you’ll almost certainly regret it at some point sooner or later. However, I know that many people will read that line and want to do it anyway, so here’s the good news if you decide, like me, to be a dummy and install OS X Yosemite on your computer.

Before we go any farther, I should mention that you need to have a paid Apple Developer account to download and run the beta for both OS X and iOS. You can torrent them and they may run fine, but Apple could easily flip a switch and block non-developers from using their software early. Then you’ll be stuck with a computer or phone that simply won’t work. Keep that in mind.

Also, I believe this article falls in the bounds of Apple’s newly loosened NDA, but if it does not, I will of course pull it.

For this look, I focused on app compatibility, because that’s the first thing that makes me regret this every time I stupidly try a beta release. Here’s how I’d sum up my findings in one sentence:

I have found just one app that does not work in Yosemite (Final Cut Pro, oddly).

Surprising, right? Even apps that I totally expected to fail like Text Expander, Hazel, iStat Menus, Fantastical, and 1Password all work exactly like they did in Mavericks. None of their UI elements have been updated, but their functionality is all there and working as smoothly as always. There is one small visual glitch in Ulysses III and Instacast has somehow adopted part of the Yosemite interface and looks like an unholy combo, but they still work. Even games like Hearthstone and Diablo 3 still run just as well as they did before.

Safari users can rejoice as well, as every single plugin I had installed (1Password, DuckDuckGo, ClickToFlash, and Evernote Web Clipper) work perfectly.

Now this is obviously not how it will be for everyone and every app. The bugs that I have come across are purely related to the OS itself and not the apps I have running.

There are still some quirks, though. First off, each app that has iCloud enabled warns you on first launch that any files you save to iCloud will only be accessible though device running Yosemite and iOS 8. Keep that in mind if you use iCloud to sync, say your 1Password keychain with your iOS 7 iPhone. You will break the sync.

Also, the OS is not feature-complete yet. Some of the cool “continuity” features such as Handoff, Instant Hotspot, and phone calls don’t seem to be working all the time in the first beta, even if you’re running iOS 8 as well. I’ve had a lot of luck with SMS messages making it to my Mac, which is really amazing to have. There’s also no dark mode yet.

This all ignores the developer additions that I’ll save for another time, but on the surface, it seems that OS X Yosemite will not be that hard of a transition for most people when it is released this fall, or when the public beta starts this summer. Despite all the good things I have to say about this beta, I still have to recommend that you stay away for at least a few months.