Tuesday, 12 January 2016 17:40

Mac OS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS get new OS betas, iOS 9.3 gets F.lux night view and more

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Apple’s OS programmers are moving quickly to new versions, with the first betas for all of Apple’s major operating system updates having arrived.

If you’re a beta tester, whether a developer or a regular consumer happy to test the latest OS updates, then Apple has a suite of new betas for you to play with.

Naturally, betas are never for use on production machines - if you rely on your Mac, iOS device, Apple TV or Apple Watch for reliable day-to-day usage in private or business scenarios, then beta testing is not for you.

Unless you have dedicated non-production machines specifically used for beta-testing purposes, that is.

The first betas are for iOS 9.3, tvOS 9.2, watchOS 2.2 and Mac OS X ‘El Capitan’ 10.11.4.

Apple has also released betas of Apple Configurator 2.2 and Xcode 7.3.

These first betas come even before Apple has released iOS 9.2.1 and OS X 10.11.3 to the public.

iOS 9.3 will offer a ‘night shift’ mode that reduces the amount of blue light each iDevice’s LCD screen produces at night.

As the makers of ‘f.lux’ software describe, the eerie blue glow of LCD screens are designed to ‘look like the sun’, but this is no good for your eyes or brain at 9pm, 10pm or 3am. Or anytime at night, quite frankly.

While the f.lux software is available for PCs, Macs and Linux devices, as well as similar software on Android, f.lux has only been available for jailbroken iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch models.

This is because f.lux needed to use Apple’s unavailable private APIs to work, and seeing as they weren’t available for commercial use and release to the app store, only jailbroken iDevice owners could benefit.

This meant the vast majority of iDevice owners were unable to take advantage of this excellent feature, something I’ve personally wanted on iDevices ever since I knew of f.lux’s existence.

I use the f.lux software on my Mac, and use it on PCs in my possession, and have loaded this software onto the computers of everyone that I know, with everyone appreciating the capability.

So, this will be a very welcome feature.

More new OS features below, please read on.

Other features include the ability to password protect individual notes with Touch ID or a custom password, while the list of notes can finally be sorted alphabetically, by date created or by date modified.

There are also enhancements to the News app, the Health app and CarPlay, while iOS 9.3 and watchOS 2.2 will allow users to pair more than one Apple Watch to a compatible iPhone.

tvOS 9.2 delivers compatibility with Bluetooth keyboards at long last, an app switcher and app folders.

iTWire covered iOS 9.3’s new education features including multiple user accounts for iPads in education-only settings in our earlier article here.

We’ll no doubt learn more about these new versions of Apple’s various operating systems over the weeks and months ahead until their public releases.

Information on Apple's beta software program is here, while more information from Apple's developer news site is here

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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