Posts tagged Beta

Google Wants Beta Testers For New App Indexing Features

Are you an Android developer who has apps with App Indexing enabled? Google wants you to beta test some new features.

The post Google Wants Beta Testers For New App Indexing Features appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Bing Ads Shopping Campaigns Now In Beta

The beta will likely get more advertisers to try Bing Product Ads as Shopping Campaigns can be imported from AdWords.

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Mac OS X 10.10.3 Beta: New Photos App, New Emoji, And More

Mac OS X 10.10.3 beta Apple photo

Apple has released the first public beta of OS X 10.10.3 featuring multicultural emojis, easier logins for Google users that take advantage of two-step verification, and a new Photos app which is set to replace iPhoto and Aperture.

See also: You Can Now Run Beta Versions Of Apple’s OS X—For Free

The first beta build is available to OS X Yosemite users that have signed up for Apple’s OS X Beta Program. Because this is a public beta, you don’t need a developer account or special access. Just sign up, download and install the beta utility, and receive the update via Apple’s App Store.

Photos App

When Apple announced the discontinuation of iPhoto and Aperture, its old photo applications, the Photos app was set to be its replacement. Both iPhoto and Aperture have long been go-to solutions for photo organizing and quick touch-ups for photographers from a range of experience levels from amateurs to professionals.

Aperture, which has long been considered an important step up from iPhoto for professionals and enthusiast photographers is now being replaced by another free app. For this to work, Photos would have to sit firmly in that space between iPhoto and Aperture—user-friendly enough for beginners and powerful enough for enthusiasts and professionals alike.


Upon installation, the first thing of note is just how similar the Photos app was in appearance to the iOS app of the same name. Apple’s ongoing strategy to blend the user experience of its mobile operating system (iOS) with its desktop system (OS X) is evident in the app design.

The liberal use of whitespace and simple interface is a notable step up from the dated appearance of iPhoto. The sidebar is noticeably absent, and has been replaced with a photo navigation tool.

The app itself has a noticeable speed advantage over iPhoto. Navigating between events is quick and peppy. Even when sorting through years of photos at a time, there is little to no noticeable sluggishness. Being able to see your photos all at once is also an interesting experience on a larger screen. What was a novelty on the iPhone and iPad has become a useful feature on the desktop.


Editing tools included with Photos are sparse by comparison to Aperture, but incredibly intuitive and easy to use. There is a lot here to love for iPhoto users, but Aperture’s more experienced user base will find it to be a step down.

At first, it would appear there are really just a few adjustments you can do to a photograph, beyond cropping and rotating. Upon selecting the Add option in the editor, you are given access to the following editing tools.

  • Histogram
  • Light
    • Exposure
    • Highlights
    • Shadows
    • Brightness
    • Contrast
    • Black Point
  • Color
    • Saturation
    • Contrast
    • Cast
  • Black and White
    • Intensity
    • Naturals
    • Tone
    • Grain
  • Sharpen
    • Intensity
    • Edges
    • Falloff
  • Definition
  • Noise Reduction
  • Vignette
  • White Balance
  • Levels

Photos also includes a set of filters you can apply to photos to change their looks quickly and easily. These nine filters are very basic, and are standard for what you might expect in a modern photo app.

Organization is the heart of the Photos app. Photos are automatically organized by location and date/time. This feature is a direct reflection of the iOS app, and should be a natural fit to users already accustomed to the mobile experience.

If you have pre-existing iPhoto events set up, you don’t lose them when you migrate to Photos. Instead, these events are stored in the Albums area of the app under the title iPhoto Events.

iCloud Photo Library is another big part of the 10.10.3 update. When you first launch the Photos app, you are given the option to activate the iCloud Photo Library (beta) which keeps your photos (and edits) synced and accessible across all of your Apple devices. You can even access photos via the Web on

The downside here is that if you take many photos at all, you’ll probably have to cough up some extra money to store them if you want to take advantage of this service.

Where Photo Stream came across as a bit clunky, given the way it would only make photos accessible for a short time, the iCloud Photo Library seems to be a much better solution. Your entire library is accessible at any time.

Like iPhoto, Photos has plenty of options for users to share photos via iCloud, Flickr, Twitter, Messages, Vimeo, LinkedIn, and more. You also have access to Projects, which give you the ability to create calendars, cards, books and more and have them professionally printed.

Overall, the new Photos offers a modern design that fits well within OS X Yosemite. It marks a great step forward for iPhoto hobbyists and amateurs, who will likely consider it a decent replacement. Advanced Aperture users, however, may find it lacking.

Multicultural Emojis

Another new feature introduced in the public beta of 10.10.3 is a new set of emoji which include a more diverse set of human characters, flags, and more.

See also: Apple’s Emoji Characters Will Soon Look More Like The World

These new emoji come with a new picker, making it easy to scroll through categories of emoji, select the one you want, and apply it to your text.

For users that have long been hoping for an emoji set that lets them use characters of varying skin tones, diverse families including same-sex couples with children, as well as an expanded set of flags representing 32 more countries, this will be a welcome update.

Google Two-Step Verification

Also included in the 10.10.3 update is support for Google two-factor authentication—the security measure that requires you to input a texted passcode as well as your password to get into your Google account. When you add your Google accounts to OS X’s Internet Accounts panel in System Preferences, you gain the ability to use Google’s services with apps like Calendar and Mail.

Until now, if you’ve enabled two-factor authentication, adding your Google account to OS X has been troublesome. Your Mac would give you an error message letting you know that you need to get something else from Google, but there was no clear way to enter the verification code.

Version 10.10.3 gives you an extra dialogue box with a field you can enter the code you receive from Google in to continue. The process is quick and easy.

Images courtesy of Apple

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WordPress 4.0 Beta Is Now Available: Here’s What’s New by @mattsouthern

WordPress recently announced that the first beta version of WordPress 4.0 is now available. WordPress prefaces its announcement with a word of caution that the software is still in development, and it’s not recommended that you run it on a production site. Instead, consider setting up a test site to familiarize yourself with the new features, as the full version of WordPress 4.0 is due out next month. But before the new version comes out, WordPress says they need the help of users to test the new features they’ve been working on. Here’s What’s New In WordPress 4.0 Beta Preview […]

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Google Webmaster Tools Beta International Targeting Reports

Google is currently beta testing a new international targeting report within Google Webmaster Tools. The new International Targeting report is designed to help webmasters who have international sites and use href lang markup understand common mistakes and learn what errors they need to fix, in…

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How To Downgrade The iOS 8 Beta To iOS 7.1 The Easy Way

So you’ve downloaded and installed the iOS 8 beta, poked around and seen the sights. But now the fun has worn off—your battery runs down too fast and your iPhone keeps crashing. Having a beta operating system on your phone, it turns out, isn’t such a good idea after all. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

That means It’s probably time to get rid of iOS 8 beta and downgrade back to the more stable iOS 7.1. Don’t worry, you can get iOS 8 again once Apple releases a stable release coincident with the launch of the next iPhone later this year.

Downgrading is not as hard as you might think. Basically, all you need to do is find the right version of iOS 7.1 for your device and then follow the steps below.

Note: Apple does not condone downgrading from new versions of the operating systems back to old ones. On its developer page (paid login required), the company issues this warning:

Devices updated to iOS 8 beta can not be restored to earlier versions of iOS. Only registered development devices will be able to upgrade to future beta releases and the final iOS software.

Apple says that it can’t be done—but it can be done, and without much effort, either.

Step 1: Identify Your iDevice And Download IOS 7.1.1 File

You might think that there’s a one-size-fits-all version of iOS 7.1 for every iDevice. Not true. If you have an iPad Air with 4G LTE, it uses a version of iOS 7.1 that’s slightly different from the version on an iPad Air without LTE. Put the wrong version on your device and, at best, it will just flake out unpredictably. (In the worst case, you might have an iBrick on your hands.)

So you have to make sure to get the right version when you downgrade.

First, you’ll need to figure out the model number of your device. The important part is to know what carrier and model you are using. For instance, if you have an iPhone 5S on Verizon or Sprint, you will download the CDMA version of iOS 7.1 and your model number is either A1453 or A1533). You can check model numbers for the iPhone here and the iPad here.

If you need double-check your model number and global carrier, try this Apple support page.

Now it’s time to download the correct version of iOS 7.1. At the end of this post you’ll find direct download links to the various versions of iOS 7.1.1 for particular model numbers and cellular/carrier type . Just find your device and hit the appropriate link.

That’ll automatically download an .ipsw file that contains your version of iOS 7.1.1. Make sure you have the most current version of iTunes installed on your computer.

Step 2: Make Sure You Really Want To Downgrade To iOS 7.1

Ask yourself if you’re really ready to downgrade from the iOS 8 beta back to iOS 7. Downgrading is a destructive process; it will erase all data on your device. And if you backed up your photos, music and files while on iOS 8 beta, you won’t be able to recover using that backup using iOS 7.1.

Also note that Apple’s only signs the latest versions of iOS. For instance, the most current version of iOS (before iOS 8 beta) is iOS 7.1.1. That means you cannot download and install iOS 7.0 or iOS 7.0.6 and so forth. The download links below are for iOS 7.1.1, but Apple may have a new version of iOS 7 (iOS 7.1.2, for example) between now and the public release of iOS 8. If so, you’ll need to download that version of iOS 7.1. (We’ll try to update the links; just beware in case we don’t get to it expeditiously.)

Also remember that this downgrade process will stop working once Apple releases the official version of iOS 8 later this year.

Step 3: Recovery Mode, Cancel Autosync

Many people suggest that you put your iPhone or iPad into “Recovery Mode” before attempting to downgrade from iOS 8 to iOS 7.1. Recovery Mode is an intermediate iOS state typically used when you want to restore the phone from a backup file or to wipe it and activate it as a new phone.

Putting your phone or tablet into Recovery Mode is a breeze:

  • Plug the iDevice USB into your computer. Do not plug in your iPhone or iPad yet.
  • Turn off your iPhone or iPad by holding the power button until you can slide to power off.
  • Press and hold the Home button while connecting the USB cable that’s plugged into your computer into your device. This could power on the iPhone or iPad. 
  • Continue to hold the Home button until the Apple logo shows up and says “Connect to iTunes.” Release the Home button. You should get a message saying the device is in Recovery Mode.

Some people may say to put the phone into Download Firmware Update mode, but we found this isn’t really necessary, and it can also be a bit tricky. DFU mode is more commonly used if you’re jailbreaking an iOS device.

Once you’re in Recovery Mode, iTunes may open automatically and start syncing your device. Do not let iTunes do this. If it starts syncing, cancel the process. 

Now, hold the Option key (the Shift key for Windows computers) and click “Restore” in iTunes. This will bring up a file finder window. Pick the .ipsw file you downloaded in step 1 and install it. If you picked the right version of iOS 7.1—the most current version suited for your iPhone or iPad model), you should easily make it through the set up wizard and get back to normal.

This process will wipe out all data on your device and restore it to factory settings.

Errors To Watch For

Remember, if you backed up your phone while using the iOS 8 beta and saved it on iTunes or iCloud, you aren’t going to be able to restore from that backup on iOS 7.1.

If you get an iTunes error or the setup won’t work, there’s a good chance you downloaded the wrong version of iOS 7.1, or aren’t using the most current version (assuming Apple has issued updates subsequent to iOS 7.1.1).

Below are the direct download links for iOS 7.1.1. Remember, if there’s a newer version of iOS 7.1, you’ll need to use that instead.



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Quick—Sign Up To Download Apple’s New OS X Yosemite Beta While You Can

If you’re interested in a digital road trip to Yosemite—Apple’s new Mac operating system, not the national park it’s named after—you better call shotgun fast. Apple has opened up OS X Yosemite to the masses via a new OS X beta program that allows developers and otherwise curious Mac users to opt into future Mac software releases before their official launch.

Unlike the iOS beta program, which still requires a $99 a year developer account registration with Apple, the OS X beta is open to the precocious general public, all for free. The catch? Only the first one million folks get in line—and when it comes to a company like Apple, one million spots can fill up fast.

If you’re ready to make a move, it’s easy to opt in on Apple’s official OS X Beta Program hub. While it’s open to everyone, you’ll need an Apple ID (the login and password you use to make App Store and iTunes purchases and the like) to sign up. At this point, it’s pretty much that easy—though do be conscious of Apple’s notoriously stringent Terms of Service agreement (which I’m sure none of us intend to violate).

Also, you’ll need to be running OS X Mavericks, the current version of Mac OS X software, available as a free Mac App Store download here.

Bear in mind that much like any other prerelease software, the beta version of OS X Yosemite is far more likely to contain bugs and prompt system crashes than a final-release operating system. Apple warns: “We recommend installing OS X Yosemite Beta on a secondary Mac, since it may contain errors or inaccuracies.”

Not a bad idea, though we imagine if you’ve read this far already that this probably isn’t your first rodeo. 

Note that while the OS X Yosemite sign-up website is now up and running, you’ll still have to wait to download the beta itself, which will arrive as a Mac App Store redemption code in your inbox when Apple deems it time. It’s a good idea to back up your Mac in full with Time Machine (or a tool of your choosing) before taking the plunge.

Unfortunately, some of OS X Yosemite’s more exciting features won’t make the beta release (yet, anyway), including phone calls, SMS, Handoff, Instant Hotspot, and iCloud Documents. Nonetheless, there should be plenty new to play with, and naturally Apple encourages you to report any lovely idiosyncrasies you run across through a built-in feedback tool in order to help sculpt the final release of OS X Yosemite due out this fall. 

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How To Download And Install Apple’s iOS 8 Beta

Apple’s annual gift to iPhone and iPad developers is ready for a summer of design and development, bug testing and quality assurance programs. The iOS 8 beta is now available for download.

This year, iOS 8 beta is packed full of features. Before digging into the 4,000 new application programming interfaces in the iOS 8 beta, we know that Apple has added a ton of new capabilities to its the games development stack, added health and fitness features and iCloud “extensibility” features. The iOS 8 beta may not be as dramatic as the complete redesign of the operating system featured in iOS 7 in 2013, but there is more than a lot to dig through before the new iPhone comes out later this year.

Below are some of the basics of what you’ll need to know to load the new iOS and start building apps.

Before Downloading The iOS 8 Beta

Before you get started, here are several items you should have on hand:

  • An iOS developer account. These cost $99 a year and are available through Apple’s developer website.
  • A development device specifically for use with the iOS 8 beta. You really shouldn’t use your a personal device you rely on; beta versions of operating systems can be buggy and crash.

    Worse, you might lock yourself out of your device. Apple will release several versions of iOS 8 beta throughout the summer; older updates are eventually phased out, and if you’re still running one when that happens, your phone will basically shut down—as happened to many users last year with the iOS 7 beta.

  • A device that supports the iOS 8 beta. At the moment, that would be the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Air, iPad Mini (both generations), 4th generation iPad, 3rd generation iPad and the iPad 2. The iPod Touch 5th generation is also supported. iOS 8 beta does not support the iPhone 4.
  • The identifier for your device. For instance, an GMS iPhone identifier is A1533, A1547 or A1530. You will need this to know which version of iOS 8 beta to download. You can determine your iOS device identifier here for iPhones and here for iPads.
  • Your device’s Unique Device Identifier (UDID). This is a string of 40 numbers and letters that serves as a kind of serial number for your iDevice. You will need to register your developer device in the iOS Development Center using the UDID, and you can’t complete the iOS 8 beta installation without authenticating the device this way.
  • A backup of your device to iTunes and/or iCloud. Just in case the device crashes so badly you have to start from scratch, you can stash a backup in iTunes for a quick recovery. Also note that all documents on iOS 8 test devices need to be backed up to the new iCloud beta environment for both iOS 8 beta and Mac OS X Yosemite.

Apple says that once you download iOS 8 beta, you will not be able to downgrade to earlier versions of iOS. There are ways around this (and we’ll outline them in a later post), but be prepared to be stuck in the beta until the end of the summer, when Apple releases the Gold Edition of iOS 8 shortly before the next iPhone comes out.

Preparing For The iOS 8 Beta

Here are a few things to note before you download the .dmg file of iOS 8 beta:

  • Have the most current version of iTunes downloaded and ready.
  • Charge your battery. There’s nothing worse than borking a download because you ran out of juice.

Download And Install

  • On your Mac, go to the iOS Development Center and download the appropriate version of the iOS 8 beta. This will take a few minutes.
  • Open the .dmg file and find the .ipsw file. It should be the only file in the .dmg package.
  • Connect your developer device to your computer and launch iTunes.
  • Click on the iPhone button in iTunes. This will bring up your stats (such as memory use and serial numbers). Go ahead and back up your phone to iTunes now if you haven’t done so already.
  • Press the option button (right click) to update the operating system in iTunes. It’s better to choose the “update” option in iTunes than the “restore” option. A window will open where you can choose the iOS 8 beta .ipsw file. Download it (which will take about 10 minutes).
  • Wait patiently.

That is how you officially get the iOS 8 beta. You will likely notice that the beta OS is kind of slow, eats your battery a little quicker than you are used to (especially on older devices), and is generally sort of buggy. This is why you don’t put beta operating systems on your personal devices.

A Few Notes Of Caution

In 2013, the iOS 7 beta was extremely popular among both mobile developers and ordinary consumers. The popularity was due, in part, to the big iOS redesign that people just had to see for themselves. It’s also a sign of the democratization of technology, as the spread of tools and know-how enable larger numbers of people to take control of their devices.

Last year, that trend turned out to be problematic for many iOS beta users (and, generally, for Apple as well).

If you’re not a registered Apple developer and still want to download the iOS 8 beta, plenty of websites around the Internet have historically offered to give you access to the new operating system. These sites ask for your device’s UDID and use it to get you access to the beta software, usually for a fee of between $10 and $30.

It’s not clear that this particular trick will still work this year. Apple released a new developer agreement with iOS 8, so these third-party sites might run higher risks offering access to the beta software. That being said, people tend find ways around those sorts of restrictions.

While the cheaper fees here might seem like a good deal, doing business with these sites aren’t usually a good idea. In addition to the normal risks involved with putting a not-ready-for-prime-time operating system on your phone or tablet, you’d also be giving some anonymous third party your UDID. That identifier could be used to track you, to advertise to you and possibly even to deliver remote malware to your device.

In other words, it’s generally not a good idea to share your iPhone’s UDID. You also won’t get access to the iOS Developer Center, which would let you install subsequent, and presumably less buggy, updates to iOS 8 beta. Don’t forget that as Apple rolls out new versions of the beta, it discontinues old versions; you risk lockout if you don’t update when that happens.

So proceed at your own risk. And if you have any doubts, you might want to err on the side of caution and wait for the official release of iOS 8 later this year, lest you find yourself dealing with a balky, prone-to-crashing phone all summer—or worse.

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DuckDuckGo Releases New Beta Site With Redesigned Look & Added Features

DuckDuckGo. the search engine known for protecting the privacy of its users, announced a new “reimagined and redesigned” beta site today. According to the announcement, the new site will deliver smarter answers and have a more refined look. DuckDuckGo has also added new features,…

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You Can Now Run Beta Versions Of Apple’s OS X—For Free

People love trying out new Apple software before it’s fully baked, and the company knows it.

That’s why Apple on Tuesday announced the OS X Beta Seed Program, which allows anyone to download and install pre-release Mac software for the sake of testing and submitting feedback before the public launch.

Until Tuesday, Apple charged users $99 a year to test out new OS X software—doing so required a paid-up developer account. (Testing new iPhone software still requires a separate developer account for another $99 a year.) Now, much the same way new OS X software is now totally free to download, it’s also free to try out. All you need is an Apple ID to sign up.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Apple program without an ominous confidentiality agreement, one that declares all beta software, including “its nature and existence, features, functionality, and screen shots,” to be confidential information that cannot be disclosed to anyone without written permission from an authorized Apple representative. Once you’ve signed away your right to even show the beta version to third parties, Apple will provide you with a special “Beta Access Utility” that offers access to pre-release versions of OS X within the “Updates” panel in the Mac App Store.

This policy change for pre-release Mac software comes a little more than a month before WWDC, the annual developer conference where Apple typically unveils new versions of iOS and OS X software. Still, it doesn’t look like Apple plans to expand this program to iOS just yet. Which has got to be frustrating for iPhone and iPad fans, who exhibited considerable interest in upgrading to iOS 7 ahead of its public release date last year.

Considering that Apple is expected to unveil a new version of OS X at WWDC 2014, it will be interesting to see to what extent users and developers participate in the new beta program are able to access the new software, as well as how well the actual Seed Program actually works. 

Either way, there will be plenty of users interested in experimenting with the unready OS X software, even if it’s glitchy, now that Apple has pulled down the $100 barrier. It’s a win for users who aren’t developers but want to try out new Mac software before it’s fully ready. It’s a win for Apple, too, since this program will undoubtedly attract many users and, presumably, plenty of constructive feedback as well.

Lead image by Flickr user Daniel Dudek-Corrigan, CC 2.0

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