The public beta of macOS Ventura is available here. These are our least known favorites

Zoom / Macs running macOS Ventura.

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Apple released beta versions for the following major operating systems to the public today, making it relatively easy for adventurous users to download and install rough versions of the software that will begin running on Macs, iPhones, iPads, and other devices starting sometime in the fall. .

We’ll post full reviews of these new operating systems when they’re officially released, but for Mac users who want to jump into public betas today, we’ll cover some of the macOS Ventura features we’ve learned about in our time. Developer beta (The first public beta is roughly compatible with the third developer beta, which was released last week).

Instead of focusing on notable changes like the Continuity Camera, search improvements, Passkeys, or a repaired Settings app, we’ve focused on smaller but still significant improvements, including some that show us where Apple is trying to steer the Mac in the next few years.

Public betas of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, and other updates can be installed on supported devices using the Apple documentation here. As with any beta installation, proceed with caution – make sure you have up-to-date backups of your important files and consider using test hardware rather than installing beta versions on the systems you depend on day in and day out.

Faster and smoother security updates

Apple’s long list of Ventura features is called Rapid Security, and it was rolled out as a way for Apple to deliver smaller, timely updates to macOS that don’t require a system restart. But what exactly does this mean?

To install updates like this, Ventura is making some additions to Big Sur’s Signed System Volume (SSV) security feature. To summarize, SSV stands for almost all macOS system files, and a Mac is only allowed to boot and run if the volume signature indicates that nothing in SSV has been modified or tampered in any way. When updates are installed, SSV is installed in the background, files are patched, a new cryptographic signature is created to verify the next time the system boots, and a snapshot of this newly signed folder is created for use the next time the computer starts.

To allow some small updates to be installed without a restart, Ventura uses separate “cryptex” disk images for some applications and operating system files. As described by a firmware engineer on Twitter Tweet embed, cryptex images are treated by macOS as extensions to an existing volume. These images can be opened and modified independently of SSV, but for macOS and most of its applications, they will appear as part of the system volume, like any other system file.

Ventura will be able to debug applications and other system files contained in these encoder images without having to touch SSV, including Safari, WebKit, JavaScript frameworks, and more. This will remove the need for a lengthy installation and reboot process while retaining the security benefits of SSV for most system files. It remains to be seen if this actually leads to faster or more frequent security patches. Large-scale updates, including (presumably) major updates like 13.1 or 13.2, will likely continue to use the current approach required for a restart.

Outside the System Settings app

The new System Settings app on the Mac completely replaces the old System Preferences app, and it’s probably the biggest single change the app has gotten since the dawn of Mac OS X. But working on long parts of the system’s user interface doesn’t stop there.

For example, Ventura is also completely redesigning the macOS print dialog, dispensing with the multi-section dropdown in favor of a single long page with multiple expandable sections, as well as a new independently scrollable continuous preview column on the left. Apps with a page setting option will also reveal an old friend, a smooth HD version of Clarus the Dogcow. This is heard all the way back to the old LaserWriter days, when Clarus served a similar purpose.

Font Book turns into a tiled user interface in Ventura, with a quick visual preview of multiple fonts.
Zoom / Font Book turns into a tiled user interface in Ventura, with a quick visual preview of multiple fonts.

Andrew Cunningham

Additionally, Ventura heralds the biggest Font Book redesign since it was introduced back in macOS 10.3, switching from a multi-column design that only previews one font at a time to a more visually oriented font grid that provides smaller previews for dozens of fonts at once.

Unfortunately, Apple has not decided to rethink All An old macOS built-in app. If you’re hoping to overhaul TextEdit or Chess this year, you’ll have to wait.

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