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Late 2014 Mac Mini Benchmarks Indicate Decreased Multi-Core Performance

The newly refreshed Mac mini is seeing improved single-core performance over the previous models, but decreased multi-core performance, according to a newly released GeekBench benchmark. John Poole of Primate Labs says that the upper tier Late 2012 Mac minis, which had quad-core Ivy Bridge processors, saw better multi-core performance than the new Late 2014 models, which have dual-core Haswell processors.

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Unlike single-core performance multi-core performance has decreased significantly. The "Good" model (which has a dual-core processor in both lineups) is down 7%. The other models (which have a dual-core processor in the "Late 2014" lineup but a quad-core processor in the "Late 2012" lineup) is down from 70% to 80%.
Poole notes that Apple may have switched to dual-core processors in some Late 2014 Mac minis because Haswell dual-core processors use one socket to connect the logic board and processor while Haswell quad-core processors use different sockets. This would mean Apple would have to design and build two separate logic boards specifically for the Mac mini, while other Macs use the same logic boards across its individual line.

This trade-off didn't exist with Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors because both of its dual-core and quad-core processors used the same socket. Another option, according to Poole, is that Apple could have went quad-core across its new Mac mini line, but it would have made it difficult for Apple to hit the $499 price point.

Despite the decreased quad-core performance, the single-core performance of the new Mac mini is in line with other Macs' performance jumps from Ivy Bridge to Haswell.

Base configurations for the Mac mini are currently available for purchase on Apple's online store with pricing starting at $499 and will ship in one to three days. Custom configurations ship within three to five days.

New 2014 Mac Mini Has Soldered RAM, Not User Replaceable

macmini1After going more than two years without an update, Apple's Mac mini was refreshed yesterday, adding Haswell processors, Intel HD 5000/Iris graphics, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and PCI-based flash storage options for the higher-end models.

Unfortunately, the upgrade was disappointing to some Mac mini fans as Apple stopped offering a build-to-order quad-core processor upgrade and dual-drive storage options that exceed 1TB.

Many have speculated that the Mac mini also includes soldered RAM, which has now been confirmed by Macminicolo's Brian Stucki. According to Stucki, the RAM in the Mac mini is "not user accessible," which means those who purchase Mac minis are limited to 16GB of RAM that must be upgraded when purchasing the machine from Apple.

All three Mac mini models can be upgraded to a maximum of 16GB of RAM, with the upgrade priced at $300 for the base model and $200 for the mid and high-end models.

While the RAM is not upgradeable, Stucki says that it is possible to replace or upgrade the hard drive, but doing so may void the warranty.

Apple's new Mac mini starts at $499 and comes in three separate base configurations. On the low end, the Mac mini ships with a 1.4Ghz dual-core Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and Intel HD Graphics 5000. At the middle tier, the Mac mini comes with a 2.6Ghz dual-core Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, and Intel Iris Graphics. At the high end, the Mac mini ships with a 2.8Ghz dual-core Core i5, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB Fusion Drive, and Intel Iris Graphics.

Base configurations of the Mac mini are currently available for purchase from the online Apple Store and will ship in one to three days. Custom configurations ship within three to five days.

Related roundup: Mac mini

iFixit Tears Down New Retina iMac, Internal Layout Largely the Same as Prior Generation

Though the new iMac with 5K Retina display was just released yesterday, iFixit has already acquired and disassembled one of the new machines, giving us a look at what's underneath the iMac's ultra thin display.

Apple's newest iMac continues to use many of the same design elements from previous iMacs, including an easily accessible RAM upgrade slot on the back of the device. With the RAM slot, users will be able to install their own RAM modules with little trouble.

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The 5K display, which has a resolution of 5120 x 2880, was manufactured by LG Display, the same supply partner that has manufactured iMac displays for Apple in the past. Aside from the display, iFixit found that the Retina iMac internals look much like the internals of the 2013 iMac, with the sole difference being a wider display data cable.

Along with an AMD Radeon M290X GPU and i5-4690 processor from Intel, the iMac contains SK Hynix 256 MB GDDR5 SGRAM. It uses the same SanDisk PCIe SSD as the late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro, with Marvell Controller, and it uses the same AirPort/Bluetooth card that was used in the 2013 27-inch iMac.

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The 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display earned a repairability score of 5 out of 10, the same score earned by the 2013 27-inch iMac. iFixit pointed out that the RAM, hard drive, and CPU are user replaceable with some adhesive cutting, but removing the glass and LCD panel from the machine remains a difficult task for all those but the most dedicated do-it-yourselfers.

Related roundup: iMac

OS X Yosemite: An In-Depth Look at Markup and Mail Drop in the Mail App

OS X Yosemite has brought some major changes to Apple's Mail app, and those changes aren't limited to a simple visual overhaul. Mail may have a new look, but it also has several new features like Mail Drop and Markup.

With Markup, you can annotate images and PDFs from directly within the Mail app. For example, when composing an email message and attaching a PDF, it's possible to use various tools to add signatures, emphasis, and more. The same is possible with an image -- simply attach a file in a message that's being composed and right click on it, selecting Markup.

Markup has a set of tools at the top that allow users to create shapes, write text words, and insert signatures. There are different brushes that can be used, along with a color palette and various font options.

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Users can enter various shapes, such as stars, circles, squares, speech bubbles and more, and there's a magnifying glass that will magnify sections of text or photos. A crop tool also allows for simple image edits, and there's a pen tool for free-handed writing or drawing.

Markup's neatest feature is a signature tool that lets users insert a signature using the trackpad of a MacBook or a camera. With the trackpad, clicking begin and then signing a name with a finger on the trackpad will create a signature that's automatically entered into a document.

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There's also an option that allows users to write a signature on a white piece of paper and use a Mac's FaceTime camera to import it into the document. It's a little bit finicky getting the camera to recognize the signature, but once it's lined up properly, the feature works well.

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Along with Markup, Mail has a new feature called Mail Drop that lets users send large file attachments of up to 5GB using iCloud. Composing an email message and attaching a file that would normally be too large to send will prompt Mail to ask a user if they would like to use Mail Drop to deliver the message.

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When the Mail Drop option is selected, the person receiving the email will receive the file attachment as normal if they're using Mail, while non-Mail users will receive a message with a download link that allows them to download the file directly from iCloud. Files are stored in iCloud for several days before being deleted.

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MacRumors did not experience any issues getting Mail Drop to function with files ranging in size from 10MB to over 1GB, but some users on the Apple Support forums have been having trouble with the feature. Because Mail Drop works based on a sender's file size limits rather than a receiver's, users have run into an issue where they can send a file that is below their own maximum file size threshold, but above a receiver's file size limits.

For example, sending a 10MB message from an email account that has a 30MB file size limit to an email account that has a 6MB file size limit will not activate Mail Drop and turn the file into a clickable link that can be downloaded from iCloud. Therefore, the person sending the message will get a bounce back reply that the user can't accept a message of that size, even if the receiver also has Mail Drop.

According to Apple, Mail Drop can only be used to send files that "exceed the maximum size allowed by the provider of your email account," which means there is no way for a user to select a custom file size threshold to activate Mail Drop to avoid the above situation. It is not clear if Apple has plans to implement manual size controls for Mail Drop, but for the time being, it appears that Mail Drop may not be useful for all users in certain situations.

Released to the public yesterday, OS X Yosemite can be downloaded from the Mac App Store at no cost. It runs on all machines that were capable of running OS X Mountain Lion and OS X Mavericks, and it requires 8GB of storage space and 2GB of RAM. [Direct Link]

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

A List of OS X Yosemite Apps With Notification Center Widgets, Share Support, and More

Yesterday, Apple launched OS X Yosemite which brought a complete redesign to the OS and a number of features like Continuity, an enhanced Notification Center with widget support, iCloud Drive, and more. A number of developers have updated their apps to take advantage of those new features, and we've rounded up some of the most notable apps for Yosemite below.

1Password ($34.99 for a limited time, usually $49.99) [Direct Link]

Popular password manager 1Password has received a number of new features that integrate with OS X Yosemite including support for Dark Mode, iCloud Drive compatibility for enhanced syncing between devices, and Wi-Fi sync which now works with attachments. The 1Password mini menubar attachment has also been refined, bringing faster access and new shortcuts.

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Coinverter (Free public beta) [Direct Link]

Daft Logic Studio brings its iOS currency converter to the Mac with a flat look that is in line with the rest of OS X Yosemite and a Notification Center widget that can display multiple conversions at once. The full version of Coinverter for Mac will launch soon, and interested users can participate in a free public beta.

Wunderlist (Free) [Direct Link]

To-do app Wunderlist for Mac has received an update to 3.1.0 and brings a number of new features for OS Yosemite, including a custom Today widget in the Notification Center, a custom Share extension that works in Safari, and full Handoff support which allows users to edit lists between devices. The app has also received a redesign that allows for quicker access to list elements.

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Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

Retina 5K iMac Will Not Act as External Display, Standalone Apple 5K Display Unlikely Soon

At Apple's introduction of the new 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display, Phil Schiller noted that the machine's $2499 starting price compares favorably with some of the higher-end 4K displays on the market today for closer to $3000, leading some to wonder whether it would be feasible to use the iMac as an external display for something like a Mac Pro.

For a number of years, iMacs have supported a feature known as target display mode, which allows them to serve as external displays for other computers, but as pointed out by TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino yesterday, the new Retina 5K iMac does not support this mode.

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The probable reason for this is also likely the reason why Apple did not announce a standalone Retina Thunderbolt Display yesterday: bandwidth limitations. The current DisplayPort 1.2 specification used over Thunderbolt 2 on Apple's latest Macs simply isn't capable of handling the bandwidth necessary for 5K video over a single cable.

As a result, no current Mac, including the Mac Pro and Retina MacBook Pro models that do support 4K displays, can currently drive a 5K external display. Technically, Apple could allow another Mac to output video at a lower resolution and have the Retina iMac scale the content up to fit its display, but this would not be ideal and Apple has apparently elected not to support it as an option.

As noted by Marco Arment, simple plug-and-play support for 5K external displays over a single cable will need the new DisplayPort 1.3 standard, but that won't be an option until Intel's Skylake platform, the successor to the upcoming Broadwell family, is launched.
Doing it right will require waiting until DisplayPort 1.3 in Thunderbolt 3 on Broadwell’s successor, Skylake, which isn’t supposed to come out for at least another year — and Intel is even worse at estimating ship dates than I am, so it’s likely to be longer. [...]

I’d estimate — granted, I’m wrong a lot — that Apple won’t ship a standalone 5K display until at least 2016, and it won’t work with any of today’s Macs, including the 2013 Mac Pro.
Arment points out that Dell's upcoming 5K display uses dual DisplayPort 1.2 cables for connectivity but that no current Macs appear to support the setup and even if they did performance would likely not be ideal.

Another potential product on the horizon is a Retina 21.5-inch iMac likely at 3840 x 2160 pixels, although it is unclear when Apple plans to launch such a machine. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts a second half of 2015 launch for the machine in a similar pattern to that seen with the MacBook Pro, where the larger 15-inch model received a Retina display option a number of months before the 13-inch model followed suit.

Related roundups: iMac, Thunderbolt Display

OS X Yosemite Launch Brings Fully Functional iCloud Drive to Mac and iOS

With yesterday's launch of OS X Yosemite, Apple's iCloud Drive file storage system is now functional across the company's products. Many users were frustrated following the launch of iOS 8 last month by the incompatibility between the new iCloud Drive system used with that operating system and the previous Documents in the Cloud system used on OS X Mavericks. The difference in launch dates between iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite temporarily left some users unable to sync their documents between devices if they elected to upgrade to iCloud Drive on their iOS devices.

That issue is now fixed with OS X Yosemite launching to the public, and Craig Federighi gave a very brief walkthrough of the feature at yesterday's media event, outlining how Mac and iOS apps can automatically generate their own folders for file storage accessible across devices and platforms.

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iCloud Drive can also be used in a similar manner to Dropbox, Box, and other cloud storage services in that any type of file can simply be dragged and dropped into the iCloud Drive folder on Mac or iCloud.com and be synced across devices. Access is a bit more limited on iOS where there is no iCloud Drive app allowing access to all files, but the service still allows users of iCloud Drive-enabled apps to view and save files related to that app that are stored and synced with iCloud Drive.

Apple's iWork updates yesterday extend compatibility beyond the core OS X and iOS apps, and APIs are available to allow third-party developers to offer iCloud Drive support for their apps.

iCloud Drive taps into users' general iCloud storage allotments, with all users receiving 5 GB of space free of charge. But with iOS device backups and the upcoming iCloud Photo Library potentially requiring significant amounts of space, many users will find themselves looking to upgrade to paid storage tiers, which begin at $0.99 per month for 20 GB of space and go up to $19.99 per month for 1 TB.

What's Coming in iOS 8.1: Apple Pay, SMS Relay, Instant Hotspot, Camera Roll, and More

During yesterday's iPad-centric media event, Apple executives announced that the first major update to iOS 8, iOS 8.1, would be released to the public on Monday, October 20.

First seeded to developers at the end of September, iOS 8.1 promises to bring a quite a few significant features to the operating system, offering new services and finally allowing Yosemite users to access the full functionality of Continuity.

While some major Continuity features like Handoff and Phone calls on the Mac are working for users who have both an iOS 8 device and a Mac running OS X Yosemite, other features, like SMS relay and Instant Hotspot will not be available until Monday, when iOS 8.1 is released.

With SMS relay, both Macs (running Yosemite) and iOS devices like iPads are able to receive SMS messages that have been routed through a user's iPhone. Currently, while iPads and Macs can receive iMessages, SMS messages are limited to iPhones. When SMS relay is functional, an SMS message that has been received will be forwarded to iPads and Macs, and users will be able to answer all of their messages on any device. It's also possible to start SMS-based conversations directly on a Mac or iPad.

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Instant Hotspot is another facet of Continuity that will be enabled with iOS 8.1. This feature lets a Mac remotely activate the Personal Hotspot capabilities of an iPhone when the two devices are near each other. The Mac can automatically detect an iPhone with Hotspot and users can connect to a Hotspot via the Mac's Wi-Fi menu without needing to remove the iPhone from their pocket.

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While these two Continuity features were originally slated to launch alongside iOS 8, Apple added a small footnote to its iOS 8 press release suggesting the features were unfinished and would come with the iOS 8.1 update.

iOS 8.1 will enable Apple Pay, a major new service and Apple's first foray into mobile payments. When Apple Pay becomes available on October 20, hundreds of retailers will be prepared to start taking payments using the service, and numerous banks will be on board. With Apple Pay, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users can make purchases solely via their iPhone at any store that accepts contactless payments.

Along with Apple Pay and Continuity features, iOS 8.1 will bring several other minor changes as well, as detailed during Thursday's event. Many users were unhappy with the disappearance of the Camera Roll, which Apple announced will be reinstated in iOS 8.1, and beta iCloud Photo Library access will be provided to all iOS 8.1 users.

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iCloud Photo Library is designed to store all of a user's photos and videos, making them accessible on all of their iOS devices. iCloud Photo Library is tied to a user's iCloud account, using the storage space of their iCloud plans. With iCloud Photo Library, photos are kept in the cloud with a smaller version available on iOS devices, taking up less storage space. iCloud Photo Library will also tie in to the upcoming Photos app for the Mac, but until that is available, iCloud Photo Library will only be available on iOS devices.

Finally, iOS 8.1 may bring several bug fixes, including a fix for an ongoing Bluetooth issue that has caused some iOS 8 users to have trouble pairing their phones with their Bluetooth devices. Apple has not provided a time for the release of iOS 8.1, stating only that it plans to release the software on Monday.

Related roundups: iOS 8, iOS 8 Features

iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 Now Available for Pre-Order

Apple has begun accepting online pre-orders for the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 in the United States and several other countries around the world. Rumors have suggested that initial supplies of the iPad Air 2 might be somewhat constrained, so prospective buyers should make their purchases as soon as possible. All models are currently showing shipping estimates of 2-4 business days in the U.S. store.

AT&T is also accepting pre-orders on cellular models of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with shipping estimates of 6-10 business days.

Announced on October 16, Apple’s second-generation iPad Air offers several significant improvements over the original iPad Air, including a thinner design, an A8X chip, Touch ID, 802.11ac, support for LTE Advanced, an improved 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.4 aperture, and an anti-reflective screen coating that cuts down on glare.

The iPad mini 3 offers the same internals as the iPad mini 2 (aka the iPad mini with Retina display), but it does come with Touch ID and a new gold color option.

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Available in white/silver, white/gold, and black/space gray, the iPad Air 2 is available in 16, 64, and 128GB configurations, with the Wi-Fi only models priced at $499, $599, and $699, respectively. Wi-Fi + Cellular models carry a $130 premium over Wi-Fi models and are priced at $629/$729/$829 for 16/64/128GB capacities.

The iPad mini 3 is also available in white/silver, white/gold, and black/space gray, and it also comes in 16, 64, and 128GB configurations. The corresponding Wi-Fi only models are priced at $399, $499, and $599, while the Wi-Fi + Cellular models are priced at $529, $629, and $729 for 16, 64, and 128GB configurations.

Both models can be pre-ordered immediately from Apple's online store. The company has not yet provided information on when the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 will be available in stores, giving an availability date of "later next week."

Related roundups: iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3

Apple Store Down Ahead of iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders

Apple has taken its online store down to prepare for the launch of iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 pre-orders. When Apple announced the two new tablets, it said pre-orders would be available starting on October 17, although the company did not specify when exactly pre-orders would start.

Given the short amount of time between the announcement of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 and the start of pre-orders, it is unclear whether other retailers and carriers will be prepared to offer iPad pre-orders.

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Apple's iPad Air 2, which includes several upgrades like Touch ID, an A8X chip, an improved camera, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and an anti-reflective screen, is available in 16, 64, and 128GB capacities. Pricing in the United States starts at $499 for the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only model and goes as high as $849 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular 128GB model.

The iPad mini 3, which has been updated with Touch ID and a new gold color option, is also available in 16, 64, and 128GB configurations. Pricing for the iPad mini 3 begins at $399 for the Wi-Fi only 16GB model and goes as high as $729 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular 128GB model.

Apple has not announced when the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 will be in stores or when the two tablets will begin shipping out to customers, giving only an availability date of "later next week."

Related roundups: iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3

First Hands-On Impressions of 27-Inch Retina iMac: Sharp Image Quality, Great Viewing Angles

After today's media event that saw the introduction of new iPads and new Macs, members of the press were invited to experience all of Apple's new products. Several sites have posted first impressions of Apple's 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display, which we've summarized to give users an overview of the company's newest desktop and its ultra high-resolution screen.

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Engadget says that the new 27-inch iMac has a "stunning display" with great viewing angles, and was left impressed with the all-in-one's image quality even at a resolution of 5120 x 2880. Brightness is said to be "level throughout" with no bleeding. The website also praised the extra screen real-estate that the new 27-inch Retina iMac will allow for video editing.

TechCrunch says that the iMac's display shows "full resolution photos with zoomed crops that look better than most originals coming out of the camera" and credits Apple for fitting such a panel into the same tapered design. The screen is noted as being a "huge step up" from the one found on the Retina MacBook Pro. Overall, the new 27-inch iMac is described to be "the future of desktop computing" and is even said to be right up there with Apple's Mac Pro in terms of choices for power users.

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Ars Technica praises the new 27-inch iMac's color, contrast, and viewing angles, and thinks that the faster Radeon M290X or M295X GPUs with 2GB and 4GB of RAM respectively are solid upgrades over the Nvidia GeForce GT 700M GPUs found in Apple's non-Retina iMacs. However, the website did take issue with the desktop's price for what it offers internally:
The only thing we can really complain about based on our hands-on time is the price, which isn’t bad for what you’re getting but is still objectively pretty high. We’re glad to see Fusion Drives become standard (something we’d honestly like to see on every iMac and Mac Mini Apple ships), but 8GB of RAM seems a little low for a power-user-focused, $2500 computer. And the big drawback of all-in-one computers still applies—the machine’s internals are going to feel their age much faster than the display itself will.
Finally, The Verge calls the desktop's new 5K display "incredible" with a crisp, sharp and accurate picture despite it being a bit reflective. The website notes that it initially worried about performance issues with the iMac now powering an ultra high-resolution screen, but a demonstration proved that performance "doesn't seem to be an issue."


The new 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display is shipping today. The base model starts at $2,499 and comes with a 3.5 GHz quad-core Intel i5 processor, AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB Fusion Drive. Build-to-order configurations can also be outfitted with a 4.0 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and AMD Radeon R9 M295X graphics processor.

Related roundup: iMac

OS X Yosemite Hits the Mac App Store, Available Immediately as a Free Download

Following today's media event that saw Apple introduce new iPads and a new Retina iMac, Apple released OS X Yosemite to the public, after several months of beta testing.

OS X Yosemite is available from the Mac App Store as a free download for all eligible Macs. [Direct Link]


First introduced at WWDC in June, OS X Yosemite will do for the Mac what iOS 7 did for iOS devices. The new operating system introduces redesign that focuses on a flatter, more modern look that emphasizes translucency, smarter controls, and streamlined toolbars.

OS X Yosemite doesn't just bring a fantastic new look to the Mac, it also includes several major features introduce unprecedented levels of integration between iOS and OS X. With Continuity features like Handoff, for example, users can begin a task on one device and finish it on another with a seamless transition. SMS relay features, meanwhile, will let Mac users answer calls from their iOS devices.

Other improvements include a "Today" view in Notification Center that integrates with third-party apps and an improved Spotlight search that pulls data from new sources. Several core apps have been updated with new features, with Safari gaining a revamped look and Mail gaining tools like Mail Drop, for handling large attachments, and Markup, for annotating images right within email messages.

Macs will need 2GB of RAM to run Yosemite, along with 8GB of storage. Snow Leopard must be installed for Mac App Store access, but the Yosemite software itself is available as a free download, much like Mavericks was last year.

Update: Many users are seeing a "Temporarily Unavailable" error when attempting to download Yosemite as it just hit the App Store, but it should be available shortly.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite