In my last article, I kicked the tires on the new Mac App Store, the revolutionary new delivery mechanism for programs on the Apple Mac platform. While iPhone users are no strangers to the App Store, Mac users may be skittish to migrate to this new way of buying. While for most people, having a one-stop shop for software purchases will make their lives easier and less troublesome. For others, and for some developers, it could make their lives much more difficult. The reason for both of these results is the pressure and hurdles that Apple implements on the submissions to their App Store.
With Apple dictating what can and cannot be sold in the App Store, there will be a great number of apps that could potentially fail to meet the conditions set upon them by Apple’s strict mandates. While for the time being, the Mac App Store isn’t the only place where an app can be obtained, but it could eventually become the only legitimate venue for Mac software. Case in point: the iOS App Store; you can only get apps for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod through this outlet. Any app that isn’t approved by Apple cannot be downloaded and installed on your iOS device legitimately. Of course, there exists a whole other subculture of “jailbreakers” that runs unsigned software on their devices, but jailbreaking your iPhone voids the warranty, and unsigned software isn’t thoroughly tested, so there’s no guarantee it won’t cause your device to behave erratically. If this level of control by Apple is forced upon it’s Mac users, I predict a large “underground” community would take root that would still run applications and games that haven’t met Apple’s stringent approval conditions.
With any kind of “hacking”, like when an iPhone is jailbroken, it requires a good deal of information and knowledge to effectively use your “hacked” device, whether keeping it current or troubleshooting when it doesn’t work quite right. I see lots of people that are jailbreaking their iPhones to get new icons or wallpaper, install apps that aren’t available in the App Store, and I see a lot of people that have no business wandering into this territory. The nice thing about having the App Store with Apple approving all content is that these apps undergo some rigorous testing before they are released for public consumption. Apps are steadily updated and promise to function quite well within the confines of their environment (iPhone 3G, 3Gs, or 4). Security is also another major concern for Apple, and anything you can buy or download from the App Store will be safe to run. There is no promise of this with anything that is available through alternative methods.
Sure, people want the freedom to install whatever they want and do whatever they want to do to their phones and computers. I wholeheartedly support this type of thinking, but with it comes a big caveat: know what you’re doing! Understand how it works, why it might not, and what to do if it doesn’t. Then again, feel free to break whatever phone or computer you want by swimming in uncharted waters, so to speak; I also happen to own and operate a computer and cell phone repair business.