Today I installed the latest updates to my Mac, and saw that the operating system (OS) was being updated to 10.6.6. An operating system update usually brings fixes and features; this update might just have revolutionized the way we buy software for the personal computer, or at least Apple computers. The Mac App Store (https://www.apple.com/mac/app-store/) was the big payload on this 10.6.6 update, and like the iOS App Store, for iPhones, iPads, and iPods, it allows you to easily purchase and install applications to your device. The reason this is so revolutionary is that it will change the landscape for software developers, bringing a new way for their creations to be purchased. While this may be good for some, it will present a numbers of challenges and hurdles for others, which we will address in my next article. For your average consumer, having an App Store for the Mac will be a welcome addition to the elegant simplicity that comes with owning a Mac. If you own or have used an iPhone to purchase, download, and install an app, you’ll be right at home when you purchase an app through the app store.
Upon first use, you’ll be prompted for your iTunes store account information, agree to some new terms and conditions, and there you are, ready to install any of the more than 1,000 apps available at launch. My first app I installed was a free one: Twitter. What makes this interesting is that the app is one that previously existed on the Mac platform, going by the name of Tweetie. (https://www.atebits.com/tweetie-mac/) Twitter purchased the company that created Tweetie, Atebits, and they made Tweetie 2 the official Twitter app for Mac. What I found really neat was an email I received today from Atebits. I have a license for Tweetie, and as such, I have access to a “secret” menu in this new Twitter app with additional preferences not available without a previous license. While this is hardly an earth-shattering feature, I thought it to be a clever touch.
The next app I installed was one I use frequently and have installed already: TextWrangler. (https://www.barebones.com/products/textwrangler/) I was interested to see how the new Mac App Store would handle an application that already existed on the computer. I was dismayed to see that it didn’t automatically detect that the application existed on my computer, as it gave me the option to install it rather than reading “Installed”. However, my disappointment was quickly dismissed when after it completed the installation, it opened to reveal the last project I had worked on. When I checked the Applications folder, it had updated my existing installation with this new version from the Mac App Store. So far, my Mac App Store experience had been hassle-free and enjoyable.
The next app I downloaded and installed was SoundCloud, (https://www.soundcloud.com) a music app that allows you to listen to and share music online. SoundCloud is originally a website based application, with an iOS app available that allowed interaction with the site content. With the Mac version of the app, I launched it only to discover that I had no account. What I didn’t like was that I couldn’t create an account through the app; I had to open up a browser window, go to www.soundcloud.com, and create my new user account there. While it wasn’t a huge ordeal, I just thought it to be an extra step that could have been easily circumvented by adding that ability to the app.
All in all, I found the new Mac App Store to be a great new way to get software for my Mac computers. However, in my next article I’ll be discussing why this new and revolutionary distribution channel for software might be disheartening for some app developers.