The Mac App Store is here. If I’m forced to condense my first impression to a phrase, it would be: Simple, familiar, easy-to-buy and install, with one big flaw.
Familiar? To the many tens of millions of iTunes Store and App Store users, the Mac App Store will be familiar. Simple? Finding and buying a Mac app is about the same as buying an app or song or movie in the iTunes Store.
What’s New Is Old Again
First, a little app store history. When Apple launched the iPhone back in mid-2007, developers and customers clamored for apps. Apple essentially said, Build web apps. They’re good enough.
Yeah, right. During iPhone’s first year Apple was scrambling to build the software development kit and the App Store which launched a year later.
The rest is history. Developers came on board iOS by the tens of thousands and apps were churned out by the hundreds of thousands and Apple’s App Store was the hit of tens of millions of customers.
Back to the Mac. What’s old is new. What’s new is old.
For two years it seemed only logical and reasonable that Apple was working behind the scenes on a Mac App Store, despite saying they had no plans to do so. Fast forward to 2011, and the Mac App Store becomes another sibling—of sorts.
Not Your Father’s iTunes App Store
With Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.6 comes the automatic installation of the Mac App Store (MAS). The MAS icon takes a prominent side-by-side position with the Mac icon in the Dock.
What does the Mac App Store look like? A very skinny iTunes App Store that’s incredibly familiar.
The Toolbar at the top of the Mac App Store app is decidedly uncluttered. Navigation buttons to the left. Featured, Top Charts, Categories, Purchases, and Updates are the only other buttons.
At the top is a rotating display of featured apps. Below that are listings of New and Noteworthy, What’s Hot, Staff Favorites, with links to See All in each section. In the right column are Quick Links, Top Paid, Top Free, and Top Grossing apps—just like you see it in the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad.
The Top Charts categories lists all the categories. Just like in iTunes.
Upon launch you’re asked to enter your iTunes account information. Then, well, you’re good to go.
If you’ve already purchased apps for your Mac that are now available in the MAS, the app finds them and marks them accordingly (I have at least three apps it did not find).
A Little Of The Bad
So far, I’m unable to rate apps I purchased before installing MAS. Bummer. Likewise, MAS won’t give the option to update to the latest version from a previously purchased version of an app. When you purchase an app it’s automatically downloaded and installed and the app’s icon heads to the Doc, so you’ll have to do some Dock housecleaning from time to time.
The Mac App Store is familiar and easy. It’s also cluttered already with barely 1,000 Mac apps in the store. By this time next year there will be many thousands of apps available, further increasing the clutter and clamor for attention.
For most Mac users, what’s not to like? The Mac App Store will be installed automatically with the latest version of OS X and open up third party apps to many millions of Mac owners who seldom buy apps beyond Apple, Microsoft, or Adobe.