The first version of Apple’s new Mac App Store is revolutionary and simple. It marks the beginning of a rapid change in how Mac users find, buy, install, and update apps.
Out with the old. In with the new. That’s Apple’s view of today. Buying Mac apps may be easy, and the trend is toward lower prices, but there are some pothole filled rocky roads ahead.
Easy, Easy, Easy However…
Unless you’ve been on a trek to deepest Africa, or just got back home after a sailboat trip across the Pacific, you’ve already heard and maybe tasted the new Mac App Store.
If you haven’t tried it out yet, do so. You’re not likely to waste many brain cells figuring out how to use it.
The Mac App Store reflects the iPhone App Store’s ease-of-use. That means thousands of apps, games, utilities, tools for Macs—all in one location.
The finding and buying process are familiar. Find. Click to buy. Wait for download. Done.
Just like the iPhone App Store. Apple registers your apps and binds them to your iTunes account. That means you can run the apps on other Macs—so long as they, like iTunes, are tied to your iTunes account and credit card.
A Few Things Not To Like
Already I’ve purchased a handful of apps on the Mac App Store. The experience is as described above. It’s easy. Pleasant. Elegant. After the first three or four purchases, a few questions came to mind.
Is this the beginning of the end of packaged Mac apps? You know, the kind you find on the shelves of an Apple Store? Probably. Adobe’s Creative Suite and Microsoft’s Office for Mac are not going away.
Instead, Mac users will be able to find Mac apps for much lower price that have specific functions. Already a number of Mac app developers have decided to distribute their app only in the Mac App Store.
How do you get updates? From the Mac App Store app. The app will notify you of the update. Click to download. That’s the same process as the iPhone App Store.
What about the app’s license? Registration is handled via the App Store. No more serial numbers. And, for now, there’s no way to get a previously purchased Mac app to sync up to your Mac App Store account. For awhile, those Mac apps will need to be updated the old-fashioned way. Manual or in-app downloads.
Is this the end of upgrades? It could be. Apple doesn’t have upgrade pricing for iLife and iWork. And there’s no way to do upgrades to new versions in the iPhone App Store or the Mac App Store. We may see in-app upgrades (as opposed to bug-fix updates—upgrades usually indicate new features) in the future. In other words, when a new upgraded (vs. update) version of the app arrives, you may pay full price.
Are app prices going to drop? I think so, and there is already a trend in that direction. Mac app developers could make more money on increased sales, even at lower retail prices.
What about system utilities, tools, and plugins? Nope. Apple doesn’t allow those in the Mac App Store. For now. That means no Flash plugin, Adobe Photoshop plugins, no System Preference Pane utilities, or others that don’t conform to Apple’s guidelines.
Where do I go for app support? Back to the Mac app developer’s home page. Support won’t come from Apple.
Does the App Store run on older Macs? Nope. Just Snow Leopard. Not PowerPC Macs or Tiger or Leopard Intel Macs. Only Snow Leopard Intel Macs. When you install Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.6, the App Store arrives in the Dock.
Is the Mac App Store restricted by country? It doesn’t seem so. Music, TV shows, and movies have multi-country licensing issues, but apparently apps do not. There may be some language problems with some apps, though.
Where are my Mac App Store apps downloaded? To your Mac’s Applications folder. Apps can be deleted in any number of ways (uninstaller, drag to Trash, etc.), but Apple does not provide an uninstaller.
What if I get a new Mac or my hard disk drive dies? Good news. Simply use the Mac App Store app to re-download previously purchased and downloaded apps to your new Mac (or disk drive).
Will the alternative ways to buying Mac apps go away? No. However, many Mac app developers are already choosing the Mac App Store as their only means of distributing and updating apps.
How about trial apps? Nope. 30-day trial apps may become lite versions. A similar feature exists in the iPhone App Store. For now, trial and demo apps will only be available from the app developers web site.
Change App Buying Forever
Apple’s iPhone App Store had the luxury of starting life as a clean, blank slate—without any legacy purchase history. The Mac App Store, though it follows a similar process, doesn’t mean the immediate end of downloading trial software, or buying software from a developer’s site.
That method will continue for many years, but the Mac App Store is the future. More and more current Mac app developers will switch their apps to the App Store. Many new developers will be attracted to the App Store and develop new apps.
Danger. Don’t accidentally click on a $200 Mac app in the App Store. Buying and downloading are nearly instantaneous.