Mac App Store

January 6th a new chapter in Apple's books, the launch of the MacApp Store.

Being in Australia, I had to wait till the end of the day before I could see the Mac App store, however during the day, there were images/screenshots from that twitter2 would be free.

There was no information on what are the requirements. Where would it be available would it be a new tab on iTunes? Would it be available online? By the end of the day around 11 pm (+10:00 GMT) tweets started to come in that you need to have 10.6.6 and the new Mac App icon was UGLY (just as the new iTunes icon was), I had just updated my systems in the afternoon and the latest available update was for iWorks that allowed connectivity to Anyways, a trip to the website displayed a message that the system has to be upgraded to 10.6.6, so 200+ MB later the system was 10.6.6 and on restarting there was a new icon in the dock. Excitement, double clicked it and voila!! the Mac App store, looked similar to the iTunes store had a new and worthy, had the top grossing, Staff picks, etc categories. On looking at some of the icons, they showed Installed, WOW it recognises the softwares that I had on my system. Then some of them did not show as installed. Now why is that? The first Download, was Twitter it looked a lot like Tweetie but a balder version with all the frame etc clipped off. Then updated the few other apps like TextWrangler that did not show as installed despite it being installed. A good touch is while the apps are being downloaded, you can see them in the Dock with a status bar. The not so good part is when they are done, they stay there. With a pretty busy toolbar that I have a new icon means that the entire bar is disturbed. Not very pretty, how many like the way they do things disturbed? I like icons and files and shortcuts on my desktop, that's what I thought the desktop was for, if I wanted pretty pictures and fancy widgets, I would use the wall, not the desktop.

I felt the need to spend some money on the store and add to Apple's coffers, so I purchased Chopper 2, simply because I recollect reading that one can play that with the iOS device being a controller. I was amazed with Scrabble and the iPhones/iPods being the tile rack, but it was a major disappointment I had to buy the app for about the same price just to play. Now if I have purchased the Mac App, the iOS app should have been free as a controller.

It was also frustrating that the MacApp store prices were higher (I guess we are used to the iTunes store prices, an iTunes gift card of $20 plus the free apps and giveaways keep the device loaded with new content almost everyday) so from the pricing of $1.19 (Australian Pricing) to pay upwards of $39.99 (average price on the Mac App store) was extremely frustrating. There were no lite or try before you buy versions, so the Mac App store was a bit, hmmmm not to the mark.

The next day there were tweets about the MacStore and the fact that there were 1 million downloads, mostly people were of the opinion that 900,000 downloads of Twitter and the rest for other free apps with a few paid ones. I have a different perspective on this, I mean most of the users who have macs as part of their work or at universities might not be updating their macs every so often, there are you know *Policies* so the people that will jump at the fact that they can download the latest patches to try the new Mac App store have to be mostly Developers. The same poor folks that pay $99 USD to Apple annually to be able to develop and put up apps on the app store.

At the start the Mac App store might have a lot of downloads as there are only a few apps, the iFart apps might be controlled but still ones like "Charlie Bit My finger" or the Nth clone of Minesweeper are still there. The MacApp store is hoping that the games section will rake in the money. Every iOS developer is looking at creating a desktop version of their iOS app, those that make it in the first 6 months might still make something out of it, after which it will be as populated as the iOS store. Every second game will either be a Tetris, Pop the Bubble or Match the sequences clone.

The most interesting bit came in today, when I was taken to a PasteBin clip that spoke about the vulnerabilities of the MacApp store. I did wonder how the serial numbers were managed as many mac apps did not have serial numbers or they had serial numbers and keys. Would the MacApp store generate serial numbers and then email it to the users? Well, Apple thought of it ans I presume said Let us code-sign the apps. If thre apps are signed then they are valid. Some intelligent developers or users took the valid signatures off Twitter and placed it in the apps that they could get from friends, etc and voila!! Perfect working copy of the app without purchasing the app. And apple has developers to blame that they did not code the apps right, apple had 5 steps but they followed only two. Hello, Wake up Apple, you make awesome products, profits and technologies, but your documentation SUCKS!! It could be comprehensive but it is as useful as the manual outlining the structures and chemical composition of amino acids and their combinations in a DNA/RNA sequence is for Parents wanting a book on parenting.

Overall, it is a step from Apple at consolidating the app market, Apple will only end up making more money via the 30% cut that they keep. Developers might still offer their apps alternatively from their websites as they have been doing. I had purchased the Academic licenses for a few Omni products, so why should I pay more and buy the normal version when I am eligible for an Academic version?

Microsoft shall soon take this page from Apple's book and Steve B (who has already brought Microsoft from #1 to #2 after the mighty B moved on to better things) and have announced a Microsoft 8 app store.

some apps that I updated or downloaded and must be on macs, are
  • Carbon Copy - An app that copies or rather synchs a directory to another and keeps the files same in these. Microsoft has the SynchToy that used to be my favourite a few years ago when I worked primarily on a Windows Box.
  • Drop Copy - An app for transferring files between macs or to a Linux machine. Just drag drop the files/folder and the files are transferred over to the device. It looks like a small black hole on the desktop. When I want more control I use MuCommander (Multi-Platform, java based app)
  • Nova Bench - a benchmarking tool for your mac hardware, just coz I miss CPU-Z that I used on Windows
  • Password Pad Lite - a notepad replacement that can save notes more securely than plain text. The free version just uses XOR but for protecting casual files, that is a good start. Now if you are very paranoid you can encrypt your entire hard disk with TrueCrypt or similar apps
  • StoreSizer - An App that is best for those that develop on the iOS platform and require small 57x57 or 114x114 or iPad icons, drop your 512x512 icon, the app will resize to the proper dimensions. Now I can also achieve that from Illustrator or Photoshop while exporting, but for the convenience I would reccomend this app
  • Unretina - another developer focused app that reduces the images from Retina Graphics to normal graphics.
  • TextWrangler - a text editor that does code syntax highlighting, has a wierd UI but works well.
  • Alfred - If you have worked with Launchy, Quicksilver or Spotlight, here is the new replacement - Alfred, it is simply one that you cannot imagine not having on your mac. If you can purchase the Power Pack, you get even more control on directories, etc. You can do a whole heap of tasks without even touching the mouse (Why would I want that? When I use my iPad with the keyboard, I kind of reach out for the mouse before realising that it is touch screen. Read a review on this here.