Our DNA is written in Objective-C

Macocalypse Now!

Being an iOS-only developer as of yet the launch of the Mac App Store did not really stress me too much. On the contrary, I loved the experience on my mobile devices and I’m glad that Apple is now achieving what Microsoft has failed with for several years with the “Windows Marketplace” store.

Update Jan 7th: I get tons of requests to explain how to do certain iOS things on Mac. Sorry, but I am just as a noob in this area as the next guy. But I am sure, as I will dip my toe in the now much bigger Mac pool, many a tutorial will be forthcoming by yours truely.

Read on for my initial experience and some thoughts about what this means for us iOS developers.

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Why do I not see the OSX 10.6.6 Update?

If you already had installed the 10.6.6 BETA from the Apple Developer site then Software Update does not think you need the new version. To revert the internal numbering to an earlier number you have to run the revisioner package. Thankfully I still had the OSX BETA DMG in my downloads folder.

After having run the Revisioner10H542Client.pkg you start Software Update and it will show you the 10.6.6 Update.

Hours later … one reboot and after logging in you will notice a new app store icon sitting on your dock.

What do I do with apps that are already installed?

My first few installs where actually deinstalls. The iWork apps won’t let you install them if you already have copies sitting in your Applications folder. Evernote would happily install itself a second time whereas the iWork apps would refuse to do so. Also I found that Evernote did in fact install over the previous copy in Applications.

Fortunately you can deinstall apps on Macs as easy as dragging them from Applications to the Trash. This way you can make room for them and allow the App Store to be the master of all updates in the future.

Unfortunately there is no mechanism yet to transfer an existing license into the app store. Nor is it likely that this will ever be available. Apple did not make their 30% on the app outside of the app store. Also we imagine that this is only a brief period because in a couple of month the Mac App Store will be the standard method of distribution on Macs.

The Experience

Purchasing apps on the Mac App Store is just like you know it from iTunes, only that it’s in a standalone app. This is a wise design choice because it prevents iTunes getting even more cluttered.

Once you have settled on a purchase you just click the button and the app icon will fly down to your dock. You can even install multiple apps, but they will be downloaded one after the other showing a progress bar underneath them on the dock. Although it only seems to do this on my MacBook, but not on my iMac. Weird.

Also great on the Mac App Store is a page showing all your previous purchases made under the currently logged in account. This way you are able to launch the App Store on any of your Macs and install the apps from your “digital locker” as you please.

This simplifies licensing in households and small businesses tremendously because you can now legally install it on all your computers. For a while people assumed that the 5 computer limit from iTunes would also apply here, but somebody tried it out and was able to install on 6 machines. So no limit here, but obviously you would not want to give away your iTunes credentials to all your friends. Camaraderie does only go so far.

What Apps to get?

Well, that’s really up to you. My first two where Evernote and Twitter which I loved and used even before the store. Evernote is identical. Twitter is the long awaited resurrection of Tweetie 2 on OSX.

After that I got all the iWork apps and – of course – Chopper 2 which is currently available at rock bottom $1. It’s a cool game to be the first because you can use your iPhone to control it. Love it!

Another app that looks nice if you don’t have a simple To Do list app yet is Todolicious. I’ve personally committed to OmniFocus which is – of course – also already available. But in this case it is so expensive that it’s not so simple for me to just trash the already installed version and buy it again.

What does that mean for iOS developers?

As a developer I am thrilled to see a “Development Tools” category on the app store with many apps that I think to myself “Hey, I could have made that!”

So I get a feeling that it might be not so hard to transition from iOS to OSX making some nifty utilities. Also if you have a certain niche you are serving with your iPhone and iPad app then it surely would make sense to also have a Mac version. One example I know is MindNode which is available on all mentioned platforms.

I foresee that there will be soon tutorials and workshops held for iOS developers seeking to broaden their portfolio also on the Mac App Store. Personally I have to admit I am quite envious of those who already mastered the Mac-flavored submission process let alone development of a Mac app.

The other question is how the MAS will affect pricing of regular Mac software. Over the last year I got used to the process of downloading trial software and buying a license via PayPal if I liked it. You will probably still be able to get trialware like that, as Apple made it clear that they don’t want Demos on their store. But in the end the purchases will probably shift away from PayPal to Apple.

It remains to be seen if the pricing can stay like it is or if a second race to the bottom will occur. One example that has been stated is the much cheaper pricing of pro app Aperture or Apple Remote Desktop. Boy, wouldn’t it be great if Adobe also followed suit and finally made Photoshop CS5 available at a price that single-person shops like myself can actually afford?

Conclusion, All is Good

In any case – being the Mac lover  that I am – I think getting more choices and thus cheaper software can only be a good thing for the platfom in general and for me as Mac-user specifically.

I was psyched when Steam launched on Mac and for about half a year now I do all my gaming on my Macs, mostly my 27″ iMac. I would love to see more big ticket game producers jump on the bandwagon and provide high quality games for Mac. Several companies who started out on iOS now have games on Steam and the MAS. Generally my feeling is that I will see more FPS and action titles on steam whereas the MAS will get the rest.

With choice come problems though. Even on the first day of the MAS I find it hard to choose apps that I think I will like. Thankfully the charts and picks can provide a minimum degree of curation. But now more than ever personal recommendations for apps will become way more important.

Let me know which apps you like most in the comments!

Categories: Apple

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