PCs

First look at the Mac App Store

Vincent Danen takes a first look at the Mac App store, finding out a few quirks, how it works, and what you can expect.

On January 6th, OS X 10.6.6 was released with the Mac App Store, as promised back in October. This is Apple's equivalent to the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch -- but exclusively for the Mac. With it, you are able to purchase (using your iTunes account) applications for the Mac, browse software, and install updates to software previously purchased in the App Store.

The Mac App Store looks much like its iTunes counterpart. Once OS X 10.6.6 is installed, a new icon will appear on the Dock and the traditional Mac OS X Software... entry in the Apple menu will be replaced with App Store.

Launching the App Store will let you immediately browse for new and updated software, with buttons along the top to allow quick navigation to featured items, different categories of software, a listing of your past purchases, and any available updates to software you had previously downloaded.

The App Store is not without its quirks, however. When launched, it indicates the status of apps as well as their price, similar to the iTunes store. So if you have iWork or iLife installed, you will see individual items such as iMovie or Keynote as "installed." For third-party applications, however, this seems to be hit or miss.

For instance, Panic's Transmit is installed on my system in a Tools folder contained in the Applications folder (yes, I organize my applications). The App Store correctly picked it up as installed and indicated it as such (although it remains to be seen if any updates to Transmit can be delivered via the App Store since I did not purchase, or install it, that way). However, I also have Pixelmator installed in my Tools folder, and the App Store is telling me that I can buy it for $29.99 (incidentally, looking at Pixelmator specifically, it looks like this might be intentional: the $29.99 price is introductory and for those using the current 1.x version, if you purchase Pixelmator through the App Store, you will get future 2.x upgrades, via the store, for free).

One benefit of the App Store is that there is no longer a need for licenses. Because the App Store is a "gatekeeper" of what you have installed, installing a paid application won't require you to input a license code, as ownership will be determined by your iTunes account. This also means that if you purchase a program on one computer, but have other Macs linked to the same iTunes account, those purchases can be used on those computers as well. The Mac App Store page indicates that programs bought can be used on every Mac that you use.

Installing applications is a one-click affair and you can see the progress of the installation via the Dock. Unfortunately, the resulting application is also placed on the Dock, which is a nuisance for people like me who prefer to keep the Dock sparse. You can easily remove the icon off the Dock and find it in the Applications folder, which is where the App Store installs programs.

The Mac App Store changes the way applications are delivered to the Mac. It makes searching for and finding applications easy. There are a fair number of applications on the store right now, and expect it to fill quite rapidly over the coming months.

About

Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.

16 comments
Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Outside of the fact that I have nothing from Apple, would you want to buy [or sell] anything on a site that has security issues?

MacNewton
MacNewton

Make sure your covered! "There is now a 50% chance of being infected by an Internet worm within just 12 minutes of being online using an unprotected, unpatched Windows PC." - Sophos Inc. - Threat Management Solutions "Average time-to-exploitation ... for an unprotected computer is measured in minutes." - United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)

jm4az
jm4az

Job's is touting the all roads thru apple approach again. It did not work the first time. It will not work this time. The closing of the platform will eventually kill the golden goose. Lets face it apple is an Design firm/law Firm/retailer with no manufacturing or core. Closing the platform will not last.

galley
galley

Like you, I already had the latest pre-App Store version of Pixelmator installed (in my Applications folder), and I "purchased" the discounted version from the App store, expecting to be billed the $29.99 price, and I would be eligible for a free copy of 2.0 when it is released. It replaced my copy of Pixelmator with the App Store version, but it didn't bill me for it (I was billed for another app I downloaded at about the same time - Angry Birds). It'll be interesting to see if it bills me when I later get the 2.0 version.

vdanen
vdanen

Really? It didn't bill you for it? I would think you would get billed for it now because from the way I understand things, they will keep "Pixelmator" on the App Store (current 1.x and then 2.x) rather than making "Pixelmator 2" on the store (which would be a different app). So, in theory, if you don't have Pixelmator at all, you should still be able to buy it for the $29.99 and get v2 later, same as anyone who had previously purchased it.

Slayer_
Slayer_

A listing of free and non free programs with a 1 click install for all of them would have been sweet. I figured cnet (Download.com) or someone else would have made a program by now that reads their database of programs and can download and install them with a single click.

MacNewton
MacNewton

Now that would be a first! Microsoft beat Apple to the Mac App Store by four years - and then dumped it , why you ask! No one liked it? Poor software ? Dope, Just very boring Yes thats it. - let me know why MS killed their App Store.

Slayer_
Slayer_

But if sites like download.com, softpedia, sourceforge offered their own quick install repositories, it might be popular. Or a single program that can read from each of their databases would be really sweet. Especially if it can securely handle CC purchases through its interface. Cut ebay and PayPal right out of the picture.

MacNewton
MacNewton

Windows XP, all windows IE , Window VISTA. Window 7 is OK, it just a copy of OS X anyway. ;-)

MacNewton
MacNewton

Looks like you have this problem with Apple and all it's wonderful istuff. I bet you have a poster of bill Gates on your wall! Back to the dark ages you go. No new Apple Apps for you to play with. Let me take a guess, you're running windows XP - using a 19" CRT with a Ball mouse. The car you drive must be a 1978 ford Pinto or is it a 2000 Ford focus. If you don't like to use something , don't . no one is making you.

Slayer_
Slayer_

No other MP3 player has a requirement like that. All the rest register as flash drives.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Windows developers don't want to give Apple 30% for the kickback [errr administrative fee] from their revenue. Speaking of anti-trust, funny how the EU [and DoJ] went after Microsoft for IE and WMP but you still have Quicktime [let alone buggy and bloated iTunes] and Safari are left alone. I recently got myself a new MP3 player. An iPod was not included in my choices because I don't want iTunes on my system. To a lesser extent that you couldn't change the battery but that's the same for just about all of them. A few years back, my last MP3 player was one of the few with a removable battery.

indigo196
indigo196

The idea of the App store is an excellent one that has been around in FOSS for quite some time. It is good to see that Apple has adopted this method of delivering software. Kudos to Debian, RedHat, Ubuntu, Fedora, and Suse for getting it right. I have to wonder if Apple could even do this if those companies were as aggressive as Apple in 'patenting' their ideas.

DanielRP
DanielRP

There just taking the idea and making it viable. People can bang on all they want about Linux, FOSS Ubuntu with their "Package Managers" and whatnot, but if they don't get it out there, no one is gonna care. I like to think about it like this; a group of kids come up with a cool idea and have fun with it. Then the adults make the idea a reality and bring it to everyone. The kids whine saying they got their first, but in the end, they just couldn't do much with the idea.

Slayer_
Slayer_

The FOSS version is free and provides programs for free and does not require an account.

ricegf
ricegf

CNR supported a fairly large number of paid apps for a Linux product called Linspire back in 2002, and extended support to other leading Linux products in 2007. It has since gone to meet its maker, unfortunately, as it had a rich social media organization (users could rate apps, post reviews and screenshots, share "aisles" of products such that friends could install them all with a single click, etc.). The Ubuntu Software Center in version 10.10 has supported paid apps since last year as well, but the selection is still relatively sparse.

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