Almost exactly a month ago, Apple launched the Mac App store. I initially wasn’t sure if I’d use it a whole lot where I already have my core programs that I use on the mac, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the experience. This certainly wasn’t a unique idea from Apple as a few Linux distributions have already had similar stores in their desktop versions, but this is the first time the idea has been used on a bit more mainstream OS. And with how simple and easy everything is, I wouldn’t be surprised if MIcrosoft eventually does something very similar on Windows.
It’s a win win for developers and end users. For developers they get the app in the store and then anyone can finding their app fairly easily. No need to google search through tons of pages trying to find the app that does that one thing. Developers get the exposure they want in the app store and users get the one place shop to find them.
The process of buying an app is just like that on the iPhone, iPad, etc. Find the app you want to buy/download, click the buy button, input your iTunes account information, and the app icon goes down to the dock with a download progress bar. The app is automatically installed with no need to find your downloaded file, drag an icon to the applications folder, run an installer, or the various other methods that a user had to do in the past.
The other nice thing is no more serial numbers, product activation, or other various methods to combat piracy that have been implemented by app developers in the past. The paid apps do use a drm scheme to prevent piracy, but it is flexible enough that I think users won’t mind. Any app you buy on the app store can be used on up to 5 computers. Most of the time you are only limited to one by most license agreements, so I think this is great. I can buy apps on my home computer and then still use them on my work computer. Or say I’m at a friends house and need a certain app that I’ve bought previously to get something done. I could login with my store info, download the app, get the work done, and then delete it.
Auto updates are another great feature. So far I haven’t had an app downloaded in the app store nag me about updating to a new version like many normal apps do and it’s always when I’m trying to get something done. Instead, now you just launch the app store and click the updates tab. It’ll list everything that has an update and simple update all click will keep your apps current.
So now what apps have I downloaded/bought 🙂
This utility has been a requirement for a very long time. It is used to extract compressed files such as .zip, .rar, gzip, etc. In the past just to get this free expander version you had to go to their site, type in your email, and wait a few minutes for a download link. I was really happy when I saw it was in the app store and wouldn’t have to do this whole process anymore when setting up a mac for the first time.
Text Wranger is a free text editor created by the same people who make BBEdit. It doesn’t have all the main features of BBEdit, but gets the job done when you need to edit html, php, and similar such files. I use this utility every day and was also glad to see it in the app store.
This app was free for a limited time. I’m not sure if it still is or not, but this is a really easy iPhone ringtone maker utility. You open the app and it automatically pulls from your iTunes library. You pick the song you want, highlight the area you want for a ringtone, click create, then it switches over to iTunes, creates the ringtone, and automatically adds it to your ringtones library ready for the next time you sync your iPhone. It is well worth it even at a couple dollars with how easy it is to use. Previously I was using Quicktime Pro and it required quite a few more steps.
Not much needs to be said about Angry Birds. This game has taken the mobile world by storm with its simply gameplay, but fun mechanics. The Mac version works just the same, but you glide your finger on the trackpad to launch the birds at those pesky pigs.
I had heard of Pixelmator before the app store, but because of the rave reviews it was getting I decided to give it a try. For a limited time it is on sale for $30 in the app store. It does a lot of the same things that most users use Photoshop for, but at a much more affordable price. I went to their site and tried out there 30 day demo and within a day of use decided I would abandon Photoshop and use this instead. Some things take a little getting used to, but they have some great tutorials on their site and it is fairly easy to pick up. The program feels like a mac program with a polished interface, is one of the first photo editors to use your graphics card, and is fully 64-bit. Where photoshop takes a good 5-10 seconds to open up, Pixelmator is pretty much instantaneous and ready for work. This is now my goto choice in a graphics program.
So that’s what I’ve downloaded so far, but I do still have a few on my list. Apple has reduced the price of their software dramatically in the App store. One example is Aperture, the RAW image editor created by Apple. The boxed version of Aperture runs $200, but now you can get it in the App Store for $89, so less than half the retail price. I’ve wanted to toy around with Aperture, but the price has always put me off. At $80 I just might go for it at some point. I hope other developers follow suit now that they don’t have to pay for packaging, CDs, etc. The other nice thing is now the various suites that Apple had such as iLife and iWork are setup that you can just purchase the individual pieces. So say you only like iLife for iPhoto and iMove, now you can only buy those two apps at $15 a piece and save some cash without having to buy the others.
I personally think this was a great move and it helps the little developers out there get noticed. Some people have said this is the demise of the Mac thinking that at some point Apple will shut off loading Apps the old way, so you’re stuck with just the App Store. I personally don’t think the Mac will go that and certainly hope it never does. For the average consumer, they’ll be able to get what they need in the App store, but on a full fledged computer you’ll still need the ability to load tweaks and various other things that won’t fit into the App store