The Mac App Store was unveiled earlier today with the 10.6.6 update, and while for a great many Mac users, it heralds a new, easy way to grab interesting software you might ordinarily have missed, it’s not without its foibles too.
For a regular user who just wants a way to browse for things like they do on their iPhone or iPad, it’s a great thing. Get all your apps in one place, get notified when they’re updated automatically as in iOS. But for power users, who are accustomed to the modicum of effort it takes to seek out and find apps, there are a few downsides. Already there are rumblings that certain popular apps had to remove pieces of functionality just to be included in the store. That could be a deal-breaker for someone who’s been using a piece of software and wants the unified benefits the App Store offers, but can’t give up a function he/she relies on.
Apps already installed on your Mac show up as installed, but as of now, won’t be updated through the App Store either, which can cause confusion for users. It’s probably because they don’t want people to purchase apps they already own again, but it’s a confusing UI choice. Could be a bug, could be a real pain further down the line when version numbers don’t quite match up, functions are different between two seemingly identical versions of the same app, and users have questions about what they have and why it isn’t like the other things they have.
Furthermore, before the iOS App Store, there really wasn’t a super easy way to get apps on and off your device. The ease of instant downloads and instant deletions made it perfect for not having to think too much about those impulse buys. But the Mac is very different. As of right now, I can’t find a simple “tap-and-hold” delete function for Mac apps like on iOS, and people are going to want that. Soon. Within the App Store app, I don’t see any mention of uninstallation. Just a purchase history. And considering that the Mac is not sandboxed the way iOS is, it could lead to problems and confusion in the future.
Considering Apple’s aiming this squarely at the standard user and not so much at the power user who understands where .plist files are stored and why they might be crashing your app every time you open it, they have a lot of work left to do to make it exactly the same kind of experience the iOS App Store has become. It’s a great first effort, but be prepared for some quizzical expressions here and there as we go along. Perhaps 10.7 will address some of these issues. I hope so, because as it stands, it’s just not the same fluid consumer experience people are used to. And that may be a bigger problem for Apple than they realize.