Mac App Store Offering Updates for Ancient Operating Systems

This morning, the Mac App Store shows me the following updates:

Mas updates

I don’t think I really need to install these updates. In fact, I can’t. I had clicked Update All without noticing which updates were available, and was told that I couldn’t update everything.

Mavericks

Obviously, this is a glitch, but a strange one. I’m sure a lot of Mac users who don’t know exactly which version of macOS they have on their computers will be a bit flustered by this.

Update: a few hours later, these updates are no longer visible.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 48: Is the Mac App Store Really Safe?

We used to think that apps from the Mac App Store were safe, but some recently discovered issues where apps purchased at the Mac App Store have been sending user data to servers have made us reconsider that.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Apple’s Mac App Store

For seven years, the Mac App Store has been one way of purchasing apps for your Mac, and for downloading updates to those apps and to the operating system. Apple is redesigning the Mac App Store with the release of macOS Mojave this fall, providing similar content to the iOS App Store. There will notably be editorial content, in order to expose users to more apps.

You can still buy many Mac apps from individual developers as you did before Apple’s Mac App Store came around. While there are advantages to buying apps from Apple, the Mac App Store is not perfect. So you might be wondering a few things, such as should you buy Mac apps from the App Store, or instead purchase software directly from the developer’s website? Are there limitations on apps downloaded from the Mac App Store? These are all things we’ll cover below, including the pros and cons of buying apps from the Mac App Store as well as when it can be better to go directly to developers for your software.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

A look at seven years of my Mac App Store activity – The Robservatory

The other day while browsing the Mac App Store, I clicked on an app’s web site link, only to be greeted with this lovely “Can’t Find the Server” error message in SafariĀ…

That got me wondering about just how often that happens–how many apps are out there that are still in the store, yet their developers have closed down their work and moved on to other projects? I thought it might be interesting to look at my App Store purchases and see just how many of them had broken web site links in their App Store entries.

Broken links to websites or support, apps that haven’t been updated in years, the Mac App Store is like that old store in the strip mall that has dusty windows and flickering neon lights. Other than the marquee apps – macOS, big-name productivity apps, etc. – it’s full of half-empty aisles and absent floor employees.

Source: A look at seven years of my Mac App Store activity | The Robservatory

The Mac App Store Purchased list needs to be more user-friendly

The Mac App Store was a minor revolution when it first started doing business back in 2010. Like the iOS App Store, it lets you easily buy, download, and update apps that you can use on multiple Macs. It also serves as a conduit for updates to Apple software: both the operating system and Apple’s apps, such as iTunes, Pages, Xcode, and others.

For many users, it’s a great way to buy apps. It offers a single location to get software, and you pay Apple using your on-file credit card or gift card balance. You don’t need to worry about giving your credentials to an unfamiliar website, you don’t need to store serial numbers, and all your updates come through a single conduit.

But there are plenty of reasons to not buy from Apple; a number of key developers have pulled their software from the Mac App Store, because of the impossibility of having demo versions and upgrade pricing. (This article gives a good list of pros and cons of buying from the Mac App Store.)

The Mac App Store needs some work on user-friendliness.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

Providing the best possible App Store experience – The Omni Group

With the original download free, we can implement any pricing options we want to offer customers through In-App Purchases. We can offer our standard unlocks of Standard and Pro, of course. But we can also offer a free 2-week trial which unlocks all of the features of Pro and Standard, letting you freely choose between them. We can offer a discounted upgrade to the new Standard. And we can offer free upgrades to the new versions to any customers who recently purchased the old app.

The Omni Group is spinning this like it’s such a great solution; I think they’ve simply given up on hoping that Apple would implement demos and upgrade pricing, and they’re being subsumed in a business model that doesn’t fit the products they sell.

I understand the logic, but I really don’t like in-app purchases. Sure, for something expensive like OmniFocus you’ll not forget that you bought an in-app purchase, but I know there are apps where I’ve unlocked pro features then, after having to restore an iPhone, forgot about them.

And the Omni Group also says they’re bringing this model to Mac App Store apps. Again, I understand it, but the company has demos of their apps on their websites. This decision highlights one of the biggest failures of the Mac App Store, the fact that developers have no contact with users, and can’t offer demo versions, upgrades, etc.

If the Omni Group has folded, then there’s not much hope for other developers to pressure Apple to fix these issues.

FWIW, I use OmniOutliner, and I’ve long been frustrated by this company that has standard and pro versions of their apps with relatively minor feature differences. I don’t understand the point of having two versions when one would be a lot simpler for everyone.

Source: Providing the best possible App Store experience – The Omni Group

Hey Apple, Fix This: Mac App Store Demos and Upgrades

Apple fix this

Long-time Mac users remember how software was distributed before the introduction of the Mac App Store five years ago. You could buy boxed software in retail stores, and you could download shareware that you could try out and pay for if you liked. There was also freeware that developers gave away. Some developers still practice the shareware model, but the Mac App Store has become the sole provider for much of the software people use on their Macs.

This has its advantages: users are protected, since Apple validates the software; they don’t have to trust their credit card numbers to potentially dodgy websites; and it’s easy to re-download apps and get updates, all through a single app that serves as a storefront. Developers pay Apple a 30 percent commission, but Apple manages fulfillment and billing, and exposes their software to tens of millions of Mac users, so it’s not a bad deal.

But two things are missing from the Mac App Store: demo versions and paid upgrades.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

The Mac App Store is Taking a Lot of Flak

There has been lots of justified criticism of the Mac App Store lately. There was notably a problem that prevented users from launching purchased apps, that turned out to have been caused by someone at Apple forgetting to renew a certificate.

My friend and podcast co-host Rob Griffiths recently penned an article for Macworld, explaining that with convenience comes compromise. Rob pointed out that, while the Mac App Store has some advantages for users, the downsides often outweigh the plusses. There are no demo versions, no refunds (well, technically, you can ask for one, but if you ask too often, you’ll get flagged), no discounts on upgrades for loyal customers, and there’s sandboxing.

Every app in the store–excluding some long-existing apps that pre-dated the rule changes–must be sandboxed. Apple pitches the sandbox as increased security for users, which is definitely true.

But for some apps, the sandbox means they may not be allowed to implement some features (because the sandbox doesn’t allow everything).

Dan Counsell, of Realmac Software, has been collating a list of apps that are not available through the Mac App Store. Naturally, there are thousands of such apps, but Dan has been focusing on the better known apps that many users have heard of. He’s got 63 at the time of this writing, and the list will certainly grow.

Like many such services, Apple is pretty much ignoring the Mac App Store. Developers, who first saw it as a way to get their software in front of millions of users, have found that they wait a long time for their apps to get reviewed, and have no contact with users, who often leave negative reviews for features that don’t work, where, in many cases, an email to the developer would sort things out. Such as last week, when apps weren’t launching because Apple forgot to renew their certificate; lots of apps got one-star reviews, blaming the apps for Apple’s negligence. While the Mac App Store saves developers time – they can sell to any country where Apple is available, and don’t have to worry about payments, or local taxes – it’s becoming clear that the cons are starting to outweigh the pros.

I’ve bought a number of apps on the Mac App Store, but, in most cases, if a developer sells their app directly, through their own website, I buy it that way. It means I have to keep track of a serial number, but that’s not a big deal. If Apple doesn’t fix the Mac App Store, it’s going to lose a lot of the developers whose apps make the OS X platform so powerful. And that would be bad for everyone.

Mac App Store Kerfuffle Prevents Purchased Apps from Running

This is one for the Department of WTF. I noticed on Twitter this morning that several people were having issues launching apps downloaded from Apple’s Mac App Store. I’m not seeing this on my iMac, but on my MacBook, most – though not all Mac App Store apps – display this alert when I try to launch them:

Mac app store wtf

There’s something going on with the way apps are validating with the Mac App Store. Apparently, the only solution is to delete the apps and re-download them from the Mac App Store. One at a time.

It’s not clear why this is only affecting one of my Macs, or whether this is a permanent issue with these apps, or just a temporary glitch that may resolve later today or tomorrow. Some people are reporting only getting a dialog to sign into their Mac App Store accounts. If you start work today and see a bunch of these dialogs, arm yourself with patience as you re-download a lot of your apps.

This is great for those who, like me, have very slow internet connections… Thanks Apple.

Oh, and this is yet another reason to buy apps directly from developers instead of from the Mac App Store.

Update: Oh, it turns out that Apple’s certificate has expired. Seriously, what a bunch of noobs sometimes…

Update 2: Michael Tsai has an excellent overview of the problem, the reactions, the solutions, and the blame game.

How to Search the iTunes Store, App Store, and Mac App Store with Google

iTunes used to have a Power Search feature, but it has been removed from the iTunes app (though you can still access it this way). Power searching is really useful when you want to home in on something in the iTunes Store, App Store, or Mac App Store.

In the absence of a real power search, you can search another way: with Google. A Google search works because Apple has Web pages for all its iTunes Store content. With Google, you can search for more specific keywords and use quotes to search for specific phrases.

Perform a search like this (replace the terms in brackets with the item you’re searching for):

[artist] [title] site:itunes.apple.com

You can add other keywords, such as the name of a record label. So, if you wanted to search for Steve Reich’s album Music for 18 Musicians on the ECM label, you could run the following search:

"steve reich" "music for 18 musicians" ECM site:itunes.apple.com

(The quotes narrow the search to the exact phrases that are quoted.)

Google returns a lot of results, the first of which should be the album you’re looking for. You’ll see results from several countries, so look at the URL: after itunes.apple.com, if you see /us/, that is a U.S. store page; /gb/ is for the UK; /de/ for Germany, and so on.

Itunes store search

Click a link in your search results to open its iTunes Store Web page, complete with a View in iTunes button that you can click to open that “page” in the iTunes Store.

You can also use the same technique to search for apps, using keywords, specific app names, and more.