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.

18 thoughts on “The Mac App Store is Taking a Lot of Flak

  1. I actually prefer to purchase from the Mac App Store. I purchased the four Pedia apps directly from Bruji however, as the Mac App Store didn’t offer app bundles at the time.

  2. I actually prefer to purchase from the Mac App Store. I purchased the four Pedia apps directly from Bruji however, as the Mac App Store didn’t offer app bundles at the time.

  3. I also prefer purchasing from Mac App Store, partially for convenience (updates) and partially so my CC doesn’t get spread all over the Internet. My CC company does not allow disposable CC numbers. I hope Apple pays more attention to their store.

  4. I also prefer purchasing from Mac App Store, partially for convenience (updates) and partially so my CC doesn’t get spread all over the Internet. My CC company does not allow disposable CC numbers. I hope Apple pays more attention to their store.

  5. It feels like there are a lot of changes going on behind the scenes of the MAS and I wonder if we will find out why anytime soon.

    For instance, I am getting notifications now that I have to enter my App Store password to run an app for the first time (it wasn’t) that was purchased on another computer (it wasn’t). Minor inconvenience aside, this has no security benefit to me as a user. It’s s MAS app. It’s not a risk. It feels like an anti-piracy measure. Since when does Apple do that?

    Then there is today’s tweet from Paul Haddad of Tapbots: https://twitter.com/tapbot_paul/status/666724305368018944

    Curiouser and curiouser.

  6. It feels like there are a lot of changes going on behind the scenes of the MAS and I wonder if we will find out why anytime soon.

    For instance, I am getting notifications now that I have to enter my App Store password to run an app for the first time (it wasn’t) that was purchased on another computer (it wasn’t). Minor inconvenience aside, this has no security benefit to me as a user. It’s s MAS app. It’s not a risk. It feels like an anti-piracy measure. Since when does Apple do that?

    Then there is today’s tweet from Paul Haddad of Tapbots: https://twitter.com/tapbot_paul/status/666724305368018944

    Curiouser and curiouser.

  7. Like others, I prefer the App Store as well (a side effect, one does’t *need* a credit card there, buying iTunes gift cards in any convenience store works just as well…). Buying apps from individual developers doesn’t guarantee peace of mind either: I remember Adobe CS 5 (I stopped upgrading after that) having a few issues talking to their validation servers causing it to revert to demo mode (timed out of course). And what if the individual app developer goes bust, the servers shut down, the validation fails? In the comments of Michael Tsai piece ‘no one minding the store’ (http://mjtsai.com/blog/2015/11/12/no-one-minding-the-store/), people mentioned exactly this.
    Not to say that the App Store is nirvana — it isn’t, but I really value it.

    • Adobe is problematic, and they aren’t in the Mac App store. However, very few independent developers use the kind of validation server you mention. I think I have one app that uses such a system. So I don’t think you need to worry about that.

  8. Like others, I prefer the App Store as well (a side effect, one does’t *need* a credit card there, buying iTunes gift cards in any convenience store works just as well…). Buying apps from individual developers doesn’t guarantee peace of mind either: I remember Adobe CS 5 (I stopped upgrading after that) having a few issues talking to their validation servers causing it to revert to demo mode (timed out of course). And what if the individual app developer goes bust, the servers shut down, the validation fails? In the comments of Michael Tsai piece ‘no one minding the store’ (http://mjtsai.com/blog/2015/11/12/no-one-minding-the-store/), people mentioned exactly this.
    Not to say that the App Store is nirvana — it isn’t, but I really value it.

    • Adobe is problematic, and they aren’t in the Mac App store. However, very few independent developers use the kind of validation server you mention. I think I have one app that uses such a system. So I don’t think you need to worry about that.

  9. Using Mac OS 10.9.5 and latest Firefox, I have not been able to get into the App store for about a year. Click any button saying App store just starts to open endless tabs requiring the back button fast or close. Anyone else had this problem? Telling Apple is like talking to the N face of the Eiger, the App store opens in Safari so is Firefox unable to fix or Apple pushing the punters towards Safari?

    • The works for me on a 10.9 machine with Firefox 42. It is the 1st time I ever tried (I never use that browser save for webdevelopement testing). I click on the button View in Mac App Store and a small windows pops up asking to confirm the action (select an application etc).

      In Firefox Preferences > Applications tab: Do you have an entry ‘macappstores’ in the list ? If so, makes sure it is set to to open the App Store.app (from the right hand column).

  10. Using Mac OS 10.9.5 and latest Firefox, I have not been able to get into the App store for about a year. Click any button saying App store just starts to open endless tabs requiring the back button fast or close. Anyone else had this problem? Telling Apple is like talking to the N face of the Eiger, the App store opens in Safari so is Firefox unable to fix or Apple pushing the punters towards Safari?

    • The works for me on a 10.9 machine with Firefox 42. It is the 1st time I ever tried (I never use that browser save for webdevelopement testing). I click on the button View in Mac App Store and a small windows pops up asking to confirm the action (select an application etc).

      In Firefox Preferences > Applications tab: Do you have an entry ‘macappstores’ in the list ? If so, makes sure it is set to to open the App Store.app (from the right hand column).

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