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Apple Redesigns Mac App Store with iOS-like Editorial Focus, New Product Pages, and More

During the WWDC keynote today, Apple announced a redesigned Mac App Store, elements of which leaked this past Saturday in a 30-second Mac App Store preview video for Xcode 10.1 The video was discovered by Steve Troughton-Smith:

Unlike the iOS App Store, the Mac App Store has never included preview videos, which indicated additional Mac App Store improvements were likely.

Those suspicions were confirmed during the keynote this morning when Apple revealed an ambitious redesign of the Mac App Store. The update takes several cues from the iOS App Store, implementing lessons learned from that store’s successful update in iOS 11.

The redesign of the upcoming Mac App Store includes functionality similar in many respects to the iOS App Store. The app is divided into several new sections in a panel along the left side of the window including:

  • Discover
  • Create
  • Work
  • Play
  • Develop

The Discover section is where most of the new editorial content will be found along with top charts. The Create, Work, Play, and Develop sections will feature collections, tips, and app recommendations themed to correspond with each section.

The video previews are part of new product pages that focus on screenshots and videos to showcase each app. Like the iOS App Store, the new Mac App Store will include information about whether an app is charting, whether it’s been picked by Apple as an Editor’s Choice, and more prominent ratings.

As the changes announced implicitly acknowledge though, the problems with the Mac App Store run deeper than its design. The Mac App Store has suffered since its inception from editorial neglect, a lack of feature parity with its iOS counterpart, the lack of access to TestFlight beta testing, and restrictive sandboxing that has made selling outside the store more attractive to many developers.

With the update to the Mac App Store in the fall, Apple is addressing some of those issues including sandboxing restrictions. According to Panic, which is bringing Transmit back to the Mac App Store and is sponsoring MacStories’ WWDC coverage this week:

Those sandboxing changes, along with the redesigned store and other changes have attracted several apps that have never been on the Mac App Store or previously left the Mac App Store including:

  • Microsoft’s Office 365
  • Adobe’s Lightroom CC
  • Panic’s Transmit
  • Bare Bones’ BBEdit
  • Snap’s Live Studio
  • Houseparty

The changes to the Mac App Store previewed by Apple today are encouraging, especially given the success the iOS App Store has enjoyed since iOS 11’s release. Still, the update needs to be successfully executed by Apple and accepted by Mac developers, many of whom have lost faith in its viability. Apple seems to understand the success of the Mac App Store is dependent on both, which is why today’s presentation included the announcement that well-known apps from big corporations and independent developers are participating in the redesigned store this fall. Only time will tell whether the changes announced today will be enough to revitalize the Mac App Store.

You can also follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2018 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2018 RSS feed.

  1. The short video, which leaked via the iTunes Search API, also revealed a system-wide macOS dark mode and an Apple News app, which are discussed in detail elsewhere in our WWDC coverage. ↩︎

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