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Posts tagged with "mac app store"

BBEdit Returns to the Mac App Store After 4+ Year Absence

Beginning today, BBEdit 12 is available for download through the Mac App Store. BBEdit was previously listed for purchase through the Mac App Store, but famously left the store in October 2014. Last year, however, Apple announced on-stage at WWDC that BBEdit would be returning to the new Mac App Store in the near future, and that day has finally arrived. From the developers' press release:

“We are delighted to be offering BBEdit in the Mac App Store again,” said Rich Siegel, founder and CEO of Bare Bones Software, Inc. “Since the release of macOS Mojave, the Mac App Store provides a beautiful new look; unique editorial content; and an emphasis on human curation, while offering a trusted and secure source for macOS software. In addition, the new Mac App Store makes it possible for us to offer our customers the option of a subscription-based pricing model.”

BBEdit 12, the latest version of the popular writing app for macOS, features more than three hundred new features and refinements since the app was last available on the Mac App Store. It also introduces a new pricing model: unlike direct purchases from Bare Bones Software, where an app license can (still) be purchased for a one-time $49.99 cost, on the Mac App Store BBEdit is available only as a subscription.

For those who wish to get BBEdit from the Mac App Store, the app is a free download, and you can use it in full up to 30 days at no cost, after which a subscription will be required to unlock its web authoring tools and a variety of other pro features; basic editing functionality will continue to work without a subscription, however.

Subscriptions are available at $3.99/month or $39.99/year. One advantage of the subscription option is that it will always provide access to the latest version of the app, whereas purchasing the app directly from Bare Bones will earn you the current version of the app only – if you want major new versions as they're released, you'll need to purchase upgrade licenses.

When Apple unveiled the new Mac App Store last year, it promised that not only would the app itself be modernized, but the store would be ripe with major app additions as well. Following Microsoft Office and Panic's Transmit, BBEdit's arrival today helps make good on that promise. This time last year some of the Mac's best, most popular software wasn't available in the Mac App Store; it's good to see that begin to change.


Microsoft Office Debuts on the Mac App Store

Promised at WWDC last June, Microsoft Office 365 has arrived on the Mac App Store today. Office 365, which includes the company’s flagship Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook productivity apps are free to download but require a subscription available via an In-App Purchase to create and edit documents and to send and receive email messages. Before today, the Mac versions of the apps were only available as direct downloads from Microsoft.

At WWDC 2018, Apple announced a redesign of the Mac App Store. During the presentation, the company said the following apps would be coming to the Mac App Store:

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

The addition of the apps announced has been slow. Houseparty debuted on the Mac App Store several months ago, but Transmit didn’t appear until last November. With today’s addition of Office 365, that leaves Lightroom, BBEdit, and Live Studio to go.

Office is a significant addition to the Mac App Store. The apps in the suite are used by millions of people worldwide, and the convenience of downloading them and updating the apps from the Mac App Store alongside other apps should be a welcome addition for many users. Hopefully, the remainder of apps promised aren’t far behind and will help reinvigorate the Store, which has not seen the same level of success as its iOS sibling.

Office 365 is available on the Mac App Store as a bundle. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook can also be downloaded individually.


Panic’s Transmit Returns to the Mac App Store

In the summer of 2017, Panic released Transmit 5, a top-to-bottom update to the company’s excellent file transfer app for the Mac. At the same time, Panic left the Mac App Store like many Mac apps have in recent years. Panic’s Cabel Sasser explained that the company wanted the ability to distribute a demo version to prospective users, but couldn’t, though it would continue to reevaluate the decision and hoped to be back some day.

Today, just over about 16 months since that announcement, Transmit is back on the Mac App Store. The app’s return to Apple’s newly-redesigned Mac App Store has been anticipated since June when it was previewed at WWDC. As part of the announcement of the redesigned Store, Apple highlighted several apps that would be coming to the Store for the first time or returning, including Microsoft Office 365, Adobe’s Lightroom CC, Bare Bones’ BBEdit, and Transmit.

At WWDC, it wasn’t entirely clear what was being done to entice developers to come back, though changes to sandboxing seemed to be a factor:

No additional information emerged over the summer, and the new Mac App Store was launched alongside the release of macOS Mojave in September with no sign of Transmit or the other apps that appeared onstage at WWDC.

However, today, Transmit was released on the Mac App Store with a subscription-based business model that includes a 7-day free trial. In a blog post about the release, Cabel Sasser confirms that sandboxing played a role in the decision not to release Transmit 5 on the Mac App Store, but has changed to allow Transmit to return to the Store:

…sandboxing has evolved enough that Transmit can be nearly feature-parity with its non-sandboxed cousin.

The FAQs on Panic’s blog elaborate on the differences between the Mac App Store and direct-sale versions of Transmit:

Does it have the same features as regular Transmit 5?
With one small exception — “Open in Terminal” depends on AppleScripting the terminal, which isn’t possible with sandboxing (yet). But even viewing or editing or changing the permissions of files you don’t own is now possible, which wasn’t until very recently.

Transmit Disk is also not part of the Mac App Store version of Transmit.

As Panic indicated back in June, the business model for Transmit on the Mac App Store differs from the direct-sale version available on Panic.com. The Mac App Store version is subscription-only, which is designed to make the app more economical for users who only need to use it for a short time. The subscription costs $24.99/year and includes a 7-day free trial. The direct sale version of the app is still available from Panic for $45.

It’s good to see Transmit back in the Mac App Store and I’m intrigued by the business model. By targeting two very different types of users, the Mac App Store gives Panic a simple end-to-end solution to reach a new set of short-term users who might not have been willing to pay the up front cost of the app before. Meanwhile, the paid-up-front option is still available for heavy users. This is a model that I could see working well for many pro-level apps.


App Bundles Are Coming to the Mac App Store

In a brief post on Apple’s Developer news site, the company announced that it is adding support for app bundles to the Mac App Store. According to the post:

…now, you can create app bundles for Mac apps or free apps that offer an auto-renewable subscription to access all apps in the bundle.

The post points to developer documentation on creating app bundles that that has been revised to mention Mac apps. The process for setting up a bundle, which will allow developers to offer up to 10 Mac apps as a single purchase, appears to be the same as it is for iOS developers. Unfortunately for those developers with iOS and macOS apps, it does not appear possible to create a mixed bundle of iOS and Mac apps.

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Mac and iOS App Store Web Preview Pages Get a Makeover

Apple has introduced new web preview pages for the App Store and Mac App Store. The new design more closely tracks the App Store changes debuted as part of iOS 11. Interestingly, the web previews for Mac apps share the same refreshed design despite the fact that the Mac App Store has barely changed since its introduction in 2011.

The new design features bigger images and more white space. Reviews are laid out horizontally as cards near the bottom of the page. Longer reviews open in a pop-over card that hovers above the page when the ‘more’ link is clicked. Mac apps include a ‘View in Mac App Store’ button near the top of the page too.

The new web previews are only accessible from search results loaded in the desktop version of Safari or another desktop browser. The mobile version of the browser offers to take you to the App Store when a link is tapped, even if you long press the refresh button and pick ‘Request Desktop Site.’ In my tests, the desktop search results that load in mobile Safari look more like their desktop counterparts, but DuckDuckGo and Bing still offer to open the App Store, whereas Google’s links are simply unresponsive.

I like the look of the new preview pages. The old ones were too closely tied to the design of the iTunes App Store, which was eliminated last fall.

The inclusion of Mac app previews is intriguing. It makes sense for both Stores to share a common design language, but the Mac App Store is in desperate need of love and attention for many reasons that extend beyond its design. Whether this is a sign that the Mac App Store will get that attention soon, Mac apps will be thrown in with iOS apps on the App Store, or something else will be interesting to watch.


Making More Outside the Mac App Store

After seeing the results of Kapeli's exit from the Mac App Store, Rogue Amoeba's Paul Kafasis compared sales of Piezo from the Mac App Store and their direct web store as well:

After seeing Kapeli’s chart, I was curious about the App Store’s impact on Piezo’s sales. The restrictions and limitations of the Mac App Store ultimately led us to remove Piezo on February 12th, 2016. We’ve now been selling it exclusively via our site for a year. This has provided about as perfect a real-world test case as one could hope for. Piezo’s removal came with minimal publicity, the price has remained constant at $19, and we’ve had no big updates or other major publicity for it in either 2015 or 2016.

His conclusion is perfectly reasonable:

In our case, however, it’s clear that we were serving Apple, rather than Apple serving us. By removing Piezo from the Mac App Store, we stopped paying a commission to Apple for the many customers who had found Rogue Amoeba on their own. Better still, we were able to improve the quality of the product while simplifying our work considerably. Ultimately, that alone was enough to convince us that leaving the Mac App Store was the right move. The subsequent revenue increase we’ve seen is merely a nice bonus.

At this point, I don't understand why any independent developer would want to sell apps exclusively through the Mac App Store. The lack of meaningful improvements since 2011 don't justify Apple's high commission anymore. The Mac App Store has always been a second-class citizen; today, Mac developers like Rogue Amoeba are better served by controlling their own destiny.

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Mac App Store Results Polluted with Questionable Results

Justin Pot, writing for How-To Geek, walks through some damning examples of apps on the Mac App Store that seem designed to create the false impression that they're apps like Microsoft Excel:

Seemingly official applications of dubious value are way to easy to accidentally find by searching. It’s understandable that Apple wants the App Store to appear full, but leaving things seemingly designed to deceive people is hardly an answer.

This is an issue I raised in June in the context of the problem of app discovery where I cited similar tests run by Ben Lovejoy of 9to5Mac on the iOS App Store. My point was that developers suffer from ineffective search results polluted with irrelevant and questionable results. But as Pot demonstrates from the reviews of the apps he uses as examples, Apple's customers also suffer when they purchase an app thinking it's something that it's not.

Apple has made some progress in cleaning up search results in the iOS App Store. However, in an all too familiar trend, Pot shows that the Mac App Store lags behind its sibling store and needs attention.

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Five Years of Mac App Store

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Mac App Store, which launched on January 6, 2011. The iOS App Store, which launched in 2008, was already huge success in 2011 – a success that continues today. The Mac App Store, announced at Apple's 'Back to the Mac' event in late 2010, offered the alluring promise of revitalising the Mac app market with easier access to customers, and, it was hoped, greater financial success for developers.

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