Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Wish List for the Mac App Store

Dan Counsell:

Many developers have to make the difficult choice between degrading the functionality of their software or leaving the MAS to sell online. […] Things are so acute that entire categories of apps cannot be distributed in the store because they cannot be sandboxed without crippling their feature set (e.g. developer tools, system utilities, and pro apps).


In-app purchases are killing the user experience, but they are currently the only way Apple allows developers to achieve incremental revenue. As a result, one of the only options available is ‘liteware’ with piecemeal in-app purchases, annoying ads, and free apps that “trick” you into buying more later. Devs are stuck between a rock and a hard place: They can’t achieve incremental revenue without in-app purchases, but are punished by consumers for the terrible experience.


Apple has made a lot of progress in reducing the average time it takes for an app to be reviewed, pushing the average app store review time down to just one day from a previous average of eight. That said, Apple’s app review process is incredibly inconsistent.

When sandboxing was introduced, I thought that more entitlements would be forthcoming each year. The theory was that Apple would prefer more apps to be sandboxed, with their functionality controlled by entitlements, than to have them remain wholly unsandboxed. But that hasn’t really happened. If anything, we’ve seen more tightening.

My last four app reviews were 4 hours, 3 days, 6 hours, and 2 days. Oddly, sometimes it takes 1–2 days after “Ready for Sale” before the update actually shows up in the Mac App Store.

Update (2016-11-15): Nick Heer:

As far as I can see, the only apps that take well to the Mac App Store — aside from Apple’s apps — are single-purpose lightweight consumer utility apps. For instance, a while ago, I was trying to find an audio A/B testing app. After fruitlessly scouring the web for probably half an hour, I tried the App Store and found a couple of decent contenders.

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