Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Mac App Store Safari Extensions Experience

Jeff Johnson:

By widening the window, we go from seeing 12 apps to seeing 3½ apps. How is that possible? How is that good design?


Notice also that on Mojave, no ratings are shown with the apps, unlike in the High Sierra App Store. On Mojave, 5-star apps look the same as 1-star or 0-star apps in the list. This erases useful information for the customer and makes the vertical position in the list even more important.


In the Mac App Store, all of this developer’s apps have low ratings or no ratings, some of them “recently reset”, which suggests previously low ratings deleted. The customer reviews are also terrible. A lot of “does not work” and “crashes on launch”. You have to wonder how all these apps got through App Store Review, how the huge volume of apps from a single developer was not a red flag, and how Apple saw fit to prominently feature two of the apps in the Safari Extensions list. None of this reflects well on Apple’s curation of the App Store.

Previously: Is There Hope for the Mac App Store?, Stop The Madness.

Update (2018-12-23): Alex Popescu:

The Safari extensions part of the ecosystem is very broken. Not allowing a growing community of extensions is in my opinion hurting Safari usage numbers. I have Chrome on my machines because of its extensions. I would not touch it if I’d have those in Safari.

Tanner Bennett:

Extensions in Safari are so restricted that things like 1Password can’t even function as seamlessly as they do in other browsers.

Update (2018-12-27): Nick Heer:

Anyway, if you try to find every Safari Extension in the App Store, you’ll have a very difficult time. As far as I can work out, it’s completely impossible. If you search for “Safari extensions”, you’ll get a list of results that is completely different from the ones in the collection above. Just two extensions from the list of ten above are returned in the entirety of the store’s search results. Eight of them just don’t show up anywhere.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

It‘s tragic. Ad blockers got worse with Mojave because of the restrictions.

EVERYTHING got worse because of the restrictions, which Apple spread beyond Mojave to Safari/High Sierra.

I've been frustrated by this change since Mojave was in beta. Among other things, this kills what is by far the best content blocker on the market: uBlock Origin. It is IMPOSSIBLE to develop a Mojave-compatible Safari extension that even approximates the functionality of uBlock Origin. And even if it were possible, its developers have pretty much abandoned it since it makes no sense to to put this much development effort into a free extension. This change completely undermines Apple's previous pioneering efforts in content blockers, and leaves Safari even more crippled that it already was, compared to other browsers. I fear that if there is no course correction from Apple soon, Safari's market share will drop to such low levels that Chrome will become the new IE6, and Safari users will increasingly find themselves unable to access popular websites. That would be terrible for mac users in general, and for Apple as well in the long term.


Apple's recent "security" policies are to macOS what "airport security" is to flying: Lots of rather needless actions that are only guided towards calming the (badly informed) public.

Even worse: Apple does not let me choose who I want to trust any more.

Sure, a *bad* Safari Extension could indeed steal some of my data and re-publish it somewhere else.


1. safariextz were practically "open source", i.e. I could look into its code and check whether it's doing something fishy, right? At least this was the case for the few ones I used.

2. I trust in the power of the masses. If an app or extension behaves badly, I expect that to be detected soon enough. I mean, I run the same risk every time I run a 3rd party Mac app. Even Apple's reviewers can't tell if an app does *sometimes* something bad.

3. Also, I believe I can rely on Little Snitch to be alerted of a safari extension suddenly "calling home", shouldn't I?

In summary, I want to be able to be my own guard, and decide what and whom I can trust. I'm an adult and responsible for my own choices - I don't need this overly protective parenting by Apple that limits my options so much that I cannot do what I enjoyed using a Mac for.

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