Tuesday, September 3, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Red Eye Rejected From The Mac App Store

Jesse Squires:

I recently released a menu bar Mac app called Red Eye. It’s free and you can download it here. It prevents your Mac from going to sleep.

[…]

Unfortunately, Red Eye was rejected from the Mac App Store. I wanted to distribute there, as well as independently. The first reason was a Human Interface Guidelines violation, because you have to right-click Red Eye in the menu bar to open the menu to quit the app, which reviewers said is “confusing to users”. I think that’s debatable. The second reason for rejection was for “duplicate functionality that already exists in the Mac App Store”, which I think is bullshit and arbitrary. I counted three dozen Markdown editors in the Mac App Store before I got tired of scrolling through the search results. It is especially frustrating when the Mac App Store is also full of fucking scams.

19 Comments

> The first reason was a Human Interface Guidelines violation, because you have to right-click Red Eye in the menu bar to open the menu to quit the app, which reviewers said is “confusing to users”. I think that’s debatable.

Nah, that behavior is flatly wrong.

> The second reason for rejection was for “duplicate functionality that already exists in the Mac App Store”, which I think is bullshit and arbitrary.

This, though, is a valid complaint.

@vintner A regular click toggles it on/off, and right-click opens the menu. There’s a long history of menu bar apps that work this way, including the venerable Caffeine. My ToothFairy app does this as well, but I think the reason Apple is OK with it is that by default it has a Dock icon and regular menus, so the right-click is an optional shortcut rather than something that you have to figure out to use the app.

My initial reaction is that those were/are in the wrong, too. It's a menu bar, not a toggle bar, and hiding basic functionality behind a right-click is highly un-Mac.

This may be shouting into the wind, though, because I also disagreed with Apple changing Spotlight's menubar item from an attached menu to a disconnected window.

I don’t recall a single customer or review saying this was confusing. Apple’s Siri and screen recording are also buttons rather than menus. Same with xScope, another a long-running and popular app.

Seems like putting the menu on left click and the direct toggle on right click would solve the HIG complaint.

@Rob It’s funny because they’re appealing to the HIG, but the HIG doesn’t even directly address this. Yet there’s a lot of precedent that buttons activate on single click, and right-clicking an icon gives you a menu (Finder, Dock, etc.). It would be really weird to have right-click perform a direct action.

What I've seen developers do in this case is what Rob Mayoff wrote above, but then they give the user the option to switch it around in Preferences, i.e. toggle off/on with left-click & access dropdown menu to quit etc. with right-click.

The dev could also just make it a simple dropdown menu, left-click only, with one menu item to toggle, and then also add a keyboard shortcut to toggle. (Though most users seem to prefer the mouse over the keyboard.)

@Joss Yes, an option like that could be a good compromise.

HIG issue: I agree with the reviewer. Non-power users wouldn’t understand that they need to right-click on a menu bar icon to activate it. This developer should make it more clear.

Duplicate issue: Other apps with the same functionality exists, yes (e.g. Caffeine and Lungo). But why even pick the same icon as all other apps? There are so many icons apps can have than a coffee mug.....

Adrian Petrescu

Invoking Markdown editors as a defense against the duplication claim seems disingenuous to me. There's nearly infinite scope for variety and innovation in a text editor. There's really only one decision to be made in a keep-my-Mac-awake toggle; namely which button to press to toggle it, and it seems he got even that wrong.

> I counted three dozen Markdown editors in the Mac App Store before I got tired of scrolling

There are umpteen Markdown apps, yes, but they all behave differently (I know because I’ve tried a bunch) and that matters if you spend a lot of time in your editor.

This app, on the other hand, seems to have the same interface and behaviour as all others in its category.

The duplication rejection may have been an attempt to be diplomatic about the menulet being both redundant and trivial, invoking the "we don't need any more fart apps" clause from the early days of the App Store.

Literally one of Apple's OWN apps, Shazam, exhibits the same menubar behavior of right-click to quit.

"Might be confusing to users." This from the company that has decided to make plain light gray text a clickable interface element in Catalina preference panes and elsewhere. Right.

I thought it was more normal to present other functionality in menu bar widgets / menus when users hold down the Option key, no? I’ve been using Macs for 3 decades and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a scenario where I’d think to right-click the menubar to reveal extra actions.

@Ben Option is commonly used to change the options presented in a menu, but I don’t recall seeing it used to show a menu where there was none.

@Michael What Ben might refer to is the WiFi menu bar widget that shows additional info (like signal strength) when option-clicking it. I use it all the time.

@Thomas Agreed, but I believe that’s exactly covered by what I wrote.

@Michael Ah, of course, stupid me. I misread your “Option” as “holding the option key while a menu is already visible” (i.e. after a click to show it without using any modifier keys) to explore alternative menu entries. Apparently my brain didn’t make it to the last part of your sentence. Sorry for the noise.

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