Since last Wednesday’s announcement of the Mac App Store. There’s been a lot of talk about how the Mac App Store is the death of choice (see Big Brother Apple and the Death of the Program) or that choice’s death has been grossly exaggerated (see Lies, Damn Lies, and Mac App Store Skeptics [Part 1 of 2] and Steve Jobs Isn’t Big Brother, and the Mac Remains Open [Mac Skeptics Part 2]). But I have yet to see anyone call the Mac App Store a game changer.
So I’m going to.
The Mac App Store, a game changer.
Ever heard of Bodega? No? It’s “Your corner store for Mac apps.” It allows for the discovery and merchandization (I made that word up) of apps. It’s been around for about a year now, and, well… no one cares. So it was no surprise that, despite rumors, few people thought the Mac App Store would be a reality. On first glance, much like Bodega, it doesn’t really fulfill a need. As Matt Buchanan writes in Big Brother Apple and the Death of the Program the Mac App Store solves the problem of a kinda-sorta convoluted install process and turns it into flying icons and bouncing fun. Win!
Pffft. Think Apple would go through all the trouble of approving and curating apps to solve that? No way.
The Mac App Store is all about convergence. For developers it converges development efforts. Got your app ready for the iPhone? Want to make a couple of tweaks and make it run on the iPad? How about few more for the Mac? It’s a no brainer. Plus it opens the door for tens of thousands of games to hit the Mac, something Apple has never had. After all, the iPhone is the hottest gaming platform on earth.
For consumers it converges their devices. Currently some of the best app sync across your devices, providing an experience that takes your data and spits it out in a way that is custom made for how you use each device. Now imagine if all your apps did that. Start editing a movie on an iPad, complete it on your computer. Start a game of Madden on your computer, finish it on your AppleTV. With the App Store in place on all your devices, Apple will begin to recommend apps that work across your devices, with obvious benefits.
Clearly, convergent apps are more valuable to consumers. As a result, they will be downloaded more, thereby prompting developers to make convergent apps the norm.
Full screen apps, the untold story.
Why would Apple suddenly tout a feature that has been a part of Windows since it’s beginnings 25+ years ago, a feature that Apple, until now, has proudly askewed? To some, it seems like something that Apple should have done long ago. I mean, how many times have you lost the ability to move a window because the top of it is hidden behind a sticky bar? If you use Photoshop, you probably answered, “a lot.”
But Apple doesn’t care about that. In fact, they’d likely just blame that on a boneheaded UX decision by Adobe. Plus, Apple won’t allow that with the new App Store police, right?
The real reason for full screen apps is that with full screen apps it’s awfully simple to port iOS games to the Mac. Sure, you could argue that it makes no difference whether it’s fullscreen or floating in a window. But then you’ve likely overlooked what’s missing from a full page app: the Mac menu bar. Prior to full screen view all apps, no matter how trivial, needed to have a menu bar navigation. Lesser apps usually filled this with a couple meaningless menu items. Full blown apps use this for all sorts of things, often in confusing navigation structures.
But iOS apps don’t need a menu bar and many don’t have them. So by removing the menu bar, Apple has removed the barrier to entry for developers who didn’t have use for those menus. Now “porting” many of the most popular apps is simple. Just “res” it up from the iOS version and release (yes, I’m over simplifying, but you get the point). Angry Birds for the Mac? You betcha.
What about multi-touch games?
Well, luckily Apple has spelled that out for us too. It’s been releasing laptops with multitouch for a while now, and more recently released the Magic Trackpad. They’ve publicly stated that using a touch screen upright is hard, but what they haven’t said they won’t make a Mac with a touch screen monitor.
But pie in the sky predictions aside, Apple has made multi-touch pervasive on all their products. Without touching the screen directly, it’s a bit different to be sure. But much like a keyboard, it’s all about leaning orientation. Once you can figure out where your fingers need to be on the Magic Trackpad, playing a game of Cut the Rope will be second nature.
The iOS end around
Once again, Apple has pulled an end around. Many people were wondering how it was going to channel all this new development on its newest iOS platforms back to the Mac? Now we know. Not by putting iOS on the macs, but by giving it an app store.