In silico veritas.

Apple’s infrastructure problem, revisited

Posted: April 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Tech | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

It’s been some time since I wrote about my concerns about the increasing iOSification of OS X in 10.7 Lion and the Mac App Store. Since then, we’ve seen new reports of tweaks and enhancements that will help further improve an already-impressive user experience. But more importantly, I’ve had plenty of time to get acquainted with the Mac App Store, and to reconsider my original skepticism.

While I did note in my prior posts on the subject that I believed that the consolidation of quality, Apple-approved applications in one convenient and integrated storefront would be a boon to consumers, I still wasn’t too keen on the idea of a desktop app store. Perhaps it was the often-frivolous nature of most App Store transactions — $0.99 for Angry Birds here, another $1.99 for Hipstamatic there, etc. — that caused me to sense some inherent bad fit for the OS X environment. Desktop software is often substantial by its very nature, boasting complex features built to take advantage of what is still the predominant human-computer interface, with pricing models to match. One-click purchases in a centralized storefront did not seem to befit this paradigm.

I was wrong.

Although I haven’t spent nearly the same amount of money at the Mac App Store as I have at the (other) App Store, I have come away more impressed with the product than I could have predicted. Having installed a few apps (mostly freebies) on my Mac, I can now more fully sympathize with the argument made by the Mac App Store’s boosters that PC-to-Mac switchers with prior iOS experience will find themselves in a more familiar and therefore appealing environment. One-click installs and updates that are both so unobtrusive as to be practically invisible just work on the Mac. Centralized updates, too, are an enormous convenience. It also certainly doesn’t hurt for iOS fans making “the Switch” that the Mac App Store has desktop-sized versions of popular iOS games like Flight Control and, yes, Angry Birds, along with Mac ports of AAA titles from the other side of the OS pond (which are admittedly of varying quality).

Bottom line? If the ever-growing popularity of iOS devices does in fact lead to increased OS X market share, then the new switchers will find themselves more or less at home in their new computing environment. And if they in turn recommend OS X to fellow iOS users — well, that’s the basis for a winning strategy.

Apple’s infrastructure problem, ctd.

Posted: October 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Tech | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Well, that didn’t take long. Apple has released its app review guidelines for the Mac App Store, and sure enough, they’ve imported most of the iOS App Store guidelines over wholesale. (You needn’t go far to find out why I think this is a bad move.) Engadget’s Nilay Patel points out some of the more egregious offenders:

  • 2.1 Apps that crash will be rejected.
  • 2.2 Apps that exhibit bugs will be rejected.
  • 2.6 Apps that are “beta”, “demo”, “trial”, or “test” versions will be rejected.
  • 2.14 Apps must be packaged and submitted using Apple’s packaging technologies included in Xcode – no third party installers allowed.
  • 2.19 Apps that require license keys or implement their own copy protection will be rejected.
  • 2.20 Apps that present a license screen at launch will be rejected.
  • 2.21 Apps may not use update mechanisms outside of the App Store.
  • 2.24 Apps that use deprecated or optionally installed technologies (e.g., Java, Rosetta) will be rejected.
  • 6.2 Apps that look similar to Apple Products or apps bundled on the Mac, including the Finder, iChat, iTunes, and Dashboard, will be rejected.
  • 6.3 Apps that do not use system provided items, such as buttons and icons, correctly and as described in the Apple Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines will be rejected.
  • 7.4 Apps containing “rental” content or services that expire after a limited time will be rejected.
  • 7.6 In general, the more expensive your app, the more thoroughly we will review it.
  • 9.2 Apps that rapidly drain a products battery or generate excessive heat will be rejected.
  • 11.1 Apps portraying realistic images of people or animals being killed or maimed, shot, stabbed, tortured or injured will be rejected.
  • 11.3 “Enemies” within the context of a game cannot solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity.
  • 11.5 Apps that include games of Russian roulette will be rejected.

I’ve left out Nilay’s commentary on each of these points — you can click through at the second link above to read his thoughts in the original post. But I’ll add a couple of thoughts of my own.

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Apple’s infrastructure problem

Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Tech | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

While tech pundits have long been anticipating some form of cross-breeding between OS X and iOS, not until today have we seen any real evidence for such a trend. And while I, as a Mac user, am excited to see Apple returning to its roots in the Mac, I found myself more troubled by questions about what was revealed than giddy with anticipation.

Much of my trepidation comes from the software side of the equation. OS X 10.7, or Lion, provides an intriguing look into the future of desktop computing. But I can’t help from feeling, to a certain extent, like Apple is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Granted, the enhanced multitouch features of Lion like Launchpad and full-screen apps — shamelessly ganked from iOS — provide a new and compelling raison d’etre to products like the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad that had previously lacked one. Given the apparent lack of a niche for those two products at their respective launches, and knowing that Apple has a plan for just about everything, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect something like this to happen.

But like the original MacBook Air, Lion seems to be ahead of its time — and not in a good way.

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