What’s not to like about the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad? Every app out of more than 2-million apps– those not requiring a jailbreak to install– are right there, just a few fingertip taps away from installation.
Likewise, there’s the Mac App Store for those of us of the antique technology persuasion, where you can sign in and search until the cows come home but not for all the apps a Mac user can use. That’s because Apple has developer restrictions on Mac apps in the Store, but since the Mac was out of the bag decades ago, there is a thriving third party market that doesn’t exist inside Apple’s walled garden.
Now, speaking about that walled garden, let me tell you I’m a fan. Not all of the Mac’s best apps are there in the Mac App Store but plenty are. For example, just yesterday I rummaged through the Graphics & Design Apps section. Did you know that section has more than 3,000 apps available?
There’s Image Resizifier, Origami Valentine, and Super Eraser Pro, among thousands of others. So, let’s begin the search process to see exactly what’s what in the Graphics & Design App section. What are the sorting options?
Release Date, and Name. That’s it? What about Most Popular or Highest Rated? Sorry. Apple doesn’t want you to know. Alright, let’s come at this from a different angle. Back to the Graphics & Design Apps section where there are the Top 10 Paid apps, Top 10 Free apps, and Top Grossing apps. Clicking on the Top 10 Whatever links gets more sort choices, right?
Nope. sorry. There’s Bestsellers and Name sort options but nothing about Most Downloaded or Highest Rated. Is there something about the Mac App Store’s rating system we should know about?
OK, yet another angle of pursuit. How about if I search for ‘Graphics & Design’ apps in the search bar? Hint: don’t use the ‘and’ between graphics & Design. That got me nine apps in the search results. Just typing in ‘graphics design’ returned only 125 apps. Wait. What? Were there not more than 3,000 in the original category section? Alright. Now we’re cooking with olive oil. The list of 125 can be sorted by Relevance, Most Popular, Release Date, and Customer Rating.
On my Mac a single page of app search results in the Mac App Store app numbers 120, so with only 125 apps in the list all that’s happening is a re-arranging of the apps, but you get the idea. The results are more granular. But what’s the different between Most Popular (downloads?) and Customer Rating (which should indicate popularity; or lack of)? Well, even Customer Rating doesn’t work too well because some apps are displayed without stars, but do have customer ratings, so those display are of recent versions, not overall ratings.
Searching for apps on the Mac App Store is a broken, convoluted, unpleasant experience.
To get to the best apps Mac users are required to jump through hoops; double-checking and matching Customer Rating with Release Date with actually clicking on the app to get more details. What seems to be the norm is that a few apps get good reviews and get updated frequently, but the growing number of abandonware apps– those without an upgrade in the past year qualify for my list of abandonware– should be cause for concern at Apple, Inc.
For iPhone and iPad, the iTunes App Store is the only legitimate game in town, but the search mechanism is just as mucked up. But it’s the only real way to find iOS apps. The Mac App Store has competition, and many good Mac app developers have chosen to keep doing it on their own because Apple doesn’t help their cause.
I thought Apple’s senior VP Phil Schiller was going fix the app stores? When?