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The Macintosh's new App hub
October 22, 2010 7:26 AM   Subscribe

Apple has decided to follow the success of their iOS App store by making a Mac App store. Yes, applications for the Mac OS will soon be available, in addition to the previous methods, for one click download and installation from a single online source. Engadget covers the guidelines for App submissions, CNET has a FAQ about the store, while Ars Technica, PC Mag, ZDNET, MSNBC, CNN, Computerworld and Macworld discuss the pros and cons of this development.
posted by nomadicink (289 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is a really interesting development, though I wonder how robust a desktop application user expects their app to perform? It's one thing to make a little mobile app that does things on the go, but what are you going to provide a solution for on a desktop that isn't handled by more, well, robust software?
posted by cavalier at 7:30 AM on October 22, 2010


Macintosh: Linux, just more expensive.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:31 AM on October 22, 2010 [29 favorites]


It seems like anything I've ever needed my Mac to do is generally available because of the efforts of someone who is gifted at creating software for that specific need, such as Dupin, MactheRipper, Handbrake. I've been pretty underwhelmed by the apps that Apple sanctions, as opposed to some of the really useful stuff on Cydia.
posted by docpops at 7:33 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


At least the store client is a standalone application and not something you have to use iTunes for.
posted by ardgedee at 7:34 AM on October 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Has anyone found a way to jailbreak a Mac yet?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:37 AM on October 22, 2010 [17 favorites]


I can't read all these articles, but I'm guessing they all pretend that Apple did it first and it's some revolutionary whiz-bang, refusing to acknowledge that Linux has its own (Ubuntu, notably, with its intuitive Software Centre).
posted by tybeet at 7:39 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just sold my mac a couple of weeks ago. Steve is slowly locking out third party development and third party application platforms, and when Ars interviewed OS X developers, they unanimously agreed that eventually iOS is going to replace OS X. I'll pay extra for nice hardware, a POSIX friendly operating system, and nice eye candy. But I'm not going to pay extra for someone else to tell me what I can and can't run on my own devices, especially if they consider jailbreaking against their terms of use and against the law.

So, Ubuntu + VirtualBox, and hopefully the Notion Ink Adam will actually come out next month. I am done with vendor lock-in where I can avoid it.
posted by notion at 7:41 AM on October 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


I think this is a good thing. It'll be nice to have a central place where if I need, say, an MP3 tagger I can just find one that is reviewed with screenshots, etc. Currently I Google and often end up on some site where I have to go through three screens of ads to get to the download page, and then I have no idea what I'm getting, or I wind up on some open-source site where, when I finally figure out how to download the app, it's some .gzip app that requires compiling or some other bullshit I really can't be bothered to deal with.

That said, if this is the first step towards locking down the Mac the way the iPhone is locked down, then it's time to start looking for a new computer. I don't mind it on the iPhone. It's a phone, not a computer, but don't lock down my computer.

I don't think they're that suicidal. We'll see.
posted by bondcliff at 7:42 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm neither a serious Mac nor *nix user, but is it me or does this feel like the equivalent of apt-get with a fancy front-end and a limited, harshly moderated library?
posted by griphus at 7:42 AM on October 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


This was all a part of the big "back to the mac" event that apple held on Wednesday. The more interesting developments from my perspective was the fact that they wanted to meld some of the features of their mobile devices back into their Mac products. The MacBook Air is now basically an iPad that can run OS X and the upcoming update to OS X is focusing on interface updates that make it look a lot like an iPad.

The goal would seem to be a device as powerful as a Mac but as easy to use as an iPad. It's going to be rocky getting there, though.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:42 AM on October 22, 2010


For the record, Daring Fireball - though not noted as a stern critic of Apple - thinks this will be a hit.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:42 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Where's the demand? What user doesn't know how to install programs (apps? Ok, whatever) as currently implemented? Actually don't answer that.

This is the creeping expansion of the walled garden, how long until the only programs you can run on a mac are ones obtained through the Mac App store?
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:42 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


None of the articles I've read has as much as implied that, tybeet.

For context, Anil Dash posted a spreadsheet of app stores. There are quite a few.
posted by ardgedee at 7:42 AM on October 22, 2010


I can't read all these articles, but I'm guessing they all pretend that Apple did it first and it's some revolutionary whiz-bang, refusing to acknowledge that Linux has its own (Ubuntu, notably, with its intuitive Software Centre).

Wait, you mean that Apple didn't invent buttons.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:43 AM on October 22, 2010


There were cars before the Model T, too. You don't have to be first to be revolutionary.
posted by empath at 7:45 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow – so this should make downloading my next version of Adobe Flash Professional really easy, right?

right?
posted by Kabanos at 7:46 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


What user doesn't know how to install programs (apps? Ok, whatever) as currently implemented? Actually don't answer that.

This is exactly the sort of logic behind why this is happening/has to happen. I'm not a fan of lockdowns or walled gardens or whatever, but not giving a shit about the user's complete inability to use a computer out of the box is why Apple is growing like kudzu and why Windows can only try to play catchup w/r/t UI and ease-of-use.
posted by griphus at 7:47 AM on October 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


That is a really interesting development, though I wonder how robust a desktop application user expects their app to perform?

I suspect Mac users will quickly get used to the benefits of basic app specialization, just as PC users have. Right now (Dashboard and various program plugins notwithstanding,) the 3rd party application reservoir for Macs is pretty slim compared to what's available for PC's. This can be pretty frustrating, because there are times when you may want to do something simple on a Mac and not spend a boatload of money on a bulky, expensive program suite.

Apple has done a decent job of incorporating certain frequently-used features into their latest OS versions, such as creating PDFs, doc and image preview, etc. But to do anything complicated with PDF's, such as say, reduce the size of a file or adjust its production/display resolution, you still really need Acrobat on a Mac. On the other hand, if you're a PC user there are a bunch of shareware programs available for the PC that won't cost $340 which might do what you need.

Until this month, eMail apps on the MacOS have sucked for corporate users. From Zimbio to Entourage to Thunderbird, I've tried them all and every one has been one sort of compromise or another. But, I've been playing with the new Mac version of Outlook for the last month and it looks like someone finally got email right. Of course, there are still a few issues I'm hoping Microsoft will iron out. Mail merges are a pain in the ass at the moment. But it's nice to finally have an email program that does what I want it to do, and isn't a buggy mess.

I'm convinced that if an app store had existed earlier, we'd have seen competition among developers to create better programs. Hopefully, this will encourage people to invest time and energy in Macintosh application development.
posted by zarq at 7:48 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just to get this out of the way, other things which Apple did not do first:

Apple II: Not the first home computer.
Mac: Not the first GUI.
iPhone: Not the first smartphone.
iPod: Not the first mp3 player.
iTunes: Not the first mp3 store.
iPad: Not the first tablet.

I'm having a hard time figuring out why the fact that they didn't do it first is relevant to anything.
posted by empath at 7:48 AM on October 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


What user doesn't know how to install programs (apps? Ok, whatever) as currently implemented? Actually don't answer that.

PC users trying to switch to the Mac, hint hint.
posted by nomadicink at 7:48 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


O_o Wow, they seriously are touting buttons as a feature for the Shuffle. Weird on so many levels.
posted by kmz at 7:48 AM on October 22, 2010


Also: I love when Steve says, "We are the first to do X" because he usually means "We are the last to do X".

Don't get me wrong, I love most Apple products for their design and their clarity of vision. But the Reality Distortion Field is comedy gold when he implies that no one has been using Skype for years when he talks about FaceTime.

"Look! You can use it to videoconference from a computer to a mobile device! We are changing the world. Again."
posted by notion at 7:49 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


What user doesn't know how to install programs (apps? Ok, whatever) as currently implemented? Actually don't answer that.

There are three people in my house, all of us are intelligent people, but 99% of the time when the other two want to install an app they need my help.

If there is a hell, it is going to be filled with IT people who don't get that not everyone is an IT person.
posted by bondcliff at 7:51 AM on October 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


That out of the way, I don't see the need for the app store, or why developers would participate. It's already amazingly easy to download and install apps on the mac. You drag the icon to your app folder to install it, you drag it to the trashcan to uninstall it.

Why would you give Apple 30% of your revenue for almost nothing in return? The app store sucks as a way of finding new software, and the only reason it's been so successful on the iPhone is that A) the iPhone is otherwise an awesome platform and B) The App store is your ONLY option for purchasing software.

Unless Apple is going to lock down OS X Lion (which I think is unlikely, but possible), I don't see how this works out for them.

Also, if I were Valve, I'd be hella pissed. I don't understand why Apple goes out of their way to antagonize their developers.
posted by empath at 7:52 AM on October 22, 2010


iPhone: Not the first smartphone.

I was told by an authoritative source that nobody used the term "smartphone" until the iPhone came around. Trufax.
posted by kmz at 7:53 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


notion: "Just sold my mac a couple of weeks ago. Steve is slowly locking out third party development and third party application platforms, and when Ars interviewed OS X developers, they unanimously agreed that eventually iOS is going to replace OS X. I'll pay extra for nice hardware, a POSIX friendly operating system, and nice eye candy. But I'm not going to pay extra for someone else to tell me what I can and can't run on my own devices, especially if they consider jailbreaking against their terms of use and against the law.
"

The slippery slope is still a fallacy, even when you're talking about computers. People have been saying that Apple 'locks out developers' since they stopped licensing the OS to cheap clone makers in the nineties. Why does it have to be binary? Why can't they have free installing .dmg files alongside an App Store? The idea that everything will become modal and locked-down is nonsense with zero foundation.

Also, jailbreaking isn't against the law anymore, but if they want to put it in their ToS, what's the big deal? Every commercial software license out there has toxic bullshit in it, not just Apple's.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:54 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't read all these articles, but I'm guessing they all pretend that Apple did it first and it's some revolutionary whiz-bang, refusing to acknowledge that Linux has its own (Ubuntu, notably, with its intuitive Software Centre).

If you didn't read the articles to see what they actually say, please don't presume to know what was being written. The linked stories cover a several different viewpoints on that this means for Apple and others, and I encourage everyone to take 15 or 20 minutes and read them.
posted by nomadicink at 7:55 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the aspect of Apps whereby Apple demands 30% of the revenue is why they do this, and it is totally highway robbery of the developers. Screw that nonsense. I was a big Apple fan in the 90's but this whole App thing is a totall ripoff and part of the reason I'll never buy another Apple product ever again.
posted by GavinR at 7:55 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just sold my mac a couple of weeks ago. Steve is slowly locking out third party development and third party application platforms, and when Ars interviewed OS X developers, they unanimously agreed that eventually iOS is going to replace OS X. I'll pay extra for nice hardware, a POSIX friendly operating system, and nice eye candy. But I'm not going to pay extra for someone else to tell me what I can and can't run on my own devices, especially if they consider jailbreaking against their terms of use and against the law.

So, Ubuntu + VirtualBox, and hopefully the Notion Ink Adam will actually come out next month. I am done with vendor lock-in where I can avoid it.


Not sure why you sold your mac when we're not to the point of lock-in yet. I'll be the first to jump ship once we reach that point, but that's just not the case right now.

I think it's extremely unwise on Apple's part to consider moving to a lock-in model like they have on the iPhone and iPad, but honestly I'm not sure this is a widely-held view. More people just don't give a shit any more about computer architecture. The happy accident resulting from the IBM-PC Compatible Market is probably just that, accidental. Companies would have much preferred to exercise draconian control over consumer use of the devices.

Today it's hard to even have an argument with someone about why things like the App Store, HDCP, DVD Regions, etc., are anti-consumer. People don't seem to be receptive to this type of argument, which may be partly due to a rise in authoritarianism in general. I'm not terribly hopeful.
posted by odinsdream at 7:56 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I know we like to complain about Apple here, but does anyone seriously think that modal dialog based apt-get "GUI" is anything like the App Store? Because the App Store, with all its shortcomings, is clearly the Shinola of that pair.
posted by ecurtz at 7:56 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is some real nice software you got here, real nice. Be a shame if Mac users couldn't find it in our new App store, 's'all I'm saying. Things are changing, this used to be a good neighborhood for business like yours, we can protect you for just a small sliver of your revenue. You won't even miss it, just, make sure you pay us up front.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:57 AM on October 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm just waiting for the about-turn where they claim that netbooks were, in fact, their idea, now they are entering that market.
posted by Artw at 7:59 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


In Chicago, they are bucking for their own subway stop.
posted by timsteil at 7:59 AM on October 22, 2010


Well hrm, I see positives and negatives here. One big problem that the Macintosh has in terms of software is where do you get it? Your local Staples, Office Max, and Best Buy won't stock it, and it takes extra work to find it through Amazon. Steam, in my opinion, was a big help for Macintosh gaming by centralizing both purchasing and support. Previously, you had to deal with the fact that the Macintosh publisher was often an entirely different company from the original publisher.

On the other hand, walled garden, blah, blah, blah.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:59 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right. For every neckbeard (<3) complaining how they can already do this on a linux distro, I don't think that that person is Apple's target audience. It's my mama, who wants to use a computer, but is half the time scared to death of it, and who I need to conference call for a good two to three hours to install a new Windows application. There's a world of users out there who are never going to be computer experts, they just want to be able to use a computer, and a lot of the stuff Apple does gives them this. I've thought about it a bit more and realized that I've almost never installed a third party/shareware app on my wife's Mac Mini. She's got Adobe and she's got Safari and that's about it. I bet there are little apps out there she might find quite useful, but where would she go looking for them? This would fill that need nicely.

Also, flipping to the IOS model, I've grown more and more generous to shareware/donation models over the years, both as my experience/maturity with development (and my income) grows. I've probably shelled out 10 times the money I would have normally shelled out in a year for little software doodads, solely because they were presented to me in an easy and engaging manner with little to no effort to purchase and install (see: App Store, and, say, Steam). And I'm a dork. Imagine the effect this could have on just a casual Mac user? As most of the articles said, it gets them a lot more eyeballs then they would ever have a chance of assuming the walled garden is not downright crazypants.
posted by cavalier at 8:00 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm neither a serious Mac nor *nix user, but is it me or does this feel like the equivalent of apt-get with a fancy front-end and a limited, harshly moderated library?

It's sort of a different mindset, I think.

In 2004, Volvo premiered a concept car that would be marketed to women with the hood welded shut. The engine could only be accessed by a mechanic. I tend to think of Apple computers similarly. They have a fancy front end, but unless you have some expertise, you don't need to get at the inner workings of its software to get it to do what you want.

Linux has always struck me as the exact opposite. It practically encourages you to tinker. My personal laptop runs ubuntu. It's fun to play with. But until Ubuntu's software center was developed installing an application required more than just a simple point and click.
posted by zarq at 8:00 AM on October 22, 2010


I think it would be more accurate to say that this is an extension of the garden, but not the walls, at least not yet.

This is more or less what I think the App Store should be on iOS -- a nice storefont with a guarantee of no malware. I haven't reviewed the restrictions on getting stuff into the Mac OS App Store, and I reserve the right to future objection, but at the moment, this seems perfectly okay to me.

Providing a service that's not locked down, and winning through providing a superior product, is what free markets are supposed to be about. Customers win big in this kind of environment.
posted by Malor at 8:01 AM on October 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


It seems like anything I've ever needed my Mac to do is generally available because of the efforts of someone who is gifted at creating software for that specific need, such as Dupin, MactheRipper, Handbrake. I've been pretty underwhelmed by the apps that Apple sanctions, as opposed to some of the really useful stuff on Cydia.

Pretty much this. In general you can count me in the Apple camp, but I am a fan of the fringe areas as well of computing as well. Does anyone really think apps like Senuti, Utorrent,and FairGame have a chance in hell of making it onto the App store?
posted by jeremias at 8:03 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know we like to complain about Apple here, but does anyone seriously think that modal dialog based apt-get "GUI" is anything like the App Store? Because the App Store, with all its shortcomings, is clearly the Shinola of that pair.

Have you ever actually used Synaptic or the new Ubuntu Software Center?
posted by kmz at 8:04 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the aspect of Apps whereby Apple demands 30% of the revenue is why they do this, and it is totally highway robbery of the developers. Screw that nonsense. I was a big Apple fan in the 90's but this whole App thing is a totall ripoff and part of the reason I'll never buy another Apple product ever again.

You do realize that marketing, distribution, file hosting, feedback systems, credit card & gift card processing, and a streamlined update system aren't free, right? Some definitely cost money and others either cost money or time that could otherwise be spent on development, which might as well be money. Whether the 30% cut is cost-effective is another issue, but it's not 30% vs nothing.

The App Store does represent value for the money, but it is up to individual developers to decide whether it's worth it. And unlike the iTunes App Store, the Mac App Store is not the only way for developers to sell their apps. They can use the same channels they always have, including other stores like Steam.
posted by jedicus at 8:05 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where's the demand? What user doesn't know how to install programs (apps? Ok, whatever) as currently implemented?

It's not that the users don't understand how to install programs. It's that desktop software in the past has either been cheap as free or $10+, scattered across the web. Providing a platform where users can pay $1-5 for desktop apps is not something that really exists now (for average users, anyways). At that price level, people feel comfortable browsing and purchasing software they didn't specifically go looking for. I buy apps on my phone all the time that I didn't specifically open the App Store app to find.

Desktop software purchases are now impulse purchases. That's the revolutionary part. I'm as wary as everyone else of the prospect of Macs being locked down more, but overall, I don't mind the concept. Prices go down, I don't have to worry about malware, and I don't have to get out my credit card and think long and hard about paying $10-20 for a game.
posted by almostmanda at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't mind a version of OSX with something like an IOS mode and an OSX mode. One mode with 'approved software', touch interface, super simplified, let me just surf the web, play a game and write some emails, and another 'behind the scenes' mode where I can get to a terminal prompt, do development and programming stuff and install my own software or 'unapproved' software.

Perhaps have the 'easy mode' with cloud storage for documents, backups, etc, in a virtual machine so you can't break it unless you really, really try.

As long as I can still hit a button and get into the advanced/unix-y side of things, I'd be happy with it.
posted by empath at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


> It's already amazingly easy to download and install apps on the mac. You drag the icon to your app folder to install it, you drag it to the trashcan to uninstall it.

Unless you're trying to install, say, Adobe Creative Suite. Then you have to execute an installer that can take up to 40 minutes to write 2 gb of files to diverse locations in application and library directories, as well as your user library and document directories. Then do it again to install Adobe Acrobat. To delete these, you have to follow a multipart process which also involves sending an acknowledgement to Adobe that you are decomissioning your installation. If uninstallation fails, you have to phone tech support, who will forward you a python script with instructions on how to use it.

But setting that aside, no, even installing applications which are simple drag and drop processes are not simple or easy. I have dealt in the past with users who would run applications from wherever the web browser deposited them. Or, since I turn off "Open 'safe' files after downloading" on my users' computers, they may download the same app a few times before asking me why they can't run something they downloaded.

These are intelligent, college-educated, not elderly, infirm or newbies. All of them have been using Macs for one or two decades. But things we consider simple and obvious flummox them.

It is frustrating dealing with these people, so I remind myself of this: Their computers are merely tools to use, not toys to explore or games with rules. And this helps quit me of being a high-minded asshat geekboy for knowing something they don't. They can deal with business owners, handle financial paperwork, design materials, and do other tasks that I couldn't do as well even those tasks are also fully self-evident processes, as long as you spend the time on them.
posted by ardgedee at 8:07 AM on October 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


If there is a hell, it is going to be filled with IT people who don't get that not everyone is an IT person.

What he said. The moment you say "But Ubuntu is easy to install now," you've already proven that you don't get it.

Regular people do not install operating systems and have trouble installing many applications. Even on the Mac, where the proper installer is "Drag this to the Applications Folder."

Apple may lock out other install routes on OS X. Then, I might have a problem. If they give me an app that will let me browse *vetted* applications and have them just run when I click on that, I'm all over it. Other than the "wedge it into iTunes" noise, I like the App store, and I don't mind the walled garden when the tools work well, and by and large, the iPhone and iPad work very well.

And I am a *seriously* hardcore IT guy. But, you know, just because I have hacked sendmail.cf files and use navisecli on a regular basis doesn't mean these are smart things for regular people to do.

Doubly so when they have other things they need to do. Every minute a doctor is fucking with applications installs is a minute he's not being a doctor. Every minute your Mom is fighting with sending that email to Aunt Tilly is a minute *she's not baking you a pie!*.

Hardcore hackers: Linux is over there. FreeBSD is over there. When they become too polished, there will be something over there. Have at. Enjoy! Want to run OSX on Box X, or jailbreak phone Y, go right ahead. You are, of course, on your own if it doesn't work, but, hey, you know that -- indeed, you are *proud* of that. You'll do cool things. They'll be unstable, but they will be cool.

Serious IT guys will buy serious IT hardware, with serious IT support contracts, and won't play hack-the-firmware games because when it breaks, that will make it that much harder for that serious IT support to actually get you back on line. Serious IT guys don't hack, because work today is not good enough, and 'I'll figure out why it's down in a couple of weeks once I grab the source code" is not going to fly.

Moms? Moms *love* the concept of app stores. And there are a lot more moms then there are hackers. They'll download their copy of Bejeweled, it will just play, they'll be happy, and then, they'll make you a pie.

That's what the app store is about. Pie.

I like pie.
posted by eriko at 8:08 AM on October 22, 2010 [48 favorites]


God, I need pie now.
posted by cavalier at 8:11 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just so I'm clear:
Apple making an apt-getT thing is bad because it means users are stupid.
Apple making an APT-GET thing is bad because Linux already has one.

Right?

Have you ever actually used Synaptic or the new Ubuntu Software Center?
I have, and do all the time, and they are pretty clunky. I like the commandline versions better.
On my Mac, I have macports installed, and it is exactly like FreeBSD's ports.

Why are people up in arms about this? I think it is great to have a frontend for application installs. It has been the one thing lacking on macs. Not-techies don't understand mounting a virtual drive to install something, and shouldn't have to. If a developer doesn't want to use it, they won't. They will still be able to publish via macports, sourcecode to compile, and .dmg files.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:11 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where do cupcakes fit in all of this?
posted by nomadicink at 8:11 AM on October 22, 2010


Where's the demand? What user doesn't know how to install programs (apps? Ok, whatever) as currently implemented?

Actually, having provided support to non-geeks for both Mac OS and iOS, I can answer that without hesitation: most of them. The install model on the iPad is simple, straightforward and foolproof: decide you want to do something on your iPad, find a app that meets that need, click Install, do what you need to do. The system manages all the rest. On Mac OS, there are a variety of ways to make this happen, none much like the other. The Mac App Store will absolutely solve that problem.

In Chicago, they are bucking for their own subway stop

Umm - in exchange for being allowed to build an Apple Store on a triangle of land in the heart of Chicago's most expensive neighborhoods, Apple paid to renovate the disgustingly dirty and somewhat dangerous El stop that's below it, to the tune of several million dollars. Im not sure how that's "bucking for their own subway stop," since the North/Clybourn stop has been there as long as there's been a Red LIne, which is at least as long as any of us have been alive...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 8:12 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have you ever actually used Synaptic or the new Ubuntu Software Center?

Yes, I've used Synaptic, and cursed at it when it gave me a non-configurable Wine install that demanded I had to do some command-line mucking in a failed attempt to get winecfg working. Eventually, I just gave up booted into Win7 instead.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:13 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apple is the best. Suck it haters.
posted by chunking express at 8:15 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


This sure is a lot funnier now.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:16 AM on October 22, 2010


TI don't see the need for the app store, or why developers would participate.[...]Why would you give Apple 30% of your revenue for almost nothing in return?
It's not almost nothing. It's order taking, credit card processing and fullfillment which starts at 7.99% at Kagi. I don't know what reviews and charts and a shot at being "featured" or "staff picked" is worth. It's also anti-piracy crud for which few providers (who don't advertise prices) seem to exist for OS X.

For Symantec or Microsoft, not a good deal, but for a small developer with an app good enough to ride the free promotion wave, it could be a very good deal.
posted by morganw at 8:16 AM on October 22, 2010


Why are people up in arms about this?

Because it is Apple.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:18 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


People have been saying that Apple 'locks out developers' since they stopped licensing the OS to [hardware developers] in the nineties.
These people, have they also been saying that the sky is blue since the sun rose?
posted by roystgnr at 8:18 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


jeremias: "It seems like anything I've ever needed my Mac to do is generally available because of the efforts of someone who is gifted at creating software for that specific need, such as Dupin, MactheRipper, Handbrake. I've been pretty underwhelmed by the apps that Apple sanctions, as opposed to some of the really useful stuff on Cydia.

Pretty much this. In general you can count me in the Apple camp, but I am a fan of the fringe areas as well of computing as well. Does anyone really think apps like Senuti, Utorrent,and FairGame have a chance in hell of making it onto the App store?
"

No, but then why would they as long as installation by .dmg or whatever remains available?
posted by Happy Dave at 8:21 AM on October 22, 2010


Every minute your Mom is fighting with sending that email to Aunt Tilly is a minute *she's not baking you a pie!*.

Are you from the 50s?

My mom manages installations on windows just fine, considering the amount of games she has sitting on the desktop, and she runs circles around me in excel. Yes it could be easier, but moms are not stupid or computer illiterate, and I wish people would not use lazy stereotyping when talking about computers.

Thanks.
posted by empath at 8:24 AM on October 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


7.99% at Kagi.

For game developers there's also Valve's Steam, with 60% for the developer, but it also has muti-player and social components.
posted by morganw at 8:24 AM on October 22, 2010


Also: I love when Steve says, "We are the first to do X" because he usually means "We are the last to do X".

Don't get me wrong, I love most Apple products for their design and their clarity of vision. But the Reality Distortion Field is comedy gold when he implies that no one has been using Skype for years when he talks about FaceTime.


Skype for the Iphone was rarely updated, buggy, and set off the p2p alarms at work. Facetime works really well. When Jobs says, "We are the first to do X," he's usually saying, "We are the first to do X right." That doesn't include all of the stuff that they do wrong, like Ping, the Lisa, and the failure of black t-shirts and jeans to become the defacto uniform of all mac users.

The funny thing about all of these complaints about installing software is that, with the obvious exception of everything made by Adobe, that infests your machine like flesh-eating bacteria that will never heal, most apps are installed by dragging them into the applications folder.

I'm also hoping that the mac app store sells everything for a buck. What do you think Angry Birds would cost on the macbook?

Oh, and one more thing: "Don't expect on-screen multitouch, as Jobs is very much against vertical touching." He sort of sounds like a chaperone at the jr. high prom here. Which, I guess, is a fitting metaphor for the app store philosophy. As a parent, however, I love that everything my son downloads from the app store is reasonably uncreepy and works. Of course, he can just go to Safari and type in . . .I'll be right back.
posted by mecran01 at 8:25 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


What almostmanda said.

I'm currently a computer science student. It's a dream of mine to become an independent software developer, probably doing a combination of websites for clients and app development.

Apple has done an amazing job figuring out how to get people to actually pay for small pieces of software. It takes quite a lot of work unrelated to developing your software to get someone to take out their credit card and enter it into a web form.

There's a narrow margin of users who know enough and are comfortable enough to install a 3rd party app downloaded from a web site, but don't know how to find a pirated copy. And people who know how to pirate software by and large will. I know. I'm just as guilty as anyone.

Open source and freeware are noble, and I admire people who develop software out of the pure love of doing it. I see it more as a job, and there's plenty of things I'd rather be doing than writing software for free. I don't think Apple is dumb enough to totally lock down there general purpose OS, but I could see it coming to a point where you have to navigate a few menus and dialogs to turn on "advanced" mode to install apps from out of the garden. It reflects a philosophy I'm not 100% comfortable with, but as long as people can do what they want with their computers and developers can earn a living, I don't mind the details so much.
posted by keratacon at 8:25 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


One mode with 'approved software', touch interface, super simplified, let me just surf the web, play a game and write some emails,

Ha, reminds me of At Ease. They had that in the computer lab in middle school, and it was awesome because it was really buggy and easy to crash when we wanted to play unapproved games on them.

In Chicago, they are bucking for their own subway stop.

WTF? I used the North stop on the Red Line all the time when I lived in Chicago. Who are these gentrified idiots that were soooo scared of the station?

And if the CTA actually starts selling naming rights to stations, that would just be a really sad day. The whole point of naming the stations after streets is that it makes it dead easy to know where in the city they are.

Moms? Moms *love* the concept of app stores. And there are a lot more moms then there are hackers. They'll download their copy of Bejeweled, it will just play, they'll be happy, and then, they'll make you a pie.

Yay gendered norms!
posted by kmz at 8:28 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


empath: Why would you give Apple 30% of your revenue for almost nothing in return?

A related question is, why would publishers pay a commission for Amazon to sell their ebooks, when they could do it themselves? Apple hopes they can do what Amazon has done; publishers hope they can do what indie app developers on the Mac have done. It's all about controlling the means of distribution in twenty-ten, yo.

My guess is that this will be a big deal. Check out the terms and conditions linked from the OP to see why this is different from most app stores. Apps must: not have obvious bugs, crashes, or incomplete code; use standard installers and updaters; not use any custom DRM or license keys (still not sure about Apple DRM); not present a clickthrough license at launch; use up-to-date APIs; use standard interface elements and follow the human interface guidelines; and not unnecessarily churn the CPU. We can also assume they're unlikely to have malware.

If you were looking for a program and didn't have a strong recommendation already, doesn't that sound like a great place to start? If your grandson or mechanic or whoever who didn't know anything about computers was looking for a program to solve a particular problem, wouldn't you love having a place like that to send them? I'm betting a bunch of app vendors who learned Objective C for the iPhone jump at this store, because they don't want to miss the next app store gold rush -- which creates enough content for users to make this their first stop -- which in turn means that developers who want to make money almost have to be on it.

Like others have said, as long as it's optional, that's fine. If non-app-store apps start to be second class citizens, I'm out. I would say I'm taking my non-techie friends with me (many of whom I converted to the Mac in the first place), but I'm guessing Steve will have them for life.
posted by jhc at 8:29 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nobody is talking about the fact that Apple's own JDK is now deprecated?
posted by mkb at 8:30 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Incidentally, this is a boon for developers of free apps on the Mac.

Instead of setting up an account on Sourceforge or pay a premium to your webhost, A3 hosting or somebody else to handle traffic stemming from not wanting to charge people for your work, you can ship your file off to Apple, and they'll host, distribute, and manage updates on your behalf. Win.
posted by ardgedee at 8:31 AM on October 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Today it's hard to even have an argument with someone about why things like the App Store, HDCP, DVD Regions, etc., are anti-consumer. People don't seem to be receptive to this type of argument, which may be partly due to a rise in authoritarianism in general.

I think it's more like we've reached a point where consumer technology (and, yes, computers are a consumer commodity) is fairly mature, does what it says and that's all the consumer wants. 99.9% of consumers don't give a crap whether they can hack something, or install some obscure little tool for doing some even more obscure function. They don't care.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:35 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is a hundred kinds of awesome for users and developers. Infrastructure development is a colossal pain in the ass for developers. And if developers sell lots more apps, perhaps desktop app prices will come down from their stupidly high levels.

There's only one downside: thus far, Apple has not seen fit to create an App Store browsing experience that doesn't suck ass. Tucows ca 1995 had a better interface with more access routes than the App Store does today, and I am at a loss to understand why they do nothing to improve it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:45 AM on October 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Most of the things I was going to say here have been said already, but I wanted to say that I'm super excited about this already, more as a Mac tech and support guy than as a user.

I see a lot of "normal people" computers every day. I usually have to do something in a "normal person" user account: make sure their applications launch, make sure their iPhoto Library is all there, transfer bookmarks. Whatever. Whenever I use one of these "normal people" accounts, there are two applications that I can almost guarantee will be installed improperly: Skype and Firefox.

Both Skype and Firefox are applications that "normal people" use a lot- to talk with friends, because they heard it was the best web browser and downloaded it, because somebody asked them to get it, etc. Both come on disk images with a REALLY FREAKING SIMPLE install process: download the disk image, Safari opens it and mounts it and opens the disk image in the Finder. In the window, there are two icons: the application itself, and a shortcut to the user's Applications folder. There is a HUGE ARROW indicating that the user should drag the former to the latter in order to install the application. That is all that needs to be done to install Skype or Firefox. Drag the icon, done. But almost every time I see one of those two applications- I'd say 80% of the time- the user still has the disk image mounted, and still has the .dmg in their Downloads folder, because they didn't bother to do the dragging part. They saw the icon, and they double-clicked it.

Like argedee said, these people aren't dumb, they're not illiterate (even if they were, it's a FREAKING ARROW), they're not necessarily novice computer users. They're just not thinking in-depth about every action they take when they use a computer. "Linux people", to use that stereotype for a moment, enjoy thinking about what the computer is doing when they're using it, enjoy understanding what's happening behind the scenes, and will generally take the "right" action because they're giving input with a mind to what will happen as a result of that input. "Normal people", on the other hand, just want to get what they want done, done. They scan for the red Firefox icon, the blue Skype icon, the first link, whatever, and they click it and they are on the way to talking to somebody or browsing the Web or looking at porn or who knows what else. The point is that in order to work well, systems need to understand that users are in a hurry and are going to do stupid things, and they need to do the Right Thing behind the scenes. The computer needs to "be the geek".

The notion that Apple is making this move for profit, or in order to wall off the Mac OS, or to stop piracy, or to make sure that all Mac apps are under 10MB and smell nice, is silly. That's just not what Apple is planning. I don't know what else to say about that.

Anyway, I'm excited to try out the App Store and I'm excited for it making my clients' lives, and my job, easier.
posted by aaronbeekay at 8:45 AM on October 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yeah, the aspect of Apps whereby Apple demands 30% of the revenue is why they do this, and it is totally highway robbery of the developers. Screw that nonsense. I was a big Apple fan in the 90's but this whole App thing is a totall ripoff and part of the reason I'll never buy another Apple product ever again.

As opposed to Valve that split the revenue 60/40 for stuff sold through Steam? Or the now 70/30 split that the Blackberry AppWorld store provides?

70/30 is at the upper end of the scale for revenue sharing agreements. If you disagree might I suggest starting your own app store for the Mac as you obviously believe there's profit to be made still at much lower cuts of the revenue.
posted by Talez at 8:46 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


They're making apps for Macs now? Cool!
posted by mrgrimm at 8:47 AM on October 22, 2010


Nobody is talking about the fact that Apple's own JDK is now deprecated?

Oh, they're dropping their shitty, out-of-date half-assed JDK now? Hooray! Maybe we can convince our users to install a JDK that's less than six years old, now. Not that it will help.
posted by phooky at 8:48 AM on October 22, 2010


mkb: Nobody is talking about the fact that Apple's own JDK is now deprecated?

About damn time IMO. Apple's "support" for it has been increasingly embarrassing, and with the future of Java up for grabs between Oracle and OpenJDK it's a bloody albatross. Let whatever beast comes out of the current troubles deal with supporting OS X and Cocoa. Or not, if that's what happens.

Thorzdad: I think it's more like we've reached a point where consumer technology (and, yes, computers are a consumer commodity) is fairly mature, does what it says and that's all the consumer wants.

Did they ever? Aside from gearheads, amateur radio, and seamstresses, I'm not certain that tinkering with consumer goods has ever been more than a marginal hobby.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:48 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nobody is talking about the fact that Apple's own JDK is now deprecated?

So how does this work? I have a software that I use that is written in Java. So after Lion, I cannot install updates to the software?
posted by dhruva at 8:51 AM on October 22, 2010


A related question is, why would publishers pay a commission for Amazon to sell their ebooks, when they could do it themselves?

Or why would anyone sell products at Walmart when they can start their own stores? Most companies don't want to compete in distribution channels; they want to compete in their core business.

Apple hopes they can do what Amazon has done

I'd say Apple hopes they can replicate what they've already done. iOS proves they can do it.

If non-app-store apps start to be second class citizens, I'm out.

Again I'd say non-app-store apps are already second class citizens, by which I mean OSX apps are second class citizens to iOS apps. This gives OSX apps an opportunity to become first class citizens, by joining the app store system. The next step is retracting citizenship for non-app-store apps. That'll be a difficult transition, but I can't imagine how it won't happen eventually.
posted by scottreynen at 8:52 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have you ever actually used Synaptic or the new Ubuntu Software Center?

Nope, but (unlike the App Store on Mac) others here have, and seem to confirm the clunkiness vibe that the site gives off. Having functionality in place and making it elegant to use are very different things. Linux is great at getting the functionality there, but the developers almost always lose interest before things get anywhere near the polish that a company like Apple strives for.
posted by ecurtz at 8:53 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where's the demand? What user doesn't know how to install programs (apps? Ok, whatever) as currently implemented?

Many of them. I regularly help family members stop running downloaded programs directly from the mounted DMG files by just dragging them somewhere else and ejecting the disk. Don't even get me started on the size of people's "Downloads" folder.

I think it's more like we've reached a point where consumer technology (and, yes, computers are a consumer commodity) is fairly mature, does what it says and that's all the consumer wants. 99.9% of consumers don't give a crap whether they can hack something, or install some obscure little tool for doing some even more obscure function. They don't care.

I agree completely, and I think this is a bad thing for society at large. It will mean a diminishing number of people who even understand why fixing something is a good idea, much less the number of people who are capable of doing the fixing. That people don't recognize anti-consumer practices for what they are doesn't mean the practices are good, or magically not anti-consumer.
posted by odinsdream at 8:55 AM on October 22, 2010


The problem with the Java deprecation announcement is they didn't also announce that they'd talked to Oracle beforehand, were handing the Apple-integrated code over to them, and Oracle would be providing a JVM / JDK before Apple completely abandoned their own. It leaves important things like JDBC database connectivity twisting in the wind.

The way they've done it is a kick in the teeth to developers. And this is also a kick in the teeth to the audiovisual community, because Processing relies on Java. Traditionally, Mac was seen as THE platform for audiovisual creativity. Is that going to change?
posted by fleetmouse at 8:57 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not much of an Apple fan generally - although I did buy my first Mac yesterday, now that they have netbooks - but I think this is a perfectly good idea. My only surprise is that they didn't do it sooner. And as a developer, I think a 30% cut for distribution is more than fair - distributing your own applications requires a lot of moving parts that would almost certainly cost more than 30% of your sales revenue, and more people are likely to see your app in a centralized location.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:58 AM on October 22, 2010


> I have a software that I use that is written in Java. So after Lion, I cannot install updates to the software?

The future's ambiguous.

Sun, and now Oracle, maintained Java runtime for pretty nearly all OSes except the Mac. Apple has had to maintain their own Java runtime port (and pay Sun/Oracle to do so, as well). Apple appears to have finally told Oracle, "We're tired of this. If you want Java on the Mac, do it yourself." Oracle hasn't publicly responded yet.
posted by ardgedee at 9:01 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


bondcliff wrote: "There are three people in my house, all of us are intelligent people, but 99% of the time when the other two want to install an app they need my help."

That's funny. As an IT person, I am constantly amazed at how the dumbest motherfuckers who ask me about everything they do as if their computer is a Fabergé egg just waiting for an excuse to declare itself broken are the ones who manage to install the most software.

I have yet to run into a person who has more than a passing knowledge of computers (that would be most people, these days, at least from my first-world perspective) that can't install software on their own. They may be nervous about doing it and want me to stand there watching them do it, but they're all perfectly capable of doing it themselves. I just went through that last night, actually.

My "help" consisted entirely of standing there watching the computer install OpenOffice while the person who requested it clicked the buttons without any input from me beyond telling them they should probably try OpenOffice if they want to be able to save documents as Word files but don't want to pay for Office.
posted by wierdo at 9:03 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before getting too up in arms, it's worth noting that Apple's deprecation of Java might be the best possible outcome: Java on the Mac has consistently been one version behind other platforms, since they have to receive Sun/Oracle's code and wrangle it themselves and incorporate it into their OS releases.

This is the only plausible way to get Java on the Mac in sync with Java on other platforms.
posted by ardgedee at 9:03 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


On not-preview:

ecurtz wrote: "Nope, but (unlike the App Store on Mac) others here have, and seem to confirm the clunkiness vibe that the site gives off. "

And it's painfully obvious that they haven't actually used Software Center.
posted by wierdo at 9:05 AM on October 22, 2010


Didn't Jobs once respond "Nope" when asked if there would be an app store for OS X? (Maybe he just meant one with exclusive authorization.)

We can also assume they're unlikely to have malware.

As veteran OS X developer Wil Shipley has pointed out with regard to the iPhone App Store, “Curated” Doesn’t Necessarily Mean “Secure”.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:08 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today it's hard to even have an argument with someone about why things like the App Store, HDCP, DVD Regions, etc., are anti-consumer. People don't seem to be receptive to this type of argument, which may be partly due to a rise in authoritarianism in general. I'm not terribly hopeful.

I'm... on record as being very sensitive - perhaps even over-sensitive - to encroaching authoritarianism.

But one of these things is not like the other. When the government wants to "lock us in", we can't switch to a competing government. So, unless you're up for a lifelong political struggle, there's a strong inducement to accept authoritarianism.

Apple, whatever its other flaws as a company, will not put you in prison for defying its assertions of authority. People and companies will buy dozens of millions of iOS devices for themselves next year, with their own money, freely choosing not to buy an Android device, because iOS devices work. Maybe in not in as many ways, or in the particular style, that you'd prefer them to.

But they work. People can use them. I love mine. I actually have affectionate feelings for them. And not because Steve Jobs has successfully huckstered me into thinking the iPad is a revolution. Because I used the one my wife gave and found it to be a revolutionary experience.

My point being that to contextualize Apple's success, even a little part of it, as part of a larger pattern of encroaching authoritarianism is some moonshine-strength haterade .
posted by Joe Beese at 9:10 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't know why folks are talking about this as if it's a solution to installing apps. That comes along as a nice perk, but as some have said above, it's really a solution to finding new applications and paying for them in a trustworthy way. When it is easy and polished, you will get so many more people buying a ten buck app that is on a top twenty list that they find in an new app store (which, already having your credit card number stored from ipod or music purchases, allows you to buy things with two clicks) than those who would google a piece of shareware and then pay some random website. More than anything else, I expect this will turn out to be a good showcase of consumer-friendly mac software that won't stop those of us who want to go download a new version of HandBreak or the like to install it just as we've always done.

Also, good riddance to Apple's java. I hope that it gets replaced by a proper JDK.
posted by Schismatic at 9:10 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


What do you think Angry Birds would cost on the macbook?

Isn't the bigger point that no one would pay for Angry Birds on the macbook? macbook users have browsers that can run Flash. Or I guess they'd pay $9.99 for it if the desktop version is as good as any of the other boring old casual games out there.

It does seems like a good deal for donationware developers, i.e. what ardgedee said. Sourceforge and Google Code are great, but they won't be baked into the Mac OS.

It will be interesting to see how this store operates with Mac OS XI.

Are there any antitrust issues involved as far as operating a Mac app store? In Europe? Wasn't there something like that about the iTunes Store and the iPhone in Europe .. ah. Looks like that's why it changed its mind about third-party development tools. .... I suppose maybe if they made it mandatory for all Mac software.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:14 AM on October 22, 2010


Where's the demand? What user doesn't know how to install programs (apps? Ok, whatever) as currently implemented? Actually don't answer that.

This is where metafilter fails when it comes to tech discussion. Even with the super simple app store on the iPhone there are plenty of users that don't bother/understand/know that they can install 3rd party apps. Finding and installing applications is pretty awful if you're not tech inclined. It's too early to tell if this is a good thing or bad, but in that area, it's a winner already.
posted by justgary at 9:17 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Macintosh: Linux, just more expensive.

I like OSX, but yeah, Ubuntu is catching up fast. This App Store thing may originate from the iPhone sphere, but in the desktop OS space it actually makes it look like they're chasing Ubuntu.

[...]when Ars interviewed OS X developers, they unanimously agreed that eventually iOS is going to replace OS X.

How horrible.

chunking express: Apple is the best. Suck it haters.

I think what you meant to say was "Hate it suckers."
posted by JHarris at 9:21 AM on October 22, 2010


James Gosling on Apple's deprecation of Java. An interesting read with some info I didn't know (for example, ports for some other OSes are also independently maintained). But he knows as much about what this means for the future of Java on the Mac as anybody here does.
posted by ardgedee at 9:23 AM on October 22, 2010


I use and love my Mac, but I don't think I really like this, especially if the future is all iOS devices you have to jailbreak to do power user things with. As a computer enthusiast, I think I'll just end up getting a well-built PC.

I always considered Apple to have some of the best build quality, though.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:24 AM on October 22, 2010



That out of the way, I don't see the need for the app store, or why developers would participate. It's already amazingly easy to download and install apps on the mac. You drag the icon to your app folder to install it, you drag it to the trashcan to uninstall it.


Amazingly easy if you haven't been running windows installers your whole life. You download something, it (often) shows up as a disk on your desktop, where you're supposed to figure out to copy it over. I love the Mac's app packaging, but don't pretend this is easy for everyone to figure out. There's a good article on the problem.

A couple of other issues. Less people are apprehensive about installing an app on the iPhone than on the mac. If the two experiences are made near-identical it's a lot easier to get people to do it. Also, for all the problems in the app store for finding stuff, there's a set of users who don't Google well and will probably find applications easier through the store.

Finally, Apple knows developers like the app store, and the prospect of distribution, fulfillment, payment processing, and (some) marketing/exposure being all handled by someone else is really compelling. It won't hurt Apple to get a few extra bucks by putting something out there that developers will enjoy. Oh, and of course there'll be a few developers who start developing for the platform who didn't before, like happened for the iPhone. They also may enforce human interface guidelines, which will raise the average quality of software on the platform. Now that I think of it that's really huge; everyone else can have the ugly stuff.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:27 AM on October 22, 2010


In fact, a recent study indicated nearly a third of iPad owners haven't installed any third-party apps.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:30 AM on October 22, 2010


Just sold my mac a couple of weeks ago. Steve is slowly locking out third party development and third party application platforms...

They explicitly said during the keynote that this distribution mechanism was not going to be the only way to get software. Yes, I'm aware that could change but to me it does not seem advantageous for them to do so.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:30 AM on October 22, 2010


there's a set of users who don't Google well and will probably find applications easier through the store.

Yep. The App store is neatly labeled, with info and ratings from other customers and the apps are ranked by popularity.

Binging for "iPhone games" or "iPhone finance" is nowhere near as productive.
posted by nomadicink at 9:33 AM on October 22, 2010


This is brilliant, but as pointed out in the second comment, Linux already has this and it is free. That is one of the compelling things about Ubuntu for me. I can select from a wide variety of pre-vetted software packages that can be trusted.
posted by caddis at 9:34 AM on October 22, 2010


Binging for "iPhone games" or "iPhone finance" is nowhere near as productive.

I remember, back in the day, Altavistaing or Jeevsing for apps. I guess it was still better than Lycosing or Exciting for it.
posted by bondcliff at 9:37 AM on October 22, 2010


Binging for "iPhone games" or "iPhone finance" is nowhere near as productive.

Really? Binging?
posted by empath at 9:39 AM on October 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


Binging for iPhone games
posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on October 22, 2010


I have yet to run into a person who has more than a passing knowledge of computers (that would be most people, these days, at least from my first-world perspective) that can't install software on their own.

I am a programmer and, until about three years ago, I'd exclusively used PCs. Then I switched to Macs. I remember how confused I was when I downloaded and installed my first piece of software. First of all, I couldn't find it.

OH, IT WAS IN THE DOWNLOADS FOLDER! I didn't know I had a downloads folder.

Then... it was a .dmg file. What the heck is that? Okay, I double-clicked it. It opened, and there was an install program. So I double-clicked that. (It wasn't one of those simple apps that you just dragged to the Applications folder.) A wizard started.

I got stymied on one of the wizard's screens. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. It asked me where I wanted to install the program, and it showed me an icon representing my harddrive. So it KNEW I wanted to install it on my harddrive (where else?). What was I supposed to tell it?

OH, I WAS SUPPOSED TO CLICK ON THE HARDDRIVE ICON! I get it. In some cases (e.g. multiple drives), I would have to choose which drive. Even though I only had one, I still needed to click it.

I finished the wizard and then ... ??? Where was the program? How was I supposed to access it and start it up?

OH, IT WAS IN THE APPLICATIONS FOLDER! I didn't know I had one of those. Oh wait, I have TWO of them???? One main one and one under my username? What's that all about?

Okay, I am exaggerating my confusion. I figured it all out in about five minutes, but I have some experience with computers. My parents are clueless about computers. They are smart people. My mom's a psychotherapist and my dad retired as chairman of the Comp Lit department at a major university, but they don't know what a .dmg is, what a harddrive is (other than some mysterious thing inside a computer), what a downloads folder is or what an applications folder is.

One day this won't be true (at least amongst middle-class people), but we still live in a world in which many people over fifty have very little experience with computers. Basic concepts are alien to them.
posted by grumblebee at 9:46 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


caddis wrote: "This is brilliant, but as pointed out in the second comment, Linux already has this and it is free. That is one of the compelling things about Ubuntu for me. I can select from a wide variety of pre-vetted software packages that can be trusted."

In 10.10, Software Center has the necessary infrastructure to do paid software.
posted by wierdo at 9:54 AM on October 22, 2010


Linux already has this and it is free.
I think it's important to point out that these things are only similar if you're looking at them from orbit. I mean, you can provide a vague description of apt-get and an Apple App Store such that they sound sort of similar, but you could do the same thing for tennis and hockey and it's just as meaningless.

Linux package managers are all about managing dependencies, what 10 libraries need to be installed before you can get that application you want. Breaking up open-source distributions so that this works well for both user-type installations and developer-type installations is a hard problem, but mostly well solved. (That said, I wish that they'd just *always* install header files for libraries, particularly the ubiquitous libreadline....)

The Apple App Store solves how to get money from users to developers. This is also a hard problem.

The part in which they are similar, file lists and copying files from here to there, are trivialities not worth mentioning when compared to the more difficult problems that each of these solves. If Apple wanted something like synaptic, they'd have a ton of work to do, and if Ubuntu wanted to enable paid apps, they'd also have a ton of work to do.
posted by Llama-Lime at 9:55 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, grumblee's experienced matches my insanely smart brother in law's when he switched to Macs.

BinL: "What the fuck is .DMG file?!

Me: "I don't know and neither does anyone else. Just go with it."

BinL: "Ok, it's downloaded, how do I run it?"

Me: "You have to install it."

BinL: "It's not in the registry?!"

BinL: "What's that?"

silence.

BinkL: "I'll see you at Thanksgiving, ok?"
posted by nomadicink at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2010


What ardgedee said. Java under OS X even before the Oracle buy-out was always at least one major version behind and a game of pass-the-buck on development and security problems between Sun and Apple. If you wanted Java 1.6 or 1.7, you had to go with SoyLatte or the OpenJDK BSD Port Project. I think Apple did eventually release a 1.6 SDK.

What does this mean? At a minimum there's OpenJDK under X11 and SWT Cocoa with OpenJDK. Hopefully, Apple will release their JVM implementation code which could trickle into OpenJDK and Oracle's release.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2010


In 10.10, Software Center has the necessary infrastructure to do paid software.
And now I'm embarassed... Good for Ubuntu!
posted by Llama-Lime at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2010


This thread is tl;dr but per Anil Dash's response to the announcement on Twitter: imagine it's 2002 and Microsoft announced this for Windows XP. People would have a goddamn shit-fit and the anti-trust machine would have cranked up against Microsoft even earlier.

But when Steve Jobs does it, woo-hoo, it's soooo awesome.
posted by GuyZero at 9:58 AM on October 22, 2010


Also, Ubuntu 10.10 on a netbook is AMAZING and the software centre works really, really well. Somehow it has absolutely no power saving features and gets confused every time I close the lid of my AspireOne, but other than that the UI experience is fantastic. And they copied the OS X dock.

In case anyone is looking to switch, just sayin'.
posted by GuyZero at 10:00 AM on October 22, 2010


Yes, let us compare a company with 90+% marketshare to a company with 10% marketshare.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:02 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


imagine it's 2002 and Microsoft announced this for Windows XP. People would have a goddamn shit-fit and the anti-trust machine would have cranked up against Microsoft even earlier.

First, the main US antitrust suit against Microsoft was filed in 1998, so doing this in 2002 wouldn't have had anything to do with it.

Second, even today Apple has, what, 3-7% desktop market share (installed base, not new sales), depending on how you look at it? Perhaps more importantly in this context, Microsoft also had and has a significant monopoly on a lot of important applications, particularly the Office suite.

(I was going to add that Microsoft had a history of breaking other companies' programs to make its own more competitive, but apparently that's not entirely accurate. "DOS isn't done til Lotus won't run" is a myth according to people who worked for Microsoft and Lotus.)
posted by jedicus at 10:12 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


T.D. Strange: "Where's the demand? What user doesn't know how to install programs (apps? Ok, whatever) as currently implemented? Actually don't answer that."

The problem isn't just installing programs, its finding good ones. For example, many people are conditioned on Windows to download and install software from the internet, using tools like Google or eventually sites like Cnet or tucows. This doesn't work out so well to non-Windows users, and even if you do append "OSX" or "Ubuntu" Google isn't likely to sort by quality.

One of the first steps Ubuntu took was to solve this problem for a basic set of tools; they pick out and install by default a text editor, open office, firefox, and a bittorrent client. They recently switched from GIMP by default to a slightly simpler photo tool. They've also been working on the Software Center for ages, which digs into important stuff like popcon data.
posted by pwnguin at 10:12 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, I guess this isn't exactly the best day ever for the folks who own versiontracker.com.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:15 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Director of Firefox fires opening salvo at Apple's tyrannical Mac App Store
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on October 22, 2010


The problem isn't just installing programs, its finding good ones.

No, it's not that either.

The problem with the current status quo is that Apple doesn't get a cut of the action.
posted by GuyZero at 10:24 AM on October 22, 2010


Director of Firefox fires opening salvo at Apple's tyrannical Mac App Store

Posted via Tweetie
posted by entropicamericana at 10:29 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


They explicitly said during the keynote that this distribution mechanism was not going to be the only way to get software. Yes, I'm aware that could change but to me it does not seem advantageous for them to do so.

As pointed out above, not six months ago Jobs was explicitly saying that there would not be an App Store for OS X. You can't trust what these people say.
posted by kafziel at 10:30 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Directory of apps: Good.
Walled Garden: Bad, but kind of Apple's MO.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:34 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


> So, I guess this isn't exactly the best day ever for the folks who own versiontracker.com.

They probably don't care much.
posted by ardgedee at 10:37 AM on October 22, 2010


They probably don't care much.

GAH! :sadface:
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:39 AM on October 22, 2010


As pointed out above, not six months ago Jobs was explicitly saying that there would not be an App Store for OS X. You can't trust what these people say.

First, Steve Jobs emails can be and have been faked.

Second, the email alleged that there would be an OS X app store that would be the exclusive way to get OS X apps. Denying that is not the same as denying a non-exclusive OS X app store.

Third, six months (minus all of 3 days) is a long time, especially since the OS X app store won't be ready for about another 3 months. It's entirely possible the OS X app store project hadn't started yet when the email was written.

Fourth, just because Apple has changed its mind about one thing does not mean it will necessarily change its mind about another.
posted by jedicus at 10:39 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apple's tyrannical Mac App Store

Something tells me a site called Download Squad isn't going to be impartial on this issue...

Jobs was explicitly saying that there would not be an App Store for OS X

The actual question was ""There's a rumor saying there will be a Mac App Store and no software without authorization from Apple will run on Mac OS X. Is that true?" Jobs response was "Nope." I'm not defending Jobs' coy reply here, but he didn't necessarily deny an App Store, he denied there would be an App Store that would ban all other software.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:41 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is where metafilter fails when it comes to tech discussion. Even with the super simple app store on the iPhone there are plenty of users that don't bother/understand/know that they can install 3rd party apps. Finding and installing applications is pretty awful if you're not tech inclined. It's too early to tell if this is a good thing or bad, but in that area, it's a winner already.

Using myself as a data point, I seek out and install shareware on my PC laptop all the time. But before I would abandon my comfortable walled garden to venture into the Mos Eisley cantina of jailbreakland, you guys would have to beat them to the deadliest of killer apps. If you've got one now, I haven't heard of it yet.

It really is about the end experience. Jobs is sitting on tens of billions in cold cash for having been proven right about that.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:44 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, Ubuntu 10.10 on a netbook is AMAZING and the software centre works really, really well. Somehow it has absolutely no power saving features and gets confused every time I close the lid of my AspireOne

And... cut.

Yeah. I'm not interested in tracking down that problem, and it would cripple the usefulness of any laptop.

I know Ubuntu is easy and great and smooth as butter for a lot of common cases. I've installed it on a VM to play with and subsequently on my Dad's machine after I got sick of trying to figure out why his XP install would run like a dog stuck in tar and assuaging his all-too-real fears about security. For a couple of specific things I want to do, as well as for a few hardware cases, it's still fiddly, and as much fun as I've had fiddling with Linux and system administration back into the mid 90s, I'd rather spend my time on other things now. Not to mention I'd like run highly useful commercial software without resorting to Windows virtualization, which I thankfully only have to use for IE testing right now.

Now, on the very day that I can't compile/install/run whatever I want on my Mac, that equation will change, and I will put up with some extra fiddling and even shinola from Redmond for the freedom.

But I don't understand why some people seem absolutely convinced that Apple is going to abandon and/or lock down their rather successful desktop operating system.

It doesn't make any sense. I can see some of iOS bubbling up into OS X, I could even see Apple deciding to have something more like iOS come installed on their consumer line of hardware, which would probably be very smart. But I'd be genuinely shocked if they didn't also continue to produce a "Pro" version of their OS, because they will say goodbye to their professional market -- both creative and technical -- if all they've got available is something modal that runs Apple approved apps, and despite the fact that their market has expanded well beyond that original core, it seems obvious to me they'd be utterly shortsighted to do this.

Steve is slowly locking out third party development and third party application platforms

What are the signs here?

when Ars interviewed OS X developers, they unanimously agreed that eventually iOS is going to replace OS X.

What did they say? Why were they sure that Apple will only offer iOS-like systems and no professional desktop / server?
posted by weston at 10:54 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not sure why you sold your mac when we're not to the point of lock-in yet. I'll be the first to jump ship once we reach that point, but that's just not the case right now.

You won't jump ship once you reach that point - that's what lock-in does; it creates a point beyond which the barriers to jumping ship effectively negate your ability to do so.

If you don't get out before that point is reached, you don't get out.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:59 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whatever Metafilter says, this option is great for developers and great for end users. It is long overdue on OS X, frankly, given the success of the App Store model on iOS.

It has always been very difficult to find Mac software anywhere but the Apple Store, and this store model will make it easy to buy software at home or on the road.

Developers will make lots of money and end users will finally have a reliable place to get a broad selection of software.

And I'm glad that the JDK is now Oracle's responsibility again. Java in OS X was always a compromise wrt performance and interface design. Now it's up to Oracle to support their own product.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:04 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How exactly was the OS X JDK a compromise? It lagged somewhat which is to be expected, but otherwise it worked quite well. It was well-optimized and you could just download eclipse and get going which is easier than on windows... I'm just not seeing it.
posted by GuyZero at 11:08 AM on October 22, 2010


You won't jump ship once you reach that point - that's what lock-in does; it creates a point beyond which the barriers to jumping ship effectively negate your ability to do so.

If you don't get out before that point is reached, you don't get out.
The point is that nobody is currently locked in, and they can't lock you in without you choosing to install an as-of-yet non-existent update that does lock you in, so why jump ship now? If the platform isn't serving your needs or you find something better, then that's a fantastic reason to switch. But to leave it for a non-existent threat that, even it were to come into existence can't be forced upon you, is a bit insane.
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:16 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


when Ars interviewed OS X developers, they unanimously agreed that eventually iOS is going to replace OS X.

Great idea! Instead of fixing the Finder, just eliminate files!
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:20 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How exactly was the OS X JDK a compromise?

I used to do a fair amount of Java work back in 2001 to 2003. I always found Apple's JDK slow and lacking features that were in JDKs on Solaris, Linux and Windows that were always a version ahead. The UI widgets looked clunky and made Java apps look cheap, like Qt apps do.

I'm not sure that much has changed since 2003, but maybe incremental improvements have changed the situation. To my memory, Java has always been a second-class citizen on OS X, and now Oracle has to decide if it wants to make Java support for OS X as much a priority as for other platforms.

I'm optimistic Oracle will make the right choices, which will mean good things for Java developers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:20 AM on October 22, 2010


I'm optimistic Oracle will make the right choices, which will mean good things for Java developers.

That would seem inconsistent with Oracles actions to date.
posted by Artw at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


But to leave it for a non-existent threat that, even it were to come into existence can't be forced upon you, is a bit insane.

It reminds me of this Cory Doctorow piece, the predictions in which unsurprisingly did not come to pass.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:23 AM on October 22, 2010


That would seem inconsistent with Oracles actions to date.

Well, shouldn't that be up to Oracle to figure out? Apple is a business and wants to focus its priorities on WebKit/Objective C/C++ development, and given the financial success of those frameworks this seems like a smart decision.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 AM on October 22, 2010


I'm an Ubuntu user and when I considered getting a mac at work the pro was "hey, I'm not paying for it, it's great hardware" but the biggest con for me was actually "Having to fiddle with every single piece of software as it's own installer is ANNOYING and I won't go back to that"

For me, it's the one thing where linux is way ahead in experience than OS X or Windows, so I definitely think it's a good thing for OS X.

On the other hand, the commerce side of it is likely to negate what makes the open stuff work so well.. what you really want is one interace that manages all of the software on your computer, and it's unlikely that you'll be able to upgrade itunes, python* and photoshop all from the same interface.

(* apache? abiword? I don't really know what open source software mac users are likely to have)
posted by kevin is... at 11:26 AM on October 22, 2010


It reminds me of this Cory Doctorow piece, the predictions in which unsurprisingly did not come to pass.

Cory Doctorow hyperbolic and just plain wrong?! COLOR ME SHOCKED.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:26 AM on October 22, 2010


You won't jump ship once you reach that point - that's what lock-in does; it creates a point beyond which the barriers to jumping ship effectively negate your ability to do so.

Can you explain the specific mechanics here?

I use OS X. I don't use many of the Apple applications, and every Apple application I use will let me export data/documents in a useable exchange format, and generally has some reasonably competitive analogue out there. Every commercial application I use also runs on Windows (as well as letting me export data/documents in a useable exchange format and in most cases having a semi-viable competitor).

Why am I going to be suddenly unable to switch on the day Apple announces software on all their operating systems will only be installable through their App store?
posted by weston at 11:30 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, one result of the Java deprecation is that no Java software will be available in the app store (from the guidelines):
2.24 Apps that use deprecated or optionally installed technologies (e.g., Java, Rosetta) will be rejected. This is an interesting one -- Apple actually updated Java for Mac OS X last night, but said it's now deprecated and won't be updated beyond this version's lifecycle. That pretty much spells the end for Java on OS X, unless Oracle steps in and provides a port.* (text from guidelines is emphasized)
posted by MikeKD at 11:34 AM on October 22, 2010


Not sure why you sold your mac when we're not to the point of lock-in yet. I'll be the first to jump ship once we reach that point, but that's just not the case right now.

For anyone who has migrated from one platform to another thousands of documents, the process is ugly enough without having to wait for the last minute.

Steve wants to be the benevolent dictator of everyone who uses an Apple product, which is fine. But I'm not going to wait until iOS is the only option, and I have the choice of either breaking the ToS and voiding my warranty, or not installing the applications I need to accomplish work. That is not an acceptable compromise, and one Apple has already forced on users of the iPad, iPod, and iPhone. Even if they "unofficially" don't care, what's the point of choosing a vendor who is always hanging a legal axe over your head?

True, I could have kept my MBP and hoped for the best. But frankly, I'm not comfortable entrusting my entire digital life with some other person's egomaniacal decisions on what I should be able to do with my own stuff. I don't want to hold on to old out of warranty equipment and hope it doesn't break. And I'm certainly not going to put data in proprietary formats that Steve has control over, because at his whim, he will declare another revolution and destroy my entire digital workflow because he doesn't like the user experience anymore.
posted by notion at 11:35 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How exactly was the OS X JDK a compromise?

Compatibility. There were some Java apps that just wouldn't run on Apple's hacked Java – hell, Sun's own Embedded Lights Out Manager virtual KVM didn't work.
posted by nicwolff at 11:37 AM on October 22, 2010


As long as this is treated as another avenue for app discovery and installation it is a net benefit, but I worry about apps delivered outside of the warm bosom of the Apple app store getting second class treatment. I'm really conflicted as a long time mac person. On one hand this is good for the nascent developer to focus on building the app, getting potential exposure to a large market and not needing to build their own e-commerce system for sales. On the other hand, I get a little worried that if it becomes too successful Apple could strong arm legitimate apps outside of the system.

I guess we won't know until we know.
posted by dgran at 11:38 AM on October 22, 2010


And I'm certainly not going to put data in proprietary formats that Steve has control over, because at his whim, he will declare another revolution and destroy my entire digital workflow because he doesn't like the user experience anymore.

The App Store does none of this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bullshit, Blazecock:
6. User interface

6.1 Apps must comply with all terms and conditions explained in the Apple Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines

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

6.4 Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good it may be rejected

6.5 Apps that change the native user interface elements or behaviors of Mac OS X will be rejected
posted by MikeKD at 11:52 AM on October 22, 2010


For anyone who has migrated from one platform to another thousands of documents, the process is ugly enough without having to wait for the last minute.

Why is it worse to defer a task that would require the exact same work until the theoretical time of a necessity that may never actually come about?
posted by weston at 11:52 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


The App Store does none of this.

Bullpucky. "Steve announces iWork '12, and iLife '12 will only be available on iOS and the App Store." Or "Microsoft and Adobe today announced that, in order to combat software piracy, they have moved all of their applications to App Store only for the Mac platform."

This doesn't force me to upgrade my current version, but dead-ends my hardware until I move to another platform, or forces me to hope that their DRM doesn't suck.

Unacceptable.
posted by notion at 11:54 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is it worse to defer a task that would require the exact same work until the theoretical time of a necessity that may never actually come about?

Because then you have to convert all of the documents you create from now until when the time comes. The solution is to move to software that reads and writes in open formats now, so you don't have to worry about it in the future.

The only real solution may be virtual machine emulation, which is not allowed in the ToS for OS X until you pay $1,000 for their server version.
posted by notion at 11:56 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to TAUW an application will be rejected if "it has metadata that mentions the name of any other computer platform". How is that not anti-competitive? Considering OSX is built on top of FreeBSD, I find that particularly egregious.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:57 AM on October 22, 2010


None of those UI criteria have to do with "proprietary formats". And Microsoft and Adobe already have proprietary formats, called Office Open XML (OOXML) and Photoshop PSD, respectively.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:59 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even if they "unofficially" don't care, what's the point of choosing a vendor who is always hanging a legal axe over your head?

The point is that their product is easier to use than yours.

I judge the likelihood of Steve Jobs erecting, without advance warning, an impenetrable Berlin Wall around Apple-created documents to be safely remote.

When your product is as easy to use as theirs, let me know. If Jobs doesn't have me trapped, I'll switch to take advantage of your added axe-lessness.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:00 PM on October 22, 2010


This doesn't force me to upgrade my current version, but dead-ends my hardware until I move to another platform, or forces me to hope that their DRM doesn't suck.

This sounds almost identical in tone and content to Doctorow's piece, and it's worth noting again that his end-of-the-world, doom-and-gloom predictions didn't come to pass, either.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:02 PM on October 22, 2010


None of those UI criteria have to do with "proprietary formats". And Microsoft and Adobe already have proprietary formats, called Office Open XML (OOXML) and Photoshop PSD, respectively.

Except you can choose not to use any of those formats. Photoshop will read and write dozens of different formats, as will Office. You have no such similar option under Apple's TOU - if you want to package applications for sale in the AppStore, its XCode or XCode.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:03 PM on October 22, 2010


How is that not anti-competitive?

Because you still build applications for the Macintosh anyway you want.
posted by nomadicink at 12:14 PM on October 22, 2010


Except you can choose not to use any of those formats

You also lose a number of features that motivate individual consumers and businesses to choose proprietary OOXML and PSD formats over other less restricted formats: macros, formatting, Sharepoint links, presentations, layers, color space controls, ability to import into Illustrator, etc. The alternatives have always been more difficult to work with, which is partly the blame of standards groups, but ultimately down to consumers, who chose convenience and features over politics. Alternatives exist, regardless, but they are rarely a working substitute for the standard formats that most people use.

You have no such similar option under Apple's TOU - if you want to package applications for sale in the AppStore, its XCode or XCode.

I have not heard any announcement from Apple that it is preventing Steam, Kagi, DigiBuy, eSellerate and other online software vendors from operating on the Mac OS X platform. If and when we ever get to that point, which is doubtful at best, then the Xcode issue would be a valid concern. Right now that would be heated, emotional, Doctorowesque speculation at best, and FUD at worst.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:15 PM on October 22, 2010


It's already amazingly easy to download and install apps on the mac. You drag the icon to your app folder to install it, you drag it to the trashcan to uninstall it.

Once you've got the icon, yes. But most apps are still shipped on the clunky hack that is disk images, so what actually happens is people drag the icon from the disk image to the dock. Then every time they launch the app, it remounts the disk image and runs it from there. Slow and nasty.

It's so bad that apps are now offering to install themselves when they're started from a folder that's not "Applications". You don't go to that effort if it's "amazingly easy" to install.

My mom manages installations on windows just fine, considering the amount of games she has sitting on the desktop
So, not fine at all, then.

But when Steve Jobs does it, woo-hoo, it's soooo awesome.
Oh for fuck's sake. Does Apple have 90% of the desktop market? Right. And, y'know, Lisa, Next computers, G4 Cube, iPod hifi, buttonless iPod Shuffle, iPod Photo, Clamshell iBook, Apple TV v1, v2 and v3, iDisk, fat iPod Nano, MobileMe, iPad file sharing, OS X Server, Ping ... there's a really long fucking list of things that Steve Jobs has done and the world has went "uh huh, not awesome, sorry".
posted by bonaldi at 12:19 PM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is not about doom and gloom. This is about my computer vendor trying to dictate what I can and can't do with my own hardware, and my refusal to participate in volunteering my data for their experiment.

Earlier this year, Ubisoft, which is not a small company, had a system-wide failure that prevented paying customers from using their product. Thankfully, it was only a game, but I'm not volunteering to see if Apple can do any better. I'm not going to tell a client that I can't finish their project by tomorrow because my OS isn't allowing me to use my software.

Apple learned their lesson with FairPlay, so maybe they'll learn it again with the App Store. But I'm not sticking around for the ride.

To wit, this is the same company that decried netbooks as stupid and useless, only to release their own at three times the price and still refuse to call it a netbook. They make cool stuff and everything, but their lifestyle branding certainly holds some mystical power among their users.
posted by notion at 12:20 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


In 10.10, Software Center has the necessary infrastructure to do paid software.

Cool.
posted by caddis at 12:23 PM on October 22, 2010


I have not heard any announcement from Apple that it is preventing Steam, Kagi, DigiBuy, eSellerate and other online software vendors from operating on the Mac OS X platform.

Except that's not what I said. I said that if you want to sell your applications in the AppStore, you are required to use XCode. I think that's pretty clear from the TOU.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:25 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


still refuse to call it a netbook.
"Netbook" doesn't just mean "tiny laptop". There are plenty of titchy Vaios in the same price band as the MacBooks Air. Netbooks are really about doing everything on the net, and that's something that Apple is particularly bad at, anyway.

lifestyle branding certainly holds some mystical power among their users.
Yes, the whole "when Apple turns its attention to a problem I'm having -- whether that's an MP3 player, a smart phone or finding a decent laptop -- they solve it in a way that makes me pretty much happy" thing is totally mystical. Must be to do with marketing. If only Asus could run ads.
posted by bonaldi at 12:29 PM on October 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


Earlier this year, Ubisoft, which is not a small company, had a system-wide failure that prevented paying customers from using their product.

People had the same worries about Steam. Today, not many customers have difficulties with running Steam apps off-line. Apple is a much bigger company than Valve, so it is difficult to see how Ubisoft's problems apply here, except in an abstract technical sense that affects Valve, Wolfram, MathWorks, and many other non-Apple software vendors which have implemented remote activation procedures.

To wit, this is the same company that decried netbooks as stupid and useless, only to release their own at three times the price and still refuse to call it a netbook. They make cool stuff and everything, but their lifestyle branding certainly holds some mystical power among their users.

When you say "to wit", you mean that your objection to the App Store as an idea is because they released the MacBook Air or because the lifestyle branding bothers you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:30 PM on October 22, 2010


Except that's not what I said. I said that if you want to sell your applications in the AppStore, you are required to use XCode. I think that's pretty clear from the TOU.

I'm not an expert on all things Valve, but if you want to sell your games through the Steam Store, don't you have to use the Steamworks framework? This doesn't seem to be an issue specific to Apple.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:37 PM on October 22, 2010


I'm not an expert on all things Valve, but if you want to sell your games through the Steam Store, don't you have to use the Steamworks framework?

Of course you don't. You don't have to develop in Steamworks to publish through Steam, you don't have to publish through Steam to develop in Steamworks, and in neither case do you have to pay a license fee before you start developing.
posted by kafziel at 12:46 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, the whole "when Apple turns its attention to a problem I'm having -- whether that's an MP3 player, a smart phone or finding a decent laptop -- they solve it in a way that makes me pretty much happy" thing is totally mystical. Must be to do with marketing. If only Asus could run ads.

Slight derail: on the software side, the problem is more complex than that.

Apple customers have been screwed for years by companies like Microsoft, Intuit and even Adobe, who haven't paid as much attention to the far smaller Macintosh customer base as they have to their PC customers. Apple upgrades routinely break functionality in Quickbooks from Intuit. It's highly frustrating to users who rely on those programs to function well, day after day. Quickbooks for Mac doesn't do everything that Quickbooks for PC does, either.

A couple of years ago, Microsoft produced a buggy version of Office (2008) for Apple users and eliminated VBA-functionality completely on Macs. The official reason they gave was that VBA relied on code written specifically for PowerPCs and that the complexity of rewriting that code for the architecture of Intel processors would have meant drastically pushing back the release date. But they didn't realize that many of their customers relied on carefully written, oft-times complex macros in Excel. Customers who upgraded and needed VBA had to stick with an older, unsupported version of Office, that ran into additional problems with Apple upgrades that broke functionality.

Adobe products have had a variety of problems on MacOS that didn't manifest on Windows machines. Some of those have been deliberate -- such as when the ability to create PDFs in two or three Adobe applications was removed entirely.

Attention from Apple doesn't solve problems like these.
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on October 22, 2010


Apple released all restrictions on developer applications last month. XCode is no longer required, which was pretty silly in my opinion because XCode as far as I can tell is just a front end to gcc and make.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:50 PM on October 22, 2010


Why are people up in arms about this?

Because it is Apple.

In other news, I hear Obama is considering starting an App store.
posted by The Bellman at 12:50 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought you had to explicitly tell Steam, "Heh, I'm taking a flight, go into offline mode" and if you didn't, your apps didn't work on the flight.

Was this BS?
posted by effugas at 12:51 PM on October 22, 2010


I'm not going to tell a client that I can't finish their project by tomorrow because my OS isn't allowing me to use my software.

Which is odd, because from my experience, the Mac installations that have the least DRM of any are the Apple ones. Final Cut Pro? All you need is a serial number. iLife? You don't even need that.

Meanwhile, I'm using the new Steam for Mac and loving it. What's the difference between that and this? Is Valve trying to infiltrate my brain and control my computing experience?
posted by fungible at 12:53 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought you had to explicitly tell Steam, "Heh, I'm taking a flight, go into offline mode" and if you didn't, your apps didn't work on the flight.

If that's true, that's not the way others have to implement it. I have some TV shows I bought through the iTunes Store. As far as I know, I can watch those without a network connection and I do not need to tell Apple's servers that I'm going off-line. It's been a pretty transparent experience, so far.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:55 PM on October 22, 2010


When you say "to wit", you mean that your objection to the App Store as an idea is because they released the MacBook Air or because the lifestyle branding bothers you.

No, it's representative of their collective solipsism. For reference, read Steve's rant about non-existent issues of "fragmentation" for Android.

Look, if you want someone to tell you that you're not grown up enough to decide what sort of applications you want to run, then it's no skin off my back. I'm just saying it's foolish to pretend that it isn't true because you like the product. To a lot of people, it seems to be a little cultish and weird and Orwellian to submit to that kind of authority voluntarily.

"We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone. Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone." -Steve Jobs
posted by notion at 12:56 PM on October 22, 2010


There are plenty of titchy Vaios in the same price band as the MacBooks Air.

Heh. I am familiar with those devices. I would say they fit into the category "overpriced netbooks".
posted by Artw at 12:59 PM on October 22, 2010


tl;dr: I will not voluntarily submit my software choices to anyone's morality police.
posted by notion at 1:00 PM on October 22, 2010


notion: And I'm certainly not going to put data in proprietary formats that Steve has control over, because at his whim, he will declare another revolution and destroy my entire digital workflow because he doesn't like the user experience anymore.

Blazecock Pileon: The App Store does none of this.

Blazecock Pileon: None of those UI criteria have to do with "proprietary formats". And Microsoft and Adobe already have proprietary formats, called Office Open XML (OOXML) and Photoshop PSD, respectively.


Nice redirection wrt proprietary formats.

(my take on) notion's concern is that an app(lication) that uses proprietary formats (say a mixing program or an esoteric-database program) is initially accepted into the app store; he gets use to it, perhaps evening relying on it for personal/business income; then Apple makes a change to it's UI guidelines, and bam!, that app is pulled* due to violations of 6.3 or 6.4. Now he's screwed, unless the developer of the app decides to spend money on all the services provided by the App store (Or, the dev doesn't want to or can't support the latest OSX release, well, per §2.25 [Apps that do not run on the currently shipping OS will be rejected], it's gone.)

* yes, not implement yet (afaik), but if the iOS app store is any indication....

jeremias: Pretty much this. In general you can count me in the Apple camp, but I am a fan of the fringe areas as well of computing as well. Does anyone really think apps like Senuti, Utorrent,and FairGame have a chance in hell of making it onto the App store?

Seneti: Might be rejected, depending on how it uses Apple's trade marks (section 5: Trademarks and trade dress) and how vigorously Apple gets.

Utorrent: Could be rejected per 2.17 (Apps that download other standalone apps will be rejected), probably would be rejected under 18.4 (Apps that enable illegal file sharing will be rejected).

FairGame: Would be rejected under 18.3 (Apps that solicit, promote, or encourage criminal or clearly reckless behavior will be rejected)--the circumventing of DRM being illegal under the DCMA (cf. DeCSS).
posted by MikeKD at 1:00 PM on October 22, 2010


To a lot of people, it seems to be a little cultish and weird and Orwellian to submit to that kind of authority voluntarily.

As the applications may likely operate under the same distribution model, it's a bit odd to essentially call people who buy, listen to and watch music and video — people who have voluntarily prostrated themselves to the "authority" that is the iTunes Store — cultish, weird and Orwellian. It's certainly one point of view, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:02 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice redirection wrt proprietary formats.

Sorry, but it's not a "redirection", it was a response to notion's exact words. And that's a lousy attack to make.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:06 PM on October 22, 2010


Ayn Rand would use a Mac.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:10 PM on October 22, 2010


As the applications may likely operate under the same distribution model, it's a bit odd to essentially call people who buy, listen to and watch music and video — people who have voluntarily prostrated themselves to the "authority" that is the iTunes Store — cultish, weird and Orwellian.

Hmm, no, because of the somewhat arbitary line between what is "content" and what is not. So if you download a movie, that is content, and not subject to Apples various guidelines, however if you download a comic to read in a reader you bought from the app store then that is "not content", and so may be rejected according to whatever eules and guidelines Apple is applying that week.
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on October 22, 2010


Ayn Rand would use a Mac

Of course. Jobs is a top after all.
posted by bonehead at 1:21 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


if you download a comic to read in a reader you bought from the app store then that is "not content", and so may be rejected according to whatever eules and guidelines Apple is applying that week

Other than the Fiore embarrassment, does this regularly happen? I don't follow comic book readers on iOS, but I see a lot of comic book readers for the iPad, for example. It looks like they access comic book archive files stored on Dropbox or other file services. How does Apple block Dropbox access, or do they scan the content in these apps as they are used?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on October 22, 2010


Blaze, there's a line here: a year ago, when I bought my Mac, I knew if I didn't like iTunes or Safari, I could install my own application. With the App Store coming to the Mac, it's going to be good for developers, and the only problem I have with the App Store is the DRM, and concerns that the desire of software companies to sell me licenses that are time limited instead of copies that I can run forever will be met. (The current license actually restricts rentals, but I don't know if that will play out once larger software vendors get involved.)

However, all of the OS X developers believe, and there is a lot of evidence suggesting, that iOS 5 is going to replace OS X. If Steve feels like this will improve the user experience -- and I'm not saying that it won't improve it -- then it will happen. If you've heard him speak about user experience, it's the single metric by which he measures success, and that's why his products are very good.

But this same guy has also said that he has exercised moral responsibility in determining what Apps are approved through the App Store. There's no option for me to prove I'm legally an adult, or click through some contract to allow me to install whatever I want on any iOS device. Steve has dictated the terms, and if you want to lawfully use the product, you must abide by those terms.

It seems small, but imagine if the bed you bought said that it was unlawful to have more than two heterosexual people on it at any given time. Even if it's just a warning label, it's still creepy as fuck, and for me, a deal breaker.

Will Steve approve a gay dating app? A polyamorous dating app? A furry dating app? An app that promotes having affairs? BSDM? I may be a straight male not into those things, but I'm not going to give him money and wait to find out what he thinks about my morality.
posted by notion at 1:23 PM on October 22, 2010


Dustin Curtis pretty much summed up my opinion on this a while ago.
posted by empatterson at 1:26 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Will Steve approve a gay dating app?

He already has.

Also see: Is she a bookworm, a political girl, or a nerd?
posted by zarq at 1:29 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Other than the Fiore embarrassment, does this regularly happen?

Does Apple block comics? Sure. If you want to buy "Jesus Hates Zombies" from Comixology you have to do a bunch of weird workarounds to get it rather than the regular way. And of course when it comes to comics that are actually bound to apps they block stuff all the time.

It looks like they access comic book archive files stored on Dropbox or other file services. How does Apple block Dropbox access, or do they scan the content in these apps as they are used?

Like I say, they force you to use work arounds. Messing about with files is not the comixology comics experience.
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on October 22, 2010


However, all of the OS X developers believe, and there is a lot of evidence suggesting, that iOS 5 is going to replace OS X

There's no evidence for this, and I've written iOS apps, so I'm pretty familiar with what the OS X developers are seeing on their side of the ADC site. A scrollbar widget and some touch gestures are going into OS X 10.7. A few bloggers are falling over themselves into making this the demise of OS X to get page hits. It's a bit silly, frankly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:34 PM on October 22, 2010


You won't jump ship once you reach that point - that's what lock-in does; it creates a point beyond which the barriers to jumping ship effectively negate your ability to do so.

If you don't get out before that point is reached, you don't get out.


Alright, this is just insulting. I'm not a fucking idiot. I'm typing this on a MacBook Pro right now. I bought this because I was no longer able to run software on my previous PowerPC-based laptop. When it comes time to buy a new laptop, I'm going to have a choice between another Mac, or something else. It's not fucking rocket science to add an extra "does it let me run any applications?" criteria to all my other purchasing criteria.

If yes = no purchase.

If the next OSX update disc included a lockdown on apps I could run, I wouldn't install it. If a software update forced a similar requirement, I'd stop using OSX and re-install Linux on the hardware.

Again, not hard.
posted by odinsdream at 1:38 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How does Dustin Curtis feel about people not being able to hyperlink?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:40 PM on October 22, 2010


Though concrete answers are hard to predict, the truth is that the Cocoa APIs are built on the 20+ year-old NextStep and use Objective-C, a language that until recently lacked many features common to modern development environments, such as automatically managed memory.

...The developers on our panel unanimously agreed that Mac OS X will eventually be subsumed by iOS, but that the Mac has plenty of life left. "Mac is the awesome old grandma, whose kids (iPhone & iPad) have left home," Atebits' Loren Brichter said. "Not dead; not really dying. But it's our job to keep her comfortable until she's gone."

Mekentosj's Alexander Griekspoor believes that iPads will take over the market for a majority of consumers. "People who need a MacBook want an iPad," he said. "Only the pro segment will remain—they need the accuracy of a mouse." (source)
Time will tell.
posted by notion at 1:43 PM on October 22, 2010


Because then you have to convert all of the documents you create from now until when the time comes.

Okay, so:

Pain Now:

D0*P*1

Where:

D0: Document collection size now
P0: Current percentage of document collection in formats that aren't easily transfered.
1: Probability of having to make the transition

Pain In Event of Future Mac Platform Lockdown:

(D0*P0 + C*T*P1)*E

Where:

C: Rate of document creation
T: Time until the transition is made
P1: Percentage of future documents to be created in formats that aren't easily transfered.
E: Expected probability of Mac Platform Lockdown

This tells me that if on balance you've decided that later pain value is very likely to be higher, you either:

1) Have information which suggests to you that the probability of such a lockdown is very high, in which case, I'm very interested in hearing it.
2) Expect to have a high C*P1, a document creation rate using applications which store in proprietary formats and painful export processes, despite your apparent concerns over proprietary formats and #1
3) Expect it to be a long time before Apple initiates the lockdown, despite #1

Or some combination thereof.

The solution is to move to software that reads and writes in open formats now, so you don't have to worry about it in the future.

How fortunate Mac Users are that there is, both at the moment and well into the foreseeable future, a good selection of applications that work in that way. P1 can be as low as you like even while you're running OS X.
posted by weston at 1:44 PM on October 22, 2010


Messing about with files is not the comixology comics experience.

Is Comixology the way that most people read comic books on the iPhone/iPad? Digitized comic books are a subject I'm not too familiar with.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 PM on October 22, 2010


It has some similar competitors, but is perhaps the biggest way, yes.
posted by Artw at 1:46 PM on October 22, 2010


I'm not an expert on all things Valve, but if you want to sell your games through the Steam Store, don't you have to use the Steamworks framework? This doesn't seem to be an issue specific to Apple.

No, that's not the case. Plenty of games sold on Steam have no Steamworks integration. You need Steamworks if you want to integrate your application with Steam's community features (user profiles, achievements, the shift-tab in-game web browser) but you're free not to use it if you so choose.

A more appropriate analogy would be Steam saying you can't sell a product on their platform unless you use (and pay for) Visual Studio 2010 for development, and InstallSheild for package installation.

I thought you had to explicitly tell Steam, "Heh, I'm taking a flight, go into offline mode" and if you didn't, your apps didn't work on the flight.

Not at all. The only time your internet connection needs to be active is when you first purchase/install the game. I've played plenty of steam games without an internet connection, without having to explicitly place it in an 'offline' mode.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:50 PM on October 22, 2010


...The developers on our panel unanimously agreed that Mac OS X will eventually be subsumed by iOS, but that the Mac has plenty of life left. "Mac is the awesome old grandma, whose kids (iPhone & iPad) have left home," Atebits' Loren Brichter said. "Not dead; not really dying. But it's our job to keep her comfortable until she's gone."

OK, pardon my French, but Christ on the cross, I'm torn between that being fucking wrong and it being fucking stupid.

iOS is great but it's not a computer for people who need a computer. I need to run SSH, I need to be able to encrypt my entire hard drive with PGP (beyond what FileVault does), I need to run arbitrary tools and I need a lot more horsepower than any iOS device is every likely to provide. I need a keyboard a more memory and more storage.

The idea that the Mac is somehow on the way out is like thinking that desktop PCs are on the way out. They may no longer comprise the majority of the market but they aren't likely to be obsolete (in general terms) ever.

This is seriously like saying we don't need boats because we have planes.

Specifically, the developers were hoping that iOS's UIKit could supplant Mac OS X's AppKit APIs. (from the same article)

This is perfectly reasonable. Predicting the demise of general-purposes non-DRM'ed machines with keyboards is not.
posted by GuyZero at 1:51 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sure to throw certain parties further into a tizzy:
Flash no longer shipping with new Macs, not installed on store demo units either.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:53 PM on October 22, 2010


Also, given the treatment that Tweetie for Mac has gotten, I'd hate to be Loren Brichter's grandmother.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:56 PM on October 22, 2010


The Curtis link should go here.

I get why people don't like the files model, but the app model isn't all that and a bag of chips either. It's one verb. There's no easy way, no non-hidden API way, to access another apps collection of songs|pictures|books, for example. DRM forbids this anyway.

So, you could have books in the Apple store app, the Kindle app, the Nook app or the Scribd app for example. When you want to just read the War and Peace and Bug-Eyed Monsters mashup, you still have to remember which app you bought it in. There are no clues from the app screen where it is, and no system wide search which can find it either. Not a problem when you only have a few, or even a few dozen books, but how about hundreds or thousands?

Now, the author of WaPaBEM could also offer their opus as an app, but then you've got the problem of finding what you want in few a thousand apps.

Don't get me wrong, the app model works great for limited-function devices, like smart phones. I just think as a general purpose interface, like one you would want on your computer or with larger multiple libraries, it will prove to be more painful than the depredations of veiny monsters in the snow
posted by bonehead at 1:56 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flash no longer shipping with new Macs, not installed on store demo units either.

Yeah, this is actually a good move for users. Security vulnerabilities in Flash have become a bigger and bigger problem, and Apple has been stung by not keeping up with the newest version. It's much better for users to always get the latest version from Adobe.

Furthermore, in virtually all cases, if you're trying to use Flash then you've got internet access, so downloading it shouldn't be a problem.
posted by jedicus at 1:58 PM on October 22, 2010


Today's announcements does mean that Mincraft is in doubt for Macs too, which is unfortunate. Notch used Java to make Minecraft an equal citizen on all platforms, not just Windows.
posted by bonehead at 2:02 PM on October 22, 2010


The idea that the Mac is somehow on the way out is like thinking that desktop PCs are on the way out. They may no longer comprise the majority of the market but they aren't likely to be obsolete (in general terms) ever.
Yep, freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’, and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is. -Steve Jobs
Look, I'm not just making this stuff up. Steve believes that PCs offer a shitty user experience, so he's going to eliminate those parts of the PC until he's satisfied. You are welcome to continue giving him money to find out exactly what that means.
posted by notion at 2:03 PM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Big Brother Apple and the Death of the Program
posted by homunculus at 2:04 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


However, all of the OS X developers believe, and there is a lot of evidence suggesting, that iOS 5 is going to replace OS X.

No we don't. The iOS is basically a tiny little subset of Cocoa with some touchscreen stuff added. Why would they throw away dozens of useful, well-tested APIs? They might make the GUI somewhat closer, but that's not the same thing.

I also don't understand the comparison between XCode and various document formats. XCode is a compiler environment - all of the documents it uses are human readable. If the idea was that they were keeping applications made in the Flash exporter out of the App Store, that's not really the same sort of thing. Also, believe me, that was better for everyone, I've played with the Adobe iPhone packager and it's a steaming p.o.s.
posted by ecurtz at 2:07 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Serious IT guys will buy serious IT hardware, with serious IT support contracts, and won't play hack-the-firmware games because when it breaks, that will make it that much harder for that serious IT support to actually get you back on line. Serious IT guys don't hack, because work today is not good enough, and 'I'll figure out why it's down in a couple of weeks once I grab the source code" is not going to fly.

I think you have Serious IT guys (and girls) confused with CYA IT Management types. Serious IT people are the ones who know the appropriate solution to the problem at hand, even when it isn't throwing money at it and keeping track of who to sue when things go south.

Also your quotes are unballanced.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:10 PM on October 22, 2010


Oh look, a Gizmodo article; that's sure to provide an even-handed, level-headed, insightful experience!
posted by entropicamericana at 2:10 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ayn Rand would use a Mac.

Ha, that just reminds me of the ads that implied Einstein, Picasso, MLK, Edison, Gandhi, etc would all use Macs. The arrogance of it always cracked me up.
posted by kmz at 2:14 PM on October 22, 2010


Someone tried to make a Mac application that served this function a while back. Some searching led me to Bodega, which I think is what I'm remembering. It didn't appeal to me, but I don't buy a lot of software. I know my husband uses a (non-Steam, IIRC) game store as well. Not only is this not a new idea, it's not even new on the Mac platform. It's just that Apple has the experience to do it better, I (as an end-user) hope.

What I look forward to about a Mac App store is getting all my Mac apps that I bought through the App Store updated regularly the way my iApps are.
posted by immlass at 2:16 PM on October 22, 2010


I really really really don't buy that iOS will replace OSX.

1) The artist/designer/creative class caché Apple has is way too important to their brand and their market position. Macs are used by a lot of people who get things done, and get cool things done. Disappearing OSX will radically alter that reality.

2. Software developers need a hackable platform to work on. They're nerds, it's what they do. So in this supposed iOS-only future what platform is the iOS developer supposed to use? Windows?
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:17 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today's announcements does mean that Mincraft is in doubt for Macs too, which is unfortunate. Notch used Java to make Minecraft an equal citizen on all platforms, not just Windows.

I adore Minecraft as much as the next addict, but it's hardly a complicated app. I'll port it to whatever platform Notch wants for a weeks worth of revenues...
posted by ecurtz at 2:20 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I adore Minecraft as much as the next addict, but it's hardly a complicated app. I'll port it to whatever platform Notch wants for a weeks worth of revenues...

I noticed you didn't include support in your offer.
posted by MikeKD at 2:29 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll offer the same high level of support Notch supplies for the current version. Hell, I'd even host the support forum I never read, instead of relying on a third party. ( I kid because I love )
So as not to be completely off the reservation I think it would be reasonable to expect it to pass the App Store requirements on either the Mac or iOS. In fact, I personally think it's pretty reasonable to expect all software to pass the quality requirements for the App Store - content requirements are something else entirely.
posted by ecurtz at 2:40 PM on October 22, 2010


bonehead: Today's announcements does mean that Mincraft is in doubt for Macs too, which is unfortunate. Notch used Java to make Minecraft an equal citizen on all platforms, not just Windows.

I suspect that OS X will get full or secondary OpenJDK support by the time Lion is released. You'll still have Java, and it will likely be a more secure Java than what Apple has been able to offer.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:42 PM on October 22, 2010


Ayn Rand would use a Mac.

Wouldn't she be more likely to compile a flavour of Linux from source?
posted by Grangousier at 2:43 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ayn Rand would use GoldOS.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:55 PM on October 22, 2010


What is John Galt's OS?
posted by nomadicink at 2:56 PM on October 22, 2010


Wouldn't she be more likely to compile a flavour of Linux from source?

No, to preserve her independence from society, she would build her own computer, design her own operating system, and compile her own software. Getting help from anyone would compromise her freedom.
posted by notion at 2:56 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is John Galt's OS?

CheeriOS
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:04 PM on October 22, 2010


John Galt doesn't have an os. His UI consits of binary toggle switches on the CPU registers.
posted by bonehead at 3:10 PM on October 22, 2010


I'm kind of amazed that Minecraft is now at the point of being a make-it-or-break-it app.
posted by empath at 3:13 PM on October 22, 2010


To be fair to apple, two months ago would anyone have predicted any of us giving a shit about a Java app?
posted by Artw at 3:16 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


What is John Galt's OS?

GLaDOS.
posted by The Bellman at 3:58 PM on October 22, 2010


The slippery slope is still a fallacy, even when you're talking about computers.
Ugh man I hate this "slippery slope fallacy" thing. If flip a coin a million times, and each time it comes up heads, it would be a logical fallacy to assume both sides are heads. But from a probability standpoint it's almost certain to be the case.

The fact that something is a "fallacy" doesn't mean it's not true by any reasonable standard of "true" that's applicable to the real world.


Anyway, me not liking an apple product is a pretty low information value event. But, yeah, I thought it was lame. But my view is the desktop is pretty much 'complete' and doesn't really need any more work. But this seemed pretty bland.

---
For the record, Daring Fireball - though not noted as a stern critic of Apple - thinks this will be a hit.
Lol.

I mean. Icons you can use to start programs? Or switch to programs? Are they trying to implement windows 3.1 now?
I'm having a hard time figuring out why the fact that they didn't do it first is relevant to anything.
Well, generally if you are going to say something is revolutionary, and it's not the first, you have to be able to say what's so revolutionary about it.
You do realize that marketing, distribution, file hosting, feedback systems, credit card & gift card processing, and a streamlined update system aren't free, right?
They're not free. But they're not expensive. Paypal, google checkout, Amazon payment system, etc take just a few %. Hosting and bandwidth aren't very expensive anymore either.
Sun, and now Oracle, maintained Java runtime for pretty nearly all OSes except the Mac. Apple has had to maintain their own Java runtime port (and pay Sun/Oracle to do so, as well). Apple appears to have finally told Oracle, "We're tired of this. If you want Java on the Mac, do it yourself." Oracle hasn't publicly responded yet.
Jobs and Ellison are good friends.
posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on October 22, 2010


They're not free. But they're not expensive. Paypal, google checkout, Amazon payment system, etc take just a few %. Hosting and bandwidth aren't very expensive anymore either.

You'll note I also said "Whether the 30% cut is cost-effective is another issue...The App Store does represent value for the money, but it is up to individual developers to decide whether it's worth it." Another part of the 30% is the convenience of having everything handled by a single company. Again, that may or may not be worth it for a given developer.

One could argue 'developers will have no choice but to switch to the App Store?' Why? Because it will make them more money? Then clearly the 30% cut is worth it. If it isn't worth it, then developers won't switch to the App Store.

And of course an enterprising company could make a competing App Store with looser standards, lower overhead, or both.
posted by jedicus at 5:11 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


One could argue 'developers will have no choice but to switch to the App Store?' Why? Because it will make them more money? Then clearly the 30% cut is worth it. If it isn't worth it, then developers won't switch to the App Store.

It probably would be more worth it then not, because of the App Store's reach. Just like a widget maker will make more money selling in Wall-Mart then through some tiny chains, even if wall-mart demands a lower price.

But unlike the iPhone, Macs are only a minor slice of the desktop market, and developers will probably respond to the 30% cut by developing their apps for the Windows App store, which gets them an even broader audience.
posted by delmoi at 5:26 PM on October 22, 2010


Steve is slowly locking out third party development and third party application platforms, and when Ars interviewed OS X developers, they unanimously agreed that eventually iOS is going to replace OS X.

I don't think this is true at all. I do think that many people will want an iPad or iPhone more than a laptop of any kind. Power users, professionals and IT people will still have a desktop, but I do think it's going away for most home users, although there will probably still be a desktop-type computer available for productive use like word processing and spreadsheets. I don't see any problem with this at all. The various abstract concepts involved in most interface design is way over most users' heads (e.g., the folder hierarchy, which is necessary to installing a .dmg), or is just not something they're every going to be interested in learning. These concepts are in fact holdovers from the early stages of interfaces which were designed by and for engineers, or people who could understand how engineers think. There's nothing threatening about moving beyond this at all. It's the natural evolution.

We're in an embryonic stage of computing. We still think of computers as these desktop devices that require a mouse and keyboard, but they're becoming integrated into everything, and there's no reason why open architecture should take precedence over ease of use for most users. Nearly everyone knows how to use an ATM, but most people do not think of them as computers anymore. That's where the iPad comes in. People will buy these and not think of them the same way they do their laptop, not really a computer but more of an appliance or a gadget. I used to think this was a nightmare scenario with its closed computing boxes and lack of open platforms, but after doing IT support, I don't think most people would agree or even understand why. If it does what people want and they enjoy using it, what's wrong with a computing appliance? IT services will still be necessary, but it will be less and less about teaching people basic interface concepts and more about fixing stuff when it breaks. And if I'm still doing IT work at that point, I must admit it sounds like heaven.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:06 AM on October 23, 2010


There is absolutely nothing controversial about this. It's a boon to talented independent developers who want to reach a large audience, and it's a boon to users who want to find high-quality software.

Nothing more, nothing less. You can still install Firefox by going to getfirefox.com. You can still purchase a shrink-wrapped version of MS Office from your local Apple Store.

There is no conspiracy.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 2:58 AM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is no conspiracy.

The issue that is problematic is that some think any and all developers are owed a piece of real estate on Apple's storefront by Apple, without any conditions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:07 AM on October 23, 2010


Jobs and Ellison are good friends.

But to Larry Ellison, being good friends with someone doesn't preclude stabbing them in the back.
posted by klausness at 6:30 AM on October 23, 2010


The issue that is problematic is that some think any and all developers are owed a piece of real estate on Apple's storefront by Apple, without any conditions.

When I buy a computer, it's my computer, not Apple's. What people don't want is for Apple to lock down THEIR Macs so that you can only purchase software from Apple. That's the current state of software on the iphone and the iPad.

It has nothing to do with developers. Apple can do whatever they want with their store, as long as their store is not my only option for purchasing software.

Its fine for limited use devices (I own an apple tv, an ipad and an iPhone), but I draw the line at my computer. If Apple goes down that road with OS X, I won't be buying another Apple desktop or laptop. I need to replace my Macbook soon, but I'm holding off until I find out a lot more about what the plans are for Lion.
posted by empath at 8:06 AM on October 23, 2010


Heh.

China's Main Newspaper Complains That The iPad Is Too Damn Legal
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on October 23, 2010


I like some things Macs do.

I like some things PCs do.

I like that I am lucky enough to live in the first world and am able to afford to own several computers, phones, devices, etc. that I can play with and compare.

I like that I have enough free time to read interesting people getting really upset about the differences between them all.

So... thanks.
posted by patrick rhett at 11:05 AM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The app store on the iDevices specifically prevents anyone else (developer or distributor) from selling to a user on them. How long before Jobs forces that on the desktop too? No thanks. It's sad to see the once innovative company turn to such despicable behavior.
posted by wkearney99 at 11:42 AM on October 23, 2010


How long before Jobs forces that on the desktop too? No thanks. It's sad to see the once innovative company turn to such despicable behavior.

You're inventing an utterly ridiculous and implausible scenario in your head, a scenario that defies everything Apple has said and done regarding the Mac, a scenario that defies all common sense, and then you're damning Apple for supposedly following through with it.

Get a grip.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 12:52 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


What people don't want is for Apple to lock down THEIR Macs so that you can only purchase software from Apple.

There is no indication that Apple will (or even could) shut down Steam, Kagi, DigiBuy, eSellerate and other online software vendors.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 PM on October 23, 2010


"Get thee behind me, foul Jobbinite!"

*sprinkles Google water everywhere*
posted by nomadicink at 12:56 PM on October 23, 2010


Mr. Jobs also predicted that the ongoing shift in technology away from the PC and toward mobile devices will continue. But rather than disappear, the PC will become a niche product, he said. Mr. Jobs compared the role of the PC, the workhorse of computing for the past three decades, with that of the truck, when America was primarily an agrarian nation. “All cars were trucks because that’s what you needed on the farm,” he said. Now trucks are one in 25 to 30 vehicles sold, he said. “PCs are going to be like trucks. They will still be around.”
posted by weston at 1:45 PM on October 23, 2010


Hmm. Not sure how that last bit got transformed from linkishness into plain bold, but here's the source.
posted by weston at 1:47 PM on October 23, 2010


i_have_a_computer wrote: "You're inventing an utterly ridiculous and implausible scenario in your head"

Before the App Store, I would have thought it was utterly ridiculous and implausible to think that Apple would not allow a smartphone user to install whatever applications they like on their hardware.
posted by wierdo at 3:51 PM on October 23, 2010


However things may have been in the tiny segment of the market in which smartphones were bought and used, in the cell phone market by and large, the vast majority of people didn't ever install software of any kind on whatever it was they had, and the minority who did bought through the carriers. I know, I know, you had Joiku Spot on your Nokia E series or Bajis Loops on your Palm Centro. Cool. That's why all 10,000 of you didn't buy the clearly inferior iPhone when it came out, unlike those poor sheeple who didn't even know the difference.

Conventional computers are a different story. Some people don't like them as they are and would find Apple managing their machine a feature, not a bug, but everybody is going to know the difference, and it will tick off their professional market who is used to a "truck" and needs it.

This market segment may well even be smaller than the consumer market that might embrace curated computing. But step back and think about it for a sec. If Apple decides to make nothing but sealed shiny modal managed stuff... what are they going to be using in house? Is it going to be corporate policy to use nothing but that? Really? I don't buy it. Even his Steveness isn't going to be so tunnel visioned as to hamstring their own engineers. Are they going to use commodity PCs with Linux or Windows? Not likely. OK, you say, they'll give them Apple products but internally, they'll let people self-signing for installation -- people in-house will have the keys, people outside won't. But that isn't going to make any economic sense: if you're going to make your products work for engineers and developers and creatives in house, then you may as well spread the investment costs outside of the organization, reaping at least the marginal benefits (not to mention the secondary benefits) of retaining the technical/creative workstation market.

Have you ever thought about why Apple would even bother to make such a thing as the XServe? OS X server? Talk about misfits in their product lineup, talk about things that are 180° from the iOS devices. I mean, if Apple is all about shiny locked-down consumer devices, those things should have been a casualty years ago. I'd be willing to bet that a good chunk of their raison d'être is that they were designed with certain in-house needs in mind, and they spread the investment cost out by selling 'em. That and/or the legacy WebObjects / OpenStep market is more valuable than I'm aware of. More valuable than Apple's pro desktop/workstation market is right now, though?

Why does Apple make Mac Pros? Mac Book Pros with glare-reducing coating when the entire laptop market has clearly gone gaga for glossy displays? Are they really just going to stop catering here?

What about the iOS unification? Apple would be crazy not to unify their APIs as much as they can. They have a bounty of developers who are pouring time into learning to use their development technologies. If they can bring the enthusiasm for development that exists for the iOS devices to the Mac -- if they can make the barriers for skill transfer as low as possible -- then they'll have a 3rd party industry that will upend whatever's left of the traditional calculation "well, there's more apps for windows." And they don't have to lock anything down on their traditional OS to do reap this benefit.

I guess they could become a luxury sedan company, no more trucks. Maybe I'll be wrong. I'll admit I consider it an outside possibility. If anybody would march to the beat of their own drummer here, it'd be Apple. But so far when I look at any of the signs people are holding up that this will! happen, they seem ambiguous at best and IMHO they fall apart under more sophisticated examination. There doesn't really seem to be anything to gain by abandoning the market for trucks, no matter how much more polished and sealed they make their sedans.
posted by weston at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I think it's pretty weird that I can't play Angry Birds on my Mac, especially since it's the same damn company that makes iDevices. It would be bizaree, IMO, if this didn't eventually happen.
posted by nomadicink at 6:47 PM on October 23, 2010


weston wrote: "However things may have been in the tiny segment of the market in which smartphones were bought and used, in the cell phone market by and large, the vast majority of people didn't ever install software of any kind on whatever it was they had, and the minority who did bought through the carriers. I know, I know, you had Joiku Spot on your Nokia E series or Bajis Loops on your Palm Centro. Cool. That's why all 10,000 of you didn't buy the clearly inferior iPhone when it came out, unlike those poor sheeple who didn't even know the difference."

You vastly underestimate the size of the pre-iPhone smartphone market. By 2004 there was an installed base of 40 million Symbian phones alone. There were 34.7 million smartphones shipped in the first half of 2006.

There were enough sales in the smartphone market in 2005 for developers to be complaining about dropping sales in 2006. It may be true that most smartphone users didn't bother to install third party applications, but it was an entrenched use case by that point, especially for business users using the Palm and Windows Mobile phones, although there were plenty of Symbian applications for sale before Symbian 9 and its ABI break (early 2005). Enough that people were complaining loudly of the ABI break and its taking away the ability to use the large numbers of pre-existing applications.
posted by wierdo at 10:50 PM on October 23, 2010


You vastly underestimate the size of the pre-iPhone smartphone market.

I don't think I estimated the size of the smartphone market at all, actually. I may have underestimated the size of the pre-iPhone third party smartphone software market, and if you've got numbers on that, I'm interested, but if I'm off by even an order of magnitude, I'll be surprised. Even considering the level of nerdiness of my circle compared to the general population, before 2006 I can think of 2 people including myself who ever installed an application of any kind on a smartphone that wasn't a game they bought from the carrier.
posted by weston at 11:12 PM on October 23, 2010


Daring Fireball - though not noted as a stern critic of Apple

Possibly the understatement of the year; whenever I read Daring Fireball, I am reminded of one of those committed Communists of past decades whose earnestly held and generously expounded beliefs would automagically follow whatever the line coming out of Moscow that week was. If a prominent comrade (Google) fell out of favour, this chap would tell you at the cocktail party why he was always a counter-revolutionary (evil, and with bad design too), before segueing into a spiel on Lenin's writings on dialectic materialism (Jobs' statements about human interfaces) and the five year plan (the likely next MacBook lineup).
posted by acb at 4:33 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


As long as this is treated as another avenue for app discovery and installation it is a net benefit, but I worry about apps delivered outside of the warm bosom of the Apple app store getting second class treatment. I'm really conflicted as a long time mac person. On one hand this is good for the nascent developer to focus on building the app, getting potential exposure to a large market and not needing to build their own e-commerce system for sales. On the other hand, I get a little worried that if it becomes too successful Apple could strong arm legitimate apps outside of the system.

I guess we won't know until we know..


And now, we know. Apps that aren't bought and installed through the App store are denied access to significant functionality.
posted by kafziel at 5:52 PM on October 24, 2010


Apps that aren't bought and installed through the App store are denied access to significant functionality.

On reading the article, I don't find that an accurate summary. I can't say how significant Launchpad is going to be without knowing a lot more about Lion than I do now, or is mentioned in that article, but if it means unvetted apps have to be enabled by admin to get access (ie, type your password like you do right now to install), for instance, I'm not bothered about that. I'm not surprised or fussed about the news that Apple won't accept responsibility for updating apps you buy outside its store either. I'm delighted that there will be applications they'll update through the system in the first place.

Also, while any Gawker publication is a suspect source for Apple-related information after the Gizmodo/iPhone 4 debacle, the gossip column is a particularly unreliable source. I'd rather wait until people who have some better insight into the tech side of Lion weigh in about what the Launchpad denial means. Stripping out the hype, it looks like only vetted apps (ie, sold through the store) get access to new features. Other apps have to be downloaded and installed the same way all apps do now. This is a disadvantage, but hardly one that a worthwhile app, especially the serious professional apps, can't overcome. It's not like Adobe is likely to sell Photoshop through the app store anyway.

(Also, Anil Dash is late to the party, since the thing he's agitating for already exists and people aren't using it.)
posted by immlass at 6:33 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, the automatic update thing I understand. Not having access to Launchpad is bullshit.
posted by empath at 6:37 PM on October 24, 2010


Oh, $DEITY, looking at the Apple page on Lion and seeing what Launchpad is, I don't care at all. I'm going to be old-fashioned and disable that the way I did the stupid Dashboard. Ugh.

Unless there's a technical reason we're not seeing, Apple should include all your apps on the Launchpad, though.
posted by immlass at 6:46 PM on October 24, 2010


And now, we know.

That Ryan Tate, the author of that unbiased and well researched piece of fluff, is still pissed about something?

Not auto updating apps bought outside the App Store makes sense. The lack of inclusion in Launch Pad doesn't, but I'll wait to hear about about whether it's true before getting all het up about it.
posted by nomadicink at 6:59 PM on October 24, 2010


And now, we know. Apps that aren't bought and installed through the App store are denied access to significant functionality.

Once again, Apple's critics make a fool of themselves about a subject they demonstrate knowing nothing about, time and time again.

Sparkle has been around for years, it's free, and many shareware and freeware OS X app writers have been using it to update their apps without Apple's help and/or oversight.

The only way the tabloid writers at Gawker/Gizmodo will find out the features in 10.7 will be after they get caught shoplifting a copy from an Apple Store.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The hilarious thing is that Gizmodo is known to be an Apple-only shop. At one point, for at least a year, they didn't have a single contributor who had ever owned a copy of Windows or used linux. I think there are a couple non-Apple users now, but apparently their corporate standard is MacOS and iPhones.
posted by bonehead at 9:50 AM on October 25, 2010


Fanboiland has always been at war with Gizmodia.
posted by Artw at 9:56 AM on October 25, 2010


There was once a time where a single Gizmodo post was worth an FPP from Blazecock. But that one was critical of Microsoft, and as you say, they've always been at war.
posted by kafziel at 11:02 AM on October 25, 2010


There was once a time where a single Gizmodo post was worth an FPP from Blazecock.

That shit right there is why I decided I was never going to use another Windows box unless I was being paid.

Though I have to say that Windows 7 is a vast improvement in a lot of ways. I just bought cheap HP desktop to play starcraft on. I'll see how well Windows 7 agrees with me in another 6 or 9 months when I make a decision on whether to buy another macbook or get a windows laptop.
posted by empath at 11:13 AM on October 25, 2010


Also, just so we all know our parts for the next few threads, Ars Technica has gone to the trouble of producing brand new Trolling Guides (Windows edition---Apple edition). They've put a lot of work in on these, so I expect eveyone to be sharper with their lines next time.

There's been favourites dropoff, people! Not everthing is an iPad thread, sure, but we still need to hit our marks everytime the music starts.
posted by bonehead at 11:17 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


How you put the Windows edition despite Macs being better?
posted by nomadicink at 11:36 AM on October 25, 2010


Ars Technica has gone to the trouble of producing brand new Trolling Guides (Windows edition---Apple edition).

Another fine example of the mainstream media ignoring Linux.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:44 AM on October 25, 2010


Of all the things to get irrationally anxious about, next year's vaporware comes in pretty low on the list.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:45 AM on October 25, 2010


How you put the Windows

Er, How COME you put the Windows...
posted by nomadicink at 11:50 AM on October 25, 2010


Flash everywhere
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on October 25, 2010


Flash everywhere

every man, every woman , every child, ah, Flash!
posted by GuyZero at 3:08 PM on October 25, 2010


King of the impossible!
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on October 25, 2010


next year's vaporware

Flash everywhere!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:31 PM on October 25, 2010


No, no, you're supposed to say something about batteries.
posted by Artw at 3:32 PM on October 25, 2010


But how does this affect HTML5's prospects?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:41 PM on October 25, 2010


Possibly better with this.
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on October 25, 2010


(I'm not even kidding there - coding to cover all bases on the video front is a lot of work.)
posted by Artw at 4:13 PM on October 25, 2010


"However, despite being opted-into YouTube’s HTML5 beta, their videos wouldn’t load, insisting I re-install Flash. I’m not sure why — but I was able to fix this by installing the YouTube5 Safari Extension, which rewrites all YouTube embeds to use the HTML5 version, even if you aren’t in the HTML5 beta.

"So, for the last few days, I’ve been running with no Flash plug-in at all, and honestly not really missing it very much.

"It’s also a bit fairer to website owners since, unlike ClickToFlash which masquerades as Flash in order to intercept it, my browser now truly identifies as not having Flash installed. Sites have an opportunity to serve me a non-Flash alternative for their ads."

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:24 PM on October 25, 2010


But how does this affect HTML5's prospects?

First, let me admit that I code Flash apps for a living.

Second, let me state that though this may not work in my own self-interest, I'm sort of excited by Apple's recent disdain for Flash. It's shaking things up, in a good way. It's forcing Adobe to tighten up their code. It's helping promote HTML5, etc. It's a pain-in-the-ass in terms of building a one-size-fits-all solution, but -- whatever -- such is life. If Flash dies, I'll get a job coding HTML5 apps instead.

Having said all that, this endless debate about Flash vs. HTML5 is a sham. It's fought by people who are ignorant about the technologies or, worse, know exactly what they're talking about but are using misleading rhetoric for political reasons.

I would LOVE to see HTML5 mature to a point where it's a viable alternative to Flash IN THE BUSINESS WORLD (as opposed to for hobbyists -- it's already an alternative for them). But it is not there yet. There are really, really important things that it can't do (or do well) such as streaming (and live-streaming) video. There is SO much confusion about the differences between progressive and streaming (youtube uses progressive) that I won't go into it here, because this post would be immensely long if I did. You can look it up.

Flash has an advanced text-engine built in (kerning, ligatures, etc); Flash has support for webcams and microphones. Etc.

I am NOT a Flash apologist. I am sure that HTML5 will have robust support for this stuff at some point. I also agree that there's a ton of Flash crap on the web that's annoying, buggy and unnecessary. None of my favorite sites use Flash.

But that doesn't change the fact that my clients will NOT be happy with an HTML5 solution right now. They won't be happy until HTML5 does all the things I've mentioned (and some that I haven't) and it works the same way in ALL browsers, including IE6. Some of them want apps to work on iPhones, too. In that case, we just have to make two versions. And we're always able to do things in the Flash version that we can't in the HTML5 version.

Let's say that by tomorrow, HTML5 matures enough to do everything that Flash does. We'll STILL have to wait for everyone to update their browsers. My clients don't accept "this won't work in IE6."

You may not care; you may not be interested in those aspects of Flash; you may hate Adobe. If any of those things are true about you, I have no argument with you. I'm just talking about the reality of the business world as I see it from the front lines.
posted by grumblebee at 7:00 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


i also agree that there's a ton of Flash crap on the web that's annoying, buggy and unnecessary.

As Jesus said, the buggy crappy and annoying will always be with us.

The fact that some Flash apps are bugg and crappy and annoying is less a fault of Adobe than a feature of it's low barrier to entry for some kid who has an idea in a boring history class. Crappy programs come from crappy, often beginner, programmers. Flash is the same thing to the current generation that Visual Basic was ten years ago, Turbo Pascal was before that and GWBasic and Hypercard were at the dawn of time. It's an easy toy with free tools (not the Adobe professional system, the freeware compilers) that a 13 can play with or a freshman art strudent can use to put together a portfolio on Newgrounds or Kongregate.

When Flash stops being the platform of choice for annoying, buggy crap, it will only be because something else took it's place. HTML5 may be that something. Becareful for what you wish for.

The only thing to blame Adobe for is not producing a high-security sandbox for kids to make mistakes in. Realise, however, that MS, Apple and Borland have all been guilty of that sin too.
posted by bonehead at 10:04 AM on October 26, 2010


The fact that some Flash apps are bugg and crappy and annoying is less a fault of Adobe than a feature of it's low barrier to entry for some kid who has an idea in a boring history class.

There's another problem, which you could argue is Adobe's fault, but it's a complicated problem: Actionscript 3.0, which is Flash's programming language, is a pretty full-featured, professional language. It's VERY similar to Java (not Javascript), and, in fact, as a Flash Developer, I spend a lot of my time reading Java books, because they feel as if they're written for me. The differences between the two languages are so minor that I can instantly translate in my mind -- like watching a British movie as an American.

Earlier versions of Actionscript were much less robust. They were "toy languages" that pro developers didn't take seriously -- for good reason. This stigma has stuck, even though it's no longer merited.

What does this mean? It means that most professional programmers won't touch Actionscript and know almost nothing about it, other than having some vague idea that it's not a "real language." And, as it's part of a proprietary system (e.g. not open-source, even though Adobe has opened parts of it), it doesn't get respect from comp-sci people. So, again, they don't touch Actionscript and know little about it.

So most of the Actionscript "developers" are designers and animators who know a little bit about coding. As a AS developer, I see their code all the time. I fix it and (usually) rewrite it from scratch. It's pretty horrifying stuff. It's not bad because the language is bad; it's bad because it's coded by non-coders. AS is an object-oriented language. But it's mostly coded by people who don't understand OOP, design patterns, unit testing, etc.

In what sense is this Adobe's fault? Well, I'm not going to argue that it is, but if you want to make that argument, the best way to do it is to say that, for years, they marketed AS as an "easy language for beginners." It's not. I've written code in PHP, Objective-C, Java, Javascript and Scheme. Actionscript 3.0 is not particularly easier (or harder) than any of those languages. You can't write good AS code without at least a few years of practice.

The good news, for me, is that it makes me very much in demand. I can't tell you how many job interviews I've gone to where they've asked me something like "What's a bubble sort?" or "what's the MVC patterm?" and, when I've answered correctly, they've been amazed. People are going to "Flash Developer" interviews, thinking they're a developer because they know how to make a window pop up when the user presses a button.

Interviewers continually tell me that they have a REALLY hard time finding AS devs. Everyone who applies is either a designer who thinks he's a coder or ... well, I was going to say a professional programmer who doesn't happen to know Actionscript. But they don't even apply.

One employer called me recently and asked me my rates. I told her. She said, "Oh, that's way more than we can pay." I had just quoted her the standard amount for a Senior AS Developer.

She said, "We're looking for a junior AS Developer." I asked her if she meant a timeline-animator who know a little coding. She said, No. She meant a professional AS programmer, but one less experienced than me. I wished her luck. I knew she'd be calling my back in a week, and, in fact, she did (with an offer of more money). I knew because three of my former employers told me I could have an assistant if I could find a mid-level AS programmer. I was never able to find one.

I am not mocking these designer, animator, timeline folks. I'm just saying that they're not developers in the traditional sense of that word. They are "script kiddies." Adobe wants to sell tools, so it flatters these people and calls them developers. Which is why we have so much buggy crap out there. Of course programs are going to be buggy if they're written by designers. If I try to design something, it will look terrible, because I'm not a designer. A well-designed Flash app -- with buggy code -- will look good. But ... OH GOD! ... you should see the horror under the hood!
posted by grumblebee at 10:34 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hope none of that sounded offensive or self-aggrandizing. I am not the world's best coder. It's just that most of the really pro coders don't know Actionscript or have any interest in learning it. If a bunch of amazing Java people learned how similar it was to the playform they're using (I even code AS in Eclipse), I'd be outclassed in no time. So "Shhhhh!"
posted by grumblebee at 10:37 AM on October 26, 2010


Actionscript 3.0, which is Flash's programming language, is a pretty full-featured, professional language. It's VERY similar to Java (not Javascript), and, in fact, as a Flash Developer, I spend a lot of my time reading Java books, because they feel as if they're written for me.

Eh? It's all ECMAScript. You need to hang out with a better class of JavaScript developer.
posted by Artw at 10:40 AM on October 26, 2010


Honestly grumblebee, I've had the same conversation with friends who were big into custom Office integration apps in Visual Basic in the 90s. And I mean no disrespect by that at all---they got the same thing all the time:
"It's a custom front-end for an S/370 and has to support concurrency for over 1000 users at a time, where the client side is VB in Excel."
"So you write macros for a living? My kid could do that!"
posted by bonehead at 10:47 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, what's the big deal with this Lisp thing anyway?
posted by Artw at 10:50 AM on October 26, 2010


It's all ECMAScript. You need to hang out with a better class of JavaScript developer.

I wasn't dissing JS. It's an interesting and complex language (also rife with misuse, for similar reasons).

But ECMAScript is a spec. Actual AS 3.0 is much closer to Java than in-the-field Javascript. It's (optionally, but in practice by the pros always) strongly typed; it uses classical classes, etc.
posted by grumblebee at 11:01 AM on October 26, 2010


/makes the sign of Crockford.
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on October 26, 2010


Here's the sort of thing I see all the time (just one example of bad engineering out of many, and not even close to the worst):

AS has a built-in Observer-Pattern structure that's useful for things like detecting mouse clicks. So let's say that I have three buttons: buttonA, buttonB and buttonC. When the user clicks buttonA, I want a function called buttonAClickedHandler to run. To make that happen, I'd write something like this:

buttonA.addEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, buttonAClickedHandler );

And, for the two other buttons, I'd write...

buttonB.addEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, buttonBClickedHandler );
buttonC.addEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, buttonCClickedHandler );

Now, what I've done there is to add a considerable amount of overhead to the system. I've told the Flash plugin to continually check to see if the user has clicked any of those buttons. Well, if it's necessary to always do that, it's necessary. But often it's not. Let's say clicking buttonA totally changes the UI, bringing up a whole different screen -- say an info screen. On that screen, the buttons aren't visible or clickable.

Let's say a user keeps the app on the info screen for half an hour. Needlessly, my app is still constantly checking to see if buttons A, B and C are being clicked. What I SHOULD have done is, upon the info screen appearing...

buttonA.removeEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, buttonAClickedHandler );
buttonB.removeEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, buttonBClickedHandler );
buttonC.removeEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, buttonCClickedHandler );

I can't tell you how often I go through people's code and don't see this sort of stuff attended to. And, like I said, this is a minor error compared to many I've seen.

So when you're pissed off because the Flash banner is causing your browser to slow to a crawl (or crash), it MIGHT be a problem with the Flash player. Or it might be a problem with an Actionscript "developer" who isn't dotting his I's and crossing his T's.
posted by grumblebee at 11:17 AM on October 26, 2010


This would never happen with Objective C!

/laughs self into coma.
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on October 26, 2010


This would never happen with Objective C!

/laughs self into coma.


[me laughsInto: coma and: dies of: hysteria]
posted by grumblebee at 11:23 AM on October 26, 2010


JavaScript will, btw, happily hit the same problems with accumulated cruft as Flash and Objective C apps if the page it's sitting on is around long enough and does enough things. In practice that tends not to happen so it's less of a worry.
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on October 26, 2010


Since all languages use memory and CPU processes, this sort of thing can happen in all languages. What matters is whether the base of developers coding a particular language is trained in optimization and memory management.

I am not letting Adobe off the hook. They have certainly needed to tighten up the Flash player. They're doing it, but it still needs work. We have Apple -- and the move towards mobile apps (with small footprints) to thank for kicking Adobe in the ass.
posted by grumblebee at 11:33 AM on October 26, 2010


Hmm. Of course the biggest problem that seems to affect Apple users is people using it as a videoplayer (listening to some folk you'd be suprised anyone uses it for anything else at all), and I suspect there's not much coding to be done by the dev there at all.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on October 26, 2010


Hmm. Of course the biggest problem that seems to affect Apple users is people using it as a videoplayer

Have you ever looked at the CPU-usage percent while video is playing? Wow!
posted by grumblebee at 11:48 AM on October 26, 2010


Umm, event listeners shouldn't have any overhead except when the event happens, that's why they are called EVENT listeners.

I'd be amazed if even the ultra crappy Flash player runtime needs you to remove event listeners when they are inactive. So don't be too quick to blame that actionscript "developer" for poor performance.
posted by ecurtz at 11:52 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoops. I'd settled in to having an adult discussion, forgot we were in the childrens play area.
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on October 26, 2010


Umm, event listeners shouldn't have any overhead except when the event happens, that's why they are called EVENT listeners.

There has to be a monitoring process. It can't magically know that an event is occurring unless it's continually checking. Otherwise it would be like saying, "Look out the window and see if there's a car coming... but only check to see if a car coming if there IS a car coming."

Also, listeners can hold all kinds of unnecessary references. Let's say my handler functions are in a class called Handlers. I create an instance of it called handlers and...

myButton.addEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, handlers.buttonClickHandler );

The instance of handlers MUST be kept in memory whether or not the button is clicked, just in case it is. So if you know it's impossible for the user to click the button, you should remove the listener.
posted by grumblebee at 11:58 AM on October 26, 2010


Now back to my previous point - I'm not particularly familiar with AS, but the code for video is basically going to be "here's a rectangle, play a video in it", isn't it? And then you are basically at the mercy of the the player and the OS.
posted by Artw at 12:02 PM on October 26, 2010


There has to be a monitoring process.

That monitoring process is the OS, not anything in your actionscript code. Either the mouse is polled by a thread or there is a hardware interrupt (old school, not how USB works) when the mouse button is clicked. The OS then decides which active GUI process should receive the click and hands it off to that (which would be the browser in the case of the plugin, or the AIR container). After it finally reaches Flash, the Flash runtime walks the tree of visible objects to find one that contains the click and has an installed buttonClickHandler, then it finally executes the code in that handler.

The instance of handlers MUST be kept in memory whether or not the button is clicked, just in case it is. So if you know it's impossible for the user to click the button, you should remove the listener.

Where do you think the handler code goes after you remove it? I guess there's a tiny overhead for the actual instance but nothing worth worrying about unless your handler had a ton of self contained variables or something.
posted by ecurtz at 12:11 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, Artw, the thing that makes Flash so useful for grumblebee and others is how flexible the "play a video" bit is both in terms of the protocols and formats it supports. It wouldn't have ever happened if Apple hadn't gotten bored with Quicktime at some point and given up on it, but Flash does seem to be the most flexible video player at this point.

Unfortunately Flash has super high overhead on the Mac whatever you're using it for, not just video. In fact I think the video performance is probably pretty good aside from the weight of Flash itself (and the horrible browser plugin architecture.)
posted by ecurtz at 12:27 PM on October 26, 2010


ecurtz, I really just used handlers as an illustration of developers not cleaning up after themselves. Flash also has a timeline that can trigger processes every N seconds. Several times I saw something like this in an app:

[In pseudo code]

-- doIt = true

-- do process X every time a frame plays.

-- Process X: if ( doIt = true ) do the following... [a bunch of code goes here]

-- If the off button is clicked, set doIt equal to false.

Why do this? Why not say...

-- If the off button is clicked, stop process X?

Granted, all that process X is doing in the original version, if the off button is clicked, is checking on a single variable's value. But, again, I'm talking about a general mindset. This is for a banner app that's going to be embedded in a web-page. A page that has all sorts of other banners and apps on it and probably a bunch of embedded javascript. All these apps, knowing they'll be parts of a bigger system, should do their best to have a small footprint.
posted by grumblebee at 6:26 AM on October 27, 2010


Artw: "Now back to my previous point - I'm not particularly familiar with AS, but the code for video is basically going to be "here's a rectangle, play a video in it", isn't it? And then you are basically at the mercy of the the player and the OS."

Pretty much you're at the mercy of the Flash design. You would think that they could fix this, given there's tremendous amounts of hardware available for reducing this. (Proof: As proof, totem/mplayer/vlc can play flash videos with little CPU usage, while Flash in browser struggles) Having read a few flash developer blog posts on the subject, it seems the primary problem of flash video in the browser is colorspace conversion. Compressed video is often in YUV colorspace, rather than the RGB most know and love. If you want youtube subtitles or popup overlays, Flash apparently needs to convert the video to RGB and render on top of that.

I'm told there are hardware overlays that mplayer/vlc/totem can use, but for reasons I don't recall / understand, Flash won't use them.
posted by pwnguin at 9:29 AM on October 27, 2010


Video encoding is a huge can of worms, even when Flash is not involved. The latest joy I've encountered is that support for the video tag is not consistant across iOS devices, so some videos will simply not play on all devices.
posted by Artw at 10:12 AM on October 27, 2010


Adobe demos Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool
posted by Artw at 2:47 PM on October 28, 2010


Does this tool involve an infinitely long paper tape?
posted by GuyZero at 3:04 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


At a glance, I'd say it mostly involves Ye Olde DHTML with some sprinklings of CSS3.
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on October 28, 2010


With all the disadvantages of a curated app store, it's important to remember that there are some advantages, as well. Apple has strict rules about what content is or is not acceptable for the iOS app store - nothing pornographic or bigoted, no offensive content. Everything that's sold is something Apple has approved for sale, something they've judged to have an acceptable message they're willing to stand behind - thus the banning of political apps, since approving them would be taking a political stance as a corporation.

So it's good news for the makers of the PeekaBoo Tranny app, which promises to insert "fierce tranny bitches in hilarious poses" into your photos, that Apple has deemed nothing about "a tranny surprise in every shot!" to be offensive to right-minded people.
posted by kafziel at 8:50 AM on October 29, 2010


HTC Opening Android & Windows Phone 7 App Store?
posted by Artw at 3:53 PM on November 9, 2010


Oracle and Apple Announce OpenJDK Project for Mac OS X
posted by weston at 10:18 AM on November 12, 2010


Just about what I expected to happen with Java, and I honestly think this is a good thing for Java on Apple hardware assuming that Oracle doesn't totally destroy OpenJDK.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:24 AM on November 12, 2010


The Day Steve Jobs Dissed Me In a Keynote
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on November 12, 2010


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