New Mac App Store

Apple introduced its Mac “App Store” today and I love it. I think you will too. First things first: your Mac has to be on 10.6.6 or later. Here’s a link to the 10.6.6 Combo Update. You can’t use the update unless you’re already on 10.6.something, FYI.

When you install the 10.6.6 Combo Update you get one new application– the App Store– placed into your Applications folder, and it’s also given space in your Dock. Give the App Store icon a click and you’re in– that’s all there is to it.

Here’s what you see when you launch the App Store. By the way, I don’t like the App Store’s icon, even though it’s blue. I think they could have done better.

In many ways, the App Store is just like the iPhone’s App Store already in place for the iPhone, and it has all of the iPhone’s App Store advantages:

  1. It’s very, VERY easy to purchase an app, 24 hours a day
  2. Apps install themselves– all you do is choose an app and pay.
  3. Payments are handled through your Apple ID, the same one used for iTunes purchases and iPhone app purchases– no need to supply credit card info again and again.
  4. It’s well-organized, and searchable.
  5. There’s a lot of free stuff.

Yes, you can find apps all over the web, but that’s part of the problem– they’re all over the web. In the App Store, everything is right there in one place. It’s easy to find apps, even if you’re not looking for them– for example, I downloaded the free “Alfred” shown above, and am having a great time playing around with it. I probably would not have stumbled across Alfred if not for the App Store. I am sure that you will find plenty of neat apps that you weren’t necessarily looking for when you go to the App Store. It brings a little extra fun to the Mac.

Installing an app purchased from the App Store is completely automatic. When you click the little “free” button under the app (or the one that says “$4.99” or whatever– you have ONE thing to do, namely enter your Apple ID name and password. The app then flies across your screen in a nice arc, landing in your Dock. That’s it! No disk image to deal with, no dragging to the Applications folder, no message about this app being something downloaded from the internet, do you want to use it etc. Could not be simpler.

If you know what you’re looking for you can search for it (top right). If you’re just looking around, try looking at the free apps, or the paid apps, or the “Staff Recommendations.” Or browse by category: Business, Education, Entertainment, GAMES (hi Zach), Photography, Productivity, etc.– 21 categories in all.

One more thing: in many cases the App Store will save you money. For example, if you want the latest iPhoto, but don’t want to spend $49 for the entire iLife suite, you can spend $14.99 and get just iPhoto– and get it right now. How cool is that?!

Nothing’s perfect, and if you want to read about all of the imperfections here’s a nice link. I think the good far outweighs the bad, and I’m sure that the App Store will be a big hit with Mac users and software developers alike. I see that the people who programmed Angry Birds for the Mac have the 3rd-highest gross for the day– and at $4.99 a pop, they must have sold a zillion copies, because the programs at numbers 1 and 2 sold for $79.99 and $14.99, and the program in position 4 sells for $29.99. Which reminds me: parents, encourage your kids to learn how to program for the Mac and iPhone. Someday they might strike it rich. The Angry Birds guys did. Happy New Year indeed.


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