Apple App Store


Usually I will try to keep my rants to a minimum. After all, my goal with this blog is to provide useful information for others. I try not to waste space with non-helpful opinions. Tonight I can’t resist the urge to bitch.

When Apple first announced the App Store for OS X I thought that it might be a good idea, but I reserved judgement initially. The idea of having a reliable source to download OS X software is an attractive one. However, the concept that it might become the only source is one that I find disturbing. There’s no indication that’s what will happen.

Well, not directly. But it could become more likely without direct action from Apple.

On the new MacBook Pro with OS X Lion I wanted to install GeekTool. Being able to view my system log on the desktop has proven very useful over the past couple of years. I’ve noticed log messages that pointed to problems with my anti-virus software among some other issues.

I downloaded the latest version from the author’s Website but it wouldn’t work. It did install, but I was unable to create the element to add the log file view to the desktop. After additional research I learned that the latest, most compatible version was available in the App Store.

It was apparently only available in the App Store. This is an issue for me because, at this time, one can’t download a program from there without logging in with an active account. I’m not going to go into all of the reasons but I didn’t want to use my account on this system.

However, I really wanted a working version of GeekTool so I did it. I signed into the store, downloaded and installed the app, and then signed back out.

GeekTool is working fine. But if this is the shape of things to come, I’m not sure it’s heading in the best direction. Strict oversight of all software from a sole source was already proven to be a concept that was, at least to a significant degree, largely rejected decades ago. I think it’s odd that we’re coming full-circle with this. I can understand why it’s more common with mobile devices, but I don’t agree that this should happen with desktop and notebook computers.

Again, I know that Apple doesn’t restrict OS X to only permit the use of software from the App Store. But I can’t help but wonder if this could be the case some day? Or, just as important, if this will be the general trend for most application developers?

I don’t really find fault with the developers themselves. Developing software is a time consuming task and dealing with multiple distribution points may just not be worth the effort for some.

The real problem here is the inconvenience and potential risk to Apple ID credentials that could occur when the need arises to install a piece of software that can only be accessed from the App Store, but will be installed on a system that one does not own.

My recommendation to Apple is to simply allow the download of free software without requiring the use of an Apple ID. Of course, it’s not likely that Apple is going to read my blog.

Updated 09/15/2011: I ran into a similar problem with the latest Xcode/iOS SDK. In order to download it I had to sign into the App Store.

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