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Why is the Mac App Store so Bad?

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The Mac App Store is horrifically bad. It’s filled with fake software, overpriced applications, and zero modern features. Sure, it’s not like Windows is doing much better, but the Mac App Store is a huge joke. What is keeping Apple from improving the Mac App Store?

What makes the Mac App Store so bad?

mac app store bad

What makes the Mac App Store so bad? There’s more than one reason, that’s for sure.

Restrictive Rules

When a developer sells an app in the Mac App Store, there’s a lot that the app can’t do. Apps must be sandboxed, so they can only interact with macOS in certain permitted ways. Apps also can’t launch at login or run background processes. You also can’t imitate the UI of any default Mac apps, which is something consumers absolutely want. This dramatically restricts the type of apps available on the store, limiting user choice and the app store’s usefulness.

Terrible Search

Just like the iOS App Store, the Mac App Store’s search is hilariously bad. If you’re not searching for the full name of an app, good luck. Searching for a common app category to be sent down a garden path of awful apps, half of which are nothing like what you want.

More Scams than Software

The Mac App Store is also filled with scams designed to prey on the technologically illiterate. To be fair, most app stores are like this: Google Play and Microsoft are constantly battling fake and malicious apps in their store. But with Apple’s walled-garden approach, we expected better. Just search “Microsoft Office” to find a ton of absolute garbage. If you don’t know that Office isn’t available on the Mac App Store, you could easily purchase a bunch of garbage software that doesn’t do anything without Office. Considering Apple pushes the Mac App Store as the one true way to buy software on your Mac, it’s not impossible that an uneducated user could make that mistake.

No Trial Software or Paid Upgrades

Want a trial version of an expensive app? You better visit the developer’s website. Even after seven years, the Mac App Store still doesn’t offer trial apps or upgrades from free to full versions.

Totally Unnecessary

The worst part is, the Mac App Store is totally unnecessary. Developers of well-known apps that pulled their app from the Mac App Store saw no decrease in sales, and they get so much more freedom in exchange. What’s the point of putting up with the store anyway?

Developers Hate It

Turns out developers almost universally hate the Mac App Store. Apple gets a 30% cut of your money, and in return, developers get massive restrictions and an unreliable platform. Developers can’t reply to reviews or get meaningful analytics, and what and how they can sell is severely restricted. This drives devs away from the platform, further winnowing the apps available on the Mac App Store.

Annoying Update Notifications

It’s not just developers that hate the Mac App Store: it’s annoying for users as well. The store’s update notifications are basically useless. They are the perpetually bouncing dock icon of notifications. This is especially true when you have a system update mixed in with a bunch of miscellaneous installations. You’ll have no idea what your computer is going to do when you click “Restart,” how long it will take, or what you’ll get as a result. And just dismissing the notification is impossible: you have to set a later date to be annoyed again. Maybe you have no interest in High Sierra because you’ve heard it’s a buggy mess? Too bad, you’re gonna get notified once a week whether you like it or not.

Why Can’t the App Store Be Better?

mac app store bad

The Mac App Store could stand to be a lot better. And it’s not like Apple is too stupid to know that. So why doesn’t Apple bother improving it? It’s impossible to say from the outside, but we suspect a lack of interest in improving the product internally. It would honestly be a ton of work to revamp the Mac App Store into a functional tool. And considering all desktop app stores (and many mobile app stores) are plagued with problems, it might not even be possible to have a functional desktop app store.

And after all that development work, would Apple gain much? Again, without internal data, it’s hard to say for sure. But we suspect the answer is “no.” It’s hard to imagine users getting really pumped about a new Mac App Store, or imagine that driving a bunch of sales of the Mac. As a result, it probably doesn’t get a lot of internal attention.

However, it’s hard not to see this neglect as a symptom of Apple’s overall disinterest in the macOS platform. While new Mac hardware is finally coming out, it’s been clear for a while that Apple’s heart and soul are in the iPhone and iOS. And that’s fine: companies need to pursue the most profitable products. But die-hard Mac users who love the platform are being left behind.

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Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo is a technology enthusiast and digital strategist with a fervent passion for Apple products and the innovative technologies that orbit them. With a background in computer science and a decade of experience in app development and digital marketing, Kossi brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Apple Gazette team.

5 thoughts on “Why is the Mac App Store so Bad?

  1. So bottom line? All app stores are horrible, even Apple’s? The funny thing about that is YOU HAVE NOWHERE TO GO with your business. I, for one, stick with the App Store because of the things you hate, namely restrictions on developers. I absolutely love Gatekeeper and will not install ANY software that is not signed no matter how famous or good that software is purported to be. I’ve been around since System 7 and have endured years of dealing with conflicts caused by developers that pay no attention to Apple’s guidelines and APIs. They always think they know better than Apple, then install kernel extensions that hose the whole system.

    1. I totally see your point, and I don’t think your wrong that out-there developers can cause major issues when they carelessly disregard sensible limitations. But I also find a lot of value in software that does work outside of the sandbox. Gatekeeper does still function outside of macOS (with the right System Preferences toggle) and I’m also suspicious of unsigned software. But in general, my personal experience has been that it’s better to evaluate developers and software based on reputation than where the software came from.

  2. Actually you can have apps launch at login. We do this with WebSonar that is a sandboxed app but whole-heartily agree on the search problem. It is also prevalent on the iOS store. We have an app called CREATEit in the education category that can only be found by searching for the app name.

  3. The app store, like the podcast app, iTunes, and photos are not better, not because Apple can’t do better, but because they don’t want to. They have made the business decision that this is how things will be, and they simply do not care. The App store asks over and over to authenticate to install free apps. iTunes was good when it came out, but has become a bloated mess that is at best hard to use, and at worst, unstable as hell. The Podcast app just needs to go away, instead of handling podcasts as music, they made the decision that you should manage your podcasts entirely on your device. It goes on and on. At this point, the only reason I am still with Apple is because I don’t want to go through the hassle to move to Windows and Android, and am not sure it is any better over there. Basically, Apple has decided to make a shitty experience for reasons that are opaque to the rest of us.

  4. You forgot the most annoying `feature` of all, – actually CONNECTING to the App store, its absolutely TERRIBLE at present, even updating causes issues. Never, ever, EVER try to “Update All”, it will hang at some point and then thats it, you aint connecting for the next couple of hours OR using any of the apps its pathetically `trying` to update, even rebooting the ipad/iphone/whatever won`t solve the issue oh no… Every app mentioned will then be greyed out with that silly timer countdown. At this point all you can do is put the damned thing away and find a different computer or tablet, or just find something else to do. Its been this way for a couple of months now & doesn`t look like getting fixed. Connecting is a lottery, you`ll get in maybe once in every 7 or 8 attempts

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