The Mac App Store is now live and ready for your custom! It comes as an update to OS X, taking Snow Leopard to version 10.6.6 (a 151.2MB download). We’re installing it this morning and we’ll give you our initial impressions once we’ve had a chance to play with it, but the screenshot on Apple’s website this morning indicate some pretty exciting content including the individual components of iLife ’11 (iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband) as well as iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote). Kiwi app Chopper 2 even makes the screenshot alongside Flight Control and other apps. I’ll update this post with screenshots and information so head past the ‘read more’ button for further info.
As I mentioned before, App Store installs as an update to OSX. I don’t believe that there are any new OSX features other than the store according to the update notes in the above screenshot.
The App Store installs as a new icon on your dock. Access is also available via the Apple icon on your task bar, where ‘Mac OSX Software’ used to be.
The App Store app itself is lightning fast to load, and feels smooth and lightweight, just like the App Store on the iPad does.
The iWork apps are available to purchase at just $24.99 each, and the iLife ’11 apps are just $18.99 each. Aperture 3 is also available at $104.99.
To test out the buy / install mechanism I ‘bought’ Twitter (free). Installing was super fast, in fact so fast that I didn’t even get a chance to screen-grab the install progress bar which appears under the icon on the dock and, just like in iOS, shows the real-time progress of the download and install. Once apps are installed, the icon is put on your dock, but you can remove it from there and of course it is still in your Applications folder.
Twitter itself is gorgeous and feels just like the iPad app. The timeline scrolls with the same intertia and silky-smoothness when used with a trackpad or Magic Mouse.
There had been a bit of speculation about how the crossover between the App Store versions of Apple software such as iLife and the physical-media versions that we might have already bought — would updates come via Software Update or the App Store etc? Well, oddly the App Store seems to recognise that I have iPhoto installed so I presume it will take over the installation of updates to that app, however iMovie and Garageband don’t realise that they are already installed and still give me the option to buy them as you can see in the above screenshot. This fixed itself after a restart — all these apps now show as ‘installed’ so it would appear that the App Store will handle updates to these apps from here on.
There does seem to be a bit of disparity with pricing between similar apps with some devs hopping straight into the cheap end of the pool, like Majic Jungle’s Chopper 2 which goes for $1.29. Angry Birds goes for $6.49 while Bejeweled 3 goes for a somewhat pricey $24.99. We’re sure the pricing will settle down soon enough, just like it did for iOS, but we think it’s likely to rest more towards Chopper 2 and Angry Birds than Bejeweled 3.
Purchasing is made via your Apple ID, just like in iTunes.
I bought Chopper 2 (at $1.29 how could you not?) and here is a screen grab of it installing right on the dock with the iOS-style progress indicator.
Harry Potter Lego (which I’m sure is a lot of fun) is priced at $64.99! This price might be about normal for a full game bought on physical media from a store, but somehow in the context of the App Store it seems very expensive. I think developers are going to have to work really hard to encourage people to part with this much cash for a game from now on.
The App Store is fantastic, and it is going to help Apple further cement the Mac as the computing platform of choice in the coming years. Millions of people have bought iPads since its launch, and a great number of those are Windows users who have never so much as touched a Mac. The next time they’re looking for a new computer, they’ll find much familiarity with the Mac as they will already know how to buy and install software thanks to the strong resemblance to iOS.
For the user, the benefits are numerous and compelling. Not only is it vastly easier to buy and install software, but the fact that Apple holds a record of your purchase and allows you to re-download the software at no extra cost makes switching to a new Mac or recovering from a hard drive failure super convenient.
If you own an iOS device but haven’t seriously considered a Mac as your next computer, then maybe it’s time to think again. Apple continue to push boundaries, remove obstacles, and make the OSX / iOS “eco-system” an even more attractive, safe and compelling place.