So in the last episode I walked you through my first boot experience with my brand new Mac Mini. And I also talked about how washed out the colors looked on my external LCD display. Fortunately, I didn’t have to take the Mini back to the Apple store. An out of the box color callibration process was enough to somewhat fix the problem. In this episode I am going to talk about my experience in installing new apps on my Mac. I promised I’d talk about the Mac App Store, but I will touch on that topic a bit later in the article. I am first going to cover the more traditional way of downloading and installing apps from the internet.
Manual downloading and installing
Windows users will be familiar to downloading installers from the internet. Windows Installers typically have the .msi or .exe extension. You download and run the installer, jump through some hoops, accepting some license agreements on the way, hit finish and you are done. Installing apps on a Mac has fewer steps. You first download an installer. Typically on a Mac, the installer has a .dmg file extension. Launching the installer brings up a small window with two icons. One of them is the icon of the app you want to install. And the other icon is that of a folder. At first glance they will seem like two distinct desktop shortcuts. But you’ll soon find out that clicking the icons does nothing. Then after a bit of messing around, I figured out that if you drag the application icon to the folder icon, the app gets installed. I will admit the installation process has much fewer steps than Windows, but I don’t understand why this could have been a simple, “Would you like to install this application?” dialogue box. I installed a few more apps in this manner. And each app seems to have its own version of the “Drag to Install” window. In fact, the Dropbox app didn’t even show 2 icons. Once you launch the installer, you see a new window with only 1 icon, and a message asking you to double click it. After doing so, the app installs itself without any further questions. I know I am nitpicking here, but given Apple’s attention to detail I was expecting a more standardized and polished install experience.
Mac App Store
Before I begin I must say that the Mac App Store is a very new application. It hasn’t gone through enough iterations like the operating system itself. That said, given that there are several well-polished mobile and desktop app stores out there, there is no excuse for Apple to try to force us through this horrendous experience. When you first launch the App Store, you are presented with this:
That’s right, a blank window. No indication of what the application is doing. No visible cues as to which of the five screens is currently selected. Depending on your internet speed, a few seconds later, all the contents on the screen pop up at once. You are presented with familiar sounding sections like Featured Apps, Top Free apps, Top Paid apps etc. I am OK with a featured Apps section, but I don’t see why the primary categorization is based on the price of an app. When I go to an App Store, my first thought isn’t, “Let me check out what’s free”. I usually go in with a use case in mind, “I need an app to edit my photos”. And only then, I think about, “Are there free apps that can satisfy my use case”. Again, I know I am nitpicking, but I started using a Mac with a lot of expectations about great design and usability.
The last point I want to make about the MacApp Store is about search. Since I write regularly on my blog, I was interested in checking out writing apps. I’ve read about a lot of fantastic distraction free writing apps for MacOS and quite naturally my first instinct was to use the app store to check them out. I type “writing apps” in the search box and this is what I get:
Nothing to see here, sorry. Puzzled I googled for “writing apps”, got the name of an app and paste it in the search box. Voila, the app showed up in the results. The point I am trying to make is if I have to type in the name of the app, then how is it a “search box”. Just for comparison sake, I searched for “writing apps” in the Android app store and I was presented with dozens of legitimate writings apps sorted by popularity. How hard is it to replicate this functionality in the Apple App Store?
That’s it for this second session. Next time I will review some good paid apps and give my opinion on whether they are worth the money or not. Until then, stay tuned.