Apple just launched the Mac App Store yesterday, bringing with it a welcome surprise. The much-awaited Tweetie 2 for Mac is finally available, in the App Store, under the new name of Twitter for Mac. I’ll get to that in a little bit, though. Let’s take a quick look at this App Store that everyone has either been impatiently waiting for or relentlessly fear-mongering about.
There it is. The Mac App Store has launched with a good selection of applications, and their prices range from free to reasonably priced to, on occasion, absolutely bizarre. There are plenty of wonderful free apps, such as Evernote, TextWrangler, Caffeine, StuffIt Expander, and Twitter. There are hit games like Angry Birds and Bejeweled 3.
Here’s the strange thing: LEGO Harry Potter the Videogame (from the same folks who made the fun LEGO Star Wars games) is available in the App Store for a whopping $49.99. Meanwhile, you can get it for Windows XP for about $20 on a disc. They’re charging about twice as much for a fully digital version. I don’t quite follow that logic.
How do you get the Mac App Store in the first place? Just hit the Software Update item in your Apple menu and update to Mac OS X 10.6.6. After the reboot, you should see a new App Store icon in your dock. After dragging it to a more comfortable placement in the dock (Firefox is supposed to be the first item, Apple, don’t change it on me!) you’re ready to go.
Browsing the store is much like downloading iOS apps in iTunes, only the App Store application is so much lighter and more responsive. iTunes takes forever to switch pages, as it’s basically loading full-size web pages from Apple’s servers for every request. I don’t know what they’re doing for the Mac App Store, but it works a lot better.
Downloading an application is every bit as easy as with the iOS App Store. Using Twitter for Mac as an example…
Screenshots are displayed prominently, with some assorted information off to the site. Reviews, of course, are placed down below the screenshots and description.
When you click on the price button and enter your Apple login details, the application’s icon appears in your dock with a progress bar, much like in iOS.
Once it downloads, you can launch it straight away. I don’t know if there is an easy way to migrate older applications to being managed by the App Store or not. It would be handy, since a lot of the free ones I use (TextWrangler and Evernote, for instance) are now available in the App Store. Paid software would be more of a challenge.
Now…about Twitter for Mac. Longtime Tweetie users may be shocked by the visual changes. The functionality is the same, but the UI closer resembles the iPhone and iPad editions than the previous Mac version. Once you get over that, you will welcome the new features: namely native retweet support, list support, tweet deletion, and streaming API support for the main timeline. (This means you will see tweets pretty much as soon as they are posted, rather than every ten minutes or so when the app polls the server.)
You can read more about Twitter for Mac over at MacStories. Federico Viticci wrote up a lengthy post about it.