Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Should Mac Apps be Distributed?

John Gruber has a thoughtful piece on Daring Fireball (easily my favorite blog), reflecting on another "thoughtful piece" by Alexander Limi; the topic is how Mac apps are installed on the Mac and how the process might be improved.

I have two thoughts on the matter, which touch on topics raised by John but which I had formed before reading his piece. (You'll have to take my word on that.)

1) The Mac should have an interface dedicated to finding and launching applications, probably accessed from the Apple menu. The interface should take guidance from the iPhone home screen(s), displaying all of the applications accessible to the user (regardless of where they are installed), organized to the user's preferences. (Maybe a third-party app opportunity. Hmmm.) It could be layered on top of the existing scheme, so none of the flexibility of the existing model would be lost.

2) How about a Mac app store? For those well-behaved Mac apps that don't require an installer, this is a no-brainer, and I suspect many of the factors that dictate an installer (contributions to the Frameworks, Application Support, or other common destinations) could be accommodated fairly easily. This would eliminate most of the room for user error cited in the two blogs.

Might be a good use of that new datacenter Apple is reportedly building...