Shortly after New Year's 2011, Apple released an update to Snow Leopard. This brought OS X 10.6 up to version 10.6.6. Along with the typical security updates and bug fixes, Apple also included a new feature that will be a part of Lion, the next version of OS X, 10.7. The new feature is the Mac App Store.
It all started with the iPhone. When Apple finally allowed third-party developers to write software for the iPhone they also created the App Store. This is where you can find software for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, or what Apple refers to as iOS devices. It is part of the iTunes Store so you can purchase and download Apps on your iOS device or through iTunes on your Mac or PC.
Any Mac currently running Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) just needs to run Software Updates to get 10.6.6. If you are still running Leopard (OS X 10.5) you will need to purchase an upgrade disc. This can be purchased online at the Apple Store, or any other retailer of Apple products. I got mine from Amazon.com for $25. Please note that Snow Leopard is only for Intel Macs.
After upgrading to 10.6.6 you will see a new Mac App Store icon on the dock and also a menu item under the Apple in the upper left corner. Just like iTunes is for music, the Mac App Store is to software. The Mac App Store is where you go to find the latest software for your Mac. You log into the Mac App Store with your iTunes Store account information. If you don't have one then you'll need to create one, which only takes a minute and you will need a credit card.
Pricing seems to be on par with the current boxed versions of software, but there are some exceptions. The latest version of iWork 09 contains three programs Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. It is available in a box from Apple for $79. Through the Mac App Store Apple has unbundled iWork 09, meaning you can buy any or all of the three Apps that make up the suite. Each App is just $19.99. So through the App Store, if you buy the whole suite it's just under $60.
Another amazing deal, one that might be temporary, is Apple Aperture. Think of iPhoto on steroids. Aperture is for the more serious photographer. If you shoot hundreds of photos instead of a dozen, then you need Aperture. It is a tool that lets professionals and amateurs work more efficiently with a large library of digital photos. Like iPhoto it is used to import, catalog, enhance, and share digital photos, especially those shot in the RAW format. Through the Apple Retail Store you can buy Aperture 3 on disc in a box for $199. Today you can buy it through the Mac App Store for only $79. It s the same full version that is sold in a box just without the physical disc (or box), at a savings of over $100.
If you have an iPhone, Touch, or iPad, then you know just how easy and convenient the App Store model is. Once you find an App you like it's just a click away. Mac Apps can be either free or paid, just like with the iOS App Store. Once you've made a selection, click on the price button and it will start the download process. It goes without saying that purchasing Apps, like music and video, does require high-speed Internet access.
An important note about the Mac App Store program at this time there is no confirmation box that protects you from accidentally purchasing an App. On the iPhone or iPad, you click on an App you want and it will ask you, Do you really want to purchase this App? I think this is just a bug and will hopefully be fixed soon with an update. The Mac App Store software is at version 1.0 and it shows.
The other huge benefit of getting your Mac software through the Mac App Store is updates. A big part of the App Store model is that all updates must also run through the store. It s easy to keep your Apple software updated since this function is built into the OS. Now your third-party software is easily kept up-to-date through the Mac App Store. When you launch the Mac App Store program it will show you your library of Apps and let you know of any that have updates. Updates for your Apps are now just a click away.
Not all Mac software will be found in the App Store. There are strict rules that Apple enforces, with a very large stick. First, there will be no trial or beta software available in the Mac App Store. Any software that needs full root access will not be allowed. This includes some great utilities like Super Duper or Candy Bar. So while the Mac App Store will be a great way to find and buy software, it will not be the only place to get Mac Software.
Anyone who has purchased a Mac in the last year and a half should definitely update Snow Leopard to 10.6.6. The addition of the Mac App Store makes buying, installing, and updating software as simple as possible. If you love the iTunes Store or the iPhone App Store then the Mac App Store will be a perfect fit. With Apple it's all about ease of use. It's all about the Mac App Store.