I am a big fan of the Mac App Store; I love the simplicity a single marketplace creates. But I’m also a big fan of choices, which is why today I’m introducing the App Tyrant Store.
Some of you might be wondering why I would choose to sell the same apps that are already available on the Mac App Store directly from AppTyrant.com. There are a few reasons I have chosen to do this. For one, Apple imposes certain restrictions on Mac App Store applications. All applications for sale on the Mac App Store must be sandboxed.
The app sandbox restriction makes certain API off limits to developers (and I’m not talking about private API). While I have heard other developers complain about app sandboxing, I have not found the sandbox to be a significant impediment. In most cases, developers can implement alternative solutions to achieve the same goal in a sandboxed app. However, these differences sometimes have a minor impact on the user experience of an application. For instance, in my application Desktop Ghost there is a subtle difference between the version available on the Mac App Store and the version available on the App Tyrant Store.
When creating Desktop Ghost, I wanted to give you the ability to set the app to launch at login (and when you first start your computer). If you open the System Preferences application on your Mac and go to “Users & Groups” you can find a list of “Login Items” as seen in the screenshot below:
Mac users can add or remove any application they want to this list. But I wanted to allow you to add and remove Desktop Ghost as a login item from within the app itself. Since Desktop Ghost can be run as a menu bar item (which is how I run it) I thought that many users would like to have it running all the time. Forcing you to navigate to settings to add the app as a login item is a clunky user experience. It is my job as a developer to make your life easier. For the Mac App Store version, I could have put up a dialog somewhere that says: Go to System Preferences to add Desktop Ghost as a login item. That of course is not really a solution at all and is completely unacceptable.
However, if you already purchased Desktop Ghost from the Mac App Store, do not worry. You were not cheated. Let me be clear, the Mac App Store version does have the “Launch At Login” feature. But for the Mac App Store version of Desktop Ghost to have the “Launch at Login” feature, I had to use different API than what is used in the App Tyrant Store version in order to achieve the same goal. For those of you interested in the programming, Apple’s documentation for setting a login item that must be used in a sandboxed app can be found here.
While there is a difference for me as the programmer, you might be asking what is the difference to you? When I use the sandbox approved way of launching the application at login, the login item is not added to the list in System Preferences. If you have purchased Desktop Ghost from the Mac App Store, you can see the difference by marking the “Launch at Login” checkbox in Desktop Ghost and then going to your Login Items list in System Preferences. You will notice that Desktop Ghost does not appear in the list. However, if you restart your computer (or quit the app and log out and then back in) you will see that Desktop Ghost will launch and work as advertised. This can be confusing to users, who might wish to manage their login items from System Preferences from time to time. It also may make some mud-slinging customers jump to the conclusion that the app is not working properly, without even testing it, and leave the notorious trolling 1-star app review.
If you purchased Desktop Ghost through the App Tyrant Store, you will notice that the “Launch at Login” checkbox and your list of login items in System Preferences are synced. Admittedly, this isn’t really a big deal (at least not to me as a user). If you have the Mac App Store version of Desktop Ghost you just have to manage the preference from within the App itself. But it is a difference nonetheless, and I want to give you options.
There may come a time when I want to make a Mac app that just cannot work in the Sandbox; the only way I could ever do that is to have my own storefront.
There are a few other reasons why I have decided to create the App Tyrant Store, but they are beyond the scope of this blog post. If you were to ask me if you should purchase a certain app on the App Tyrant Store or the Mac App Store right now, I would simply say “it’s up to you.” The truth is, there will be little to no difference between buying my apps from the Mac App Store or the App Tyrant Store. If I notice significant differences between the Mac App Store version and the App Tyrant Store version, I will try to outline those differences in a blog post. The choice is completely yours. If you like updating your apps through the Mac App Store, then go for it.
If you ever have any support questions about any of my apps that you have purchased, I encourage you to use the Contact Form. I will answer legitimate support e-mails from customers, regardless of where you bought the application from.