Mac App Store limits developer options

Apple shuttering Mac OS X Downloads site and herding developers toward new Mac App Store, to be released January, but developers only able to offer apps running on Apple's latest desktop OS, among other limitations, note various reports.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Apple has announced plans to empty the contents of its Mac OS X Downloads site with the opening of its Mac App Store next year. However, existing Mac developers will face restrictions in creating software for the new app distribution platform, including building apps that run only on the latest version of Mac OS X and not tampering with the native user interface, according to reports.

Technology magazine Computerworld reported that Cupertino will be withdrawing all apps currently published on its Mac OS X Downloads site, as it does not make sense to keep the site running with the launch of the Mac App Store come Jan. 6, 2011. Apple's head of worldwide developer relations, Ron Okamoto, sent an e-mail to Mac developers to explain the move and urge the community to get onboard the Mac App Store bandwagon, the article stated.

"Because we believe the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase and download your apps, we will no longer offer apps on the Mac OS X Downloads site," Okamoto said. "Instead, beginning Jan. 6, we will be directing users to explore the range of apps available on the Mac App Store."

Developers to face limitations
However, despite Apple's endorsement for the app platform, developers will be hampered by Cupertino's latest set of guidelines for apps published on the Mac App Store, according to Macworld, a Web site focused on the company's developments.

The report pointed out several guidelines that could potentially be stumbling blocks for Mac developers. For instance, Apple is barring apps that "change the native user interface elements or behaviors of Mac OS X", effectively banning thousands of current Mac programs and add-ons that tweak the operating system. Developers are also banned from releasing their Mac apps in beta, demo, trial or test versions. In addition, apps that run on Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5, or older versions of the OS, will not be allowed in the Mac App Store.

Such restrictions would ban existing software from the new app distribution platform, including system utility tool, CleanMyMac, which was ranked sixth under the "Most Popular" category in the Downloads site, as well as Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, which was ranked eleventh, Computerworld noted.

That said, the Macworld report did note that the current developer guidelines are subject to amendments. Apple's document, outlining these policies, states that it is a "living document that will evolve as we are presented with new apps and situations, and we'll update it periodically to reflect these changes".

Furthermore, Apple stated that the Mac App Store will not be the only way users can get software for their Mac devices. CEO Steve Jobs admitted this earlier, noting that while the Mac App Store is "the best" way to get Mac apps, it will not be the only source for content.

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