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Apple Promotes Jeff Williams to COO, Puts Phil Schiller in Charge of App Store (techcrunch.com)
114 points by Rifu on Dec 17, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments



> In addition, Apple says it’s expanding VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller’s duties to now include running the App Store across all Apple platforms.

Emphasis mine, this means there's now a visible figure responsible for the Mac App Store. I'm not in Mac development, but by many accounts it's been neglected to the point that the well known software is bailing. Most specific complaints center around the sandbox limitations, but there's also frustration with wondering what you're shelling out such a big chunk of your money for if the store hasn't improved in years.

Apple can get away with whatever they want on iOS because there are no other options. On Mac, they can't expect to charge 30% of revenue and have everyone stick around if the service isn't worth it.

Example, with many related links at the bottom: https://www.macstories.net/linked/sketch-is-leaving-the-mac-...

I don't know what they have planned to fix it, but the timing of this feels like at least a tacit acknowledgement that there's a problem.


This comes up whenever the Mac App Store is mentioned, but it deserves being repeated until it's fixed:

The Mac App Store is an awful program. It's incredibly slow. You make a great point- I'm glad there's now a public face and hope that it's a sign Apple is taking the issue seriously.


That reminds me, I have a screenshot of the App Store where it downloaded all of the store page data, but didn't get the stylesheet. And since it's just a shitty webview in a box and not a full browser, there's no obvious way to make it reload.

These sorts of things happen when you download your whole program's page layout off the internet. How idiotic would it look if you pulled up a playlist view in iTunes and everything turned into an unstyled HTML bulleted list?

Don't have the computer with that screenshot handy, but I can post it later.


Screenshot as promised: http://i.imgur.com/5xNgwMH.png

Only have the "Check for Updates" screen, but I have to assume the same can happen in any section of the store.

If this were built as a native app (or even cached the CSS for common pages), you'd at least get a usable layout, even if your connection sucks too much to get images or even download software.

It's a joke as-is. You get the "there are 5 updates" badge on your dock icon, the store app knows what the updates are, but can't display the list properly without a connection to the internet.


Can you send the screenshot to them with a suggestion of shipping the CSS with it? I think you can file bugs at http://bugreport.apple.com/.


That does seem insane -- why not just make a cocoa app for it?


>And since it's just a shitty webview in a box and not a full browser, there's no obvious way to make it reload.

cmd r usually does the trick (or store -> reload page in the menu).


The larger point is that most Mac users wouldn't know to do this, I think.


Right. I fixed it by relaunching, but I shouldn't have had to. And the even larger point is that that Apple's software updater shouldn't need a Reload function any more than Windows Explorer should need me to mash F5 after I save a new file. It's crappy design through and through. But it's 2015, so everything is a web view. Because reasons.

If Apple rewrote Finder to display folder contents as a web view so that they could reuse a frontend between icloud.com and local file management, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. Working in the Finder? iCloud Drive is a web view! Heck, let's use that to display the local filesystem too! Back it with a server on localhost that examines directory contents and generates a webpage to pass to the Finder! Code reuse! Efficient development! Future benefits from optimizations to webkit that will still be slower than the native software it replaced!

Even better, you can do away with all that WebDAV and SMB crap! When you want to browse files on another Mac, its filesystem webserver can generate the folder listings and serve them over HTTP with file downloads over WebRTC when you open something! It's the future! HFS2, all read/write actions to be handled with AJAX passing JSON objects back and forth.

Coming soon in OS 10.13, you saw it here first.

I might be slightly annoyed at the recent direction of "everything is webpages" software development. Ah well.


The obvious way to make it reload is to quit and re-launch the app.

What may seem insane to you may make perfect sense to someone else. Engineering is about tradeoffs after all. In this case I suppose they wanted the flexibility to vary the layout dynamically, although in this case for some reason it failed to load.


> How idiotic would it look if you pulled up a playlist view in iTunes and everything turned into an unstyled HTML bulleted list?

That's effectively the iTunes Music Store (well, and App Store and all the other stuff they sell). I have seen HTTP error codes instead of page listings and rendering issues.


It's really fine. The problem is not the app itself, not by a long shot.


Not really. The big problems that are driving developers away are policy problems (mandatory sandboxing that's inadequate for the kinds of apps people want to write on OSX, lack of upgrade pricing, long delays in app/update approval, etc.), but, as a user, I've been seeing issues with the app itself for a long time. Things are particularly shaky around app updates: stuff like clicking an update button and nothing happens, or clicking an update button and nothing appears to happen but the update starts downloading anyways and a progress bar doesn't show until several minutes into a download, or Xcode updates that take (quite literally) several hours to install (after downloading) if you're not running on an SSD.

These are things that got ironed out years ago on iOS, but I've not seen major improvements to the Mac App Store app since it was released nearly five years ago. If anything, it's gotten worse with subsequent releases of OSX.


It's not fine- the app is an awful user experience. I get that people disagree with the App Store policies, but at least there's some argument to be made that it's for the best of the users.

There's absolutely no defending how bad of an app the App Store is...


I've always held that Apple is brilliant at OS and software development... development - see OSX and IOS and libdispatch and ARC and Swift and Objective-C and so on and so on... And terrible at using those tools to build software - see almost every app I can't uninstall on my iPhone, iTunes, Mac App Store, and so on, and so on...

(Yes, not all of these things were invented there, but Apple became the steward of them.)


Start tweeting him. Nothing like tweet shaming to get a company motivated.


The problems also continue on the other side of the App Store, the user side. Particularly on the desktop the App Store is so slow, I have to wonder what they are doing - The numbers in the notifications badge on my App Store icon just pile up since I hate process of updating anything via App Store and drag it out as long as I can. When I actually decide to go in, it takes a good half minute to get a list of what needs to be updated. I opt to "update all", the process seems to start...I can't walk away just yet though since sure as hell there will be at least one dialog asking for my Apple ID somewhere around app 3 out of 11. I've woken up to that dialog often enough just to notice that nothing has been updated while I went to bed. And that's just the update process and doesn't even touch problems like discovery.


Do you have apps with multiple Apple IDs or countries? You could also just leave it set to automatically update everything.


> sandbox

It's a security feature of OSX. I would love if Windows has an application sandbox too and show file extension by default. A bad program can destroy everything incl encrypting all your data.


I'm not saying the sandbox is a bad thing, and I definitely like it for just downloading and trying out software of questionable quality from companies that I've never heard of. But it has tradeoffs:

https://panic.com/blog/coda-2-5-and-the-mac-app-store/

https://panic.com/blog/coda-and-sandboxing/

If you wanted to (for example) distribute Sublime Text through the App Store, you'd run into the same sorts of problems. If it's a piece of software that I reasonably trust, do I want to make that trade? Eh. Maybe. Gain some protection against potential security bugs, lose some flexibility/productivity.


It's a security feature but also an innovation roadblock. I don't fault them for having security features it's how they are administered thats the major issue.


I've been wanting to start developing software for the Mac, and seeing that there is now someone in charge of the App Store - not just for iOS but for the Mac as well - is a big thing. OSX is my main platform, and I've watched the Mac App Store stagnate and float around in a holding pattern. Here's hoping it finally gets a wishlist.


I learned something the hard way so let me pass it on :)

The Mac App Store is just a distribution channel and should not hold anyone back if they seriously think they have a product of value.

Even if they improve the Mac App store the rationale for even having it wont change much and so some of the same issues will still prevail IMO.

You will still only be featured if you either know someone or use some of their latest features/libraries.

You will still not be able to do a lot of things because of Sandbox.

You will not be able to reach the majority of target market (Google is your friend there)

And there are plenty of other great solutions for distribution out there.

Just my five cents.

P.S. If you are serious about developing for the Mac but don't have a project. Contact me I am expanding my product line and could use a good osx dev.


The fact that the App Store is crummy on the Mac should not be a hindrance to developing Mac software (unlike iOS, where the App Store is the only way to distribute software). Go forth and develop your mac app, and just sell it directly to your customers!


Developing and distributing OS X apps has long preceded the App Store, though. Actually, some of the apps that I am very loyal to still don't distribute on the App Store or they offer both options.

I still have a very popular OS X app and I don't distribute it through the App Store at all (primarily because it works on OS X, Windows, Linux, FreeBSD). This is a bit of freedom for me as I can do interesting things to gain functionality that the App Store would deny.


No mention of Eddie Cue? He was previously in charge of the store, right?


Yes. IMO:

Optically, Cue has been peculiar in the last year. The night before the keynote introducing Apple Music, he was photographed at a basketball game. The keynote was a disaster: he was easily the least polished presenter; the segments didn't flow together; he stumbled a few times; he did awful dad dancing and cracked jokes which folks didn't laugh at; Drake (?) and Jimmy Iovine had clearly not told anyone what they were going to say.

The product has not been a smash hit success, either. There was so much heat over how bad it was that some of Apple's best-known cheerleaders in the press and blogs were battering it for being unusable and buggy.

This is a logical clipping of Cue's wings. Apple Music + Beats 1 are a significantly different challenge to iTunes which was buoyed by rapid expansion of a category (iPod -- which lest we forget forced Amazon to have a product page for "non-iPod MP3 players") and a low threshold to entry. Apple Music is a wartime product competing against Spotify's headstart.

Schiller has for years been better at courting developers. He's more at ease scaling from macro perspectives on Apple's philosophy down to nerding out over software.


Eddie Cue is doing a lot of things (including being responsible for iCloud and the Maps backend IIRC). And really his strength and the reason why he was instrumental to iTunes lay in his ability to negotiate and drive deals with all of the music industry players.


> And really his strength and the reason why he was instrumental to iTunes lay in his ability to negotiate and drive deals with all of the music industry players.

He had negotiated some great deals back in the day, but the music world changed and he wasn't making progress at negotiating (partly due to his past success, labels didn't want Apple to continue to have so much power). Cue not being able to make a deal is why Apple bought Beats for $3B and gained access to its streaming deal. Tough spot to be in and I think it would have happened the same way regardless of who was negotiating (scrappy iPod era Apple and current iPhone behemoth Apple are radically different negotiating partners).


Deals which are visibly not getting made for the Apple TV service, by most accounts


Don't blame Cue, media companies are scared to death of making deals like Jobs made with the record labels.


It could just be to relieve the pressure on Cue.

Apple's reliance on the iCloud infrastructure is increasing with every new product they roll out. And there is the recent purchase of FoundationDB to manage and integrate as well as dealing with the increasing scalability and stability issues. It does make sense to have some focus there.


As far as I can remember, yeah.


I really hope this comes with big changes. The App Store on all platforms has been a disaster for years, IMHO. Overrun with junk ware, it really needs some serious people power put into curating categories to help you find what you're interested in.

Years ago I used to download new iOS apps all the time, I rarely do any more. Every time I go on the store all I see is junk apps loaded with in app purchase traps.


The iOS app store is actually pretty clean if you look at Google Play -- now that is truly overrun with junk ware. Same with the Chrome extension store.


The app store has a whole section of apps without IAPs. Unfortunately it lacks a method of try before buy, but someone at Apple is occasionally listening.


Small rays of hope for fixing the app store problems start to glimmer on the horizon...


Where's the diversity though...


Now if they can reverse the momentum on the "War on Ports" on their "pro" models of crap. And get rid of the damn trash can design for the Mac Pro.




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