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Mac App Store UI is so hideous that it makes me want to kick a swan (reverttosaved.com)
68 points by mikecane on Jan 6, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments



If it makes you sad because Apple is no longer devoting thousands of pixels at the top of each window to a big "drag this window" control, you'd better brace yourself, because the next step for many consumer applications is to have windows that cannot be dragged at all.

This design looks like an iPad screen to me. Did the implications of Apple's stated mission to "make the Mac more like the iPad" not sink in? The iPad doesn't have draggable windows. And putting big title bars on a nondraggable window is a waste of pixels.

As for the critique of various shades of gray and nonscalable text and laggy performance: It is launch day, people. We are lucky the app works at all. (It apparently doesn't quite work for everyone; those bugs are going to need to be fixed first.) It is hell on earth to meet a Steve Jobs launch date, I'm grateful to all those who made it happen, and I'd like to encourage the rest of the peanut gallery to be patient and see if revision 1.0.1 brings some improvements.


I highly doubt that that Apple will remove dragable windows. Their iPad-ification of applications is the full-screen mode that can be toggled.

More likely: a bar-wide drag handler that takes precedence over widget clicking.


Sure, that is what I meant. My guess is that this app is giving us an early vision of what apps will look like in the upcoming full-screen mode. When that mode comes out, not long from now, the App Store will continue to look exactly as it does now.

Why design the window twice inside of a year when designing it once will do?

Of course Apple won't take away OS support for draggable windows. That would be silly. What will happen, though, if the new full-screen mode takes off, is that app developers will redesign their windows to be more suitable for full-screen. And that may well involve smaller or nonexistent title bars.


That's already happened to some extent. Xcode and Final Cut both run in multi-window yet effectively fullscreen mode, but act as IDEs for their respective workflows. In fact, this IDE mentality could be the new big divisive topic in the Mac world: Coda vs Textmate and Safari and CSSEdit and Versions and... Really, it's the same war as Vim vs Emacs (somewhat), just with GUIs. Does the application need to be full-screen and kitchen sink, or multi-window and able to integrate with others?

I do agree, this could be a nuclear, apocalyptic scenario. But while photo, video and code workflows can be condensed nicely into one app, traditional mac workflows have been multi-window, multi-app in that most common tasks aren't IDE-oriented, and constructed from many different apps running on the Mac platform.

But, to counter your point about app laziness: most mac developers came to the platform to make really good apps. If it was about just throwing something easy out there, they'd have run to Windows or enterprise apps already.


>Their iPad-ification of applications is the full-screen mode that can be toggled.

The problem is that app UIs are going to pick a paradigm and it's going to feel out of place if you use a different one. The dragbar being replaced is a pretty good example of this.

It's a lot of why I'm not particularly looking forward to Lion.


I would prefer to see an X Window style alt to drag system, makes life moving windows much easier.


OS X only has one corner for resizing windows, so it wouldn't surprise me.


It's launch day at Apple. We expect no peanuts!


No offense, but this blog is so hideous it makes me want to kick a panda.


Serious, looks like the top of a hot dog.


Reminds me of Windows 3.x's Hot Dog Stand theme.



So what. The actual problem the whole idea is solving is a revolutionary improvement. And this is just v1.

The "interface" problem is not custom controls or back buttons. The interface problem is installing software. That's the interface most average people stumble on. That's where computers suck.

So yeah, some of the UI in the Mac App Store app feels a bit off, but the stuff that matters - one click install of great apps onto your Mac - works beautifully. That's the interface triumph.


Usually Apple has good solutions packaged in very polished UI. Solving problem with "meh" UI is a step down.


Not always with v1. Apple UIs generally get better with age. They're still iterating large on things like iPhoto and iMovie.


Precisely, and itunes gets worse with every version, so another counter example there.


Better with age? I used iTunes years ago and just last week had to install it to resolve an issue with my girlfriends iPod. Not much has changed as far as I can tell and it still pisses me off to use. (Not bashing Apple, discussing your comment "not always with v1. Apple UIs generally get better with age.)


iTunes is very unlike Apple’s other apps.


  >The actual problem the whole idea is solving is a revolutionary improvement.
Last I checked, this was a solved problem in Ubuntu. What makes it revolutionary now that Apple's done it?


Most people don't use Ubuntu.

Come on, man, it's a Linux Distro – how many of our moms are installing those?

Plus there's the whole easy monetization thing for developers.

This is like saying Dropbox's functionality was a solved problem thanks to rsync.


Sure it's gaming-specific, but more prior art: http://steampowered.com


It's one click and a password to buy from the Mac App Store whereas Steam takes five clicks and no password (if you have it set to remember).

Apple's store is no revolution in my book, far from it, but at least they put that Amazon One-click patent to good use and made the process easy.


the developers get paid


Reach.


The one-click install without having to dick around with disk images and dragging icons from one part of a window to another is great.

But there's still lots of polish that it lacks.

It puts every app in the dock. What happens when someone wants to remove the app and tries to do so by dragging it off the dock?

The app still resides in the Applications folder but the user thinks it's gone. Now if he wants to download it again and goes back to the App Store the app is still marked as 'Installed' even though he thinks it's gone.

If he knows to look in the Applications folder and then tries to drag it to the trash, you get a UAC dialog asking for the root password.

So, they've partially solved the App install experience but not fully. The interface still has rough edges, which I'm sure they may eventually get right.


A off-topic question:

This guys website looks like a nacho-colored version of Daring Fireball, complete with a star in the logo and for the favicon. Is there some star motif in the Mac world I'm not aware of?


Its like a modification of classic communist propaganda graphic design. Orange, yellow, and black, the star, strong font styling. Kind of weird way to design a blog.


Yes, I think you're right. As a colorblind dude, the colors work well for me, but I wonder how they look to the color-ungimped.


> "but I wonder how they look to the color-ungimped."

awful.


No, but IIRC, there is one for blogspot/blogger.


However, the store feels very snappy, which is a welcome change from the iTunes Store being very slow even on a Core i7 machine.


Definitely. At first, I thought 'wow, that's fast, but of course this is not an iOS device', but then I remembered that iOS Store through iTunes was not this fast.


"Instead, you must aim for and click specific blank areas between the various navigation items. This reduces usability and also obliterates accessibility for users who have less dexterity."

I highly doubt that, given that the standard size for the dragging bar on in OS X is only 22 pixels tall, while the bar on the Mac App Store appears to be about 54 pixels tall. The increased vertical size would seem to make up for the smaller horizontal draggable area, from an accessibility standpoint.


Apple's clearly trying to conserve vertical pixels given that they are moving to wider screens. That's what they did with the new iTunes.

Secondly the navigation can be handled with swipe gestures, which is where Lion is headed.


I generally agree with your points, however, if I recall correctly, iTunes's window controls/style changed slightly before Leopard, and when Leopard was released, everything lost its white/pinstripe style and looked like iTunes. I think what we're looking at it is what every window in Lion will look like.

On the issue of dragging windows, I think that Apple is a bad boy that doesn't care about convention and wants to re-invent this. Right now, users have to know that only a specific narrow upper border is draggable. With any blank space replacing that tradition, users don't have to think about where they grab a window as long as they hit something gray that isn't a button.


Maybe it's just me, but I automatically dragged the window by the empty space between the icons - and it works as expected. Hopefully they have done some testing on this to feel safe enough about the change.


Really? That bad? I'm not so sure the swans deserve such treatment. While there are some questionable design decisions in the UI, I'm more concerned with the UI performance (sluggish scrolling, interactions, etc).


I have a 4 year old machine and no sluggish scrolling, unlike with iTunes. Is this a common problem?


Just tried it. What I don't understand is this:

To manage apps on my iphone/ipad/ipod I use iTunes. In iTunes I go to an app store if I want to install a new app on those devices.

To access what I perceive to be essentially a form of the same store but for Mac software, I use a dedicated application that now forms part of the Operating System's update management. This makes no sense to me.

Does this mean that we'll start to see iphone/pod/pad management moving towards the mac app store and a (hopefully) slimmer itunes?


Certainly. Every time I see a major iTunes update I'm surprised they haven't fixed it. The pimple's ready to pop.


I hope so. I don't mind iTunes as a music player on a Mac. It's as a central point of navel lint I have the problem.


I hope it's just something temporary released to meet the deadline or that the app was designed for new Lion UI and that's just Leopardized downgraded version.

In Mac apps adherence of HIG and use of standard Cocoa widgets is very important, and poorly thought out/unnecessary deviations are frowned upon — at least for 3rd party developers.

Many parts of OS X/Cocoa are very polished, so it's disheartening that Apple releases something that's debatable between hideous or barely good enough.


Other things that the App Store lacks (again):

- A wishlist or a very simple way to mark apps that you are willing to buy in the near future.

- Price tags on every product. Not just the one's you haven't purchased. As I already have the iWork suite installed, I can't read the prices of those articles.

- Good autocomplete. The app store universe is a finite one, not a chaotic infinite one such as the entire web. Therefore, the autocomplete should respond accordingly. Terms that are actually app names should have some visual cue.

- A prominent search box. To be fair, they have the search box in the conventional place. However, being discovery on the the priorities of the store, search should be more visible.

- And let's not talk about recommendations. If Amazon is a tiger in terms of targeted recomendations, Apple's App Store is not more than a snail.


Good autocomplete. The app store universe is a finite one, not a chaotic infinite one such as the entire web. Therefore, the autocomplete should respond accordingly. Terms that are actually app names should have some visual cue.

Agreed. If Google can do autocomplete with Google Instant against the entire internet, then the ability to do it against the "more than a thousand apps" that are in the app store should be entirely within Apple's reach.


Minimum viable product.


Apple is a startup now?


About your second point: it looks like App Store.app only scans your /Applications folder for matches, so if you want to see the prices of products you already own, just quit the App Store, move the application out of your /Applications directory, and relaunch App Store.


> People complaining about the Mac app store interface are missing the point. Think about the current install interface - DMG, dragging, etc.

@jasonfried [https://twitter.com/jasonfried/status/23111721640009728]


Another change: the red X control quits, not just closes window.

iTunes did the horizontal window controls first. If you don't like these, wait till you try Tweetie 2 aka Twitter for Mac. It makes them smaller and black.

There's more than enough blank area to drag, enough there could have been a bit more space between the window controls and the nav back/fwd buttons. However, it feels like this is a move towards more standard window shapes and icon locations between the desktop and the iDevices. Everything's right where you'd expect it to be on an iPad.


To be fair, most single-window apps on OS X already quit when the window is closed. This is typically the desired behavior, especially for those less computer-savvy.


OTOH, how can you tell if it is single-window or not?

iTunes is not, closing it leaves it running. iPhoto is, closing it shuts it down. Both look pretty much the same.


iTunes is multi-window -- double-click any playlist to see. Even if it weren't, you don't want it to quit when you close its last window, you want the music to play on.

The distinction is arbitrary, though. There are plenty of single-window apps I'd like to stay running.


I get the feeling everything not aimed at professionals is going to begin moving toward the single-window and full-screen experiences. Likely in a slow march as opposed to all-at-once, but it seems inevitable to me.

Regular people never really took advantage of the MDI anyway. (Not that I blame them, overlapping windows made a mess of everything.)


>(Not that I blame them, overlapping windows made a mess of everything.)

Yet this move is happening exactly as extremely high resolution displays that can easily handle multiple side-by-side windows are becoming commonplace.


And after multitasking research has shown how poorly most humans handle it. And after computer use research has shown how poorly most humans handle MDI. And after several products from several manufacturers have proven the change to focused-single-task to be not only palatable, but even preferable and popular.

MDI is a great thing for a certain class of people. And I'm talking about a trend in software for everyone else. Those people weren't a high-res monitor away from becoming power-users. It was never going to happen.


Closing the last window (via the red X or otherwise) quitting the application is nothing new for first-party Apple software. See: Dictionary.app (multi-window software), System Preferences.app (primarily single window).

The pattern seems to be applications where once the window is closed there is little likelihood that the user will want to access it soon again. One-off applications get this behavior - not applications that suit extended use.


Twitter's app completely breaks two of the three window controls.

Close --> Actually just hides the app. Expand --> Does literally nothing. Seriously.


A note on the upper left hand 'control' buttons. Using the graphite theme there are no colours or controls obviously visible, so i didnt even notice the difference.

It took a comment on this blog post for me to notice that iTunes has vertical buttons. I hope that is a fair indication how often I even look at those buttons.


You never minimize or close a window?


The title bar is swan-kick-worthy, but the price thing is pretty easy to read on my system.


That will not hinder its success, heh. Vanity blogpost. Look at HN, Reddit, ebay etc. to see how much design really matters. OSX is pretty but I'd argue it's not the neat icons that make it a success. Tsts.. Designers and their worldview.


If you think that the "neat icons" are why people think the OS X interface is good, then you have a serious case of programmer tunnel vision.


Arguably, HN and Reddit's minimal design are part of their success/charm. They have a minimalist style that doesn't get in the way of posting, and doesn't needlessly change.


100% agreed. I'm sick of self-professed design experts slamming Reddit's design. Reddit has one of the best designs of the sites I use regularly. It's one of my favorites to navigate around and read. That's a lot more than can be said about Craig Grannell's eye melting blog.

Designers need to pull their heads out of their collective arses and realize that design is not just coordinated colors and the latest gradient button trends.


There's a difference between spartan design and bad usability. This blogpost is about the usability of the design, not how attractive or fancy the design is.


The article doesn't talk about icons or prettiness or anything like that. The author mostly talks about the user experience and interactions with the toolbar and the clarity of the text in the download buttons.


If I wanted ugly or dumb I'd use Windows. I don't. Don't turn my Mac into Windows or you reduce the relative attraction.


Has anyone tried the link system? A quick try gives a link that can only be opened in another instance of the mac store, call be naive, but I was hoping something similar to pages on apples site considering iOS links.


One of the more poorly thought out and articulated articles I've read in a long time on Hacker News. Sad, really.


The icon is horrible too.


Looks too much like the iTunes icon in the dock. Should've gone with a different color. In iOS, iTunes is purple and the App Store is blue.


They both remind me of the Start menu icon in Windows 7.


I haven't thought about that yet, but you are correct.


It’s very similar to the new iTunes icon. I sincerely hope that Apple is not going away from the realistic icons, I have always loved those. I am not much impressed by symbols on blue circular backgrounds.


People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones... his blog looks terrible.




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