Using The App Store App

My purchase history in the App Store

My purchase history in the App Store

When Apple introduced Lion, and announced that you had to be running Snow Leopard in order to install Lion, I finally decided to go ahead upgrade my system to Snow Leopard. I had a stable system running under Leopard, so I had been postponing the upgrade, but I don't like getting two major versions behind on anything, particularly my operating system, so with Lion coming out it was time to make the leap.

With Snow Leopard, I got the App Store app. At first, I felt like it was just a gimmicky Apple thing, but after purchasing a few software apps via the App Store app, I have to admit, I like it. It's easy, it's fast... heck, it's as automated as you can get. You buy an app, it automatically downloads itself to your computer, installs itself into your Applications directory, and puts an icon of itself in your Launchpad and Dock.

The Good

I think what I like best of all is that I can go back anytime and get any program that I've purchased through the App Store. I've always made a practice of saving the .dmg files (my husband calls them "damage files") of any software that I purchase online — you don't get a packaged CD or DVD for online software purchases, and the places that sell software online don't always make it easy to retrieve your app should you need it again.

With the App Store method, I no longer have to worry about that. Apple takes care of it all for me. I can easily keep both my Mac Pro and my MacBook Pro updated with the same programs. In fact, with Apple's generous policy of allowing you to install any App Store-purchased program on all the Macs in your household, I can keep my husband's MacBook Pro updated with the same programs, with a single purchase.

There's an icon for "Purchased" so that I can easily review what I've bought through the App Store, and another icon for "Updates," so that I can easily see which of my purchases might need to be updated.

When a program needs updating, all I have to do is click the "Update" button; my computer downloads the update from the App Store and updates the installed program. No need to mess around with damage files.

I haven't bought that many programs through the App Store yet. But I think that going forward, I'll use the App Store whenever something I need is available there.

The Bad

The App Store isn't perfect, though. My biggest complaint is that I really really wish that the App Store was not a single-window program. When I see several similar programs that I might be interested in, I want to right-click/open-in-new-tab all of them, and then be able to switch back and forth to compare them — prices, features, reviews, etc. I don't want to look at one at a time, than hit the back button, then look at another, then the back button, then another, then the back button.

That approach is so.... 1990s. Ever since I used tabbed browsing for the first time, years ago when my brother-in-law filibustered me into trying Mozilla, I want everything — not just my browser — to have tabbed browsing. In particular, when I'm shopping and want to compare features and prices, I demand tabbed browsing. So the App Store is not especially useful for browsing and comparing. I do that in Firefox. Then, when I'm ready to purchase, I go back to the App Store to make my purchase.

Also, the App Store needs better organization, with more subcategories. I can browse through a huge long list of software in a particular category, or I can search for a specific program or type of program, but ..... sometimes I just want to browse in a specific niche, yanno? I don't have any idea how good (or not-good) the search function is, so if I search for a type of program, I'm not at all certain that I'm seeing all the software that I should be seeing. But if I just browse by category, there are too many different types of programs all in one big undifferentiated category.

The Ugly

HansaWorld is gaming the system in the App Store

HansaWorld is gaming the system in the App Store

It's Apple.... There's nothing ugly about it. Apple does beautiful and elegant quite well. But there's a definite problem right now.

It appears that some spammy outfit called "HansaWorld" has managed to game the system. If you go to the App Store and click into the "Finance" category, there's more than a dozen entries from HansaWorld for something called "Standard Accounts" — essentially the same program, just customized (supposedly) for different countries. And also "Standard Invoicing," another entry from HansaWorld, doing the same thing.

There's a "Standard Accounts" for the UK, one for South Africa, one for Sweden, one for Australia, and so on and so on. Clogging up that first page and pushing all the other programs down. Apple really needs to fix this. It's nothing to panic over, but it's most definitely not a good user experience.

I think you can see the problem in the image at right. All those blue icons? Those are all HansaWorld Standard Accounts and Standard Invoicing. All the same program, just for different countries. There should be exactly 2 entries here for that — one for each program — and the details/purchase page should be where you select the app for your specific country.


  1. HansaWorld discussed with Apple the situation that many early adopters of the App Store in non US markets still only have US iTunes accounts. We are definitely not trying to sell the different country versions to US customers, and our US version is not even up yet. In other markets than the US and the UK we have put up only the local products.
    We expect that in a few months we will have most potential early adopters using the local stores, and thus remove our offerings from the US and UK stores.

    A similar situation is painful for us in the local stores as US producers of software flood all the stores with their products, that are neither adapted for local use nor in local language.

    Clearly we wish these US products, not to show up unless asked for in the local stores, same as we really dont want all our products to show up unless asked for in the UK and US stores, as they are really hiding our products that are actually aimed for these markets.

    Karl, CEO, HansaWorld

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