Inside OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion: Apple overhauls software updates, App Store

Posted:
in Mac OS X edited January 2014


System updates are now sensibly converged with a refreshed App Store in this summer's release of OS X Mountain Lion, centralizing software updates and adding automatic app installs for all your iCloud-registered Macs.



Apple released the Mac App Store one year ago, rushing to add an iOS-like software store to the Mac desktop with such haste that it just couldn't wait until the release of OS X Lion, bundling it instead with OS X 10.6.6. Apple subsequently used the Mac App Store as the primary way to distribute Lion itself last July.



Just like releases of iTunes before it, the Mac App Store experimented with novel placement of standard window controls, adding Safari-like navigation buttons next to the horizontally centered Close/Minimize/Zoom window controls, and similarly plopping non-standard toolbar icons in what has been reserved for the window's title bar for the last 30 years.











This overt bending of the company's own Human Interface Design Guidelines appeared intended to associate the Mac App Store with its iOS counterpart, particularly with its iPad-like mode icons across the top.



There were a few odd other edges that were harder to explain, however, the first being that the Mac App Store didn't support full screen functionality (perhaps due to its need to support the older OS X Snow Leopard) and the second being its lack of integration with System Updates, the historical path for obtaining system updates, printer drivers, and other apps bundled with OS X.



One stop updates shop



The Mac App Store is now the only place users will need to visit to keep all their software up to date, at least for all their software obtained through Apple and its App Store publishers. Both "Software Update" and "App Store" items under the Apple menu of OS X Mountain Lion now direct users to the Mac App Store.



"Checking for new software," shown below, will present any machine specific updates for OS X and its bundled software, as well as any pending updates for App Store titles (the later requiring you to be logged into your App Store account; system updates don't require an account to obtain).











The Updates pane presents both OS X updates as well as App Store updates, and offers a simple user interface for selectively updating which items you want to install. In the prerelease build, some of the description of the updates may be hard to read, but we'd expect Apple to address this before it becomes available this summer.









Normalized window appearance



Once finished, the App Store reports that everything that can be installed already is. The revised Mac App Store in Mountain Lion also normalizes its window presentation a bit, placing the navigation buttons under the standard placement of top left corner window controls just like Safari, as well as adding a Full Screen button to the top right corner, restoring the normal window title bar area, all apart for the centered placement of buttons, something that with the other changes doesn't seem so odd anymore. The iOS-style toolbar buttons are not configurable, but they don't really need to be.











Apps in the Cloud, but where's Dashboard Widgets?



The other notable change in the Mac App Store is a new option to automatically download software you buy on another computer, the "Apps in the Cloud" feature Apple debuted for mobile devices in iOS 5. This allows you to shop for apps on one machine and have the same titles automatically download on the rest of your machines registered with the same iCloud account (for free of course).









Mountain Lion's revised Mac App Store does a great job of cleaning up and normalizing the upkeep of desktop software, but there's a notable omission: Dashboard Widgets. Currently, the Mountain Lion Dashboard directs you to Apple's Dashboard web page to browse for and obtain new widgets, but it sure would make a lot more sense just to add Widgets to the App Store, perhaps even offering a market so that developers had more motivation to create valuable widgets Mac users might want to buy.



Apple could also add other elements for sale (free or paid) within the Mac App Store, including optional Fonts, Speech Voices, QuickTime components, Quartz Compositions or Safari Extensions (which currently languish in a Dashboard-style web downloads web app). With the update plumbing of the App Store already present, it makes sense for Apple to use it for everything, although app specific items (like Safari's Extensions) might make more sense to integrate as In-App purchases (even if they're free).



In the future, it might also make sense for Apple to merge other purchases from iTunes into the Mac App Store as well, undoing the link between playing and managing media in iTunes and the Store for buying music, videos, TV shows and movies, as well as for downloading Podcasts and iTunes U content. This would mirror the breakdown in iOS between the store (called iTunes) and the Music and Videos apps used for playback.



It would also be great to see Apple add the iBookstore, but as with Safari Extensions, it might make more sense to do this as an In-App market within a future iBooks 2.0 Mac app, if that ever arrives as an alternative to the iPad for reading and using textbooks and other dynamic iBook 2.0 titles.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • digitalclipsdigitalclips Posts: 15,202member
    All nice. I'm surprised no one has covered the dramatic changes to Preview in Mountain Lion yet.
  • mysticalosmysticalos Posts: 25member
    Only thing i'm hoping for is if i'm stuck using app store, please remember the last tab used. It annoys me that any time i fire it up, i have to be thrown a featured apps page. I'm not on fastest connection in world nor do i care about that stuff. I simply use it to update apps and nothing more. If and when i want to get new apps, THEN i will click that tab.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I'd been hoping that Apple would roll the Software Update app into the App Store updater. It does have an issue on my system though, none of the buttons for my Mac updates are working even though they list the updates are available.



    As for Dashboard Widgets I like the Launchpad-like update to Widgets but they seem to have all but killed their interest in Dashboard since Leopard. With iCloud Dashboard Widgets stopped being backed up.
  • SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 24,248member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    I'd been hoping that Aplle would roll Software Updater into the App Store updater. It does have an issue on my system trough. None of the buttons for my Mac updates are working even though they at the updates are available.



    As for Dashboard Widgets I like the Launchpad-like update to Widgets but they seem to have all but killed their interest in Dashboard since Leopard. With iCloud Dashboard Widgets stopped being backed up.



    Good grief... I'm not going to even think of updating for another year. Lion sounds terrible.
  • slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,469member
    Good change. I wondered why they didn't do this in Lion. Much more elegant.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Good grief... I'm not going to even think of updating for another year. Lion sounds terrible.



    This is ML so if you don't like the changes Lion is still what it is now and I don't foresee that changing.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    Good change. I wondered why they didn't do this in Lion. Much more elegant.



    My biggest complaint about ML is that all the noticeable changes are things I had hoped for with Lion.
  • martinmimartinmi Posts: 5member
    Once "Software Update" is merged into the Mac App Store, I (and millions of others) will face a major problem.



    I have many Apple Programs that I purchased (with Serial #'s [and some without]) (example: iWork (Pages, Numbers, & Keynote), Aperture,etc... which were purchased before the Mac App Store was released. All of those programs are now in the store, however, they all have a price next to them and do not show as "installed" (since I didn't buy them in the Mac App Store.)



    How can we update them once "Software Update" is gone. The Mac AppStore doesn't know we bought them legally.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,984member
    Every update.



    Every update since 10.4.5, I have complained to Apple about Dashboard.



    Every single time a point release comes out, I install it and test the Dashboard's weather widget.



    Every single time, from 10.4.5 to 10.8 Developer Preview 1, it has remained broken.



    I drag my widgets where I want them to be. Exactly where I want them to be. And then the next time Dashboard reloads, they move. They always move. They always move down. It's always down. NONE of the other widgets that come preloaded or which I have ever installed have done this. They stay right where I leave them. Weather always moves. Always moves.



    They don't care about Dashboard at all.







    Oh, and on an unrelated note, when the iTunes Store gets the rumored 'big changes', don't be surprised at all if the Mac App Store stays exactly the same way it is now: no subcategories, confusing layout, etc.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Every update.



    Every update since 10.4.5, I have complained to Apple about Dashboard.



    Every single time a point release comes out, I install it and test the Dashboard's weather widget.



    Every single time, from 10.4.5 to 10.8 Developer Preview 1, it has remained broken.



    I drag my widgets where I want them to be. Exactly where I want them to be. And then the next time Dashboard reloads, they move. They always move. They always move down. It's always down. NONE of the other widgets that come preloaded or which I have ever installed have done this. They stay right where I leave them. Weather always moves. Always moves.



    They don't care about Dashboard at all.



    ?



    Oh, and on an unrelated note, when the iTunes Store gets the rumored 'big changes', don't be surprised at all if the Mac App Store stays exactly the same way it is now: no subcategories, confusing layout, etc.



    I sometimes encounter a widget that has shifted its location but your issue sounds like it may also be a PLIST file that is not getting the updated screen location coordinates.
  • bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    I think Dashboard is going to go away or merge with Launchpad in some way.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,984member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    I sometimes encounter a widget that has shifted its location but your issue sounds like it may also be a PLIST file that is not getting the updated screen location coordinates.



    Would this plist file somehow keep breaking every time I do a clean install? Because I've done clean installs once for Snow Leopard and twice for Lion. I did Leopard to Snow Leopard and Lion to Mountain Lion as upgrades.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    I think Dashboard is going to go away or merge with Launchpad in some way.



    I don't think so. Launchpad is an app for launching apps and Dashboard is a place you can see your Widgets displayed. Dashboard is much more like a UI within a UI. I can't see how they can be melded.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Would this plist file somehow keep breaking every time I do a clean install? Because I've done clean installs once for Snow Leopard and twice for Lion. I did Leopard to Snow Leopard and Lion to Mountain Lion as upgrades.



    A ne PLIST file could break which could mean an issue with the Widget itself or Dashboard but an OS issue where it's the PLIST that is the actual problem, no. However, if you do any backup or import to regain your widgets that could be the issue. Have you tried to start from scratch with individual Widget settings?
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,984member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    A ne PLIST file could break which could mean an issue with the Widget itself or Dashboard but an OS issue where it's the PLIST that is the actual problem, no. However, if you do any backup or import to regain your widgets that could be the issue. Have you tried to start from scratch with individual Widget settings?



    Yep, whenever I clean install, I set everything up manually. It just keeps happening. And across all of my computers, too.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Yep, whenever I clean install, I set everything up manually. It just keeps happening. And across all of my computers, too.



    Interesting. What Widgets do you have running? I have (from left to right, top to bottom) Flight Tracker, Unit Converter, Stocks (2x), Delivery Status, Weather (3x). I do keep the bottom portion of the scree unused because the eyes don't naturally go there and when adding more widgets was moved up more than before, which isn't an issue with ML.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,984member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Interesting. What Widgets do you have running? I have (from left to right, top to bottom) Flight Tracker, Unit Converter, Stocks (2x), Delivery Status, Weather (3x). I do keep the bottom portion of the scree unused because the eyes don't naturally go there and when adding more widgets was moved up more than before, which isn't an issue with ML.



    Weather (5x), Stocks, a clock set to Dublin, a metric clock, a beat clock (broken, apparently, in Mountain Lion), a modified iMST3K, iStat Menu (also broken in Mountain Lion), and a few others that are also broken.



    I'd love to add more, but Apple's Dashboard page hasn't been redesigned since 10.4.0 came out and it's basically unusable at this point. There's not even a search.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    I'd love to add more, but Apple's Dashboard page hasn't been redesigned since 10.4.0 came out and it's basically unusable at this point. There's not even a search.



    As the recent AI shows there is some effort to redesign it. So far not enough but it's more attention than FrontRow got.



    As for searching for a widget at http://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/ the search is either in the upper right corner (same for for all of apple.com) or using the category search which is much like Column View in iTunes. However, it's easier to use Google search for that as the best widgets do get reviewed.
  • cutykamucutykamu Posts: 211member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Every update.



    Every update since 10.4.5, I have complained to Apple about Dashboard.



    Every single time a point release comes out, I install it and test the Dashboard's weather widget.



    Every single time, from 10.4.5 to 10.8 Developer Preview 1, it has remained broken.



    I drag my widgets where I want them to be. Exactly where I want them to be. And then the next time Dashboard reloads, they move. They always move. They always move down. It's always down. NONE of the other widgets that come preloaded or which I have ever installed have done this. They stay right where I leave them. Weather always moves. Always moves.



    They don't care about Dashboard at all.







    Oh, and on an unrelated note, when the iTunes Store gets the rumored 'big changes', don't be surprised at all if the Mac App Store stays exactly the same way it is now: no subcategories, confusing layout, etc.



    i've the exact same problem for weather widget… everytime i update my mac i always check it but it is still not fixed… hope it will be fixed in the mountain lion official relase.
  • zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 1,849member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cutykamu View Post


    i've the exact same problem for weather widget? everytime i update my mac i always check it but it is still not fixed? hope it will be fixed in the mountain lion official relase.



    I'm on 10.6.8 and my weather widget has always worked fine.
  • cutykamucutykamu Posts: 211member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post


    I'm on 10.6.8 and my weather widget has always worked fine.



    i've seen this problem of weather widget since 10.5 and it has never been fixed, i have done clean install and everything same as stated by TS above but no result. it doesn't bother me so much as i don't check the weather all the time but still i would want them to fix it.
  • ljocampoljocampo Posts: 657member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Every update.



    Every update since 10.4.5, I have complained to Apple about Dashboard.



    Every single time a point release comes out, I install it and test the Dashboard's weather widget.



    Every single time, from 10.4.5 to 10.8 Developer Preview 1, it has remained broken.



    I drag my widgets where I want them to be. Exactly where I want them to be. And then the next time Dashboard reloads, they move. They always move. They always move down. It's always down. NONE of the other widgets that come preloaded or which I have ever installed have done this. They stay right where I leave them. Weather always moves. Always moves.



    They don't care about Dashboard at all.



    ?



    Oh, and on an unrelated note, when the iTunes Store gets the rumored 'big changes', don't be surprised at all if the Mac App Store stays exactly the same way it is now: no subcategories, confusing layout, etc.



    I'm not sure I'm following you. My dashboard widgets (weather, converter, clock, etc.) never move from where I put them, unless I do a clean install, then everything has to be setup again which is as I would expect.
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