¶ Ruminating on Updates

Just a little late night ruminating on the eve before OS X Mountain Lion hits the App Store.


I’d say my Applications folder is pretty evenly split between App Store apps and non-App Store apps (hereafter referred to as direct apps), once you take away the system apps.

Of the direct apps, I honestly haven’t seen as many as I thought I would gain Mountain Lion and/or Gatekeeper support. Gatekeeper is Apple’s new security system in Mountain Lion that ensures a developer of a direct app is known by Apple. And, if a direct app does anything nefarious, Apple can shut down that app’s developer ID, stopping the spread of malware cold.

Here’s the thing: Gatekeeper is on by default. And if developers have not updated for Gatekeeper yet, users will either have to exempt each non-Gatekeeper app one by one, or disable Gatekeeper entirely, rendering this new layer of security moot.

That isn’t good.

If users disable Gatekeeper, they will likely never reenable it. I guess they compute at their own risk, huh?

The far greater risk, however, is users becoming used to allowing any direct app that asks to circumvent Gatekeeper to do so. If they develop a Pavlovian response to clicking Allow every time an app wants through the Gate, they will have a false sense of security if a malicious app does someday surface. The trained response should be to say no to such prompts.


Another thing that has been bugging me is Apple’s lack of showing off any truly significant updates to iWork — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. We know iWork will be gaining iCloud’s Documents in the Cloud feature with Mountain Lion, so the apps will need to be updated in some fashion.

My concern is whether this will just be yet another bolt-on update to the current versions of iWork — which have been around since January 2009 — or whether iWork will truly get a proper update for 2012.

Furthermore, Apple only allows App Store apps to take advantage of Documents in the Cloud. Like I said, iWork has been around since 2009, well before the App Store existed on the Mac. My copy of iWork came on a DVD.

Now, Apple certainly has the right and the ability to give the non-App Store versions of iWork access to iCloud, much like my non-App Store version of Aperture can use Photo Stream. But I can’t help but feel like iWork has been deprived of a significant rethink for too long. I’d like to see iWork 2012 (or 2013, or just plain iWork) in the App Store tomorrow.

Transitions are always awkward. The transition to Gatekeeper will take some time. I just thought more developers would have been ready for it.

I’d also like to see Apple start wrapping up the transition from the apps that were sold on physical media to App Store versions by putting iWork ‘09 to rest, and giving the trio of apps a much needed update in this era of refinement.