Although the Mac has its own App Store, it is not quite as popular as the iOS App Store where Mac users can install apps from third-party sources. And while some developers trust their apps in the App Store, Apple’s platform allows them in some ways. This time, Kaleidoscope app developers wrote a letter complaining about App Store bundles and lack of paid app upgrades.
For those unfamiliar, Kaleidoscope is a popular macOS application that provides advanced tools for comparing folders and files. The app was recently acquired by Letter Opener, which has committed to releasing a major update to Kaleidoscope to make the app more modern and better.
In October last year, Kaleidoscope 3 was released with a new interface, dark mode, native support for M1 Mac devices, and more. The team decided to charge for the upgrade due to efforts to keep the app up to date. Dealing with this process through the company’s website was easy, but the App Store version of Kaleidoscope made things difficult for developers.
The “pitfalls” of the App Store
One big problem is that the App Store has never supported upgrades for paid apps, which is a common occurrence when a program gets a brand new version. Although the developer can release the update as a new app, everyone who owns the old version must purchase the new version at full price, as there is no way to set a discounted price for existing users.
As noted by Kaleidoscope developers, app bundles seemed to be a “potential solution” to this problem. With this feature, introduced in 2014, developers can offer bundles of two or more apps on the App Store at a discounted price. And if you already have one of the apps included in the bundle, the price will be lower.
Unfortunately, Letter Opener realized that app bundles had more disadvantages than advantages, but it was too late. For example, if a user changes the country of their Apple ID, the bundle price discount will not work. At the same time, developers have “very limited pricing options” when creating an App Store bundle, so they can’t choose exactly how much they want to charge their customers.
but that is not all. The price of the upgrade is not the same for everyone, as it depends on how much the customer has paid for one application in the past. If the app was purchased during a special offer, the upgrade package will cost more. Apple is also requiring that all apps in the bundle be available for sale separately on the App Store, so they don’t stop selling Kaleidoscope 2 to new users.
Is there any solution?
it’s not available right now. Apple now allows developers to unlist an app, which hides it from the App Store unless you have a direct link to it. However, the package still says it comes with two apps, despite only showing one of them to the user – which makes things even more confusing.
The team at Letter Opener sent several reports to Apple requesting improvements in this aspect, but Apple did not provide any details other than requesting more information from developers.
Situations like this explain why there are many developers who simply ignore the Mac App Store, because it turns app distribution into a nightmare. In the past, many developers have complained about how Apple prioritizes subscriptions and forgot that there are still many apps available for one-time purchase.
As long as the Mac App Store doesn’t allow developers to charge for app upgrades or do something as simple as offering a non-subscription-related trial period, it’s unlikely to become a suitable platform for Mac developer users.
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