Tunabelly Software

Developing for the Mac App Store

People have asked me what I do for a living and when I tell them I write apps they immediately think about the iOS App Store. Then I tell them that the apps are for the Mac App Store (MAS), I usually get a bit of a puzzled look. I explain that it's the same type of idea although the apps are for Mac computers.

The next question I usually get is why I don't focus on the iOS App Store. There are a few reasons, and they don't have anything to do with only knowing how to write Mac apps. I have experience with developing and publishing both Mac and iOS apps although I have made a conscious decision to focus on the MAS for now. Why is this?

Well, there are a few reasons, and I'd like to go into the pros and cons that I have discovered in the 4 years I've been working with it.

So here they are:


  1. It's the first place most people go to look for Mac apps. This gives the opportunity for a high exposure with little to no marketing.
  2. It's way less crowded than the iOS App Store. At the time of this writing, there are about 20,000 Mac apps, and over 1,000,000 iOS apps. 50x less is good.
  3. It's very easy to publish updates. You don't need to use Sparkle, or host the updates on a server.
  4. Mac users are ok with paying for good apps. It's not necessary to use a freemium model full of ridiculous in-app purchases to sustain development.


  1. It's Apple's store, so they make the rules (called Review Guidelines) on what is allowed and what isn't. This means that if they decide your app isn't following the rules (and new rules are created all the time) then tough luck on getting any new app updates out, or even getting the first version published.
  2. App Sandboxing. This was a huge problem although with the latest versions of OS X, Apple has done a much better job in creating sandbox compatible ways to do things. Still, this means that certain types of apps will never be allowed on the store.
  3. App update approval time right now is hovering around 1 week. If your update gets rejected for any reason, then you'll have to wait another week to get it reviewed again. Imagine having to wait 2 weeks to get an app update out to your customers. Appreviews.com has a nice graph that shows the trend.
  4. App review is a black box and the exact same app could be approved by Reviewer A and rejected by Reviewer B.
  5. App clones are getting more common. It's not the same as the Flappy Bird craziness on iOS although there seem to be dozens of clones as soon as a new successful app appears.
  6. Apps can't link to any webpages that contain information on purchasing apps outside the store.

Having said all this, it's still a great option for Mac developers for publishing their apps, and almost all of Tunabelly's apps on available on the store. If you're curious to see one of our apps on the store, check out Disk Diet.

Another option is using a service/framework like Paddle to publish outside the store, and in fact our one app that uses it exclusively is TG Pro. However, that's a whole other topic that will be save for another blog post.
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