Yesterday Brent Simmons wrote The App Store Doesn’t Make Apps Safe. Brent is a very well-known and talented Mac and iOS developer, author of excellent RSS reader NetNewsWire. I agree with his argument, Apple could allow iOS users to download apps from the web without compromising security. However, security is not the only concern here.

Update management is the biggest concern for me. I love how the App Store manages updates in a single place. Apps generally do not nag you to update, you can see all release notes and update quickly. You can manage auto-updating with a single switch. There are other pro-App Store arguments like, App Thinning, license management, Restoring Purchased Products, Family Sharing1, App Store reviews, and lack of third-party payments.

Mac is an excellent example of a system which allows apps from both places. I don’t like this duality. I am not comfortable making decisions about where to buy an app. The problem is that half of the apps available on the Mac App Store and another half, usually the most popular apps, on the web. In the event Apple allowing web installs, there will be an exodus of biblical proportions with the biggest apps leaving first to have more control, custom analytics, release automation, and to avoid App Store reviews. If we allow apps from the web now, it would be hard to go back.

  1. Many, if not all, Mac apps only allow you to use one license per person. This is not enforced in any way, but it feels wrong sharing your license with family members.