Not on the Mac App Store

A list of great Mac applications, which are not on the Mac App Store. It's a pity that Mac App Store failed to deliver on promise to connect users and developers in a new delightful way:

The Mac App Store has been around for 6 years, but is still lacking some of the best software the Mac has to offer. You might be wondering why this is. Sandboxing certainly has a lot to answer for, but it's not the only reason. There's also paid upgrades, sustainability, quality of life, and the Mac App Store just generally being half-assed.

Unlimited OneDrive – no more

Microsoft discontinues "unlimited" OneDrive cloud storage for Office 365 subscribers quoting unfair use by some users:

Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average.

Would be interesting to know why they did not enforce fair usage on a user-by-user basis, if this is indeed a reason for the change.

Clicker for Apple Watch

New app by Craig Hockenberry of Iconfactory:

The app is just one big button. Every time you tap your watch face you get a little haptic feedback and the counter goes up. If you force press, you can decrement or reset the counter. There is also a watch complication that lets you see the current count on your watch face. Seriously, it’s that simple.

Exemplary app for a mobile device: does one thing and acts as an extension of the device rather than a thing in and of itself.

Products are not platforms by default

In case you've missed great piece by Ben Thompson written after Apple's presentation.

Apps are the key to success of computing devices and they eventually gain control over the direction of development of the entire ecosystem. And that direction may not be the brightest.

Note carefully the apps that succeed on the iPhone in particular: either the apps are ad-supported (including the social networks that dominate usage) or they are a specific type of game that utilizes in-app purchasing to sell consumables to a relatively small number of digital whales.

Also, great summary of what developers need from the marketplace to make the platform shine with their apps:

  • Ability to charge fair price
  • Ability to generate recurring revenue
  • Ability to interact with users

Must read if you have anything to do with apps.

Automatic download of Windows 10 installation files

Last week some started bashing Microsoft for pre-downloading Windows 10 installation files and thus taking up to as much as 6Gb of precious disk space.

There are two main problems cited:

  • small hard drives

For someone using a 2-in-1 with 32GB of flash memory, that's a hefty chunk of their storage being clogged up with an OS that they might not want yet, if at all.

  • metered Internet connections

"I know of two instances where people on metered connections went over their data cap for August because of this unwanted download."

Microsoft responded with a statement saying that

For individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they’ll need if they decide to upgrade. When the upgrade is ready, the customer will be prompted to install Windows 10 on the device.

With that, let's stop looking for reasons for a rant and consider this from product and engineering perspective. It would not be a huge stretch to say that main driving forces there are:

  • new version is superior to older releases: better UI, improved performance, lots of new features. So, the faster we can get it to more users the better
  • new version it technologically more advanced: better hardware compatibility, improved security, lots of new system infrastructure for the developers to build upon. Again, the more users will have it the lower will be the support cost and the more resources can be allocated for new features

With that discussion now moves to the question of "how?" How to make the upgrade smooth and fast for most of the users.

If one has automatic download of Windows Updates enabled, pre-downloading the installation files does seem such a bad idea. Users already have part of their hard drive used by all the patches and service packs. If they did not turn this of by this time it have not bothered them. Why not save them from waiting for the update to be ready for installation, when they decide to do so?

But what if I have a device with as small as 32Gb disk drive. Well, we all can imagine what a disaster can happen when 15% (6Gb out of 32Gb) of already scarce disk space goes into a black hole. Now, let's put our engineering hat on.

I can imagine myself being a developer on Windows Update team. It would never occur to me that whenever new update becomes available I can go off use up all the available disk space for its files. I could not have foreseen this for the first release. But through all the years of Windows Update development, we, as a team, would have run into situations like this and do something smart about it.

Another thing, is that users of computers with small hard drives would try to do everything to get as much of the disk space for themselves as possible. And turning of automatic download of updates is one of the important steps to do so. Therefore, chances are these devices where not affected by this problem at all.

Same line of thinking goes for data caps on Internet connections. If you have one f those, you likely have automatic download of updates off.

What makes a great headline and a great theoretical discussion is not always a perfect match for reality.

Instagram: Open to Businesses

Thousands of businesses around the world already use Instagram as their shop window, and we’re making it easier for them to do more on the platform, from brand to direct response ads.

It's interesting that companies and products, which started and thrived on mass consumer market, eventually turn to businesses instead of consumers to turn themsleves into businesses.

OpenOffice vs. LibreOffice

Unpleasant, but true conclusion in Christian Schaller's open letter to Apache Foundation and Apache OpenOffice team:

So dear Apache developers, for the sake of open source and free software, please recommend people to go and download LibreOffice, the free office suite that is being actively maintained and developed and which has the best chance of giving them a great experience using free software. OpenOffice is an important part of open source history, but that is also what it is at this point in time.

At rollApp we provide access to both Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Both suites get more or less the same placement on our site and in the app stores, where we make them available. With all that OpenOffice applications are used almost 3 times more often than LibreOffice – that's a huge power of the brand.

In our experience LibreOffice provides greater compatibility with Microsoft Office file format and we use it as a default for opening office files on rollMyFile

PS LibreOffice development is indeed wa-a-ay more active than OpenOffice:

Get Windows 7 Start menu in Windows 10

Apparently, I'm not the only one, who does not exactly like the new Start menu. There is already a tool to get Windows 7 style Start menu back.

As The Verge puts it:

If you're not a fan of Live Tiles then this might be the Start menu you're looking for. It's literally identical to Windows 7, complete with the search interface and all programs view.

Twitter as a messenger

DMs can now be longer than 140 characters:

If you’ve checked your Direct Messages today, you may have noticed that something’s missing: the limitation of 140 characters. You can now chat on (and on) in a single Direct Message, and likely still have some characters left over.

I hope that abysmal DM user experience, when you have to click a button and enter a message in a modal window, will be improved. I will take this as a promise:

We’ll begin rolling out this change today across our Android and iOS apps, on, TweetDeck, and Twitter for Mac.

Will be interesting to see if 3rd-party apps would be updated sooner than Twitter's official clients.