The Mac is no iPhone. That's the message Apple is giving developers in telling them it won't offer trial versions of software in the Mac App Store set to launch in January.
While such software is common in the App Store for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, it will be a no-no in the Mac store. Demo software and beta releases are also not welcome.
Rather than use the Mac store for a testing ground, Apple suggests on its developer website that software makers use their own turf. "Your website is the best place to provide demos, trial versions or betas of your software for customers to explore," the company says. "The apps you submit to be reviewed for the Mac App Store should be fully functional, retail versions of your apps."
Apple's insistence on offering only the real deal on the new online store is surprising, given how trial versions of applications in the App Store for the three iOS devices have lured people into giving developers' wares a test drive before buying the full-feature version. For example, the Angry Birds game, which tops the paid apps chart, is also available in a "lite" version for free.
Developers have had a wary eye on Apple since it announced plans for the Mac App Store in October. Modeled after the current iTunes App Store, the upcoming store will operate through a Mac OS X application that will come with new Macs and distributed over the Internet as an update to current Mac users. Apple will take 30% of app revenue and developers keep the rest.
Developers have complained before about the restrictions listed in the Mac App Store Guidelines. Some have said that the restrictions will leave out in the cold a lot of useful applications. Others wonder if Apple is creating a kind of exclusive club in which software not offered in the store are considered less worthy of use.
The latest rules are unlikely to make entry into the App Store club any easier. Besides the no unfinished apps rule, Apple also warned developers late Thursday not to write applications that store data in anyplace other than what the company requires. "This avoids users being confused when applications store data in unexpected areas of the file system, e.g. storing databases in the users Documents folder or storing files in the user's Library folder that are not recognizably associated with your application," Apple says.