Publishing Updates to Software in the Mac App Store

Submitted by mathew on Thu, 02/10/2014 - 16:29

(EDIT: Jan 2015) Easy Books for Mac has now been updated in the Mac App Store. Latest stats show 90% of Macs running Easy Books for the first time in the previous week are running OS X Yosemite. This makes this post somewhat obsolete.

Easy Books for Mac is published as two editions, one is available from this web site (easybooksapp.com) and the other is available from Apple's Mac App Store. Both are essentially the same and have the same features. Both accept payment in-app and can restore previous purchases to another Mac in much the same way. Both are updated, the web site edition checking for new updates on launch, the Mac App Store edition as part of Apple's central software update process.

I've recently run into a problem which I've already seen a good solution to over on the (iOS) App Store. When Apple release a major update to the OS my normal approach is to require this OS as a new minimum. There are a few reasons for this. The main reason is that it leads to fewer coding mistakes. Trying to adopt new features that are only available in the newest OS while continuing to support older OS versions can lead to messy code, which is often harder to work on, maintain and can lead to a lot of problems.

The downside is that users who are running an older version of the OS cannot run the new version of the app. So requiring the newest OS cuts off many potential new customers, at least initially. Gradually people update their devices and as Apple tend to point out, adoption of the new OS is something that happens quite quickly with a high proportion of owners updating their devices.

What about users with an older OS?

My previous testing on iOS revealed that users searching for Easy Books and running an older OS were simply given a message telling them a newer version of Easy Books was available, and asking them to confirm they wanted to download the latest available version for their OS.

This is great for developers who want to update their apps to the latest OS while continuing to offer an older version to potential customers running an older one. Developers can manage the list of versions available to download in iTunes Connect (under "Pricing" > "Manage iCloud download settings for this app").

So it's the same on the Mac, right?

Unfortunately it's not.

As I write this, Apple have just started accepting submissions for Mac Apps that run on OS X 10.10 "Yosemite". I was about to upload the build for Yosemite when I thought I might just check the situation was the same for apps on the Mac App Store. I had previously assumed things worked the same way, so users running "Mountain Lion" would be offered the latest available version from the store (which was v3.1.12). This doesn't seem to be the case though, and users are instead presented with the message "Easy Books can't be installed on "Macintosh HD" because OS X version 10.9 or later is required".

So now I have a problem I wasn't expecting. The new version of Easy Books for Mac has some great new features that I think really improve it and make it much more of a pleasure to use. But I can't update the app on the Mac App Store without cutting off users running OS X Mavericks.

The web site edition works differently. When users first download and run the app, it detects the OS it is running on first, then find the most appropriate version to download. The downloader app is then no longer needed and is deleted. So users who download Easy Books from the web site will find they can already run the latest version of the app on Yosemite while users running Mavericks, Mountain Lion and Lion are still able to download the app and receive updates.

Shouldn't the Mac App Store do this too?

I've raised this issue with Apple and I've heard back from them. This is indeed the intended behaviour of the Mac App Store. Why the difference, I don't know.

So unless adoption of Yosemite reaches a high enough figure it seems stupid to update the app because this would jeopardise future sales. So I'm leaving the Mac App Store edition as it is (at version 3.5).

But I'm running Yosemite, will I get the update?

If you've downloaded the web site edition of Easy Books you can update to version 4 right now. Just open Easy Books and wait for it to check for updates. Lots of work went into developing this version, and there are some great new features.

If you downloaded Easy Books from the Mac App Store you can still get the new version but it involves slightly more work:

  1. First, use the app to make a backup of your data (just in case).
  2. Click "Already purchased?" on the Add-ons screen (if present). This ensures all your add-ons are made available to the new version. If all add-ons are shown as "Installed" you can skip this step.
  3. Download the app from the button below.
  4. Delete Easy Books from your Applications folder, but don't use any cleanup programs such as Clean My Mac. Doing so will prevent you from restoring purchases in the future.
  5. Move the downloaded copy of the app into your Applications folder.
  6. Open it and it will download the latest version.
  7. If you have purchased any add-ons in the Mac App Store edition you will probably want to restore your purchases to a new Mac in the future. We've made it as easy as we can for you to do this. Restoring purchases in the web site edition is easy, you just use your order number and email address. If you don't already have one of our order numbers the app will offer you a free order number for purchases you've already made on that machine. Watch out for the message

"It looks like you've purchased some add-ons using the Mac App Store edition of the app. If you'd like to continue using this Web Site Edition (direct download) you should create a new order reference number. Keep it safe so you can restore your add-ons to a new machine in the future."

Our order numbers start EB (for example EB13120Y-3558-81122). Keep your order number safe, this is what you'll use in the future when you need to install Easy Books on a new Mac.

We really hope you enjoy using Easy Books!

Download Easy Books for macOS