Some Mac applications wouldn’t open for users this week, and developers who publish software on Apple’s Mac App Store were upset about the issue, which they saw as yet another sign that Apple does not prioritise the platform.
Developer Michael Tsai collected some of the complaints:
“We’re paying 30% for the privilege of explaining to Apple’s App Store customers why their purchased apps don’t work.”
“On 2 different machines, I had to delete the apps entirely and re-download them from [Mac App Store] in order to get them to work. Quality.”
“Some of my Mac apps won’t open today. I know why, and I know a re-install fixes it…but…sigh. Mac App Store: It Just Works*”
The uproar caught the attention of Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, and the head of developer relations for Apple’s App Stores:
The issue was related to an expired digital certificate, or code that allows apps to check-in with Apple’s servers to confirm the app has been officially paid for and is unaltered before starting up.
As Schiller points out with the link he provided, Apple has been warning developers for months that its existing certificate was scheduled to expire on Sunday, February 14. Although Apple said that “currently deployed apps… will continue to run as expected,” new updates and apps must use Apple’s updated certificate.
However, some users have complained that Apple’s suggested fixes — a reboot, or upgrading to the most recent version of OS X — don’t necessarily fix the problem when an app won’t boot up due to a certificate issue.
For users, the best workaround is to reinstall any Mac Store App that won’t start.
Other developers pointed out that while it might be Apple’s issue that causes the apps to fail to boot, users will likely blame the app developers, and most developers don’t have a way to directly contact their Mac App Store customers. The ability to reply to comments on the App Store is a highly requested feature from app developers, and something that’s been available for a while over at the Google Play app store.
The commotion is similar to an event from last fall, where Apple failed to renew a Mac App Store digital certificate, although Apple did not warn developers in advance. In December, Schiller was placed in charge of the Mac App Store.
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