Articles index

Mac App Store Bundles

November 1, 2018

By Jeff Johnson

On October 16, Apple announced that developers could start offering app bundles in the Mac App Store. App bundles have already been available in the iOS App Store for 4 years. After a relatively long road (not 4 years, but 2 weeks), my own StopTheMadness Underpass Bundle is finally available now in the Mac App Store on macOS 10.14 Mojave. This bundle includes my two Mac App Store apps StopTheMadness and Underpass at a discounted price. Moreover, if you've already purchased one of these apps, you can use Complete My Bundle to purchase the other app and still take advantage of the bundle price. Also, Underpass for iOS is available for free in the iOS App Store, so you can get all three of these apps for very little money! Hopefully I can make it up in volume…

It appears that Mac app bundles are only available in the new Mojave Mac App Store. If you try to open any Mac app bundle link on High Sierra and earlier, App Store app shows an empty page with the message "Cannot Connect to the App Store". Which is false, of course. This is a very poor experience for Mac users. It's also problematic for developers to advertise their bundles, because the links will fail for customers not yet on Mojave. Apple could do much better here. Many Mac users have not yet installed Mojave, and it's a shame to completely ignore them. (Strangely, the compatibility of my bundle is listed as "OS X 10.6.6 or later" even though both apps require macOS 10.12 or later.)

Another caveat for developers: Publishing a Mac app bundle was extremely difficult for me. This is in stark contrast to publishing the Mac apps themselves. My experience with Mac App Store publishing over the past two years was generally very good. My Mac apps are almost always approved within 24 hours after submission, and they almost always appear in the Mac App Store within 24 hours after release. I submitted my Mac app bundle on October 16, the day Apple announced bundles. It went into review the next day. However, the bundle sat in review until the evening of October 23, when it was rejected for metadata. App Store review didn't like the name of the bundle "Please Pass The Madness Pack", which was based on the idea "PassTheMadness, please" suggested by a friend. I thought this was clever and amusing, but apparently App Store review has no sense of humor or whimsy. So I changed names to the boring "StopTheMadness Underpass Bundle" and re-submitted within a couple hours. The next day, bundles went live in the Mac App Store, but mine was still waiting for review, so I requested an expedited review. Three days later I received an email denying my request for an expedited review. The day after that, though, on the evening of October 28, my bundle went into review again, and it was approved within 10 minutes. Despite being approved, the bundle did not appear in the Mac App Store the next day. Or the next day. So I emailed Apple Developer Program Support. They replied yesterday evening with an unhelpful canned response. I replied to that, and although they didn't (yet) reply back, soon thereafter my bundle finally appeared in the Mac App Store, 72 hours after approval. The whole experience was very bizarre and frustrating, because the apps are already approved and available in the Mac App Store, and a bundle simply offers a price discount on those apps, so I don't know why it's so difficult to publish a bundle.

Anyway, winter is coming, and it's time to bundle up!

Addendum

Someone from Apple called this morning to tell me that they fixed the issue. They said another developer was having the same issue too.

Addendum 2 (November 5)

Fellow Mac developer Vlad Badea told me about a problem he experienced trying to create a Mac app bundle in App Store Connect. The option "New macOS Bundle" did not appear in the list for him. Vlad eventually discovered that this is a bug in App Store Connect tied to the existence of an iOS app. If you have only Mac apps and never created an iOS app, then you're not able to create a Mac bundle for some reason. After Vlad created an iOS app, the "New macOS Bundle" option suddenly started to appear in the list. I did not experience this problem myself, because I already have Underpass for iOS. So if you're not able to create a Mac app bundle, this might why.

Articles index