Tech News Around Town

MacUpdate Smartens “App Discovery”

Your Mac computer doesn’t have to just be a $2,000 Facebook machine. When you first buy a Mac, it comes with limited capability. In order to expand the use of it, you need to get Mac apps.

But that isn’t as easy as it may sound. That’s why Joel Mueller and his team at MacUpdate, a software (application) download site, have spent the last year addressing what he described as “two big problems in the Mac app arena”: app discovery, and the subsequent process of downloading and installing.

Mueller, who started MacUpdate when he was a high school student at Suttons Bay and now runs it from Traverse City, has grown the business into the top Mac-only software directory on the web as well as a leading destination for daily Mac software deals and bundles.

But Mueller said the process of “discovering” apps is something no services have done well. Think of it this way, he said: What if Amazon knew what products were in your home? If so, then it would be able to show customers things that were more relevant and interesting. On the internet, he explained, MacUpdate is working on a way to make content more easily accessible and relevant to users.

MacUpdate will soon be launching a redesigned website that is more user-friendly, visually attractive and intuitive. The company has also created behind the scenes tools that “crowdsource” app suggestions for its website visitors.

“Nobody is doing this,” said Mueller. “Nobody is crowdsourcing it from the user database.”

Also, through its improved MacUpdate Desktop engine, it can determine what type of apps a user already has – and regularly uses – and which ones may be a better fit for them, Mueller explained.

Beyond the app discovery, MacUpdate has tackled the cumbersome process of application downloads and installations on the Mac – by ripping a page from the one-click and done experience of iPhone users.

Mueller said he recently conducted a presentation to a group of business leaders locally who couldn’t figure out how to completely install Mac apps – validating that it’s “a terribly confusing experience” for most.


City Mac Tackles More B2 Services

Apple specialist City Mac in Traverse City is focusing more energy on the business to business (B2B) front with Mac integration into businesses, managed services and a cloud-based solution for back-up, said co-owner Jeff Broderick.

“We’re definitely on the bandwagon” of Mac conversions and integration into the PC environment, Broderick said.

Especially with iPhones and iPads dominating the mobile device industry, Macs and PCs are no longer two separate camps. There are also things Macs just do better, such as graphic design and video editing tasks.

City Mac has also just launched its newest service – Going Digital. Using the database application FileMaker Pro, it can take a company’s Excel-based data – including customer info, reports, asset tracking and project organization – and convert it to an interactive, searchable, printable customized application.

Broderick said the company is particularly targeting customization for local small businesses with this service. Going Digital solutions can be run on a Windows PC, a Mac, as well as on an iPad, iPhone or iPod.

While managed services are common in the PC world, City Mac is also going to start such services for retail and other businesses. It will offer a “monitoring agent” that will notify City Mac if it finds a RAM error or the hard drive is failing and City Mac can then contact the customer and provide remote support. Customers don’t have to worry about any data breaches as there is no access to its data.

Finally, City Mac has partnered with Backblaze – a cloud-based back-up solution founded by former Apple employees. While there are a number of cloud-based storage/back-up solutions available (including iCloud, DropBox, Amazon Cloud Drive), they are not an automated back-up whenever the user is online. It also offers an iPhone app that gives access to the remote backup and can also restore files remotely. (Note: It does also work on a Windows PC.)