The idea of an App Store for the Mac is nothing new but finally, one company is transitioning the idea from a website to an actual application. Bodega, inspired by the Spanish word for “small convenience store,” is a freeware app that does just what we want: It acts as a storefront to lots of great applications for the Mac.
The storefront itself is organized much like a store, with applications represented by their icons residing on “shelves.” This is a bit of an adjustment, as immediately my instinct is to prefer something organized more like iTunes with a more minimal UI and a greater focus within each category of which apps are popular. In the interest of fairness to developers though, perhaps Bodega’s approach isn’t a bad one.
Applications are, as one would expect, grouped by different categories (audio, entertainment, etc.). At the moment, these categories are a bit sparse and slow loading, but since Bodega hasn’t reached 1.0 status yet, I’m betting that they are still working hard on performance improvements.
Similar to the App Store, each application links to a page where more details and screenshots are provided. Users can download demo versions from within the app, or buy the full version without leaving Bodega. All transactions occur through the actual developer’s website, which is just wrapped inside of the Bodega interface. It doesn’t appear that Bodega works out a percentage of profits like Apple does on the App Store, but instead Bodega allows for advertising and featured spots.
Users are free to post reviews of the application, and similar to the App Store, users must have the particular application installed on their Mac before being able to review it.
Bodega also features a universal software update mechanism, allowing apps that are available through Bodega to be updated in one central place. Missing from Apple’s own Software Update feature, this is a really useful tool and as more applications become available through Bodega, this will become even more practical.
Another useful feature of the application is that any apps purchased through Bodega can store their licensing information inside, preventing users from needing to keep up with PDF receipts or scraps of paper with serial numbers scrawled on them.
At the moment, most of the applications on Bodega are independent and smaller developers. Larger companies like EA Games, Adobe & Microsoft are missing. It will be interesting to see if any of these companies give attention to Bodega, or if Bodega will have to work to “prove” itself worthwhile first.
Usability is a huge factor that Bodega needs to focus on as it works towards its 1.0 release. The UI itself is nice, but is missing a certain shine that keeps it from being top of the line. Other nitpicks include a more consistent UI (button styles) and better integration with screenshots of applications. With next and previous buttons showing up even if there was only one screenshot, I became confused as to how many images there actually were or if the app was just being slow.
Overall, Bodega is a great application with lots of potential. I really hope to see more developers offer their titles through Bodega. Check out the free download from the Bodega website and let us know what you think.