The HackStore is a viable alternative to the Mac App Store [sponsored]

By , Sep 26, 2012

Back in April, a handful of developers launched the HackStore, an alternative to the Mac App Store. Similar to Cydia for iOS, the HackStore hosts third-party Mac applications that for one reason or another didn’t make it past Apple’s approval process.

In our first take, we noted that while the Store looked good, it needed some work. It was a bit buggy, and only contained around 50 apps. But after nearly 6 months and a number of updates, we figured it was time to give the HackStore another run-through…

Design

When trying out a new application, there are two major things I look at: design and functionality. Design is the first thing you see when you load up an app, so it’s very important. If your app looks terrible, I’m probably going to delete it right away.

In the HackStore’s case, the overall design is great. It’s clean, sharp, and as you can see, it looks almost exactly like the official Mac App Store. This makes it extremely easy to navigate, with links to “New,” “Featured” and “Categorized” apps accessible from any screen.

But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, as there are certainly opportunities for improvement. For instance, I’ve noticed a few grammatical errors throughout the Store, such as the section labeled “Editor’s choise.” And the UI is definitely lacking the polish that you see in higher-quality apps. These are minor details, sure, but they do take away from the Store’s credibility.

Functionality

While design is the first thing you see when you open up an application, its functionality is the most crucial. A pretty UI might convince you to try an app, but if it doesn’t work correctly, you’ll still end up deleting it.

For what it is, the HackStore works great. Apps are presented as icons, which, when clicked, will take you to a screen with more information and a download link. I found downloading apps to be both painless and reliable. The software installs directly into your Mac’s Applications folder, which is a nice touch, and I haven’t encountered any issues with broken links.

And updating applications is just as easy. There’s an “Updates” icon at the top of the HackStore that will show you if there are any updates available for your installed apps. I was only able to try this out a couple of times, but again, it worked as advertised.

Unfortunately, the HackStore’s functionality stops all together once you’ve downloaded the 20 or so useful applications — software selection is still a major problem here. Though there seems to be quite a bit more apps available now than there was at launch, I’d wager that there’s still not more than 100 of them, which is extremely low. I said it 6 months ago, and I’m going to have to say it again, I’m just hoping that this number improves over time.

Conclusion

Just like the title says, the HackStore has become a viable alternative to the Mac App Store. It has a clean, familiar UI, and it contains a few really handy applications.

That being said, it still lacks the polish and app content it needs to make it a top contender in the category. Just look at other App Store alternatives, like Bodega, and you’ll see what I mean. The HackStore still has a lot of work ahead of it. But at least, for now anyway, it’s still in the game. It’ll be really interesting to see where it’s at in another six months.

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can download the HackStore by clicking here. Remember, it’s only available for OS X 10.7+ Mac users, and if you’re running Mountain Lion, you’ll have to enable the “Allow applications from anywhere” option for it to work.

If you’re a developer looking to upload your own app to the Store, you can do so by clicking on the HackStore menu in the task bar, and selecting Upload App/Update.

Pros:

  • Overall clean design
  • Familiar user interface and navigation
  • Downloading apps is reliable and simple
  • Easy to perform app updates
  • Offers a handful of useful applications
  • Twitter and Facebook sharing options

Cons:

  • Lacks a certain level of polish
  • Still needs a few UI tweaks
  • Extremely limited app selection
  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • selcukcura

    Just downloaded it and it seems quite cool. In mountain lion however, the swipe back and forth gestures are done the wrong way round, which is quite annoying.

    • selcukcura

      To fix this, you have to go in to the system preferences and untick and retick some of the swipe gestures.

  • quidos

    Too late. I think Apple set Gatekeeper setting by default to install apps only from App Store in future update.

    Besides it’s illegal, i’m developer and make money from apps selling. Without money developers can’t make new apps. So, anyone who steal app now can deprive himself of applications in the future.

    • Kok Hean

      It is not an app used for piracy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/hien.metallium Xellos Metallium

      what the hell are you talking about boy?

    • Falk M.

      Thank you for reading the article /s

    • billypuntove

      Gatekeeper settings can be changed but, more importantly, nothing here is ilegal. It’s an alternative, they are not pirated apps.
      This is not Installous for OS X.

    • http://www.iTechBlog.in/ taran

      Haha…judging buy your intelligence here, i dont think i ll ever buy an app developed by you…:p

    • SimonReidy

      You must have missed the giant “NO PIRACY APPS HERE, FOREVER AND EVER” slogan that is plastered under their logo in a massive font.

      Oh and as a developer you might want to learn that whole “don’t comment on an article without reading it” rule that’s been around since the dawn of the Internet! :)
      .

      • http://twitter.com/HackStoreTeam HackStore Team

        Yeah, the first man here who saw that! :D

  • http://twitter.com/newyorkminute10 NEWYORKMINUTE10

    It sucks

  • ReanimationXP

    With a name like “HackStore”, this thing will never be taken seriously. Even if it’s not Installous, it’s got a more piracy-oriented name than Installous.

    • http://the-david.com/ David Christenson

      “Hack” has developed negative connotations over time, but that’s not really fair. Classic hacking is just giving your devices more functionality. There should really be an entirely separate term for piracy and network penetration.

      • http://twitter.com/HackStoreTeam HackStore Team

        Yeah thats what we mean. Thanks, David! :)

      • ReanimationXP

        If you want to have more than 100ish apps in your store and be taken seriously by average consumers (not us), you’ll look seriously into changing your name.

      • http://twitter.com/HackStoreTeam HackStore Team

        No we like our name an we already have a lot of users of our app :) we adding apps every day, so it will be fast.

      • ReanimationXP

        mmk

      • ReanimationXP

        Obviously that’s what’s meant, but that’s not what the masses will think when they see “hackstore”. In fact, there’s a blog dedicated to IPA cracking that’s named exactly that.

  • http://twitter.com/HackStoreTeam HackStore Team

    In Updates we want to add ability to buy apps and we will add new localizations :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Cannan/100000630162509 Steven Cannan

      Cool! Wish the best of luck to you!

      • http://twitter.com/HackStoreTeam HackStore Team

        Thank you! And we always open for you in our Twitter and Facebook, guys!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Cannan/100000630162509 Steven Cannan

        Is ur twitter hack store team? Gonna use this on hackintosh will that cuz any problems?

      • http://twitter.com/HackStoreTeam HackStore Team

        Yeah it is our Twitter. No :)

    • AK

      Are there games like Counter Strike 1.6 Mac ports?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cameron.troepplmilstead Cameron Eduardo Troeppl-Milste

    Its all about Bodega, been around for some time. http://appbodega.com/

  • http://www.facebook.com/LethoeshatedadedicatedfatherGreen Keith Green

    Cool! A “cydia” for Mac! Lol. I’ll have to try it out.

  • http://twitter.com/HackStoreTeam HackStore Team

    We have less apps then them but we trying to keep quality and functionality + it is all about people choices :)

  • Andrew Weissman

    I like it. It probably won’t replace my use of the Mac App Store, but it is an attractive alternative. I especially like the notifications for apps that are downloading =) it NEEDS more apps though.

    • http://twitter.com/HackStoreTeam HackStore Team

      Thanks! it will be more of them and tons new features in updates :)

  • http://technogadget.tv/ Liam Green

    I’ve been using this app since it came out. The updates have been awesome over time. can’t wait to see how the app progresses over time. Good work guys :)

  • http://twitter.com/Supersegar Shandeep segar

    I should give it a try

  • Jorge

    Hackstore Sucks

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryanjames.christensen Ryan James Christensen

    I haven’t seen anything cool yet but I’m pretty sure there will be soon. I was a little worried when I first downloaded it but it doesn’t seem so bad now that I’ve downloaded something.

  • Francis

    Can the hackstore be downloaded on iPad 2