The company cited a number of factors that contributed to this decision, including strict limitations placed on apps sold through the digital storefront—the same reason Panic gave for Coda’s removal.
So as not to leave its customers hanging without the ability to update, Sketch will allow App Store customers to move to the direct-sale version of the app.
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Sketch owners who want to continue receiving updates will need to download a copy of the app from the company’s website and use a new built-in tool to transition their App Store license to the new version of the software. A new license number will be emailed to the user to allow them to run the app on any other computers they want.
While some iCloud features are reserved solely for App Store apps, iCloud documents for Sketch are stored in iCloud Drive, so they’re accessible to any Mac app, including the direct-sale version.
This move probably won’t come as a big shock to many people, given how little Apple appears to value the Mac App Store over the mobile version. Many problems have plagued the store, most recently a certificate bug that completely broke many apps for some users.
Another issue highlighted by Sketch as having affected their final decision is the review process employed in both of Apple’s software distribution outlets. App review can last up to a week (or longer in some cases) before a piece of software becomes available to download. This greatly hampers developers’ ability to push out rapid bug fixes and leads to a slow pace of development from the users’ perspective.
While some developers will always have concerns about sandboxing or other potentially limiting safety features, it’s not likely Apple will make changes in that area to accommodate app makers at the expense of security.
Where Apple can make changes, it just doesn’t seem interested in doing so. Developers have waited since iOS 9 was announced at WWDC this year for App Bundles to arrive on the Mac App Store, but Apple has made no indication that this feature will ever arrive.
Other features, like paid upgrades or temporary demo versions, have been called for on both Mac and iOS, but so far Apple hasn’t obliged, leaving developers to get creative with their upgrade pricing schemes instead.
While iOS developers don’t have a choice in how they distribute their apps, Mac developers do, and it’s not surprising to see more and more of them taking the route that allows them to skip paying Cupertino’s 30% cut while simultaneously gaining the ability to charge for upgrades, offer app trials, and operate outside the sandbox while pushing updates as often as they want with no week-long review process. Don’t expect Sketch to be the last app to do so.