One of the major announcements to come out of Apple’s event on Wednesday was that they would be incorporating an App Store into OS X, similar to the store available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users. In many ways, this is a good thing for a majority of users, as it removes some of the hassle of buying, installing, and updating software, but it could be very bad news for poker players.
As iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users know, there is currently no way to play poker for real money on any of these devices. A few workarounds have been attempted, and some web-only options are being tested, but those hoping for an actual PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker app for their devices have been disappointed. The problem is that all apps in the App Store must be approved by Apple directly, and their guidelines prohibit gambling apps, leaving major poker and casino sites no option for a legitimate app.
The new App Store for OS X will be a bit different, however. While mobile devices rely on the App Store as their only method for installing apps, OS X will still support installing applications manually, just as it always had. So what is the problem? Many pundits and analysts have questioned whether the App Store is the beginning of a shift for Apple that will eventually result in the OS X App Store being the only approved way of installing new apps. If this is the case, any Mac applications will have to be approved by Apple directly, and the guidelines against gambling apps will prohibit poker sites from developing apps for Macs just as they currently do for mobile devices.
How likely is this to happen? At the moment, it seems very unlikely, and poker players probably won’t have anything to worry about in the near future, but Apple has a history of controlling the user experience in any way they can, and it is not inconceivable that they would eventually tighten control of the OS X experience in the same way that they currently have for mobile devices.
In the meantime, Mac users should continue to enjoy the numerous poker sites that welcome Mac owners, and keep an eye on the development of the OS X App Store to ensure that it doesn’t cut us off from our favorite past time.