Apple launched its Mac App Store a few hours early today and we have been downloading apps like crazy here at TUAW. For those who are still waiting to get the hands on the 10.6.6. update, you will be happy to know that the Mac App Store shares the same look and feel as the iTunes App store. It is a stand-alone application whose only apparent tie-in to iTunes is the Apple ID you use to purchase and download apps.
Similar to the App Store on iOS and iTunes, the Mac App Store organizes applications to help you find your favorites and stumble upon new offerings. Currently, the Mac App Store has three app-specific menu bar items including Featured, Top Charts and Categories. The Featured apps section is further broken down into the familiar New and Noteworthy, What's Hot and Staff Favorites. As expected, the Top Charts section lists all the Top Free, Top Paid and Top Grossing apps as well as the top apps per category. The familiar categories section breaks down the apps into 21 broad categories such as Medical, Games, Productivity and more. Selecting an individual category will let you scroll through all the apps in that category or browse through the Top Paid, Top Free and Top Grossing apps for the category.
Rounding out the five menu interface for the Mac App Store are Purchases and Updates. Purchases is a sweet new feature that is not present in the iOS App Store. Clicking on Purchases will list all your recent paid or free download. Each listing includes the name of the application, the date purchased and whether it is installed or not. Unfortunately, pricing information is not included in this list. Finally, the last menu item is Updates. Similar to iOS, this section will keep track of application updates and will presumably let you download and install new versions with a single click.
Overall, the look and feel of the Mac App Store is very re-assuring and familiar for iOS users. It is responsive and installing new apps is drop dead easy; sometimes even too easy. Once you enter in your Apple ID, subsequent clicks on a "Buy" button will automatically complete your transaction.
We only ran into a few minor inconveniences, the most troubling of which is the inability of the Mac App Store to pick up previously installed applications. Apparently, the Mac App Store does not exhaustively scan your computer for apps when it is first installed. Apple applications like iPhoto were picked up but some third-party apps were not. We assume this annoyance will go away once you filter all your app purchases through the Mac App Store. For a closer look at the Mac App Store Interface, check out the gallery below.