Keep your OSX apps updated with AppFresh

AppFresh is a very useful and user-friendly software update tool for OSX. Although Apple includes a very capable Software Update utility within OSX it is only made available to Apple applications. This leaves the thousands of other applications built for the operating system out in the proverbial cold. As a consequence unlike Linux with its powerful apt, rpm, yum and yast tools, keeping all of your OSX software up to date is a manual affair. To ease the burden of users many OSX applications now include their own update checking routines which is handy but hardly a great solution as it often means being interrupted during your working day with the message that you need to update the application right now.

AppFresh is a breath of fresh air when it comes to software updating in OSX. Currently it is in active development and a preview version is available for free. AppFresh leverages the database to determine whether your system's applications are up to date. This is a brilliant solution to the problem of determining software availability as it places the burden of data collection on the user-base and not a single party.

Due to AppFresh's integration with the web-service you must first sign up for a free account before any magic will happen. Fortunately this is an easy task and only takes a minute. Once this account is created the software scans your computer for applications and checks for their update status. When completed you are presented with a stylish list that details how things shape up on your system. It is then possible to update specific programs or go for broke and update everything. There is an option to let AppFresh handle the update process completely (from download to install), but personally the idea of letting a third-party application run riot on my desktop is a little too much. Maybe one day I will trust AppFresh enough to undertake such automated tasks, but for the foreseeable future I will control this side of things just to be on the safe side.

Perhaps the biggest threat to AppFresh is its licensing. No doubt once the application matures the authors will require some payment for their hard work. It is often at this point when the once 'free' tool gets deleted off my hard-drive as the licensing cost is set too high. I have three Mac's and if the fee is more than US$10 per machine it gets very hard to justify such a tool simply because many applications bundle their own updater. Consequently whilst being able to quickly know the software status of your machine(s) is a nicety, it is hardly a necessity, especially on a desktop that does not suffer the unremitting security attacks other platforms must endure.

If you do use OSX I recommend downloading and checking out AppFresh. Whilst its long term future on my hard drive will not be confirmed until their licensing details materialise, I can say for the time being I am really enjoying having it around.