The Challenges of Building Own MacOS App

Alex Barashkov
Apr 25, 2019 · 5 min read

Two years ago, we began the process of building a simple, open-source MacOS app as a side project, but this turned out to be a much more challenging journey than we initially thought. Here, we talk about the various stages of this journey, including:

  • how we built the app to mute/unmute microphones using the shortcut or touch bar icon;
  • why taking an open-source approach did not meet our expectations;
  • what limitations Apple placed on the touchbar that rendered it useless for our needs.

We’ve just released our Mutify app on Product Hunt, so now we’re waiting for your feedback and support!

💡Initial Idea

From Open Source to Paid App

  • problems with other apps attempting to control the mic
  • compatibility between different versions of MacOS
  • limitations put in place by Apple that needed careful investigation

We on the app’s community regularly growing so that we could get some contributors able to help handle issues that arose. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. From day one, all development was done by ourselves; open-source development on Swift turned out to be quite different than the JS or PHP communities, where you can rely on small bug fixes from outside devs. This lack of helpful community is a major weakness of MacOS development.

We got 159 stars on Github, more than 8000 installations, and zero contributors. The app, however, still needed lot of work to complete, so we decided to rebuild it from scratch and change to a paid model to guarantee at least some support for future development and app improvements. That how Mutify was born.

Mutify Features

Mute and unmute microphone

Noise level

Variety app support

Difficulties of MacOs App Development

Since the day one, we thought that Apple would extend the functionality of the touchbar API, but there are no changes as yet. Touchbar API has a lot of limitations that prevent developers using it to build potentially useful software.

For example:

  • Third party apps can’t be displayed in the list of actions for the touchbar in the “Cutomize Touchbar” settings;
  • You only could add one third-party app icon that is always displayed in the touchbar together with Apple developed tools;

Those limitations significantly reduce the possible options for extending touchbar functionality. That’s why we also support mute by hotkey functionality. Even for a simple, one-action app, you need time to build features like the following:

  • Onboarding screens
  • Update functionality
  • Integrated payment functions
  • Open at login functions
  • Hotkey support
  • Website

Effort = Quality

Support us on Product Hunt for a 30% discount! Mutify also has a seven-day free trial, so feel free to test it out and we hope you enjoy!

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