updated 11:30 pm EDT, Mon October 3, 2011
Upgraders should uninstall 1.2 first
Growl, the popular open-source third-party notification system for Mac OS X, has undergone some serious changes in its new 1.3 update: it's now Lion-only, a menu item instead of a system preference, and exclusively available through the Mac App Store, among other features. It's also now a paid app (at $2), which the developers hope will ensure its developmental future. The upgraded app also sports a new "rollback" feature similar to iOS 5, and a history log.
The change from system preference to menu app was a requirement for getting into the Mac App Store, but also reduced confusion for users that were not sure if the program was installed or working. Although the polished app is now only available through the Mac App Store, the source code will remain available for modification and compiling from the development website. The program remains open-source under the BSD license.
The shift also means that some add-ons for Growl will have to go independent or be discontinued. GrowlMail, one of the most popular, will continue on -- and GrowlTunes and HardwareGrowler have been rolled into the Mac App Store program. The command-line version, growlnotify, will be available as a separate download, but others will be discontinued unless new developers want to take responsibility for them.
Applications that silently installed Growl as part of their own installation package, such as Dropbox and Adobe's Creative Suite, will not be able to include the latest version. Updates to the program will now be handled by Apple's own messaging system, and a new SDK opens up the option of sharing notifications across platforms via Growl for Windows. The iOS version of Growl, known as Prowl, will be unaffected by the changes in the Mac version.
One of the major new features included in v1.3 is a "rollup" feature, similar to a similar implementation in the soon-to-be-released iOS 5, which "stores" notifications and can be read on demand. The preferences now also store a history of notifications, and notifications can be searched.
Because the new version is such a change from the previous version (which still retains most of its functionality under Lion), the developers advise that upgraders use the Growl uninstaller to remove Growl 1.2 before installing the Mac App Store version (preferences and customizations will not be affected).