Not surprising. Sandboxing is a big deal and, I believe, a good thing for customers in the long run. But it’s a giant pain in the butt right now because it requires many developers to rewrite important code or, in some cases, remove features entirely to get into the Mac App Store.
Apple’s original deadline for apps in the Mac App Store to adopt sandboxing was November 2011. It pushed that to March 1, 2012, and now it’s pushed this deadline out again to June 1, 2012. Fortunately, 1Password has been ready for sandboxing since we arrived in the Mac App Store last September. Just remember that what works for some apps might not work for others.
But here’s the big question for the Mac developer community: is another three months enough?
More smartness, and an apt analogy for the common user, about OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, sandboxing, and Gatekeeper from Daniel Jalkut:
Simply establishing the identities of software developers is a major step for increasing security, because bad actors can either be immediately shut down, or at least prevented from further propagating on the platform. If “Hawt Dawg Industries” is discovered to be a malware developer, Apple can flip a switch and any user who trusts Apple’s opinion about such things can automatically prevent their Macs from trusting software from that vendor.
If somebody knocks on your door in the middle of the night, the first thing you’re liable to ask is “Who are you?” That’s Gatekeeper. Sometimes, the “who” is all the information you need. But if there’s any doubt, the next bit of information you’ll pry for is “What do you want?” That’s the sandbox. At least, it’s what the sandbox will be, after Apple fixes it.
Steven Frank is a developer at Panic, one of the most widely regarded Mac software shops. He’s also been one of the most outspoken critics in the developer community of Apple’s moves in recent years to lock down devices in the name of protecting user privacy and security. So how does he feel about Gatekeeper, one of Mountain Lion’s most important yet understated features that allows users to control what software they install, and from where?
For a while, there was a great deal of consternation among Mac developers, including this author, that this might be the route Apple would take. In recent years, Apple has shown a trend of following the most hardline possible stance that will benefit users and Apple, often at the expense of developer freedom, and gradually backing in certain affordances (push notifications, for example) as user-impacting problems became evident. So it seemed feasible that we’d wake up one day and Apple would decree that all Mac apps must be sold through the App Store.
But instead, Apple went to considerable effort and expense to find a middle ground.
The most striking thing about Apple’s unveiling of Mountain Lion today is how differently the company played it this time. There were absolutely no rumors; not even a peep. Apple announced Mountain Lion with no event, but embraced the tech press for this unveiling in a way I haven’t seen in a long time, including one-on-one demos.
Some sites got advance developer previews days before the announcement, from my former coworkers at Macworld to TechCrunch.
I have to admit, I’m a little surprised and delighted at how quickly the post-Jobs Apple is changing. Tim Cook’s been sending letters about Apple as a company and responding on the topic of working conditions at its suppliers. Now it’s flying under the rumor radar while still managing to give press early copies of major OS updates. Well done, Mr. Cook, Mr. Schiller, et al.