Mashable pit Mountain Lion—an OS Apple just started shipping last week—against Windows 8—an OS that doesn’t ship for three months.
In other news, they still let just about anyone put things on the internet.
Apple has announced Developer ID, a new identity service developers can use in their Mac apps (and eventually, I presume, iOS apps) that will work hand-in-hand with Mountain Lion’s new Gatekeeper feature. Together, they’ll provide a layer of trust when installing apps, be they from the Mac App Store or signed apps. From Apple’s email:
The Mac App Store is the safest place for users to get software for their Mac, but we also want to protect users when they download applications from other places. Developer ID is a new way to help prevent users from installing malware on their Mac. Along with Gatekeeper, a new feature in Mountain Lion, signing applications with your Developer ID certificate provides users with the confidence that your application is not known malware and has not been tampered with.
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?
Kevin C. Tofel—an Android user and cross-platformer at heart—sees a lot of value in Apple’s approach of unifying as many of its software experiences as possible between OS X and iOS.
Simplify the tools and make users feel at home on every device, and they’ll spend more time using your products and buying apps and accessories to tweak for their needs.
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.