Nov 03

So Apple finally announced that all App Store Apps must implement a technology called Sandboxing starting from March 2012. Sandboxing is a technology which forces Apps to run in a box with a lot of restrictions. It’s a bit like on iOS where every App only has access to its own data. Apple claims it’s for security reasons…

So what? This means the App Store will be even more crippled than it currently is. Many Apps which are currently in the Store will cease to exist.

Here a few types of applications that won’t be allowed to the App Store anymore:

  • Nearly every App which controls another App in any way. (so many little helper Apps will just be dead)
  • Apps which help disabled people, e.g. screenreaders or tools that help with typing or mouse movements
  • Apps that need to access files on the whole disk may eventually be forbidden too. (e.g. syncing or backup utilities)
  • All Apps which use the Accessibility API
  • All Apps which rely on Event Taps
  • Apps that control specialized external devices
  • Apps which listen to the Apple Remote Control (at least in the current implementation of the Sandbox)
  • In many cases developers who want to keep their Apps in the App Store will need to cripple them and implement a really bad user experience.
  • many more…

This means, BetterSnapTool won’t be allowed in the App Store anymore starting from March 2012. But don’t worry, I’ll continue releasing updates for all existing customers here if Apple really enforces Sandboxing.
I’ve been working on a new version of SecondBar, unfortunately this won’t be allowed either.

Also in my opinion Sandboxing causes a big security problem. If developers won’t be able to release security /bugfix updates for their existing applications anymore, all remaining bugs will stay there forever without any possibility to contact existing customers and warn them.

Sure you may say “ok, so distribute not over the App Store”. But this will become more and more complicated because most users like the App Store and Apple invests in marketing the App Store as “the only secure way to obtain software”. Also new technologies like iCloud are only allowed to be used for App Store apps.

Many, many developers don’t want Sandboxing and I hope Apple will listen to them and at least make it an optional technology.
Some people think Apple will enforce Sandboxing for all applications with the next major Mac OS X update. I doubt this very much, but if they do this it will be my last day on Mac OS. (this would kill BTT, too)





written by Andreas Hegenberg

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