Wednesday, January 25, 2012

PDFpen and iCloud

PDFpen 5.7 now supports iCloud and has a companion iPad app. Since Apple doesn’t allow non–Mac App Store apps to access iCloud, people who bought PDFpen direct from Smile need to purchase the 99-cent PDFpen Cloud Access app. It looks like they’ve made the best of a bad situation.

Last March, I wrote “Would anyone be surprised if future versions of Mac OS X made additional features and APIs available only to App Store apps?” and was immediately called out for “blatant FUD.” Less than a year later, not only has this has come to pass, but people seem to be treating it as expected.

It’s no longer possible to write a single app that takes advantage of the full range of Mac OS X features. Some APIs only work inside the Mac App Store. Others only work outside it. Presumably, this gap will widen as more new features are App Store–exclusive, while sandboxing places greater restrictions on what App Store apps are allowed to do.

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14 Comments

So, if anyone could explain to me what this software is needed for I could perhaps understand the problems - in this case... ;-)

Renee Marie Jones

More good reasons to use Linux.

I think there would be a major upheaval if they did that, but it wouldn't (surprise) me.

That being said, iCloud is not a feature that comes without a cost to Apple on the backend (hosting a lot of stuff for free), so it makes sense that if you want access to this valuable thing, you'll give Apple a bit of love in the form of 30%.

If they start restricting API's to the app store, that would change the landscape. But most would use the same argument that each of the apps are vetted by a review process, and there's less chance of crap getting through.

On iOS to use iCloud you need special settings in your provisioning profiles. I presume the same applies to mac apps and that is the reason the must pass through the Mac App Store. I think it is to do with security and signing apps.

I'm sure Apple also wants all iCloud enabled apps to be reviewed so that malicious apps cannot wipe or modify your iCloud data.

@Andrew I’m not really persuaded by the cost argument. Free apps can use iCloud. Windows apps can use iCloud. Apple already has a mechanism for charging the users who want more storage. Apple could also charge developers directly. Plus, the PDFpen example shows a way for a $60/$100 app to get iCloud access by giving Apple 30% of 99 cents.

@Kieran Unsigned apps could access .Mac/MobileMe syncing and iDisk for years, and I don’t recall ever hearing of any malicious apps. Also, an app can already wipe or modify any user data on my hard drive, probably in ways that would propagate to iCloud, so this seems to me like locking the window while leaving the front door open. Still, if more security is desired, there are certainly ways that Apple could issue API keys or sign apps without all the other stuff that the store entails. It’s true, though, that using the existing store machinery makes it simpler for them.

Lastly, I should note that “no longer possible” only applies to third-party developers. Apple itself ships apps (such as Aperture, iPhoto, and iWork) that are available outside the Mac App Store, are not code-signed with entitlements, and yet can access iCloud.

[...] while sand­box­ing places greater restric­tions on what App Store apps are allowed to do.via Michael Tsai – PDF­pen and iCloud. My largest long-term fear of OSX is that Apple will slowly turn off the abil­ity for [...]

@Renee: Sure -- Linux simply can't do these things, no matter where one sources one's apps. A clear win!

@Michael: "Apple could also charge developers directly"

You mean in addition to the $99 and the 30% revolutionary tax?

Continuations: “How do you boil a frog? Slowly. Apparently the same is true for endusers and even software developers.”

[...] Michael Tsai on Mac App Restrictions → 3 seconds ago It’s no longer possible to write a single app that takes advantage of the full range of Mac OS X features. Some APIs only work inside the Mac App Store. Others only work outside it. Presumably, this gap will widen as more new features are App Store–exclusive, while sandboxing places greater restrictions on what App Store apps are allowed to do. [...]

[...] Michael Tsai on Mac App Restrictions: It’s no longer possible to write a single app that takes advantage of the full range of Mac OS X features. Some APIs only work inside the Mac App Store. Others only work outside it. Presumably, this gap will widen as more new features are App Store–exclusive, while sandboxing places greater restrictions on what App Store apps are allowed to do. applemac app store ←HTML5 Please /* ') [...]

[...] before, Smile has gone to some extra effort to support both their Mac App Store and direct [...]

[...] direct sale version of PDFpen 5.7 could access iCloud via the PDFpen Cloud Access app. This helper app is no longer available, so [...]

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