Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why the Mac App Sandbox Makes Me Sad

Pauli Olavi Ojala (via Peter Maurer):

It’s important to note that these entitlements are granted by Apple, not by the user herself. App developers must provide justification for their entitlement requests when submitting an app to the App Store. If the Apple curator thinks that your app is not deserving of accessing the Pictures folder or interacting with USB devices, she has every right to turn down your request without additional justifications. (We’ve seen many Beckettian variations of this scenario played out on the iOS App Store over the past years.)


One side-effect of the sandbox model which makes me particularly sad and nostalgic is that it kills the notion of plugins. This will also affect many of Apple’s own pro apps on the App Store.

Again, I must emphasize that many apps that are already in the store cannot be sandboxed at all, even with entitlements, without severely reducing their functionality. Many more would need to rely on temporary entitlements, which Apple emphasizes are “granted on a short-term basis and will be phased out over time.” And, secondly, there is the fear that Apple will withhold iCloud and other future APIs from apps that are not in the store, effectively making sandboxing mandatory.

Apple waited until the night of November 2 to state that the November deadline had been changed to March, and nothing of substance has changed. The policies still haven’t been clarified. The bugs and limitations still haven’t been fixed. There has been no indication of when or if they will be. At this point, the best-case scenario is that Mac OS X 10.7.3 is seeded to developers soon, ships sometime between now and March, and fixes the problems. Then developers could potentially build apps that work on Snow Leopard and 10.7.3+, but they wouldn’t work (or would crash or misbehave) on 10.7 through 10.7.2. There’s not a lot of time between now and then, especially considering the upcoming holiday season.

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[...] Apple is now sandboxing its own apps. On the other hand, it has now been almost two years since the original sandboxing deadline, and in some cases Apple was only able to do it by using entitlements that are not available to [...]

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