Apple Mac Store apps get “sandboxed” starting in March

February 20th, 2012

Understanding The Debate Over Apple’s Mac App Store Sandbox | Ted Landaus User Friendly View | The Mac Observer. (Read the long list of thoughtful comments.)

And a blogger who really rips into the sandbox. And detailed comments from a Mac software developer that is removing their apps from the Apple Mac App store effective March 1st. (Several other software developers, in the comments to that link, also say they are getting out of the Mac App store.)

Currently the argument that the “sandbox” is not a problem is that, hey, you can still sell apps on your own web site – but that might not be possible in the future. Today, apps for iPhone and iPad can only be purchased in the app store. Is this the future of Mac software too? No one knows and Apple is not offering an explanation.

I am not yet sure what all this means but I think it means more oddities for the Mac, like I noted a while back about putting a PDF file on an iPad. You drag it to an unspecified area in the iTunes windows, and the PDF file vanishes from where you had it carefully stored on your Mac and is then placed in a new semi-hidden location on your Mac.

The iPad does not have a file system and definitely does not have the object oriented file system that Apple first made popular. That is, long ago, you had to start an application, then open the file to use (e.g. document). The Mac OS gave you the ability to double click on a file and the file was automatically opened in the correct application.

But on today’s iPad, we launch iBooks and then find the PDF file – an old way of opening files is now new again!  Consumers can  no longer organize my information the way they want to organize their information but have to fit things into Apple’s view of the world. It gets more bizarre: I want to email the PDF and a photo from my iPad to the same person. I now have to go iBooks, select email, send the PDF, then go to Photos, open the photo, select Email, and address a second message. And what if I want to send a video clip too? Same idea, 3 emails.

The “sandbox” rules say that applications, like Adobe Lightroom, will be required to store their image files in the Pictures folder. But what about those of us who store images on separate disk drives, even removable disk drives?  Can LR be sold in the app store? Will exceptions be granted to some software but not others? Apple isn’t saying and is creating a bit of confusion for developers.

Apple’s intent seems unclear at this point. There are some online discussions saying the iOS model is the future of the notebook.

Software developers fear that Apple wants their notebooks to become just like iOS – with a carefully curated set of apps, approved by Apple, sold only through Apple, with a royalty to Apple, and limited in functionality compared to today’s apps.

OS X 10.8 takes two big steps towards this future: (1) the new Gatekeeper function will have a default setting to only allow installation of signed apps and an option to limit apps solely to those downloaded from the Apple store, and (2) increased integration of iOS and iOS like lock downs on the system. There is a presumption in the software community that in the next OS X release (10.9), the Gatekeeper will, by default only allow installation of Mac App Store software and by OS X 11.0, this will no longer be a configurable setting. Software developers are concerned about this and would appreciate clearer direction from Apple.

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Categories: Emerging Technology, Software, Techie |