Apple is about to implement a new rule for Mac application developers who want their wares on the Mac App Store.  All programs submitted after June 1st must be “sandboxed,” which basically means that they have to be self contained the way iOS apps are.  When an iOS app crashes it has no effect on the system as a whole- you can just relaunch the app and keep working.  Apple is shooting for the same level of stability for the Mac.

This is a pretty controversial move amongst developers.  They have been writing code for the Mac since Day 1, 1984, pretty much any way they want.  There are plenty of arguments for why Apple’s strict new policy is bad news for developers.  Plenty of existing apps on the store now don’t meet these requirements and won’t be allowed to submit updates until they are “fixed.” Andy Ihnatko breaks it down nicely on his blog:

I will quickly categorize three standout types of “broken” apps:

1) An app that fundamentally can’t function in a sandboxed environment. Generally, system apps that do something Wonderfully Clever. It can’t work, so it won’t be updated.

2) An app that uses a Clever Trick as a shortcut. Developer will finally sit down and figure out how to make that function work within the new rules.

3) An app that’s simply old and in its “dividend” phase. Maybe it doesn’t work because of a shortcut, maybe it doesn’t work because it hasn’t been updated to completely use the modern framework. It’s not that there are any technical barriers to making it work under the new system, but at this point in the app’s life it generates enough revenue only to support simple bugfixes, and not top-to-bottom rewrites. Developer shrugs, thinks “Okay, my Austin Powers Talking Clock had a good run and now it’s time to move on” and the app dies.

With WWDC right around the corner, you can be sure to hear plenty more on this subject.  Some developers have already pledged to jump ship, but we’ll see how widespread this becomes.

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