Mac App Store to mandate app sandboxing

— 6:00 AM on November 4, 2011

Apple's walled garden may get even taller walls come next spring. The company has notified developers that they'll soon have to sandbox their apps for publication on the Mac App Store:

The vast majority of Mac users have been free from malware and we’re working on technologies to help keep it that way. As of March 1, 2012 all apps submitted to the Mac App Store must implement sandboxing. Sandboxing your app is a great way to protect systems and users by limiting the resources apps can access and making it more difficult for malicious software to compromise users’ systems.

CNet News has an informative writeup that details the pros and cons of sandboxing. As the site points out, sandboxed Mac apps have limited access to the rest of the system, which can mean less damage if something goes wrong. On the flip side, developers will have to modify their software to meet Apple's new requirement, and adapting certain apps that need low-level system access could prove problematic.

With Apple taking the walled garden approach to the extreme, and Microsoft planning a Windows Store with a six-step app approval process for Windows 8, it looks like the development and distribution of third-party software will only become more regimented as time goes by. That goes for both Macs and PCs. Perhaps the unwashed masses will end up with more stable and reliable machines as a result, but I worry that this is all going to neuter power users and make life less fun for developers.

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