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Apple Confirms Sandboxing Deadline For Mac App Store Apps on June 1

In an email sent to registered Mac developers earlier today, Apple has confirmed it will begin enforcing a deadline on Sandboxing for Mac App Store apps on June 1, 2012.

As a reminder, the deadline for sandboxing your apps on the Mac App Store is June 1. We’ve made the process easier with new sandboxing entitlements and APIs now available in OS X 10.7.3 or later and Xcode 4.3.2.

If you have an existing app on the Mac App Store that is not sandboxed, you may still submit bug fix updates after June 1. If you have technical issues that prevent you from sandboxing your app by June 1, let us know.

Previously pushed back from November 2011 to March 2012, and then again from March to June 1, 2012, sandboxing is a new technology aimed at limiting an application’s access to certain areas of OS X through a system based on entitlements. As we wrote in February:

Sandboxing is a new technology in OS X Lion that limits the functionalities of Mac App Store applications to a list of “entitlements” that cover various areas of the operating system an app can access, such as networking, printing, or a user’s files. A sandboxed application would be unable to harm the system outside of its operational scope (managed by the entitlements), and this has caused some concerns as apps would lose access to the Mac’s entire filesystem, which is required by some functionalities of certain applications that aren’t necessary malicious or “compromised”. Similarly, inter-app communication would be a technical issue with sandboxing, as apps like TextExpander, Keyboard Maestro and CoverSutra — utilities that perform actions in the background without asking for user’s interaction in some cases (user-initiated actions can override the sandbox) — couldn’t get past the sandboxing requirement for the Mac App Store.

With today’s reminder, Apple has confirmed that new apps submitted to the Mac App Store after June 1 must adopt sandboxing, whilst existing apps that are not sandboxed will still be available to receive bug fix updates. Earlier this week, a report suggested that, in relation to the upcoming sandboxing deadline, Apple was also looking into “banning” new apps with “hotkey” functionality, though it appears that such policy won’t take effect, according to several sources. Recently, several OS X developers expressed their wish for Apple to further delay the sandboxing deadline to the end of June in order to better explain the ramifications of the technology at the upcoming WWDC. Unfortunately for those developers who were hoping for a revised deadline for apps that have proven to be incompatible with sandboxing, WWDC kicks off on June 11 – 10 days after the sandboxing deadline.

A number of Mac applications using Sandboxing are already available on the Mac App Store. Most notably, 1Password by AgileBits implemented the technology back in September 2011, and others like Edovia’s Screens for Mac and, recently, Pixelmator were updated with support for sandboxing as well.

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