Apple's OS X Mountain Lion launched on Wednesday, and with it came a new set of rules laid out by Apple that restrict what Mac developers can do with their apps. To sum it up, in order to take advantage of new features like iCloud and Notification Center, developers must "sandbox" their app — which limits its access to system data, almost like how apps work on iOS. Sandboxed apps are much easier for Apple to verify, check, and approve for the Mac App store, since they are inherently self-contained, but this poses a big problem: sandboxing your app sometimes means that features that dig deep into OS X must be removed. Developers lashed out at Apple for its new rules when Mountain Lion was announced back in February, in part because of how much effort might go into re-architecting their apps. Tech pundit Andy Ihnatko wrote, "Time, money, and resources that developers could be investing in making a great product even better must instead be spent just to keep their software working."
However, most developers have taken the past few months to update their apps according to Apple's new standards — which for some developers means checking a few boxes, and for others means sacrificing features users love. Since Mountain Lion was announced, many top apps like Fantastical, Sparrow, and 1Password have prepared for a Mac world that looks more like iOS's perceived "walled garden." For better or for worse, most developers seem to agree that adding support for Mountain Lion seems to be a do or die.
"Any developer who wants to build for Apple's products typically stays as on pace with the curve as possible, because that's what a significant portion of Apple's customers do," says 1Password's David Chartier. Developers now have two choices: sell unrestricted apps independent of the Mac App Store, or abide by Apple's rules to gain access to the App Store, its enormous distribution power, and new features in OS X like iCloud document syncing for apps and iOS-style push notifications from the cloud in Notification Center.
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