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Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 12:45 pm PT (03:45 pm ET)

Apple extends Mac App Store sandboxing restriction deadline to June 1

Developers now have until June 1 to make their applications compliant with the new Mac App Store sandboxing restrictions, Apple announced on Tuesday.

The original deadline was March 1, but developers now have an additional three months to bring their software in line with the new rules. The sandboxing entitlements are already found in OS X 10.7.3 Lion and new APIs in Xcode 4.3.

Sandboxing of applications is Apple's initiative to make the Mac platform even more secure by restricting what applications can do within the operating system. This helps to prevent problems like malware taking over third-party applications and utilizing them to do something malicious.

The sandboxing strategy has been met with opposition from some developers who feel restricted by the changes and have even discovered flaws with the system. Last November, a security firm discovered vulnerabilities with the application sandboxing feature.

Apple initially intended to have all applications on the Mac App Store sandboxed when the service first launched in early 2011. But the company opted to give developers a reprieve until last November, and then again pushed the deadline back to March 1. The latest deadline of June 1 marks the third delay for Apple.

Sandboxing will play an even more important role later this year with the launch of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and the new Gatekeeper feature. With Gatekeeper, users will have the option of restricting a Mac to only install Apple-authorized software from the Mac App Store, effectively requiring that all software on a Mac comply with Apple's sandboxing rules.

Beyond the Mac App Store restriction, users will also be able to expand third-party software to allow applications from identified developers, if they so choose. Developers will be tracked by Apple with a secret key, and that key will be revoked for developers who are found to violate Apple's terms.

Finally, Mountain Lion users will also be able to allow applications on their system that are downloaded from anywhere, regardless of whether they are considered "identified developers" by Apple.