Mac App Store apps begin to comply with sandboxing rule ahead of deadline

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Applications complying with Apple's sandboxing rules for OS X have begun to appear on the Mac App Store, with Pixelmator being among the first major offerings to meet the forthcoming requirement.

Pixelmator version 2.0.4 was released on the Mac App Store (iTunes link) on Thursday, and as noted by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, the release notes from the development team reveal that the update enables sandboxing support for OS X Lion. Pixelmator is an easy-to-use image editor that sells for $29.99.

The June 1 deadline for Mac App Store applications to meet Apple's sandboxing requirement is fast approaching. The deadline was extended to June 1 in February to allow developers more time to comply with the new rule.

Originally, developers were required to have their applications ready for sandboxing when the Mac App Store first launched in early 2011. But Apple opted to give developers a reprieve until last November, and again pushed the deadline back twice: once to March 1, and another time to the current June 1 deadline.

Sandboxing represents Apple's push to make the Mac platform more secure by restricting what applications are allowed to do within the operating system. This will help to prevent problems like malware taking over third-party applications.

Some developers have been resistant to the changes that Apple is pushing, and have even discovered security flaws within the system before its official public launch.

While the Pixelmator update will make it compatible with Sandboxing in Lion, the new security feature will play an even greater role later this year, when Apple launches its next-generation operating system, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. One of Mountain Lion's biggest features is Gatekeeper, which will give users the option to restrict a Mac to install only Apple-authorized applications from the Mac App Store.

Gatekeeper will also allow users to restrict the installation of third-party software from outside the Mac App Store to only applications created by identified developers. Apple will provide its authorized developers with a secret key, and that key can be revoked if developers are found to violate Apple's terms.

Though sandboxing will be required of all Mac App Store software, the Gatekeeper functionality in Mountain Lion will be optional. If they so choose, users will be able to allow applications on their system that are downloaded from anywhere, regardless of whether they are authorized by Apple.