Rumor deemed false, apps using global hotkeys to remain in Mac App Store

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Contrary to an early Thursday report that claimed Apple would be banning apps that use global hotkeys from the Mac App Store, new information asserts that no such change will be implemented.

A post from blog TUAW caused quite the stir Thursday morning after reporting Apple "may be end-of-life-ing all those great little hotkey shortcuts" seen in apps distributed through the company's Mac App Store starting in June, but counter-claims from Macworld say that this is not the case.

In the allegedly debunked report, TUAW's source noted that Apple would disallow hotkey-enabled apps in an effort to make OS X a more secure and consumer-friendly operating system. As part of the rumored change, Apple would purportedly have rejected all Mac App Store that used hotkey shortcuts starting June 1, after which date existing "hotkey apps" would only be allowed bug fix updates. The report said that only apps using system-wide hotkeys would be subject to denial while programs using in-app hotkeys would remain unaffected.

"While there's no indication Apple intends to prevent the sale of apps with [systemwide] hotkey functionality outside the App Store, it is clear Apple is working to simplify the user experience within the Mac App Store, and that means "power user" utilities are at risk," writes TUAW's Erica Sadun.

The June 1 date is a crucial element to the story as this is when Apple intends to initiate new sandboxing elements for apps distributed through its Mac App Store. However, citing its own sources, Macworld said that, while the sandboxing will indeed occur, apps making use of hotkeys will not be rejected.

"Macworld can confirm that no such hotkey ban is coming to the Mac App Store. In fact, Apple offers developers several public APIs that make simple work of creating global keyboard shortcuts, and those APIs aren’t going away," Lex Friedman writes.

Friedman notes that global hotkey apps will be included in the Mac App Store as long as developers use Apple's APIs. There are non-sanctioned APIs and backend workarounds that can be used to power global hotkeys, though Apple would no doubt block them from the App Store as their keylogging functionality can to be used for exploitative purposes.

"Thus, so long as developers use Apple’s officially supported APIs to register systemwide global hotkeys, their apps will remain eligible for inclusion in the Mac App Store," writes Friedman. "But developers and their users can rest easy—that functionality isn’t going anywhere, and the Mac App Store won’t reject apps that implement it properly."

Hotkey functionality, including in-program assets like those found in "Due,"
are said to go unaffected by App Store sandboxing. | Source: Mac App Store

Apple is set to enable its Gatekeeper security system in the next-gen OS X Mountain Lion. The system features three user-assignable levels of security that restrict the download and installation of possibly malicious third-party software.

At its most secure setting, Gatekeeper filters out all programs not downloaded through the Mac App Store, while the "medium" default setting allows for the installation of App Store downloads as well as programs made by "identified developers," or those that carry a digital signature registered through the Apple Developer ID program. Gatekeeper's lowest security setting let's any app in, regardless of origin.


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