Wherein I Move a Lot of Words Around

The MAS is Killing the Mac

Yosemite and Default URL Handlers – Edovia Blog:

Unfortunately, Apple is now blocking sandboxed apps to change the default handler for a particular URL scheme. This is why Screens is not able to set Screen Sharing back as the default handler. This change affects a whole bunch of apps that use to rely on this functionality.

The sandboxing rules on OS X have always been a source of difficulty, as some cautioned early on. At the time I felt that Apple would see the harsh edges and work something out with developers so that more useful apps could be in the MAS over time. I thought that perhaps they’d sort it out to the level that even top-tier folks would manage to get their apps in there (think Photoshop or Office).

What I didn’t consider, and I don’t think anyone really had a reason to at the time, is that Apple might tighten the requirements over time and try to turn OS X’s sandbox — ever so slowly — into iOS’ sandbox. With every release there’s one more thing that can’t be accessed, one more app Apple kicks out, and one more developer walking out because of the whole mess (be it sandboxing, the review process, generally poor communication, or whatever else).

As a result, the MAS is full of ported games, uselessly simplistic productivity tools, “system utilities” that do absolutely nothing useful in the first place and are only differentiated by their appearance, and some apps that manage to hang on and haven’t done anything to awaken the Beast … yet.

I think Apple’s forgotten what a desktop computer is used for in the real world at this point. When Lion came out, I stayed with Snow Leopard because I saw it as the iOS-ification of the Mac. When Mavericks came out, I was convinced that’s what was happening. Honestly, I only upgraded my OS because I upgraded my Mac and now I just hope the next version will fix something, anything that the previous ones have taken away from the Mac.

Time and again, Apple tells us that it has no idea what the Mac is for anymore, other than coding for iOS and using Mail and Safari on a large screen. If there’s something you can do on a Mac that isn’t related, then it’s time to sandbox it.

Time will, of course, move forward. The sandbox will get tighter and tighter. More and more developers will leave it. In the end, Apple will have ruined the one thing that could been amazing on the Mac: a thriving community of independent software makers sharing their work. Instead, they’ll have an abundance of two-year-old Me-Too games, far-too-minimal general purpose apps, and lots and lots of useless trash.

Worse? People who see the MAS will think that’s all you can do on a Mac. And then leave.

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PS: Before it’s said, yes, this would have happened under Steve. He’s the one that started it, after all. This is what a walled garden does: it keeps everyone out.