20 Comments

Summary:

How much security is too much? Apple’s sandboxing rules for its Mac App Store are supposed to keep malware in check, but the developer of MPlayerX is charging that it prevents the video player from loading subtitles. MPlayerX isn’t the fist app to leave the store.

mplayerx

The developer of MplayerX is quitting the Mac App Store over Apple’s sandboxing rules (hat tip to Slashdot), which are supposed to provide additional security by limiting what kind of system resources apps have access to. Zongyao QU, whose application is based on the Linux video player MPlayer, announced on his site that the step comes after “arguing with Apple over three months.” His post read, in part:

“Sandboxing, although said to be a good protection from the malware, brings too many troubles to the applications themselves. I have made 6 builds trying to make MPlayerX pass Apple’s review and I have explained why some privileges are so important for MPlayerX to achieve this and that features, But the answer is NO, NO, NO, NO, NO and NO.”

The sandboxed app store version of MPlayerX wouldn’t be able to automatically load subtitle files, according to its developer.

Some of the MplayerX features affected by Apple’s sandboxing rules include the ability to automatically load subtitles and automatically play the next episode of a TV show, he explained.

QU said that version 1.0.16, which was released a few days ago, won’t come to the app store anymore. He will still try to make version 1.0.15 via the Mac App Store, but said that it will be a “limited-function version.”

This isn’t the first app to disappear from the Mac App Store over Apple’s sandboxing rules. Apple originally wanted to introduce mandatory sandboxing last November, but then twice delayed the deadline. Sandboxing eventually became mandatory on June 1. The move resulted in Postbox and other apps leaving the App Store, and prompted Instapaper developer Marco Arment to ask:

“How many good apps will be pulled from the App Store before Apple cares?”

  1. Michael Sitarzewski Sunday, August 19, 2012

    I think this dev is missing an opportunity. The number of users that will buy software directly through the App store and nowhere else is increasing. Converts from iOS to Mac will want the same experience. Maybe the answer is a simple version in the app store, and a power user/pro version available for direct download.

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    1. The app is not for sale, it’s free, so…not really.

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  2. Having two versions is a problem in itself. Users purchase the simple version and pay Apple. How do they move to the power version? In order to sell the power version on the dev site they need some form of registration payment. User would have to buy it again since there is no way for the developer to know if the user actually paid for the software, Apple does not provide any sales info to developers.

    The App Store itself is a terrible way to find any software. Limited searching, good apps that have not been updated (since they are good) fall to the bottom of the list since new items of frequenly updated (buggy) apps get higher on the list. For this Apple gouges the developers for over 3 times the fee of other oniine resellers. No trail downloads, little if any support, really not very good.

    IMHO it won’t be long before Apple forces developers to only sell via the App Store. An Microsoft was considered a monopoly.

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    1. MplayerX is a free download both direct and on the App Store.

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  3. I’d trust Apple’s security guidelines long before I trusted the developer’s special features.

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  4. Reblogged this on BULLETFAME.

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  5. I think Sandboxing is great. It makes me trust the apps more.

    There is a reason why an app cannot be permitted to load additional files “automatically” and run another file/ “episode” automatically after the one you actually chose to run.

    I am sure Apple would let you add items to a cue, or checkbox items in a list you want to play. The idea of an app opening any file “automatically” in phone ios environment is disturbing.

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    1. I don’t think you get the point, a video player that is unable to show subtitles because of the security requirements. That’s a problem.

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      1. I think you miss the point: “Some of the MplayerX features affected by Apple’s sandboxing rules include the ability to AUTOMATICALLY load subtitles and AUTOMATICALLY play the next episode of a TV show, he explained.”

        I don’t believe that the user selecting and opening a secondary file is a problem. The issue is the way a movie player AUTOMATICALLY opens a file after opening the initially selected file.

        Same think where it plays the next episode without the user acting.

        Think of VLC.

        there are 2 ways to make it play a subtitle file with a video…
        1) open movie, select and open srt from withing VLC
        2) OR you can label the srt the same as the movie and put them in the same folder, leading to an AUTOMATIC loading of the srt.

        This second method is what APPLE doesn’t want a movie player to do on an iOS device.

        I don’t care. I think the rule will make apps safer.

        I also don;t want any app to have access to info in my Contacts app, unless I permit. Some app developers have griped about sandboxing not permitting automatic access to my contacts and geolocalization. Too bad.

        I want my apps to do what they are told and stay in their sandbox.

        The day ONLY APPSTORE apps will be permitted to install, or that they get rid of the File System in favor of iOS like file management, I will dump Mac.

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  6. I for one will look outside of the Apple app store.Because some of my apps would be crippled if they had to be sandboxed.I could see a use for it on phone apps .But I sure as hell will not allow my Macbook to be shackled in chains.They can stick that crap up their ***!

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  7. I don’t have an issue with this. The App store is the ONE place users can buy software with some measure of confidence. Anything else is just another MacUpdate and we already have that. Carry on Apple!

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  8. I’m a long time Apple user (20+ years) and I’ll have absolutely zero interest in the App Store.

    I’ve been using a buying app directly from retailers and developers forever. I don’t need Apple to determine what’s safe for my system.

    I can do that on my own thank you very much.

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    1. Can you really?
      Sandboxing is for the 99%, and it’s a good thing.
      http://scottsscripts.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/sanboxing-is-a-good-thing-marcoarment-a-good-thing/

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  9. Choosing “features” over security (ActiveX, for example) is exactly what is made Windows what it is today. Take your pick.

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  10. Ever heard of ARINC 653 ?

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  11. I see this “waling and gnashing of teeth” by Apple OS X developers as the next step to realizing that sand boxing will be imperative due to the massive attacks that OS X will soon be under given its hight market share and Unix pedigree.
    I have no doubt that Apple is being way, way too restrictive with the service access rules currently. They will have to be more realistic about those policies.

    And yes, the way we access the App store for both iOS and OS X is broken by volume of Apps and brain dead search. IMHO, once Apple re-imagines, refactors iTunes, they can then apply that to App stores.

    Growing pains suck. Change sucks. But both are imperative and can’t resolve too soon. So, developers, provide meaningful feedback to Apple early and often. Apple listen to developers and carefully consider their requirements to create next generation, re-imagined apps that can actually change the world. And write home to us developers once in a while, OK? We love you more than we hate you. And so do you.

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  12. You say this in your lead paragraph: MPlayerX isn’t the fist app to leave the store.

    I believe you mean “first”?

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  13. AppStore updates have a ~2 week lag. 8^S

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  14. sandboxing is great for the paranoid schizophrenic mass population especially pc to mac switchers but anyone that loves multi featured professional software sandbox sucks… Those that want pro software though are more likely not going to be buying from the mac app store anyhow-i have over 300 applications on my macs from Maya to Office to VLC to Final Cut Pro 5-and not a single one bought from the store… I purchase all my apps directly from the developers-they get all the cash and there is no cut for Apple-I prefer it that way! People that buy pro also have the skills and knowledge to troubleshoot and get to the root of any problem that might arise where as the mass users install all kinds of crap that create conflicts, unwanted prefs, etc… Anyhow-thanks for developing – I used mplayer os x for years til it kinda got a bit buggy so it is GREAT to see this again… And keep up with adding features-I’ll spread the word where to get it!

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  15. We are spending a lot of time fixing/reporting problems with apples own apps that do not work correctly with sandboxing. Its fine until it becomes your fav prgram that no longer works.

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