Apple sent an alert to developers on Wednesday that sets a deadline of March 1st, 2012 for Mac App Store submissions to be sandboxed. The requirement effects only those apps submitted to the Mac App Store, but it signals an increase in the amount of control Apple intends to exert through its online Mac software download service.
Sandboxing is the name given to the process of limiting software’s access to both system resources and the resources of other software. Sandboxing makes for both a far more secure and far more stable platform, but it also keeps fantastic apps like WireTap Studio from doing something like recording audio from a sandboxed app in Lion, a function that has many legitimate and practical uses.
These kinds of limitations means that for some users, their Macs will be less capable in the future than they are today, all in the name of security and stability.
On the other hand, iOS apps have been sandboxed from the get-go. It’s part of the iPhone’s excellent history of offering superior battery life (current iOS 5 bugs notwithstanding) and of being a very stable device that has been heretofore free of viruses. Apple is working to bring the same benefits to the Mac platform.
As noted in the screenshot above, developers who are in the process of reworking their software to accommodate sandboxing can apply for exemptions, but Apple will eventually phase out those exemptions. As of now, the future of the Mac App Store is a sandboxed world.