Apple Announces Developer ID System To Help Distribute Apps Outside Of Mac App Store



One of the new features of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion has been the addition of Gatekeeper. By only allowing apps to be installed from the Mac App Store, Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper feature gives users a new level of security from malicious software.

Some users feel Gatekeeper is a sign that Apple is moving toward a completely closed desktop operating system that will only allow apps from the Mac App Store to be installed. Easing concerns of this draconian controversy, this afternoon Apple announced the Developer ID program that will help third-party developers distribute their apps safely outside of the Mac App Store.

For developers who do not wish to distribute their apps through the Mac App Store, Apple is now offering them a way to provide their customers with the assurance that their app is certified by Apple. Developers apply for a Developer ID that is verified when a user installs the new software on their Mac.

The Mac App Store is the safest place for users to get software for their Mac, but we also want to protect users when they download applications from other places. Developer ID is a new way to help prevent users from installing malware on their Mac. Along with Gatekeeper, a new feature in OS X Mountain Lion, signing applications with your Developer ID certificate provides users with the confidence that your application is not known malware and has not been tampered with.

Mac OS X users will soon have the option of turning on Gatekeeper, a new Mac OS X security feature. When a user does this, the system provides an additional measure of safety: it blocks that user from opening newly-downloaded applications that are not Developer ID–signed. In this scenario, the same user is easily able to launch downloaded applications that are Developer ID–signed

Designed to complement Gatekeeper, Developer ID gives users the ability to install software only from identified developers regardless of whether they downloaded it from the Mac App Store or via a web browser. All members of the Mac Developer Program are currently eligible to obtain and use Developer ID code signing certificates which can be obtained through Xcode 4.3 Apple sent out news of Developer ID this afternoon in an email, so details are fairly scarce. A tutorial on the new program can be downloaded here.

  • Matt Ackeret

    Complement, not compliment.

  • Kyle Rosenberg

    Now we know what John Appleseed looks like!

  • khaliq1993

    I think apple just killed open-source, free software. (You pay a fee to be in the Mac Developer Program).

  • iDaveG

    Sorry but am I being stupid here?!
    When you develop apps for Mac don’t you have to have a dev account with apple. Or am I wrong and developers can just download xcode and pack the app to work on Mac’s but bypass the app store. How will apple stop these unsigned apps from working when downloaded.

    I have purchased AppZapper via there website so is this safe????

  • karlostj

    You don’t need a $99 developer account to write apps for the Mac. Xcode is free from the Mac App Store (you do need to register with an ID for the store, but that’s about it). You can write apps using Xcode and Cocoa and Objective-C for the Mac without having to place your app into the Mac App Store.

    The upside: Developers are able to provide apps to users at their convenience with no interference from Apple and with no restrictions on content.

    The downside: Users enabling Gatekeeper on their Macs can prevent the installation of 3rd-party developer apps that are not signed using a Developer ID.

    Gatekeeper can be set to “install whatever you want”.