Debunked: Hotkey Apps Will Stay In The Mac App Store… For Now

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Apple wants apps in the Mac App Store to play inside their own sandboxes.
Apple wants apps in the Mac App Store to play inside their own sandboxes.

TUAW reported earlier on Thursday that Apple was planning to start rejecting apps from the Mac App Store that used universal hotkeys to trigger functions and access features. The ban was supposedly set to go into effect on June 1st alongside Apple’s app sandboxing deadline. A new report from Macworld debunks TUAW’s claim by saying that Apple is not planning to start rejecting apps like Alfred that rely on universal keyboard shortcuts.

According to Macworld:

TUAW’s post understandably kicked off a panic: If accurate, it meant that numerous apps offering useful functionality via hotkeys—including those apps whose core functionality stems from their use of hotkeys—would no longer be allowed to introduce significant updates to their apps in the Mac App Store. But again, 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.

After the report from this morning hit the wire, Cult of Mac reached out to the team at Alfred to get their take on the rumor. Alfred’s lead developer, Andrew Pepperrell:

As this is just speculation at this point, I can’t really make a full statement. There are a huge number of applications in the app store which use hotkeys, so I can’t see that Apple would suddenly stop allowing them without any notification, update to the MAS policies and with non of the hotkey APIs deprecated.

Alfred will definitely be staying in the MAS for now. 1.2 was only just released and it is in a very stable and mature condition. Even if the MAS [free] version of Alfred didn’t get any more updates, the users wouldn’t be missing out in any way. If there was no way to submit updates to the MAS version, and users wanted to keep on the latest and greatest, they could always just grab the fully 10.8 Gatekeeper compatible website version of Alfred.

For more on Gatekeeper, see Apple’s website.

We agree with Pepperrell’s — it would seem very odd for Apple to enforce such a policy suddenly without any notice. Many apps, including the official Twitter for Mac app, use universal keyboard shortcuts. You’d think that there would be more writing on the wall.

TUAW’s Erica Sadun has updated her story from this morning saying, “all I can tell people is that either Apple is unsure of what hotkey functionality is in this case, or something has changed very recently in such a way as to negate what was said previously by Apple.” Macworld’s Lex Friedman says that “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.”

Until there’s more evidence to say otherwise, it looks like our favorite hotkey apps aren’t in immediate danger. At least not yet.

Image: Ars Technica