Apple Deploys Developer ID System To Ease Gatekeeper Concerns

Posted by · February 27, 2012 4:17 pm

After many initially thought that Apple’s release of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and its accompanying Gatekeeper feature would mark the dawn of an oppressive desktop experience, a Monday email from Apple should give users reason to think that such fears may indeed be needless. While the purpose of Gatekeeper is to provide a higher level of security against harmful software, many saw its advent as a critical step toward an “App Store-only” philosophy for Macs.

However, the announcement of another Mountain Lion feature—known as Developer ID—suggests that Apple is not headed down that road, at least not at this point in time.

In an email to the members of its Mac Developer Program on Monday, Apple said the following:

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 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.

Get your applications ready for Gatekeeper today. It’s easy to get started with Developer ID using the automated certificate request tools in Xcode 4.3 or the Developer Certificate Utility.

In other words, while Apple insists that there is no safer place to get software than its very own Mac App Store, this contention is not intended to be understood to mean that it is closing the gate (pun intended) on anything that doesn’t come directly from there. By reaching out to developers who don’t want their software sold in the App Store but still want to make it available to Mac users, Apple seems to be addressing those initial concerns about Gatekeeper while simultaneously maintaining its original resolve to keep potentially destructive applications out of the Mac pipeline.

That is, Apple seems to be doing all that it can to be all things to all people. While security is extremely important, Apple is showing a growing interest in making sure that such measures do not result in debilitating limitations for its developers, which in turn yield fewer options for users.

Are you part of the Mac Developer Program? If so, what do you think of the Developer ID Program? Is it enough to ease concerns about Gatekeeper?