The End of Plug-ins on the Mac?

Beginning next March Apple will require Apps sold through the Mac App store to be “Sandboxed”. Sandboxing keeps the app in it’s own space and restricts what it can do system wide. Apple does this on iOS to protect your phone from being hacked, taken over, etc… One side effect is that as far as things stand today you can’t use plug-ins. Obviously for musicians using sequencers this would have serious implications. Before you get into a huff we will still be able to install and use unsandboxed Apps and plug-ins as long they are not sold on the Mac App store. Two things could happen here. First, Apple could eventually require Macs to use the Mac App store. Imagine having to Jailbreak your Mac? A more likely scenario will be a new type of plug-in architecture will be implemented that works in a way Apple likes. What do you think?

“In computer security, a sandbox is a security mechanism for separating running programs. It is often used to execute untested code, or untrusted programs from unverified third-parties, suppliers, untrusted users and untrusted websites. The sandbox typically provides a tightly-controlled set of resources for guest programs to run in, such as scratch space on disk and memory. Network access, the ability to inspect the host system or read from input devices are usually disallowed or heavily restricted. In this sense, sandboxes are a specific example of virtualization.” – Wikipedia

For more info read this article: Why the Mac App Sandbox makes me sad

photo credit: Gilkata

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to:

12 thoughts on “The End of Plug-ins on the Mac?”

  1. It is not that unrealistic regarding the long-term plans for OS X. In 10 years i guess they plan to have only one system, which will ideally be locked just as IOS is at the moment. But of course they have to introduce this step by step and sell it as improvements to not scare ppl off. Never thought i would say that, but i might be a windows user again one day. btw, good blog. Reading for like a year now and guess it´s time to say thank you. cheers, David

  2. i just saw that in the article:

    “Need to access hardware using something else than USB, for example Thunderbolt, FireWire or Bluetooth? Tough luck. (Just because these interfaces are on your Mac doesn’t mean Apple wants anyone to use them via 3rd party software.)”

    you’re F*?%&*?& kidding me right?

  3. Well I think we have to look at the bigger picture here. What is Apple making money with? It’s media consumption devices, it’s iPads, iPhones and maube iMacs. The software that means business for them is games, bullshit apps, Web stuff. Apple used to make computers for pros, now they make computers for the masses, that’s fact. So what this means is that they are no longer interested in us. Look at what they did with Final Cut X, they clearly shifted their focus from the high end professional market to the amateurs and semi-pros, and I think it’s quite clear that they are doing this because they make more profit this way.
    The music market is a bit of a mixed bag, because you have a lot of different layers in it, from the recording studio professionals to the bedroom producer kids. Still my guess is that we will see a steady decline in pro applications, and a stronger focus on more fun-oriented stuff aimed at the amateurs and semi-pros. Probably they will even discontinue their Mac Pro line soon.
    The whole lockdown thing is strongly linked to that, I think. Apple has understood that they can maximize their profits by restricting the sales of third party software to the channels they own. This serves many purposes, not last the capability to “manage” the kind of software the user will have access to, this means that they can actively control the market.
    The only reason I think they will find a way to still allow plugins to be created is that it means business for them. The amateur musicians market is quite big. So my guess is that they will create a new plugin format that works well with the app store paradigm, and sooner or later restrict all the sales of software on the mac platform to the app store.
    The real question is: do we as musicians need the app store? I see it more as an annoyance than anything else, since it’s not making things really better or easier.

    1. I one of the few people who think Final Cut X is more professional and useful than it’s predecessor. After buying and discovering a few cool apps (look up “Analog” and “Carousel”) on the Mac app store I’m into it. I agree they will come out with some way to allow a plug-in architecture.

      1. Well of course it’s open to debate what professional means. I work for a company that produces documentary films, ads for tv and cinema and various other video products. We just switched to Avid Media Composer because Final Cut X was not a viable solution. I should be mentioning that my bosses have been into Apple and Macs ever since they used computers, and we don’t have one single Windows machine in the studio.
        After having tested and evalued Final Cut X we came to the conclusion that it was not professional enough for us, and I know of many other companies that had to do the same as we did.
        About the app store. I think the idea is great, I just don’t like the “control freak” behaviour Apple is showing in recent years, which shows even more on the app store. To be fair other app stores (like Steam for example) show similar behaviours, but the problem is made more pronounced by the fact that Apple might be the only supplier on the mac platform, cutting out competitors and having complete control over everything.
        So my concerns are not about the app store idea itself, more about the approach Apple has to it regarding the whole platform.
        One could argue that we should not care about it as long as it works, but I think that’s a great error, these big companies are earning big bucks thanks to us buying their products so I think we should be well aware of what is going on. Sometimes It feels like these companies are milking us like cows and in the end we even say thank you.

    2. More “media-consumption” devices mean bigger demand for content – and that means more demand for professional content-creating applications. So I don’t think it would be good idea to trash development of pro applications.

  4. Initially I was a little incensed to read this, but I think as long as the producers of drivers and plugins can access a future iOS format (in terms of SDKs etc) easily then maybe increased power in iPads and the like (and uniformity with desktops and laptops from Apple) will mean better, uniform apps – with uniform pricing :)

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