Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 3rd Nov 2011 22:54 UTC
Mac OS X And so the iOS-ification of Mac OS X continues. Apple has just announced that all applications submitted to the Mac App Store have to use sandboxing by March 2012. While this has obvious security advantages, the concerns are numerous - especially since Apple's current sandboxing implementation and associated rules makes a whole lot of applications impossible.
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RE[4]: Comment by frderi
by frderi on Sun 6th Nov 2011 14:33 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by frderi"
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But the probability is much, much weaker. And if instead of crafting gigantic system components running as root you design the OS as a set of small components with limited responsibility and security permissions, the amount of chained exploits that one must use in order to, say, use a web browser to install a rootkit, becomes quite large.

If you're already blown off your socks and find this improbable, you should really have a look at how the stuxnet worm works. THAT is scary stuff. If you haven't, it basically targetted specific Siemens controllers of nuclear purification machinery in a certain country. The worm needed to bridge a great distance over the internet, overcome the fact that these machines were not connected to a LAN (so it spread over USB as well), and needed to insert itself into the controller to cause havoc. And it all needed to do it on autopilot, remain undetected and not cause too much collateral damage in the process. Talk about digital warfare. If you read about how it achieved this, the kinds of exploits I mentioned earlier are kindergarten material.

Isn't there an app for that yet ? ;)

There was iNuke by ThePlanet, Inc. on the App Store for a short period, but Apple pulled the kill switch on it. Only minor countries got nuked. ;)

OSX also qualifies with its DMG packages, but that's not the best example of an easy-to-use installation package around (Mounting an image disk and dragging and dropping stuff around ? Why can't I just double-click that downloaded file to get stuff installed ?)

Downloading in Safari will automount the dmg and take out the application for you. For installing system components, you can create .pkg and .mpkg packages. And ofcourse, the App Store already puts the app in the right place for you. Come to think of it, I think not having installers on Mac is better, since contrary to windows, Mac apps don't need all the .dll stuff in the right places to run properly; It also makes clear to the user that running an app won't leave any potential nasty stuff spread around your system.

And I think that this is lipstick on a pig. By doing this, you basically say to your users "you don't know what is good and you can't learn, so let Apple do that stuff for you". But at some point, everyone who spends time on the Internet needs to learn how to discriminate the legit from the scam, be it to a basic extent. Buying train tickets, books, doing online banking... Should all that also be done through the App store ?

I wouldn't mind seeing dedicated software put out by these services to make the process more streamlined. Some of the more important services, like banking transactions for companies, use this approach.

Then either this set of rules is wrong/not respected, or there is a strong difference between the iOS and Mac app stores and we should both specify what we're talking about

I was referring to the iOS App Store. I don't know the reasoning behind disallowing demos of the Mac App Store, but I don't think its a good idea to disallow them.

Are you talking about the extra amount of personal information that phones usually store ? But then, software really should not have access to that information under normal circumstances, and good sandboxing would do the trick.

The access to personal information is just a minor one. Then again, not an unimportant one. Bigger dangers I think are the fact that smartphones have location-based functionality. This can be exploited for all sorts of nasty things. Another thing is that smartphones are basically tiny computers which are mostly always always-on always-connected devices. There will also a great many more of them than desktop PCs. The fact that they're mobile also makes them harder to crack down. Can you imagine a botnet on millions of smartphones? Last but not least smartphones are able to generate additional cost. And whenever there's cost, there's a potential for malicious profit. Thats why I think you need tighter control on smartphone OSes than you need on Desktop PC's. So I think its really crucial that you run up-to-date software on a modern smartphone and have the mechanisms in place to facilitate that. Since the risk for disaster is many times bigger than desktop computers.

Windows was not designed to run on anything but a desktop to begin with. As soon as you specify control position and size in pixels by hand, assume the existence of a "hover" functionality, or fill toolbars without taking care of what happens when window sizes are reduced, your software is already dead as far as cross-device portability is concerned.

Spot on. thats why other devices need other approaches when it comes to UI. But it doesn't stop at just the primary controls. Building a good tablet or smartphone UI is completely different than building a good Desktop app. You can't just "slap on" fixes for these basic controls and call it a day. You need to reimagine the app entirely.

And then there is also a serious bloat problem with desktop Windows, which is why phone-oriented releases tend to be based on the inferior and incompatible Windows CE version.

The primary reason for this is that Windows isn't modular enough and it being a jack of all trades. When you try too do too much, you tend to suck at everything.

Reinvented on a UI level, really ? Icons, pointers, menus, toolbars, tabs... Current mobile OSs, iOS included, looks more like a set of tweak to the desktop UI paradigms than a reinvention of GUI design to me.

Sure, reinvented. The basic building blocks are the same. But they took it down to the building block level and rearranged them in a way which would work well on mobile devices. A lot of the UI conventions and methodology that make sense on a desktop computer don't make sense at all on a mobile app. Mobile apps don't have windows, they work fullscreen. They use other input methods, like you said, they don't use a mouse, so everything tailored towards having a mouse becomes obsolete. This doesn't just include the obvious things like mouseover. It trickles down trough the entire concept of the UI, since the graphical UI's from personal computers were built towards serving the mouse as a pointing device. If you break down your house and rebuild it from the ground up with the same bricks, thats rebuilding to me. Its not "tweaking your current house" by a wide margin. A good tablet app makes a bad desktop app, and a good desktop app makes a bad tablet app, so its crucial to reimagine it.

Because it hasn't been tried doesn't mean that it is impossible. If you consider interactions with software at a more abstract level than we currently do, there is no theoretical reason why cross-device portability could not be significantly improved...

Interesting idea, I'd like to see that in action sometime.

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