The alert hammer

Apple started adding user consent alerts way back in High Sierra. The first time an app would try to access your location, contacts, calendar, reminders or photos a system alert would prompt the user for consent. Mojave expanded these prompts to automation, camera and microphone. And now Catalina adds screen recording, keyboard input monitoring, access to folders such as Desktop, Documents and Downloads, user notifications and Safari downloads…

These alerts are just another step on a long path Apple has been taking to protect user’s data. Previous steps include code signing, sandbox, gatekeeper, the “curated” Mac App Store and notarization.

But security features are most useful when they’re invisible. All previous steps were mostly invisible. This last one… Not so much.

There’s a lot of complaining going around in Apple circles regarding the latest Catalina betas and the excessive amount of permission alerts and associated user access problems. On his latest podcast, for instance, John Gruber detailed how it took him ages to figure out why the Terminal wouldn’t show him any directory listings, until he realised the Terminal needed disk access permission, but didn’t ask for it.

This is, of course, all quite reminiscent of Windows Vista, and the goal here seems to be to turn macOS into iOS, with similarly harsh restrictions on what users can do on their computers.


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