Apple Explains BlueMail Reinstatement, Says BlueMail Finally Complied With Gatekeeper Security Requirements

Last week, BlueMail co-founders Ben Volach and Dan Volach penned an open letter that encouraged any developers who feel that Apple kicked them out of the App Store or has treated them unfairly to share their stories.


BlueMail itself was removed from the Mac App Store in June 2019 after Apple found the app to be in violation of several App Store Review Guidelines, but the Volach brothers disagreed and argued that Apple showed "little willingness to resolve the issue" and provided "shifting explanations" as to why the app was removed from the Mac App Store and why it could not be reinstated.

Apple has since responded to the matter, refuting many of BlueMail's claims and noting that its App Store Review Guidelines apply evenly to all developers.

In a statement last week, shared with MacRumors, Apple said it "attempted on multiple occasions to assist them in getting their BlueMail app back on the Mac App Store," but said "they have refused our help." Apple added that BlueMail was "proposing to override basic data security protections which can expose users' computers to malware that can harm their Macs and threaten their privacy."

Just days later, however, BlueMail has returned to the Mac App Store, which BlueMail said is "proof that speaking out works."

"When we wrote to Tim Cook in November, we heard back in hours. When we wrote to Apple's developer community, BlueMail was back on the App Store within a week," said Dan Volach, co-founder at Blix. "If you're out there too scared to come forward, let this be your proof that speaking out works. To Apple, we want to reiterate that all we want for developers is an opportunity to be treated fairly."

Apple's response, however, suggests that BlueMail refused to take the necessary steps for its app to be reinstated on the Mac App Store until now.

Specifically, Apple says its Developer Technical Support team advised the BlueMail team to make changes to how it package its Mac app in order to resolve a security and privacy warnings issue related to the app creating a new binary with a bundle ID that changes on each launch.

Apple says that BlueMail finally submitted a revised version of its app with an updated binary respecting Gatekeeper on February 7, two days after its open letter to developers. Apple says its App Review team found that the previous issues had been addressed, allowing it to return to the Mac App Store as of Monday.

Nevertheless, BlueMail parent company Blix today said it has no intention of dropping its legal case against Apple, which it believes extends beyond the removal of BlueMail on the Mac App Store to the "suppression of its iOS app" and the "infringement of Blix's patented technology through 'Sign in with Apple.'"

"We're happy that users can once again get BlueMail through the Mac App Store, but we know this isn't the end. Our experience has shown that until the app review process includes effective checks and balances, Apple holds too much power over small developers," said Ben Volach, co-founder at Blix. "One solution could be to include external independent members and observers in Apple's App Review Board, just as a public company's Board of Directors represents its shareholders."

BlueMail parent company Blix's lawsuit against Apple, filed in October 2019, alleges that the "Hide My Email" feature of "Sign in with Apple" infringes on its patented technology. The complaint also accuses Apple of anticompetitive behavior, including removing BlueMail from the Mac App Store at the time.


This article, "Apple Explains BlueMail Reinstatement, Says BlueMail Finally Complied With Gatekeeper Security Requirements" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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BlueMail Returns to Mac App Store, Developers Still Suing Apple Over Anticompetitive Behavior

Back in October, the developers behind email app BlueMail sued Apple, alleging that the "Hide My Email" feature of "Sign in with Apple" infringes on its patented technology. The complaint also accuses Apple of anticompetitive behavior, including removing BlueMail from the Mac App Store.


Last week, after months of making little to no progress with Apple towards having its Mac app reinstated, BlueMail co-founders Ben Volach and Dan Volach penned an open letter to the developer community that encouraged any developers who feel that Apple has kicked them out of the App Store or otherwise treated them unfairly to reach out to them and share their stories.

Just days later, the BlueMail app has returned to the Mac App Store. In a press release, BlueMail parent company Blix said it has no intention of dropping its legal case against Apple, which it believes extends beyond the removal of BlueMail on the Mac App Store to the "suppression of its iOS app and the infringement of Blix's patented technology through 'Sign in with Apple.'"

"We're happy that users can once again get BlueMail through the Mac App Store, but we know this isn't the end. Our experience has shown that until the app review process includes effective checks and balances, Apple holds too much power over small developers." said Ben Volach, co-founder at Blix. "One solution could be to include external independent members and observers in Apple's App Review Board, just as a public company's Board of Directors represents its shareholders."

"When we wrote to Tim Cook in November, we heard back in hours. When we wrote to Apple's developer community, BlueMail was back on the App Store within a week," said Dan Volach, co-founder at Blix. "If you're out there too scared to come forward, let this be your proof that speaking out works. To Apple, we want to reiterate that all we want for developers is an opportunity to be treated fairly."


This article, "BlueMail Returns to Mac App Store, Developers Still Suing Apple Over Anticompetitive Behavior" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple Asks Devs to Submit macOS Catalina Apps to Mac App Store, Reminds About Notarization Requirements

Ahead of the launch of macOS Catalina, which Apple says will "soon be available," Apple is asking developers to submit Mac apps compatible with Catalina to the Mac App Store.

Apple encourages developers to take advantage of macOS Catalina technologies like Sign in with Apple, Sidecar, Core ML 3, and Metal. Apple also highlights Mac Catalyst, designed to bring iPad apps to the Mac.

macOS Catalina will soon be available to hundreds of millions of users around the world. With macOS Catalina, your Mac apps can take advantage of Sign in with Apple, Sidecar, and the latest advances in Core ML 3, and Metal. And with Mac Catalyst, you can bring your iPad apps to Mac. Build your apps using Xcode 11, test them on a Mac computer running the macOS Catalina GM seed, and submit them for review.
Separately, for apps that are designed to be distributed outside of the Mac App Store, Apple has reminded developers of a new notarization requirement.

Apple is requiring apps that are distributed outside of the Mac App Store to be notarized by Apple to run on macOS Catalina. First introduced in macOS Mojave, the notarization process is aimed at protecting Mac users from malicious and harmful apps.
To further protect users on macOS Catalina, we're working with developers to make sure all software, whether distributed on the App Store or outside of it, is signed or notarized by Apple. This will give users more confidence that the software they download and run, no matter where they get it from, has been checked for known security issues.

In June, we announced that all Mac software distributed outside the Mac App Store must be notarized by Apple in order to run by default on macOS Catalina. Make sure to test all versions of your software on the macOS Catalina GM seed and submit it to Apple to be notarized.
For notarization, Apple offers trusted non Mac App Store developers Developer IDs that are required to allow the Gatekeeper function on macOS to install non Mac App Store apps.

Notarization is not required for apps that are distributed through the Mac App Store, and Apple recently relaxed its notarization rules, giving developers until January 2020 to comply.

Apple today released the golden master version of macOS Catalina to developers, which represents the final version of the software that will be provided to the public.

It's still not known when macOS Catalina will launch, but it could be as early as tomorrow based on previously leaked info from Apple's Danish site.


This article, "Apple Asks Devs to Submit macOS Catalina Apps to Mac App Store, Reminds About Notarization Requirements" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Adobe Lightroom Returns to the Mac App Store

At WWDC 2018, Apple introduced a redesigned Mac App Store alongside changes to sandboxing parameters on macOS Mojave. Since then, several well-known apps have launched on or returned to the Mac App Store, including the Microsoft Office suite, Microsoft To-Do, BBEdit, Transmit, and others.


Next up is Adobe Lightroom CC, which is available on the Mac App Store as of today. The professional photo editing software is free to download, but requires a $9.99 monthly subscription via Apple's in-app purchase system after a one-week trial. 1TB of cloud storage is included with a subscription.

As noted by The Verge, Lightroom was previously available on the Mac App Store for a one-time purchase of $149.99 in 2012:
This isn't the first time that you've been able to get Lightroom in the Mac App Store. Back in 2012, when Adobe sold its apps as standalone purchases before starting to push Creative Cloud subscriptions, Lightroom 4 was available for $149.99. Lightroom 5 never came to Apple's store, however, and even Adobe itself doesn't sell standalone versions of Lightroom today.
This news is a win-win for Apple and Adobe. Apple has landed another major app on the Mac App Store, which faced years of criticism, and will generate revenue from its split of in-app purchases. Adobe, meanwhile, has made Lightroom available to a very broad audience of potential customers.

Lightroom CC remains available outside of the Mac App Store as well, with subscription pricing starting at the same $9.99 per month. One benefit of switching to the Mac App Store version is a more streamlined update process.


This article, "Adobe Lightroom Returns to the Mac App Store" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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BBEdit Returns to Mac App Store

Bare Bones Software today announced the return of BBEdit to the Mac App Store after a nearly five year hiatus.


The popular text, code, and markup editor is a free download on the Mac App Store with full features available for $3.99 per month or $39.99 per year via in-app purchase. BBEdit remains available on a perpetual license basis for $49.99 via Bare Bones Software's online store and at participating resellers.

BBEdit was updated in February to become a sandboxed app, a requirement to be distributed through the Mac App Store. Sandboxing limits apps to their intended use and is a protection implemented to prevent malicious software from working. BBEdit will require explicit permission to access files and folders on the Mac.

Bare Bones says BBEdit's features and capabilities are identical for all customers, whether downloaded directly from the Bare Bones Software web site or from the Mac App Store, and whether using a subscription or a perpetual license.

BBEdit offers a 30-day evaluation period, during which its full feature set is available. After the evaluation period has expired, you can continue to use BBEdit in "free mode" with permanent access to editing capabilities, but not web authoring tools or other exclusive features for paying customers.

BBEdit 12 features more than 300 new features and refinements since the last Mac App Store release of the software, including 64-bit support, macOS Mojave and Dark Mode support, Git integration, and much more.

The Mac App Store version requires macOS Mojave 10.14.2 or later, while the direct version requires macOS Sierra 10.12.6 or later.

BBEdit is just one of several well-known apps returning to the Mac App Store following its redesign and changes to sandboxing rules on macOS Mojave. Others include the Microsoft Office suite, Panic's file transfer app Transmit, and Adobe Lightroom CC, as revealed by Apple during its WWDC 2018 keynote.


This article, "BBEdit Returns to Mac App Store" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple Removes 11 Categories From the Mac App Store Categories Tab [Update: They’re Back]

Apple has slashed the number of app categories listed in the Mac App Store's Categories tab, an apparently intentional move that may irk Mac users and developers who rely on the tab to aid app discoverability.


The tab now lists just 10 categories, down from the 21 it had listed since the revamped Mac App Store debuted with the launch of macOS Mojave in September. The missing categories include Finance, Lifestyle, Sports, Weather, Medical, Travel, Education, Reference, Entertainment, Health & Fitness, and News. That leaves the following 10 categories that users can still browse individually:
  • Business
  • Developer Tools

  • Games

  • Graphics & Design

  • Music
  • Photography

  • Productivity

  • Social Networking

  • Utilities

  • Video



When a developer submits their app to Apple for inclusion on the Mac App Store, they can assign the app a primary category and a secondary category. The primary category is particularly important for discoverability, as this is the one in which the app appears when users browse the Mac App Store or filter search results. Up until yesterday, it also determined the app's placement among the 21 categories listed in the Categories tab.


It's unclear at present why Apple has decided to hamstring the Categories tab, as the categories that are missing are still being used to classify apps in the Mac App Store, and Apple's documentation for developers on choosing a category for their Mac app hasn't changed. Currently, iPhone and iPad users remain able to browse all 21 iOS app categories individually in the iOS App Store app.

We've reached out to Apple for comment regarding the change to the Mac App Store and will update this article if we learn more.

Update: Apple brought back the 11 missing categories in the Categories tab as of Saturday morning. Why they were removed in the first place remains a mystery.

Related Roundup: macOS Mojave

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Apple Encourages Developers to Get Their Mac Apps Notarized

In macOS Mojave, Apple introduced a new notarization feature for apps distributed outside of the Mac App Store that's designed to further protect users from malicious Mac apps.

Apple is encouraging Mac app developers to submit their apps to Apple to be notarized. An Apple-notarized Mac app comes with a "more streamlined Gatekeeper dialog" to assure users that an app is not known malware.


Apple already provides trusted non Mac App Store developers with Developer IDs that are necessary to let the Gatekeeper function on macOS install non Mac App Store apps without a hassle, but notarization takes it one step further and adds an extra layer of security.

Notarization automatically scans Developer ID-signed software and performs security checks for malicious code and code signing problems.

According to Apple, in a future version of macOS, notarization will be required for Developer ID-signed software.
macOS Mojave is here. Give Mac users even more confidence in your software distributed outside the Mac App Store by submitting it to Apple to be notarized. When users on macOS Mojave first open a notarized app, installer package, or disk image, they'll see a more streamlined Gatekeeper dialog and have confidence that it is not known malware.

Download Xcode 10 and submit your software today. In an upcoming release of macOS, Gatekeeper will require Developer ID-signed software to be notarized by Apple.
The notarization process is designed for non Mac App Store apps and is not required for those that are submitted to the Mac App Store. More information on notarization can be found on Apple's developer site.


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Developers’ Opinion of Mac App Store Improving, but Many Still Unhappy With Lack of Upgrade Options and Free Trials

Setapp, a company that offers a subscription service for Mac apps, today published the results of an annual survey querying Mac app developers on the state of the Mac App Store.

Many Mac developers continue to be unhappy with the Mac App Store and fewer are choosing it for app distribution, but Apple's efforts to improve the Mac App Store in Mojave have improved opinions in some cases. To get the data for this survey, Setapp queried a total of 814 developers.

Just 22 percent of Mac app developers choose to distribute their apps exclusively through the Mac App Store. 32 percent, up from 30 percent last year, distribute their apps outside of the Mac App Store entirely, while 46 percent sell their apps both in the Mac App Store and outside of the Mac App Store.


Developers continue to make more money outside of the Mac App Store for the most part, with 59 percent earning more revenue without the Mac App Store and 41 percent earning more money through the Mac App Store.

Despite the fact that fewer Mac developers are using the Mac App Store, among those who do exclusively sell through the Mac App Store, overall opinion has improved. Those who sell outside of the Mac App Store and both through the Mac App Store and outside of it also had a higher overall opinion, though it still trends toward the negative.

Mac App Store developers happy with the Mac App Store

51 percent of developers surveyed said that providing Apple with a 30 percent cut of revenue is worth it, an impressive jump from the 31 percent that said the same thing in 2017.

Compared to 2017, when developers were upset with Apple's sandboxing practices and named it as a key reason for avoiding the Mac App Store, opinions have improved. Sandboxing is no longer seen as a critical issue.


Developers are, however, concerned with a lack of pricing upgrade options, no analytics, and an inability to offer trials.

Developers who do not choose the Mac App Store said they avoided it because of the unclear app review process, 30 percent revenue share, and lack of trials.

This year, 20 percent of developers decided to switch to a subscription model for their apps, and 52 percent of those said that it had an overall positive impact on their business. Of those using subscription models, increased revenue and an active growing user base were cited as positives.

Full details and comparisons between data collected in 2016 and 2017 can be viewed on Setapp's survey website, which also includes details on how developers view the Setapp service.


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Mac App Store App ‘Adware Doctor’ Discovered Stealing User Browsing History

The number one top-selling paid Utilities app on the Mac App Store in the United States has been found to steal the browser history of anyone who downloads it, and is still on the App Store as of this article. A video posted in August gave a proof of concept to how the app "Adware Doctor" steals user data, and security researcher Patrick Wardle has now looked into the app and shared his findings with TechCrunch.


Adware Doctor's Mac App Store page says it will "keep your Mac safe" and "get rid of annoying pop-up ads." Besides being at the top of the Utilities chart on the Mac App Store, Adware Doctor is also currently the number five top paid app on the entire store in the U.S., behind apps like Notability and Apple's own Final Cut Pro.

In his blog post, Wardle explains that Adware Doctor withdraws sensitive user data -- predominantly any website you've searched for and browsed on -- and sends it to servers in China run by the app's makers. Apple was contacted a month ago -- around the time the original proof of concept video was shared online -- and promised it would investigate, but the $4.99 app remains on the Mac App Store.

TechCrunch gave an overview of Wardle's findings:
Wardle found that the downloaded app jumped through hoops to bypass Apple’s Mac sandboxing features, which prevents apps from grabbing data on the hard drive, and upload a user’s browser history on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers.

Wardle found that the app, thanks to Apple’s own flawed vetting, could request access to the user’s home directory and its files. That isn’t out of the ordinary, Wardle says, because tools that market themselves as anti-malware or anti-adware expect access to the user’s files to scan for problems. When a user allows that access, the app can detect and clean adware — but if found to be malicious, it can “collect and exfiltrate any user file,” said Wardle.

Once the data is collected, it’s zipped into an archive file and sent to a domain based in China.
Towards the end of his post, Wardle discussed the ramifications of Adware Doctor and the privacy issue it presents, stating, "The fact that application has been surreptitiously exfiltrating users' browsing history, possibly for years, is, to put it mildly, rather f----- up!" The researcher also points out that Apple itself touts the Mac App Store as "the safest place to download apps for your Mac," which is often true.

Given the app violates numerous App Store Rules and Guidelines, namely including user consent on data collection, Wardle hopes that the increased spotlight on Adware Doctor's nefarious data collecting will make Apple take action. Even though Mac App Store customers who used the app would never be able to get their private browsing history back, the researcher says that Apple could begin to address the situation "by pulling the app and refunding all affected users."


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‘Life is Strange: Before the Storm’ Launches on macOS September 13

In March, Feral Interactive announced that its latest video game port for macOS would be the adventure game Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and at the time said it would launch in the spring. After a delay, the prequel is set to release next week on Thursday, September 13 on macOS and Linux.


Life is Strange: Before the Storm was originally developed by Deck Nine and published by Square Enix on consoles and PCs in August 2017. The story takes place three years before the events of the original Life is Strange, tracking the friendship between rebellious sixteen-year-old Chloe and a popular schoolmate named Rachel.

Gameplay puts players in the shoes of Chloe as she must make choices that ultimately shape a branching story with multiple endings influenced by every decision. One of the main gameplay hooks of the game is "Backtalk," which the developers describe as a "risk and reward-based system" in which Chloe uses her wit to provoke NPCs or get her way.


The game requires macOS High Sierra 10.13.5 or higher, an Intel Core i5 2.0 GHz processor, 8GB RAM, and 28GB of hard drive space. Required graphics cards include 1GB Nvidia 650M or better, 2GB AMD Radeon R9 M290 or better, or 1.5GB Intel Iris 5100 or better. The full list of supported Macs can be found below:
  • All Mac Minis since Late 2014

  • All 13" MacBook Pros released since 2013

  • All 15" MacBook Pros released since mid 2012 with a 1GB graphics card or better (Mid 2015 models with an AMD 370X are not supported.)

  • All 21.5" iMacs released since late 2013

  • All 27" iMacs released since late 2013 (Late 2012 models with Nvidia 675 or Nvidia 680 graphics are also supported.)

  • All 27" iMac Pros released since late 2017

  • All Mac Pros released since late 2013
Life is Strange: Before the Storm includes three episodes that make up the base game, and will also come in a Deluxe Edition that includes all three episodes as well as all available additional content, including the bonus episode "Farewell." The Deluxe Edition will be priced at $24.82 and is available to pre-order beginning today on the Feral Store.


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