Apple has sent an email to registered members of their Mac Developer program, encouraging them to get their apps verified with a Developer ID certificate. The email is being sent in preparation for the launch of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in late summer, a part of which is a new feature called Gatekeeper. The new feature is simply a way of preventing users from downloading and installing malicious software, to make it easier for users to avoid malware and dodgy applications.
Apple is therefore encouraging Developers to sign their apps with a unique Developer ID that will give users some reassurance about the quality of the apps that they download. This is particularly relevant for apps that are not available on the Mac App Store which inherently offers security and, in theory, reliability for the apps that are available on it.
Another useful implementation of the app signing process, at least from Apple’s perspective, is that if an app misbehaves in any way i.e. hidden functions or connectivity that are undesirable, then Apple will be able to withdraw the Developer ID certificate from the app developers and then add that developer to a blacklist.
Gatekeeper hasn’t received an enthusiastic welcome from all corners, with some proposing it as a way to encourage developers to sell their apps on the Mac App Store. However, it seems pretty easy to override, and notably, only works the first time that an app is launched. It is, however, a good way of developing trust between the user and the software that they choose to run, an important concept.