Programmers building Safari extensions will now have to bung Apple some dosh to avoid having their browser add-ons kicked off the official Safari extensions gallery.
Apple has merged developer programs for iOS, OS X and Safari under a single Apple Developer Program roof, so $99 a year will get you access to behind-the-scenes resources, and allow you to submit software to the app stores and Safari gallery.
Safari extension developers, who had been able to submit their efforts to Apple's extensions gallery without charge if they had signed up for the free Safari Developer Program, must now essentially pay Apple a hundred bucks a year to appear in the official gallery – essentially paying for the privilege of improving the functionality of Apple's own browser.
In recent years, the core Safari browser (rather than extensions) has leaked private browsing information, been found to contain bugs and vulnerabilities, and failed to credit anyone other than itself and Google for discovering these issues.
Complaints are mounting on Reddit regarding the Safari "paygate" problem. It is possible, it seems, for programmers to distribute browser extensions from their own sites for free, rather than via Apple's official Safari gallery, but this is not ideal, we're told.
"It seems that perhaps I could still 'release' [my Safari extension] on my own without paying Apple, but the auto-update functionality would go away," said Steve Sobel, developer of the open-source Reddit Enhancement Suite add-on.
"This is pretty much a deal breaker for any browser extension that interacts with a website, as websites change somewhat often, and a developer definitely can't count on people to update their extensions manually."
He added: "This just feels like a huge kick in the face from Apple, whether intentional or not. I shouldn't have to pay for the privilege of giving away free software on a browser that frankly has the weakest of the four extension APIs." ®