Code Signing and Mavericks

The Change

Very simply put, you can no longer sign a bundle (like your .app) if any nested bundle in that package is unsigned. These nested bundles are things like helper executables, embedded frameworks, plug-ins and XPC services.

The result is that you’ll need to update your Xcode projects as soon as you start building on 10.9. It’s taken me several days to understand what these changes are, and with the help of Perry Kiehtreiber on the developer forums, I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

(Yes, I realize this essay is going to break the NDA, but since Apple is asking us to submit apps for Mavericks, I want as many developers as possible to avoid the utter confusion I faced earlier this week.)

The Effect

So what happens when you do your first app build on 10.9 using Xcode 5.0.1? If you embed a framework that’s unsigned, like the very popular Sparkle.framework, you’ll see a message during the final CodeSign build phase:

CodeSign build/Release/
    cd /Users/craig/Projects/Mac/xScope
    setenv CODESIGN_ALLOCATE /Applications/
    Using code signing identity "Developer ID Application: The Iconfactory"
    /usr/bin/codesign --force --sign D2A3FE1814B0BA31B1924F1C3C3B5C89643FBED5 --requirements =designated\ =>\ anchor\ apple\ generic\ \ and\ identifier\ \"xScope\"\ and\ ((cert\ leaf[field.1.2.840.113635.]\ exists)\ or\ (\ certificate\ 1[field.1.2.840.113635.]\ exists\ and\ certificate\ leaf[field.1.2.840.113635.]\ exists\ \ and\ certificate\ leaf[subject.OU]\ =\ \"RYQWBTQRPT\"\ )) /Users/craig/Projects/Mac/xScope/build/Release/
/Users/craig/Projects/Mac/xScope/build/Release/ code object is not signed at all
In subcomponent: /Users/craig/Projects/Mac/xScope/build/Release/
Command /usr/bin/codesign failed with exit code 1


The codesign command is reporting that “code object is not signed at all” and Xcode is adding the “In subcomponent” to tell you which framework is at fault (it could just have easily been HockeyApp or any other third-party framework you use.)

So how do you go about fixing this?

The Wrong Way

In the past, many developers have relied on codesign‘s --deep option to make sure the entire bundle is signed. Specifying this option in “Other Code Signing Flags” will get rid of the error during the build, but all you’re doing is just postponing the pain.

The reason is that --deep recursively signs the nested bundles. As it does this, it applies the parameters for the top-level bundle to all the nested bundles. Things like your app’s entitlements will cause the resulting bundles to not be valid.

In fact, if you try to download and install the resulting app, Gatekeeper will notify your customers that your app is damaged and can’t be opened, with a default button to move it to the Trash:

You’ll see the same thing if you check the binary using the command line:

$ spctl --verbose=4 --assess --type execute build/Release/
build/Release/ a sealed resource is missing or invalid

The Right Way

What’s the right way to make sure the embedded framework is correctly signed? The answer is to add another Build Phase to your target.

If you’re embedding frameworks, you’ll have a “Copy Files” phase that moves things like Sparkle.framework into the Frameworks destination. Just after this Build Phase, add a Run Script with the following shell commands:

IDENTITY="Developer ID Application: The Iconfactory"
codesign --verbose --force --sign "$IDENTITY" "$LOCATION/Sparkle.framework/Versions/A"

This short script tells Xcode to sign the framework that’s just been copied into the build product. In this case, it’s using the Developer ID for Gatekeeper. If you were doing a build for the Mac App Store you’d use your “3rd Party Mac Developer Application” identity. Add a codesign command for every framework you use.

If you have other embedded code, such as helper executables, plug-ins or XPC services, you’ll need to sign them appropriately after copying them into your app bundle.

Updated October 18th, 2013: Another alternative is to set the code signing identity in the Build Settings of the frameworks you’re building from source. The trick here is that the identity of the framework needs to match the identity of the app itself. You can’t have have an App Store distribution identity for the framework and a Developer ID for the app. I found it much easier to explicitly re-sign the frameworks than to pass configuration settings from MyApp.xcodeproj to MyFramework.xcodeproj. It’s also easier to manage because the project changes are the same for binary-only frameworks (like Sparkle) and frameworks we build from source (like Chameleon).

The Checks

You’ll want to do a quick check of the build product before uploading it to either your website or iTunes Connect. The first thing you’ll want to do is check the signed bundle meets its designated requirement:

$ codesign --verify --verbose=4 build/Release/
build/Release/ valid on disk
build/Release/ satisfies its Designated Requirement

If there’s a problem, you’ll see a message that the app “does not satisfy its designated Requirement”. To view information about the signed code or the designated requirements, you can use these commands:

$ codesign --display --verbose=4 build/Release/
$ codesign --display --verbose=4 build/Release/
$ codesign --display --requirements - --verbose=4 build/Release/
$ codesign --display --requirements - --verbose=4 build/Release/

If this is a build you’ll be uploading to your website, you’ll want to make sure it will be accepted by Gatekeeper (and not display the “damaged” dialog.) Use spctl to do this:

$ spctl --verbose=4 --assess --type execute build/Release/
build/Release/ accepted
source=Developer ID

If this is an App Store build, you MUST check the .pkg file that gets uploaded to iTunes Connect (see the next section and you’ll see why I say MUST.) If you use productbuild to create the package manually, you’ll already have a .pkg file to test.

For those of you who submit archives directly from Xcode, you can generate the .pkg file using the command line:

$ xcodebuild -exportArchive -exportFormat PKG -archivePath /path/to/your.xcarchive -exportPath /tmp/CHOCKS -exportSigningIdentity "3rd Party Mac Developer Application: CHOCK LOCK INK” -exportInstallerIdentity "3rd Party Mac Developer Installer:  CHOCK LOCK INK"

You can find the path to your .xcarchive by selecting it in the Organizer and then using the Editor > Show in Finder menu item. The command above will create a /tmp/CHOCKS.pkg. Yes, you now have CHOCKS PACKAGE IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN

(A quick side note, if you use xcodebuild, it got a lot of love in Mavericks. Make sure to check out the man page.)

To check out CHOCKS.pkg, run the installer with the -store option:

$ sudo installer -store -pkg /tmp/CHOCKS.pkg -target /
installer: Note: running installer as an admin user (instead of root) gives better Mac App Store fidelity
installer: CHOCKS.pkg has valid signature for submission: 3rd Party Mac Developer Installer: The Iconfactory
installer: Installation Check: Passed
installer: Volume Check: Passed
installer: Bundle com.artissoftware.mac.xScope will be installed to /Applications/
installer: Starting install
installer: Install 0.0% complete
installer: Install 13.8% complete
installer: Install 22.2% complete
installer: Install 47.6% complete
installer: Install 88.3% complete
installer: Install 100.0% complete
installer: Finished install

Now, sign out of the App Store and launch the app that was just installed in your Applications folder. If everything is OK, you’ll see the prompt for your Apple ID and a receipt will be written in the app’s _MASReceipt folder.

But not always.

(For more information on testing installer packages, check out the Testing section in my Mac App Store Guide.)

The Suckage

After being installed for the first time, some apps never get a receipt when they are launched on Mavericks. The app starts up, sees that there’s no receipt in /Contents/_MASReceipt and signals that it’s missing by exiting with a 173 code. Normally, storeagent will recognize this and prompt for an Apple ID. After valid credentials are provided, the receipt is written and the app is launched again.

Several developers, myself included, have noticed that after exiting with a 173, only the following is logged in the console:

Oct 17 11:59:03 Myrtle.local storeagent[72031]: Unsigned app (/Applications/

If this happens to you, it seems your only course of action is to not validate the receipt. Your code will launch fine if you never return a 173. Which, of course, sucks because it’s then trivial to pirate your the app.

For any Apple folks that might be reading this, check out the Radar: rdar://problem/15254213

Updated October 18th, 2013: Developers that are doing their builds on 10.8 also need to watch out for this problem. As a workaround, I tried building the product on 10.8.4 using Xcode 5.0. The resulting .pkg exhibited the same behavior at launch time as the one created with the Xcode GM on Mavericks.

The Workarounds

Xcode sometimes has problems generating a valid designated requirement. When you check the designated requirement, you might see this:

$ codesign --verify --verbose=1 build/Release/
build/Release/ valid on disk
build/Release/ does not satisfy its designated Requirement

$ codesign --display --requirements - build/Release/
designated => anchor apple generic and identifier Twitterrific and (certificate leaf[field.1.2.840.113635.] /* exists */ or certificate 1[field.1.2.840.113635.] /* exists */ and certificate leaf[field.1.2.840.113635.] /* exists */ and certificate leaf[subject.OU] = RYQWBTQRPT)

If you look closely, you’ll see that the identifier used for the requirement is incorrect: it should be com.iconfactory.Twitterrific, not just Twitterrific. The workaround for this bug is simply to set the identifier explicitly in your Build Settings. In our case, we added --identifier com.iconfactory.Twitterrific to Other Code Signing Flags.

Updated October 18th, 2013: It looks like this bug happens when you precompile your Info.plist. Thanks to Chris Liscio for verifying that problem. Make sure to dupe it, if you’re affected!

As to why you’d want to precompile your Info.plist, there are two good reasons.

The End

There you have it: a short summary of my last three days of confusion caused by new Gatekeeper requirements, issues with Xcode and bugs in Mavericks. Hopefully, this essay will save you some of that same agony.


Let’s talk about cars for a second.

If you’re driving a car manufactured in the past five years, it’s likely it has anti-lock brakes. A standard feature at this point in time, but who came up with it first?

Mercedes-Benz first introduced it on the S-Class line back in 1978. It was a revolutionary technology and the first hint of how digital electronics would change the course of the automotive industry.

The S-Class pioneered many other safety innovations: crash crumple zones, air bags and traction control are a few of the most notable. This line has also become synonymous with comfort and luxury: it was the first Mercedes to be available with an automatic transmission. There’s even an armored version with a customized crocodile, gold and birch interior!

It’s clear this car is in a class by itself: “Sonderklasse”

“S-Class” is an anglicisation of “”S-Klasse,” a German abbreviation of “Sonderklasse,” which means “special class” (in the sense of “a class of its own”). In automotive terms thus refers to “a specially outfitted car”.

The current S600 model sports a 5.5L twin turbo V12 motor with a 7-speed automatic transmission. Enough power to propel a 4,950 lb vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. And that’s before AMG gets their hands on it. Impressive automotive technology, to be sure.

More importantly, these special cars have been recognized as a driving force behind the company’s success.

And now…

Another premium technology brand has an S-Class product: iPhone 5s.

“Craftsmanship”, “Power”, “Safety & Security”, “Ahead of its time”. Are we talking about a car or a phone?

Look at the words that dominate the iPhone 5s features page: Forward thinking. That’s a strategy that’s worked superbly at Mercedes-Benz for almost 60 years. I suspect Apple will get a pretty good run out of it, too.


It looks like my hunch about the iPhone invite was right: new phones are likely to have “silver rings” that are fingerprint sensors embedded into the home button.

So what does this mean? Most people assume that it’s just going to be easier to access your home screen (without entering a passcode.) But I think it goes much deeper than that.

iCloud services are a huge part of Apple’s next decade. Everything the company is doing these days has some kind of connection to data that is stored remotely. They’re investing heavily in new data centers.

And anytime you want to access this data, you’re logging into iCloud. Wouldn’t it be great if you could skip the part where you have to type in your Apple ID?

It’s clear to me that your unique fingerprint will be tied to your unique Apple ID. Once this connection between your physical and online presences is established, some very interesting things become possible. Let’s take a look at a few things I think might happen:

Protecting access to apps

From the beginning, I’ve wanted a way to protect my personal information when sharing a device with friends and family. But any secure solution to that problem would be a pain in the butt. Typing a password before launching an app? No thanks!

But imagine if opening your favorite Twitter app only required a fingerprint scan before proceeding. Everyone’s favorite Twitter prank would thankfully die. And more importantly, we’d all feel a lot better about using things like online banking apps.

Corporate security

Most corporate networks are protected by VPN. The profiles that enable this network configuration often specify that a user must use a passcode lock. And it’s rarely a simple passcode. And it kicks in immediately.

Imagine needing to type in a eight character password with letters and numerals just to check the current weather. That’s a reality for millions of people who use their device for both personal and business tasks.

A fingerprint scanner that avoids this complex password will sell a lot of devices.

Multiple accounts

There are many scenarios where you want to let someone do whatever they want with your personal device: a partner providing directions while you drive, a kid playing games in a waiting room, your parents looking at vacation photos. All these people have something different than you: a fingerprint.

Entering a login and password has always seemed out of place in the simplified world of iOS. But detecting which account to use when tapping on the home button actually makes it easier for members of your family to use your personal device: they don’t even have to slide to unlock.

And once everyone has their own personal space on the device, no one can mess with it. This is important in many contexts: even something simple like a game has sensitive information as soon as a sibling comes along and screws up high scores or play position.

Borrowing devices

Most of us backup our data to iCloud. That data is restored to a device when it’s first put into service or if something goes wrong.

Now imagine if you had the ability to restore your data onto any device with the touch of your finger. Borrow an iPad and make it yours instantly. Businesses that strive to make a customer feel at home, like hotels and airlines, would love this capability.

Personal identification

If you think Apple is going to give developers access to this biometric information, think again. Google would love this data, so you know it’s not going to happen.

Slowly but surely

Don’t expect all these things to appear on September 10th. Apple will start out simply and continue to improve the software that uses this new sensor. That’s how they roll.

Acknowledgments: The genesis of these ideas came from a conversation with my colleague Sean Heber. He’s the one that first made the connection between iCloud and your finger. Thanks also go to Ryan Jones for the links about the sensor.

It’s the Production Line, Stupid

“Apple Absolutely Has To Make An iPhone With A Bigger Screen”

(Warning: Business Insider link)

While that may be true, take a look at what happened at the end of last year: 47.8 Million iPhones Sold.

That’s a shitload of iPhones. But how many is a shitload?

47.8M iPhones
/ 90 days = 530K per day
/ 24 hours = 22K per hour
/ 60 minutes = 369 per hour
/ 60 seconds = 6 per second

That means that every second of every day you need six cases, six headphone jacks, six LCD screens, six batteries, six CPUs, six 10µf capacitors, six 10kΩ surface mount resistors, and thousands of other components.

Look at where all the leaks about new products come from: it’s always the supply chain that produces all these components. This should give you an idea of how many partners are involved.

Basically, Apple creates a pipeline that produces devices at an amazing rate. And it’s a finely tuned machine with a lot of inertia. You don’t just walk in and say, “Hey, let’s change the screen!” Doing so would throw that machine out of balance: a new screen means that some of the components (like the headphone jack) don’t change, while others would (the case, for example.)

A finely tuned production machine takes a lot of time and money to set up. Take a look at Apple’s capital expenditures. A mere $10B in 2012.

These capital expenditures show that Apple is planning ahead. At least 2-3 years, maybe more. You don’t just walk into Foxconn and ask for 50M iPhones. You need to predict the future.

Sure, it would be great to have a larger screen iPhone from what is known about current market conditions. But was a larger screen a sure thing 2-3 years ago? While you were falling in love with the new Retina display on your iPhone 4, I bet you weren’t thinking “Man, this display has got to be bigger!”

The cost to setup that production line is also a part of the final cost of the device. More frequent changes to the production line means that each device costs more or earns less profit for Apple.

As Apple continues to sell ever more devices, I see two things that could happen:

  1. A broader range of products (meaning more, smaller production lines to spread the demand)
  2. Increase the size of the production lines along with amount of time they stay online (meaning new devices are introduced every three years instead of two)

Given the highly competitive nature of the mobile space, I suspect we’ll see the first option come into play in the coming years. In the meantime, screens tick, while speed tocks:

Cheap as in Computing

There’s a good case for an iPhone that costs less. But with this lower cost, developers fear that device specifications will suffer:

As someone who’s actively working on an iOS 7 update, I’m noticing a definite pattern emerging: we’re removing a lot of shadows, gradients, and transparency. A lot of views that were previously required to make an app look at home on iOS 6 are no longer needed.

The visual simplification of iOS has led directly to a simplified implementation. As every developer knows, the less work your app does on a mobile device, the better it performs. It’s a lot easier now to make an app that feels fluid and uses less CPU and GPU resources.

While everyone focuses on what Jony Ive has put on the screen, he’s also made the hardware under that screen able to do more with less. And yet again, Apple’s tight integration of hardware and software is going to kick everyone’s ass.

Updated August 14th, 2013: A lot of Twitter followers are saying, “But what about the live blurs? Aren’t those CPU/GPU intensive?”

Yes, they are. And you should also note that access to those features is strictly through private API. An iPhone 4 turns off blur, an iPhone 5C could do the same if necessary.

(If you look closely at the blur behind a toolbar, you notice that there’s some kind of sub-sampling of the screen image. Because this implementation is private, the algorithm could also be adapted for other devices.)

There’s also the question of all the new dynamics in the UI (like bouncy messages.) The highest costs in a GPU, both with computation and hardware components, is with dealing a lot of textures. The math for a physics engine is relatively easy to handle.