In a surprise announcement Apple has relaxed the restriction on using third-party development tools for the creation of iOS applications.
The changes relate to three sections of the developer agreement.
Today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year.
In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.
What this means, of course, is that you can now use Flash to develop applications for the iPhone, iPad, etc. It also removes any shadow of doubt that hung over development environments such as the Mono Silverlight development system.
The remaining restriction relates to not downloading code. This is probably a reasonable measure in that it stops updates to apps that might cause problems. It also means that Apple can keep control of apps - you can't install an app, not even a modified version of an app, unless it has been through the App Store review procedure. Talking of which the announcement also promised some review guidelines for the App Store:
In addition, for the first time we are publishing the App Store Review Guidelines to help developers understand how we review submitted apps. We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store.
The changes might be in response to developer complaints, or it could have something to do with an FTC investigation about the restriction on Flash. There is also the small matter that developers seem to be flocking to the Android platform where they are free to use whatever tools they like.
Is this enough to make developers feel happy? Well you still need a Mac to create an app for the iPhone, and you still need to submit it to the App Store to get it distributed, but as long as Apple is fair and even-handed in its acceptance or rejection of an App then there isn't much to complain about.
What would be better, however, is for Apple to pass over control of the App Store approval procedure to a third party with no vested interest in anything other than the success of iOS apps.
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