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Apple lifts restrictions on app development tools, publishes review guidelines

Apple has lifted its restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS (iPhone and iPad) apps, in a statement published today:

We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, 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.

In addition, Apple says it is publishing the App Store Review Guidelines in the hope that this will make the approval process more transparent.

Good news I guess; but why? Maybe in part because the restrictions made little sense and were possibly unenforceable; and in part because Android’s popularity is putting pressure on Apple to be more developer-friendly. In practice, some apps that you would have thought breached the requirements apparently made it through the approval process; and those publishers of cross-platform tools which kept their nerve have their patience rewarded.

But what about Adobe? Apple’s development restrictions seems to trigger a significant change of direction, with work on the Packager for iPhone stopped, Android devices issued to employees, and evangelism for Android in Adobe blogs and tweets.

Since Apple is not changing its mind about runtimes, but only about development tools, this change of mind does not enable Flash on the iPhone; but I guess Adobe could now revive its cross-compilation work. On the other hand, Apple’s pronouncements have caused disruption for Adobe and perhaps served more as a wake-up call: this is a closed platform with one owner and therefore a risky target for investment.

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