Apple unveils major changes for iOS developer community - Mobile World Live

Apple unveils major changes for iOS developer community

13 SEP 2010

Apple has updated the terms and conditions of its developer agreement, which was seen as opening the way for apps created using Flash and Java to make their way to iOS devices. The company is also providing guidelines for submissions to its App Store, which was perceived as adding transparency to an otherwise cloudy process controlled tightly by Apple. A further benefit is that the new terms will support third-party advertising solutions, including Google’s AdMob.

By opening the App Store to applications developed using a number of third-party tools, Apple will make it easier for developers to create products which can easily be ported across multiple device platforms, enabling the easy creation of apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian OS and others. Previously, Apple had restricted the tools available to developers, effectively creating a two-path development roadmap for any vendors looking to support multiple OSs. Adobe responded to the announcement by stating that “this is great news for developers and we’re hearing from our developer community that [Flash-based] apps are already being approved for the App Store.”

However, the change of terms does not permit the creation of browsers with support for Flash, due to Apple placing restrictions on software which download additional code during use; apps created using Flash must be self-contained, in the same way that most App Store products are currently. It may pave the way for Adobe to push for this again, though, now that Apple’s anti-Flash stance appears to have mellowed somewhat.

A number of developers also noted that the now public App Store submission guidelines appear to permit products which have previously been barred, such as a Google Voice app which was previously listed, and then removed, from the store.  The developer, Sean Kovacs, said that “I did get confirmation back from Apple that it will most likely get back in once I resubmit,” although the product is still not currently available. The app had been made available to owners of “jailbroken” iPhones in the interim.

In a blog post, Google noted that “the new terms provide immediate clarification about the status of mobile advertising on the iPhone and will benefit users, developers, and advertisers. Users will benefit from more free, or low-cost apps that can now more readily be supported by advertising. Developers will be able to choose from a variety of competitive advertising options and pick the solution that works best for them, to boost their revenues. Advertisers will have access to simple and effective advertising solutions that can reach users across a wide range of devices.”

The one issue that has not been resolved is why Apple has had its change-of-heart. It is likely that a combination of factors is at play. The company’s actions in recent months have sparked interest from regulators, concerned that its actions are anti-competitive, with the EU and the Federal Trade Commission both believed to be looking at Apple’s business practices. And Google’s Android platform is seeing increased support in the developer community, looking likely to become the primary alternative for developers unhappy with Apple’s restrictive actions; by going some way to meet their criticisms, the company may be able to keep programmers on-board, so that the App Store retains the best catalogue of mobile apps available.

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