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Apple Relaxes Development Demands as Android Grows

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Apple (s aapl) today has relaxed development requirements for iOS devices, allowing programmers to use non-Apple tools to create mobile applications. This easing still prohibits iOS applications from downloading any additional code, but should open the doors for iOS apps to be built from non-Apple frameworks and cross-platform tools. In a statement this morning, Apple had this to say:

We are continually trying to make the App Store even better. 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, 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.

It’s worth noting that the now-relaxed restrictions were originally put into place to block apps not built on Objective-C, C, C++ or Javascript: Think Adobe Flash (s adbe) and Microsoft Silverlight (s msft), to name a few. Apple’s statement and change in development terms doesn’t necessarily mean that Flash apps, for example, are now acceptable, but the doors have been opened, if only a crack. We’ll be following up with some additional thoughts from both a developer and end-user perspective on what this means, so stay tuned.

It’s clear that Apple has also heard developer criticisms of its App Store review process, which has been a black box up to this point. Developers have submitted software and sometimes waited for months to gain approval, or rejection without detailed reasons, for that matter. I’ve criticized Google’s Android Market (s goog) in the past, but perhaps Apple is concerned that rising Android device sales are starting to attract the attention of developers. Regardless of the reasons for more transparency in the App Store process, developers and iOS device owners alike will be happy with this news.

Related research from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

The App Developer’s Guide to Choosing a Mobile Platform

24 Responses to “Apple Relaxes Development Demands as Android Grows”

  1. I am surprised that Apple didn’t make this move earlier on. They should have seen how big the Android market could become. They have to remember that the Android OS is used by many OEM and making it very popular with the consumers. If Apple continues to make it harder for developers on the iOS, then some will start to move on. For example Apple is always finding ways to block Jailbroken iPhones; but then you really don’t see this happening on the Android devices. Sure phone OEM don’t like for consumers to upgrade to a newer verison of Android, but you never see Google sending a update to block people from upgrading there current phones. Apple is going to have to watch out as time goes. Look at when Palm was ahead, and now….

  2. Breaking Wind

    I hope they are not serious about stopping quality enhancements to my fart apps. It requires much research and tweaking to get it just right (minus unique smell of course). As many of you know farts come in many different accents based on factors such as race, gender, weight, etc. I am constantly fine tuning to get the correct sound and duration just right for those with discriminating auditory systems. Apple claims they “don’t need any more fart apps” but come on fellas these are wonderful apps that bring tears of joy to world.

    • Depending on current stress level I can see the need to emulate a wide range of obnoxious odor-inducing sound wiffs from the wet-sloppy-runny fart to the crisp-tight-popcorn fart. It takes an artist and connoisseur of the toothless wonder to appreciate the hard work and effort to build a great fart app and I salute your fine work which has brought much joy and laughter to us since Apple opened the App Store. :-)

    • Mike Methane

      As a tribute, using a special family recipe, I have just released a custom fart “app” in the general direction of Steve’s office in Cupertino, California. Hopefully it will reach him will the same full force and effect that it had when it left me. Cheers.

  3. I think Steve’s comment is on the right track with the Game Center idea. If Apple was that worried about Android growth they wouldn’t continue to stick with AT&T as the sole US provider. For that matter, what is “Android growth” anyway? Android is becoming the most sold smartphone but iOS is the 3rd highest OS connecting to the web. Makes you think about what Android users are using their phone for.

    • NOT its all Adroid. If Android ends up with more devices, which is a given basically and you add less rules around development, then Android will attact more developers.

      This move is totally based on stoping or hopefully slowing the move to Android by developers.

      Windows Phone 7 will impact developers even more since there are way more Windows developers that can now use their .NET tools to make apps for Windows Phone 7.

      Apple will peak in 2011.

  4. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    This is just Mr. Jobs tending to his Garden (aka Goldmine). The Walls have been lowered thereby allowing a new crop of potential developers to view its luscious landscape which can be quite intoxicating. Good move Steven.

  5. Apple opened the doors for third party development tools but still puts its foot down on quality. It’s exactly what I was hoping for.

    If it’s going to keep an approval process, do it to the nines. 250,000 apps is ok and all, but not when a chunk of them look like they were designed by a kid who just BitTorrented Flash but forgot to also steal a design theory book. Let those dingbats write for Android or some other platform. Raise the bar not just for app security and other B&W rules, but enforce taking the time to design a great, intuitive, and/or fun experience.

    Besides straight app and game developers, some of these changes seem to accommodate the needs of publishers. From what I hear, it sounds like Adobe can re-enable features it built into apps like InDesign so publishers can layout an issue and export it in iOS app form for Apple’s review process. This is great news.

  6. Steve Gives Generously

    This is very generous move by Steve and I am absolutely positive this has nothing to do with that platform that The Google purchased some five years ago, I think it was called Android (wink wink).

  7. Narayanan

    I think it is a good thin, but to link it to Android h/w growth is somewhat a stretch, at best. Most likely other factors have played a major part.

    Two points

    – Apple has published App Store review process guidelines for the first time.
    – Second, Apple has culled over 70,000 apps (the count went down from ~320,000 to ~250,000 at last reporting)

    Both these imply that they have the whole process streamlined and under control after the explosive initial growth.

  8. This is very good, it shows a clearer choice to open source over proprietary lock down methods ala Microsoft.

    Microsoft had many years to establish its hold with little competition and great marketing. Apple has had only a couple years to set a standard for the mobile market while unrivaled, maybe this time the open source solution will be the winner.

    Google 4tw.

    • I don’t think you’ve had a look at anything apple do. Their entire company is built around propietary locked down systems, I’m not saying that Microsoft is a beam of light but they are certainly no worse than Apple in that regard.