Apple Relaxes Development Demands as Android Grows

Why iPod Touch Specs Will Never Compete With iPhone

Apple 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 and Microsoft Silverlight, 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 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

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