Aussie devs welcome Apple App Store rules

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Aussie devs welcome Apple App Store rules

Apple opens doors to native Flash apps.

Australian iPhone and iPad developers welcomed changes Apple made overnight to its App Store approvals process.

Apple relaxed restrictions in its iOS developer licence, opening doors to native Flash and AdMob applications. The device maker said it was responding to developer demands for a more open process.

And it made its application-review process more transparent by releasing its App Store review guidelines.

"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," Apple said it a statement.

"This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need."

Changes were made to sections 3.3.1 and 3.3.2 of the licence to relax and clarify restrictions on application programming interfaces and external executable code.

The changes meant that developers could use Adobe's Flash code in their work, although browser-based Flash remained unsupported on Apple devices.

In April, Adobe was forced to discontinue development of its Flash CS5 tool, Packager for the iPhone, that converted Flash programs for Apple's devices.

Adobe's APAC technical solutions manager Paul Burnett told iTnews that development teams were "now working on Packager to bring it up to date".

"Changing this [restrictions] back again means that our developers can start using that tool [Packager] to develop native iPhone and iPad apps out of Flash," he said.

Burnett said the announcement was "very exciting" but there was no reason for Apple to block mobile browser-based Flash. He hoped Apple would continue to be swayed by "pressure from end users and developers".

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on plans regarding Flash in the mobile browser.

Rule 3.3.9, about the collection and disclosure of user information to third parties, was also changed to allow for third-party advertising providers like Google's AdMob.

Google's vice president of product management Omar Hamoui wrote that it was "great news for everyone in the mobile community".

"Mobile advertising has already helped to fund tens of thousands of mobile apps across many different platforms and devices," he wrote.

"The new terms provide immediate clarification about the status of mobile advertising on the iPhone and will benefit users, developers, and advertisers."

A "win" for developers

Independent iOS developer Joseph Gentle (pictured, left) said Apple's latest announcement was a "win for innovation and choice for developers".

"Apple's choice to only allow native applications to be built in one of their 'allowed' languages was a really dangerous precedent for programming as a whole," said the Sydney software engineer.

"It limited innovation in software development because people could only use methods that Apple approved of to write software."

But it did not change Gentle's development plans nor those of Creative Licence Digital developer David Schweinsberg, who also welcomed the relaxed restrictions despite business concerns.

"Regarding the restrictions being lifted, I think generally it is a good thing," Schweinsberg said. "I'm an Objective C developer so it doesn't change my plans directly.

"Within the company there is an initial concern that it lowers the bar for competing businesses. It may well now be easier to generate shoddy iPhone apps, but the App Store review process is hopefully being tightened up to exclude those apps."

Sherman Lo, founder of developer Lilliput Labs and Blind Mice Studios developer Alan Rogers (pictured, right) welcomed the publication of the guidelines.

"The fact they're publishing guidelines is good," Lo said. "They seem to be more realistic in terms of reconciling the actual review process with the rules."

Rogers said he approved of the greater transparency in Apple's processes.

"We're also encouraged to see the removal of restrictions on the technologies you can use to develop an iOS Application," Rogers said.

"Apple's renewed focus on improving the quality of apps on the store is why we love developing for the iOS platform."

Freelance iOS developer Nathan de Vries wanted more information about Apple's testing.

"The next step would be for Apple to publish their formal test criteria, much in the same way as Java Verified publishes their Unified Testing Criteria," de Vries said.

The App Store  had more than 250,000 apps, 6.5 billion downloads and developer revenues of about $1.1 billion.

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