Apple does a 180, allows third-party development tools on iOS


— 10:12 AM on September 9, 2010

This seems to be "patching up boo-boos" week at Apple. Barely a day after releasing its iOS 4.1 update, which fixes several serious bugs with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3G, Apple has updated its iOS Developer Program license to lift the ban on third-party development tools:

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.

Apple writes that it's also making its app review guidelines public, giving developers a peek at what drives app refusals and removals.

These newly loosened restrictions may re-open the door to Adobe's development tools, which let programmers port Flash CS5 content (including games) to iOS. Adobe announced in April after Apple initiated the ban, "We will still be shipping the ability to target the iPhone and iPad in Flash CS5. However, we are not currently planning any additional investments in that feature." Perhaps the new license will reverse its decision.

Now, I don't doubt developer feedback contributed to Apple's backpedaling today, but the firm might have had other, more practical motivations. Namely, word got around earlier this year that federal regulators planned to launch a probe into the tightened developer license. Continuing to shut out third-party development tools wouldn't have just angered developers; it could have landed Apple in legal trouble, too.

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