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Iphone Programming Apple

Apple Eases Restrictions On iPhone Developers 195

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-you're-on-thin-ice dept.
WrongSizeGlass writes "MacRumors has a story on a report by Apple Outsider's Matt Drance that Apple is easing their restrictions on interpreted code used in iPhone development, a change which allows game developers in particular to continue to use interpreted languages such as Lua in their App Store applications. The change comes alongside Apple's further modifications of its iOS developer terms that again allow for limited analytics data collection to aid advertisers and developers, but appear to shut out non-independent companies such as Google's AdMob from receiving the data. It's not enough of an 'about face' to let Adobe or Google back in the picture but they've backpedaled enough to let the little guys squeeze through."
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Apple Eases Restrictions On iPhone Developers

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  • by Dan East (318230) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @08:35AM (#32548746) Homepage Journal

    Good to see a little common sense prevailing. I use Lua in my game engine, and it is a very good language for embedding in an application. It is much more efficient to call into than Javascript, for example. This is more about the logical segregation between engine developers and game designers. Scripting (especially event-driven) better suites game designers, who often are not hardcore developers that have a firm understanding of Objective C, C++ or C.
    It's not even about portability - pure C and C++ (not dependent on any external APIs besides that of the game engine) is even more portable. It's about using the proper language for the job.

  • big nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrDoh! (71235) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @08:42AM (#32548776) Homepage Journal

    So.. interpreted is not ok atm, but might be ok next week.
    Cross compiled flash is not ok now, but might be ok if server side translated to be displayed.
    Showing too much on a desktop picture frame still gets your app removed.
    Flash (that'd allow more apps to run, just no totalitarian control of the app market) will never be allowed.
    Gotcha.

    Stuff even attempting to develop on this platform.

  • Re:big nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @08:47AM (#32548796) Journal

    The iPlatform is not really for people who develop for the sake of development - they'd never consider such a stifling platform. It's more a financial investment risk: things could pay off and you could end up very rich, or you might just find you've just poured time and money down the drain.

    It's like asking why companies go into China: is it because business there is fair and open, and everyone has the free opportunity to exchange values and end up richer? Or is it because, if you dance the right dance, you might just be able to take advantage of a restrictive environment rather than having that environment take advantage of you?

  • Re:big nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @08:58AM (#32548858)

    Personally, while "officially" China is a very restrictive country, I think the Chinese are much more relaxed and flexible than Americans (U.S. Americans and Canadians both - I had the doubtful pleasure of dealing with both as manufacturers).

    In China, there's much less sense of entitlement. This means that:

      A) Your project matters to them. If you take enough time and attention to talk to their engineers, you'll see that they are often (not always, of course) both smart and resourceful, and will generally want to work with you.

      B) They will not apply rules like automatons would, just to get out of work. Typical US excuse: "we are not allowed to change the production process without a written ECO and a re-quote" - never mind that basically adds a week of downtime to any "experimental" change, and allows the manufacturer to sit on their ass for a week. Or, "well, I guess we'll have to wait until we have the intermediate product before we start making tooling for the next step, you know you can't trust those thar CAD drawings of yours."

      C) Unions. It's very "amusing" when you move a piece of equipment from one room to the other (on casters no less), just to get written up for not requesting a union employee. This usually takes at least 4 hours to get sorted, usually a day. The problem with unions is not that they don't want to do any work, but that they don't want anybody to do any work that they are also not doing.

    As an engineer, who has absolutely no financial interest in the cost/profit from my designs, I would still very much prefer to manufacture in China.

  • by sosume (680416) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:03AM (#32548878) Journal

    Apple is acting worse than Microsoft has ever done. The have developers jumping through hoops.

    "No we won't allow non-objective C so your investments in your app are worthless."
    "Oh we're getting bad press now? well we'll allow it then for a while."
    "Storm settled? let's forbid it again."
    "Antitrust investigation? Hmm let's allow some for a while again"

    My business has decided against investing in the iPad/iPhone development platforms. The uncertainty and unreliability of Apple management are too great a risk.

  • Re:big nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:08AM (#32548904) Journal

    You're forgetting that 95% of applications submitted to the App Store were developed in a couple of weeks, cost a couple of dollars (yes, yes, $3.87) and are worth maybe half as much.

    A platform is interesting when risky, groundbreaking development occurs, the result of teams taking months to perfect something new and useful. A 1 in 20 chance of delay/rejection due to bureaucracy is then not worth the risk - but the 1 in 20 is a best case figure, and for a significant app the chance of problems, including outright rejection because you're competing with Apple, is much greater.

  • by beakerMeep (716990) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:09AM (#32548906)
    Doesnt seem like common sense really prevailed to me. You could expand your argument to include game designers who prefer ActionScript, but they are still SOL.

    The way I read this (minor) language change is that interpreted code is still generally prohibited, but you may ask for Apple's written consent to have an exception made for your app. Not what I would call a huge "easing of restrictions"

    Sounds like they just realized they shut out half of the game devs already on their platform and are only halfway back pedaling to a point where those that were shut out now have to ask politely (and hope) to be let back in.
  • Re:big nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:11AM (#32548920) Homepage Journal

    Jebus Crust! You mean for any application there is a 5% risk you'll end up sitting in limbo, and the weeks of time and money you spent developing the application could be wasted?

    That's a service level availability of "one nine". No business would tolerate that, but fanboys think it is great.

  • by Voulnet (1630793) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:16AM (#32548952)
    Is this, by any chance, a result of the FTC probe on Apple's business practices?
  • Re:big nothing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:19AM (#32548964) Journal

    Your project matters to [the Chinese].

    As opposed to Western businessmen, who... tell you that your money is no good to them? What are your experiences with Western businessmen?

    you'll see that [Chinese engineers] are often (not always, of course) both smart and resourceful, and will generally want to work with you.

    As opposed to Western engineers, who are... what, exactly? Stupid? Unable to apply resources? Refuse to work with you? What are your experiences with Western engineers?

    They will not apply rules like automatons would, just to get out of work. Typical US excuse: "we are not allowed to change the production process without a written ECO and a re-quote"

    Sounds like the problem is that you agreed to stupid rules and are annoyed that US engineers adhere to them while Chinese engineers don't.

    never mind that basically adds a week of downtime to any "experimental" change,

    Fix your processes.

    "well, I guess we'll have to wait until we have the intermediate product before we start making tooling for the next step, you know you can't trust those thar CAD drawings of yours."

    Sorry, what? Did you actually say "I'll pay you to do this, and if our CAD designs are fucked then that's our problem and you'll still get paid"? Or are you annoyed again because you agreed to a particular process and found that it didn't fit with your requirements, but you weren't prepared to change it?

    Unions. It's very "amusing" when you move a piece of equipment from one room to the other (on casters no less), just to get written up for not requesting a union employee.

    So renegotiate terms with your union. Or join the union and improve it from within. American workers have rights unimaginable in China, but with any collective bargaining there will be some stupid rules - focus on fixing these rules rather than jumping somewhere the worker does what he says because he has no alternative.

    As an engineer, who has absolutely no financial interest in the cost/profit from my designs

    Then you're not an engineer. An engineer's job is compromise to complete some task with the tools available, and what determines the available tools is cost/profit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:23AM (#32548986)

    Nobody is served by the dimwit developer who bundles a language runtime and several libraries for the appstore equivalent of hello world. One suspects this is what Apple really wanted to avoid.

    Except they already have full control over app approval, and thus quality control. With the current abundance of Hello Fart World apps out there, I can't see how this is a valid issue. Like most of Steve's reason's, it has no basis outside the Reality Distortion Field. There are some valid reasons like you said, but this for sure isn't one of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:26AM (#32548996)

    This isn't an example of "common sense" behavior in any way. In fact, Apple's behavior has been so fucking crazy lately that even this crazy-but-not-super-crazy behavior ends up looking like "common sense".

    True "Common sense" behavior in this case would be for them to drop all restrictions on what programming languages developers can use to develop apps for their platforms. This should be a choice that's 100% up to application developers, 100% of the time. Anything short of that is craziness, not "common sense".

  • Re:big nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kanweg (771128) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:36AM (#32549052)

    Well, according to Apple the top three reasons why those 5% of apps were rejected are:
    1) they crash (apple doesn't want rotten fruit in its shop)
    2) because they don't do what the developer says they do (lemons instead of peaches)
    3) third I forgot (perhaps the use of non-public APIs. If Apple changes those, the third party apps relying on them wouldn't work; see #1)

    It is not as if the developer isn't in control of any of the above.

    Bert

  • by oztiks (921504) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:46AM (#32549130)

    FTC is on Job's ass ... now he's scared .... there joined the dots for ya.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:57AM (#32549196)

    Since when are Ruby and Python crud?

    Since people started using them inappropriately, for system tools and general use applications.

  • Re:big nothing (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:59AM (#32549206)

    1) they crash (apple doesn't want rotten fruit in its shop)

    Okay... it's a good policy for most users, but there's only one shop! So if for example my tastes don't quite match Steves, I'm out of luck?

    Also, as a developer (if I was one!), I have to hope that the rules don't change in the future? And lets be honest, they aren't all about creating solid applications -- there's a *HUGE* element of Apple not wanting any cross-platform development kits. Yes, Apple say this is to ensure applications have a UI consistent with other iOS apps, but lets be honest -- it's mostly because Apple doesn't want to compete with Android.

    It's the little things, like not mentioning "Android" that kinda give the game away! :D

  • Re:big nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:59AM (#32549210) Journal

    Perhaps you haven't compared classical Western to Chinese engineering. Perhaps you are too young to have even experienced Western-engineered technology, and everything on your desk was Made in China. Perhaps you don't know what it's like to have a 20 year old calculator with buttons as comfortable as they were the day you bought it; perhaps you're cool with a disposable printer rather than something churning out smudge-free printouts as well as it did in '95; perhaps all your capacitors are lucky enough to retain their sleek and slender shape. Or perhaps you like the upgrade treadmill and think that repairing rather than discarding is something people should only have to do during wartime.

    The Chinese approach is simple: make something which works well enough to be sold now and hopefully won't break down in the next couple of years. Interfacing and reliability aren't problems because you want your clients to be locked into your system and to upgrade before things start going wrong. Decent documentation for interoperability and long-term maintenance is a pipedream, and wouldn't be worth requesting anyway because processes are so lax: see post above.

  • PR drivel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yyxx (1812612) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @10:00AM (#32549218)

    against Adobe's Flash-to-iPhone compiler as part of Apple's broader effort to keep third-party meta-platforms from eroding the user experience and stifling innovation as developers become reliant upon them to roll out support for new features introduced by Apple

    Translation: "... Apple's broader effort against a fair and competitive market place, and their attempts to translate their early lead into a monopoly".

    What they are afraid of is people using non-Apple music and video stores and people creating applications that also work on Android. And in doing so, Apple stifles innovation and manages to extract more money out of people's pockets.

  • by multipartmixed (163409) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @10:15AM (#32549316) Homepage

    No, it sounds like to me he came to the same conclusions as I did -- If I buy some more hardware, developer SDKs, and invest a few man-months in bringing a team up to speed on iPhone development and build an app -- there is very real possibility that I will not be permitted to sell the resultant software. Worse yet, there is no fixed set of rules which I can follow which will guarantee that I will be allowed to do so.

    What this means, then, is that there is a non-zero chance I will piss all that money down the drain and have little to show for it except some toys. That is completely unacceptable from a business perspective; unfortunately, I am prohibited from gambling with company money, which is exactly what this is -- a poor draw of the cards can result in a total loss before the sales chain even enters the equation.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @10:23AM (#32549358) Homepage Journal

    Apple is acting worse than Microsoft has ever done. The have developers jumping through hoops.

    /p>

    Try developing for a windows mobile and you will find its not all that much different. Remember this is not the desktop world we are talking about which is totally open.. This is the cellphone market, traditionally somewhat closed, for good reasons.

  • by jonwil (467024) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @10:26AM (#32549374)

    Since they started requiring bundling large amounts of runtime, interpreters and library code with every program written in them. That may be ok for a desktop system where you can either use the system Python/Ruby (on linux) or bundle Python/Ruby (on Windows) but its not OK for a mobile app to be shipping large amounts of runtime and library code.

  • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @10:28AM (#32549382)

    Guess what?

    Anyone writing an app that takes more than 1 person two weeks to create, like those real, groundbreaking apps that aren't rehashes of another app that's already been done, aren't going to waste their time with a company as inconsistent as Apple when they have other platforms to develop for.

    Especially when there's reason to believe that Android is beginning to exceed the iPhone. [businesswire.com]

  • Re:PR drivel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @10:39AM (#32549460)

    Couldn't agree more.

    What dumbfounds me is that anyone believes Apple's PR in this regard.

  • by Trufagus (1803250) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @10:59AM (#32549584)

    Before we had a straight-forward, written, rule. Now we are back to the usual app-store situation where we have a rough idea of what will get blocked, but Apple reserves the right to block things for whatever reason it wants.

  • Re:PR drivel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teg (97890) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @11:07AM (#32549672) Homepage

    What they are afraid of is people using non-Apple music and video stores and people creating applications that also work on Android.

    Apple allow non-Apple music and video solutions - they allow e.g. spotify, wimp, netflix and many more. The latter is definitely one of their targets - not because they don't want things to work on Android, even though not being able to share the costs might be a fringe benefit now that the iPhone app market is so dominant. Their real goal is to avoid development environments that abstracts away their platform - and target the lowest common denominator, and won't give access to new iOS features when available.

    As an iphone user, I really hate and love their approach. I dislike that I can't develop what I want. On the other side, the quality of the apps is higher - and I prefer a phone experience with no flash. Probably without iAd too, I don't want rich, intrusive ads.

    What scares me more than their technical requirements, is their content censoring [gizmodo.com]. I don't want a walled, Disney-like "think of the children!" world.

  • Re:big nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Saturday June 12, 2010 @11:14AM (#32549726) Homepage

    Those are the top three reasons because few people even bother writing the interesting apps anymore; just to name a few that ought to be there:

    - Bluetooth DUN

    - USB 3G modem driver

    To what end, exactly? To tether your device? That's a part of the OS. If you can't do it, it probably means that you're in the US, where AT&T didn't allow Apple to enable it on the devices.

    - custom touch keyboards

    This would be nice, but it wouldn't exactly be an app. It would be replacing driver-level components. There are serious pros and cons to allowing this no a platform.

    - non-Apple music and video stores

    Has any music store tried to write apps? I mean, you have alternate music options with Pandora and Rhapsody on the iPhone, and Rhapsody is very much like a store--you can download the music and then play it offline.

    - in-device software development

    Why would you want this, out of curiosity? It seems like developing with a touchscreen device would be annoying.

    - WiFi music sync

    This would be very nice. If you Jailbreak your phone, you can buy an app that does this. There's no damned good reason for Apple to not develop this officially.

    - on-device file management

    Files? What are files?

    With iOS, Apple is trying to make a simple, yet powerful device. They are trying to abstract away the concept of files. Any app can let you manage its own data files however the developer wishes.

    - full synchronization and backup with box.net

    What does this mean exactly? Full backup? Of what? Apps and app data?

    box.net, from my glance at the website, looks like just a file dump. Kinda like dropbox. Is it more than that?

    Besides, an app wanting to do that would have to have access to lots of things outside of its sandbox. One of the nice things about the iOS platform is the segregation of apps, meaning it's much harder for one app to compromise you. Again, this is a situation which has pros and cons. The major pro is security. The major con is flexibility. It's a design choice where there is no right answer.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @11:20AM (#32549782) Journal
    Scripting (especially event-driven) better suites game designers, who often are not hardcore developers that have a firm understanding of Objective C, C++ or C.

    Scripting better suits game developers who are hardcore programmers as well. You don't need to recompile when you change a value. You just need to reload the lua. Really helps a lot when you;re using trial and error to get a value correct.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @11:29AM (#32549858)

    Apple has always blocked things for no reason at all. Nothing has changed.

  • Re:big nothing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @11:49AM (#32550014)

    I can't entirely disagree with what you are saying here, but there are two points to note: if you specify expensive parts and decent quality control in China, they will go your way. Just look at Apple - their products are widely considered to be better quality than for instance MSI, and they are both made in China. You will, of course, pay a premium for this - and most companies do not want this. So as an end-user, you are most familiar with crap quality from China.

    The other point is that United States manufacturing is almost non-existent now. Trying to have a device manufactured in the US is hard - most of the remaining manufacturers are actually set up for military contracts with high margins and fairly old tech.

  • Re:big nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @12:06PM (#32550160)

    Wait a minute. That's not necessarily the Chinese approach. That's just the approach of foreign companies trying to save a few cents. Chinese manufacturers can and do make quality and long lasting products. The problem is that their foreign customers (with a handful of exceptions) generally don't want to pay for the testing necessary to do that.

  • by xero314 (722674) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @12:10PM (#32550188)
    How is this any different than any other new product? Ever new product has risks, and that risk is that your consumer will not be interested in your product. In the case of consumer products this often means that distributors have to take interest in your product as distributors are the real consumer of the manufacturer. In this case Apple has to take interest in your product since they are the only consumer for developers of iPhone applications. If you wrote an application and neither walmart or best by would distribute it, you would be in a very similar position. If you wrote a Console game and the console licensor would not accept it (as is the case with all adult rated games in the US) then you would be in the exact same position.

    Creating new products is a risk. If you don't want to take that risk, then stay out of the business of creating new products and leave that to people that are a little less risk adverse.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Saturday June 12, 2010 @12:33PM (#32550364) Homepage Journal

    you may ask for Apple's written consent to have an exception made for your app.

    You need to ask for Apple's written consent to get a game onto the App Store in the first place anyway.

  • by aztracker1 (702135) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:47PM (#32551034) Homepage
    In fairness, MonoTouch's interfaces are a pretty tight mapping to the SDK, which makes sense, considering it compiles to native. As does the Unity toolset etc, and even Flash, as it were. The entire runtime isn't bundled in, just what's needed for the cross compiled app o run. Which is still build on Macs, and in the end still compiled with XCode & via Obj-C.

    I'd been considering MonoTouch as a path to the iPhone, but now, I'm just sticking with Android.
  • by Draek (916851) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:51PM (#32551070)

    Because the rules to sell your product in all other industries are far more consistent, and even if Walmart and Best Buy refuse to stock your product you can always sell it yourself. Apple controls the *ONLY* way to reach your customer base (no, buying a dev account for every hundred customers isn't a possibility) and their rules change pretty much every day.

    You make the comparison to adult-rated games and its an apt one, but how large is that market compared to the whole of videogames? that's the future of the App Store unless Apple grows up and provides a set of clear and consistent rules that developers (and, most importantly, managers) can work with and rely on. And stop trying to use their customers as ammunition against Google, for God's sake.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @03:44PM (#32551864) Journal

    its not OK for a mobile app to be shipping large amounts of runtime and library code.

    Says who? The users are the only ones who can reasonably judge this, and I don't think they care, if the app does what they want it to do. And if your app is bloated and does little of use, it will be ignored. We call that "free market" and "customer choice".

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup

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