Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple Eases Restrictions On iPhone Developers

Comments Filter:
  • 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.

    • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by oztiks (921504)

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

      • More likely just fine tuning the policy to keep crap like Flash out while allowing for better uses that were previously excluded. Seems pretty obvious unless you haven't been paying attention to the evolution of their policies or know much about running a business.

        But if thinking that Steve Jobs is scared makes you feel better, I guess no one's going to stop you.

        • by oztiks (921504)

          Day 1) Google get's pissed at iAd's and calls their buddies at the FTC

          Day 2) FTC officially launches an investigation

          Day 3) Apple reduces the restrictions on iPhone development ...

          Gee, we are not talking weeks here were talking the span of a few days. You tell me ...

          • Possibly, but correlation does not equal causality. It's not like they've suddenly let Google or Flash in. It's likely a combination of things.

            • by oztiks (921504)

              Yeah, I'm happy to buy it as a coincidence, but it's certainly an interesting one as it could lead to lot of different perspectives.

              Is it Apple muscle flexing or was it something in the pipeline for a while? Is it going to go be a detriment whilst an investigation is going on? letting smaller players in meanwhile leaving the bigger players on the road side (showing even more anti-competitive behavior)

              Either way, it will make interesting news in coming weeks.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      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.
  • 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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          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 t

      • 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.

        Help me, who did ever get rich through a iPhone App? And how does that compare to playing lotto [app fee]?

      • by mjwx (966435)

        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.

        Investors dont like risk.

        Apple would have been better off in the eyes of financially minded people without making this change. Apple changing their minds every second week means that a product that you start developing for todays rules may not fit the rules when it is released in six months. That represents a very big financial risk, already

    • The thing is, developers with great ideas generally don't spend so much time focusing on the negative side of things. They're so focused on their great idea that they'll see if it's viable then get to work. While some people are worried that their app might not get approved and spend their time bitching and moaning on Slashdot about Apple's draconian policies, others are already convinced they won't have any problems, and most of the time they're right.

  • 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.

    • by pizzach (1011925)
      It sounds like through risk-benefit analysis you figured out Obj-C is the safest (but not foolproof) way to develop for the iPhone platform. From the tone, I would guess that you have no money invested in Obj-C developers, so the safest way out of this mess is to avoid it all together. At least, that is how I interpreted your post.
      • 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 aaarrrgggh (9205)

          Good points; the iOS (hate the name!) development seems to favor the startup mentality rather than a corporate cycle. But, all this really means is you start with fewer monolithic projects, and chase larger projects as you gain experience with the process.

          $1B in developer income to-date isn't enough for a $1MM project, but a $10k project can be viable, even with the extra 5% rejection risk.

        • 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 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.

          • But the risks you mention are on top of, not instead of the blurry policy risks from Apple. This makes such an investment more risky. And with the competition and pricing model where it is, it simply isn't worth the risk. Higher risk for lower margins isn't a recipe for success.
    • 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 FreelanceWizard (889712) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @11:30AM (#32549860) Homepage

        Actually, for Windows Mobile 6.x, you can quite literally write whatever you want and your users can install it. Yes, it is possible to restrict installations only to code signed by specific certificates and this is a relatively common practice on Windows Mobile 6.x Standard, but I've yet to encounter a single WM Professional phone that had such restrictions in place out of the box. This is why you can download software such as GSPlayer, GPSTestTool, and the like for free, or hop over to Handango and buy and install whatever you want. If you're up to it, you can even download the SDK and write your own software without having to pay Microsoft a single cent.

        Now, Windows Phone 7 is substantially more restrictive in what it can run, but Microsoft doesn't:
        * Restrict what ad systems you can use
        * Arbitrarily deny specific development languages (the only restriction is that the code run on the Silverlight version of the CLR; this means you can use F#, C#, VB, Python, and even COBOL)
        * Ban the use of interpreted code, so you can write emulators in the CLR language of your choice

        Microsoft has also said that its final app requirements won't include any wiggle room for random app denials, and they've also strongly implied that the testing process for app approval will be at least partially automated to remove the possibility of an angry or prudish tester zapping your app. They've also said that they're working on parental controls and intend to allow mature content once that's in place.

        So, how again is Windows Mobile or Windows Phone development substantially similar to i-device development?

        • by codepunk (167897)

          Actually, for Windows Mobile 6.x, you can quite literally write whatever you want and your users can install it.

          How is that different then droid for instance? I guess if your target market is a couple of hand sets you would be in business.

          • How is that different then droid for instance? I guess if your target market is a couple of hand sets you would be in business.

            It's not any different. It's why I consider Android, by and large, to be the spiritual successor to Windows Mobile in terms of platform openness.

      • How so? Are you forbidden from installing Windows Mobile software from other sources besides Microsoft's store?

    • Good.

      As long as Apple's actions continue to improve (or at least don't diminish) the user's experience, then F' em. The developers are there to serve the user (as is Apple itself) and having a gatekeeper to ensure that happens is a fine thing.

      It may be a walled garden but if it's well tended then that's ok. If you want to live in the jungle you have that as an option elsewhere.

  • Apple could give you permission to ignore the restriction document before, simply stating this in the restriction document is meaningless.

  • 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?
  • parsers and RPN (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pruss (246395)

    It's just hit me: The prohibition on interpreted code taken literally might prevent someone making a graphing calculator app and implementing the graphing functionality by translating the equation into RPN code for a very simple stack-based virtual machine, and then interpreting that for each point. I assume that's the standard way to implement graphing, since it's a waste of CPU time to parse infix notation for every point (when I wrote a graphing calculator app for the Z80-based Sharp Wizard 7xx, that's

    • by yyxx (1812612)

      The prohibition on interpreted code taken literally

      You don't have to "take it literally"; Apple doesn't have to stick by their own rules, they can approve and disapprove whatever they like.

    • The prohibition on interpreted code taken literally might prevent someone making a graphing calculator app and implementing the graphing functionality by translating the equation into RPN code for a very simple stack-based virtual machine, and then interpreting that for each point. I assume that's the standard way to implement graphing, since it's a waste of CPU time to parse infix notation for every point

      Parsing expression for every point still makes for an interpreter, actually. It's just not a bytecode interpreter, which is a subset. But then e.g. bash isn't using bytecode, either, and yet it is clearly a scripting language.

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HermMunster (972336)

      Couldn't agree more.

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

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        After listening to an Apple fanboy explain to me why pressing a green plus symbol makes perfect sense for shrinking a window, and how it makes total sense that pressing a red X closes some programs, and leaves others running, I am no longer surprised at anything that gets accepted by some people.
    • 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.

      • as to the new iOS features, that's crap.. if you're writing an app on that toolset, you don't have/need said feature... and if you do, you use a different tool, or bitch to the tool vendor, not apple. We only allow approved skateboard manufacturers products in our skate park, because we may add a new safety track that nobody supports today.
      • by yyxx (1812612)

        Apple allow non-Apple music and video solutions - they allow e.g. spotify, wimp, netflix and many more.

        They don't allow me to connect to an online music or video store and buy music there that I can then play in the regular music play.

        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.

        Well, we have had cross-platform tollkits and smartphones for more than a decade, and th

      • I don't want a walled, Disney-like "think of the children!" world.

        Please don't use Disney as an example here. Disney distributed Kill Bill.

  • Doesn't matter (Score:5, Informative)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @10:06AM (#32549252) Journal

    Apps have been rejected for no good reason whatever. Even apps that have been approved at a certain version, their updates have been rejected. For no good reason. The process is absolutely capricious and you can never, ever be sure your app will be approved in the Apple store.

  • So does this mean Python is in our future?

  • All the restrictions are still in place, with the added restriction that your competitors may have the restrictions waived if Apple fancy it. Like for the "Boobs" restriction, this probably means small independent developer can't do scripts (and can't do boos), but big-money conglomerates can. And even if you manage to snag an exemption, it may be cancelled at any time... but then again, so may your Appstore listing in any case anyway.

    I'm glad that I'm not a developer and that, as a consumer, I can tell App

  • 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.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @11:22AM (#32549798) Homepage Journal

    I feel a sudden disturbance in the reality distortion field - as if a thousand turtleneck wearing ponces just shat their chinos, and then went "euuuuw!".

  • No significant competitor is allowed. From an anti-trust perspective Apple's change is a NOP.

  • iOS Development (Score:4, Informative)

    by awhite (179035) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:40PM (#32550984)

    Many people on this thread have a very skewed picture of iOS development. I have released three fairly large iOS projects (i.e. months to years of development rather than a few days or weeks like so many toy apps). The first was a smashing success and our 3-person development company was acquired for it. The acquiring company is now my employer so I won't name specifics in this case. The second was an independent iPhone app I wrote that was a total flop. The third is my new independent iPad project called Stash that's doing pretty well so far: http://stash.hedonicsoftware.com/ [hedonicsoftware.com]

    Just the existence of Stash on the App Store - basically an app for porn, though it doesn't provide the explicit content - is evidence that Apple isn't nearly as draconian and capricious as many in this thread are portraying them to be. If you create a high-quality app (or hell, even a low-quality one so long as it doesn't crash) that follows their general guidelines and doesn't try to take over basic functions of the iPhone, you won't generally have a problem. Sure, there are famous counter-examples, and I really feel for those developers. I can't imagine a more frustrating experience then pouring your time into something that's rejected outright. But it doesn't change the fact that these are the few exceptions in a vast sea of approvals or justified rejections (based on the three points that Jobs outlined). Moreover, in my experience Apple is getting much better about working with developers to get apps their approved. It's still a slow process - the last release of Stash was delayed without feedback for over 2 weeks, which felt interminable - but they eventually call and tell you about any solvable issues and give you a chance to correct them.

    I'd also like to point out that outside the pain of dealing with the review process, iOS development is a lot of fun. Someone on this thread said no one is in the App Store simply for the love of programming, but I strongly disagree. Apple provides some really nice APIs, and it's relatively easy to create something that looks and feels smooth and professional. I'm currently working on an Android project for my employer, and it's a real chore compared to iOS dev. I don't care how "open" the market is or even how powerful the SDK is if I hate coding for it and need a graphic design team to make it look decent. People forget that Apple/NeXT has been in the GUI framework business for a long time. They know what they're doing. They also seem to be good at letting their internal APIs fully bake before including them in the SDK, which results in a much higher signal-to-noise ratio than in Android, where everything feels over-engineered. I recently read an article by another iOS developer that sums up my feelings pretty much exactly: http://iphonedevelopment.blogspot.com/2010/03/android-sdk-from-iphone-developer.html [blogspot.com]

    That's my 2 cents. YMMV. But if you're interested in mobile development at all, you owe it to yourself to give iOS development a shot.

    • Re:iOS Development (Score:5, Interesting)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @03:56PM (#32551952) Journal

      Just the existence of Stash on the App Store - basically an app for porn, though it doesn't provide the explicit content - is evidence that Apple isn't nearly as draconian and capricious as many in this thread are portraying them to be.

      Given that we've seen a bunch of cases where an application was approved for N major releases, and then blocked in (N+1)th, over the feature that has been present in it from the start, I dare say that this doesn't prove anything.

      Now, if you want to have some proof - write an anonymous hysterical complaint about your own app ("porn! think of the children!" etc) to Apple, and see if they tell you to GTFO, or re-review and pull the app down. If you're that trusting of Apple, I dare you to do this, and post the result of this little experiment on Slashdot.

    • by bledri (1283728)

      How dare you say anything semi-positive about Apple! As if anyone reading a "news for nerds" site would be interested in development environments, well engineered APIs, or such. Anyway, you must be lying cause I heard that only people that don't understand computers like Apple products. So if you appreciate Apple's development environment and APIs, you can't possibly be a programmer and therefore you haven't worked on any apps.

  • 3.3.1 still says

    3.3.1 Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++ or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++ and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

    That still d

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray

Working...