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Apple Relaxes iOS Development Tool Restrictions 347

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the no-complaints-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this year Apple caused major upset among developers by updating the iPhone developer program license with clause 3.3.1. It basically stopped the use of cross-platform compilers, meaning Adobe Flash could not be used to develop an app for the App Store. The move also put into doubt which other development platforms could be used and generally caused a lot of confusion. Apple has just significantly relaxed that policy and allowed for the use of development tools, as long as 'the resulting apps do not download any code.'"
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Apple Relaxes iOS Development Tool Restrictions

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  • Problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 09, 2010 @09:52AM (#33521836)

    There are still interesting problems in not allowing to download or update any code. With the rise of jailbreaking iPhones and them running unsigned and modified applications (cracked and/or otherwise), there is no way for an anticheat system to update itself. All anticheat systems like Valve's VAC, PunkBuster and Blizzard's Warden rely on downloading updated code from the internet.

    What this means for online iPhone games is that when someone releases a hack for the jailbroken iPhones, their users can completely ruin the games and legit players cannot do anything. And since Apple is a control freak, they check every update to your application slowly and ineffectely. All while the hacking is rampant and ruins everyones game.

    There certainly are need for updating code and Apple needs to remove that clause too. We don't want walled gardens controlled by mega corporations, we want systems we can use the way we want.

  • Google Voice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by esocid (946821) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @09:54AM (#33521880) Journal
    So...when will they be approving Google Voice?
  • browsers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hey (83763) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @09:56AM (#33521940) Journal

    Browsers download and run code (javaScript).
    What about them?

  • Re:Problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @09:57AM (#33521970) Homepage

    And how is the situation you describe any different than every console? If you live in a signed sandbox, you live on the good graces of the signee. Doesn't seem like that's a dealbreaker to anyone.

  • Unity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:05AM (#33522120)

    This was all about Unity, which basically does exactly what Adobe's Flash packaging tool did for the most part. The Unity game tools have been used to develop some fairly popular iPhone games, and Apple knew it couldn't continue to authorise Unity based apps whilst denying apps created with Adobe's tools without falling foul of competition laws. Similarly, by kicking Unity off too they'd be throwing away from of the iPhone's most popular games.

    So the question now is, does this mean if Adobe tries to release it's tools again that Apple is going to let it, or are they now going to try and find another excuse to deny Adobe access to the platform?

    Apple stood to lose far more if it continued to stand by this policy, and if it stood by the policy whilst letting some apps through it also stood to face the DoJ, so it had to decide one way or the other.

  • Re:Yea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:09AM (#33522194) Homepage Journal

    At least they are. We all know companies that'd rather die than admit they were wrong.

  • Re:Yea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zelgadiss (213127) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:13AM (#33522258)

    No significantly complex system comes out right the first time.
    Apple has a goal, I believe it's to give as much freedom to 3rd party developers without losing control of the platform.

    It's like how Blizzard balances WoW, they have "back-pedalled" countless times.

  • Re:Clarification (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:21AM (#33522390)

    I suggest actual developers access that list on Apple's site. It'll change quite often.

  • Re:Unity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:25AM (#33522450)

    So the question now is, does this mean if Adobe tries to release it's tools again that Apple is going to let it, or are they now going to try and find another excuse to deny Adobe access to the platform?

    That's probably the reason they've released App Review Guidelines at the same time. Apple can probably deny most Flash apps based on other rules that already exist. e.g.
    "Apps that rapidly drain the device's battery or generate excessive heat will be rejected." and
    "Apps must comply with all terms and conditions explained in the Apple iPhone Human Interface Guidelines and the Apple iPad Human Interface Guidelines"

  • by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:41AM (#33522700) Homepage Journal

    But most people wouldn't have blamed Flash - especially if there wasn't an easy example of a non-flash version to point to. They'd have blamed the iPhone. Most people, even most iPhone users, don't read /. or related sites - that's one of the reasons that the iPhone has been a smashing commercial success, you don't need to be a geek to use it (N70, I'm looking at you here). Keeping Flash off the platform was exactly the right business decision to make.

    Even if Adobe would release a version that wasn't a battery killing unstable one - which would be a great start - the usability experience isn't close to being there for multitouch devices. And the iPhone is all about user experience.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:41AM (#33522706)

    This was all about Unity, which basically does exactly what Adobe's Flash packaging tool did for the most part.

    Actually I thought Unity was more intermediate, producing an XCode project you would compile - the flash tool produced a binary directly.

    Apple knew it couldn't continue to authorise Unity based apps whilst denying apps created with Adobe's tools without falling foul of competition laws

    Actually it could do that forever because there are no such laws. Anti-Trust doesn't enter into the picture in any way.

    The real reason the relaxed the restrictions is, I think twofold:

    1) Developer outcry - Apple does respect and listen to developers, and they were having too many people come up with too many perfectly valid edge cases (like using Mono or Scheme for development). Apple had actually pulled back on this restriction a few months earlier letting people submit things developed using alternative languages on a case by case basis, that was probably a lot of work to review.

    2) Control of app quality. This I think is key - what Apple is really worried about with Flash developed apps coming out is that a ton a crappy stuff would flood the store and the review process. So what has changed? The fact that they have a stated review policy now, which says in part "we will not allow a ton of crappy small applications that do nothing". The whole limitation made no sense before because Apple benefits from having quality applications on the platform, so now its more clear that wider spectrum of development tools will not be allowed to destroy the level of quality the application pool enjoys, so someone CAN use Flash to compile an iPhone binary but they had better be producing something good. A formal app store review policy allows Apple to be more relaxed in other regards, because it keeps control over the final quality of applications.

    Whats really odd is that it took this long to come up with any kind of review policy document!

  • Re:MonoTouch? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:43AM (#33522738) Homepage Journal

    Does this mean that I can use C# to generate a Silverlight app that will run on Windows, Windows Mobile, Linux, Android and iPhone?

    Can I write in Java an app that will run on every desktop and mobile?

    Well, considering that a good app experience on a desktop (with a mouse and keyboard) is by definition very different than a good app experience on a multi-touch device, probably not, no. You might be able to share some code internals, but you could do that anyway.

  • Meaningless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:44AM (#33522758) Homepage

    Apple seem terribly random and unpredictable. It would be senseless for any developer to begin work on a project that has become permitted by this clause, because tomorrow the terms could change again.

    I'm an Android developer, releasing my first game in the next 4-6 weeks. Then I need to consider whether or not to produce an iPhone version. The decision will only slightly be based on forecasted sales, market share of competing products, and demand for my product. For the most part I will need to decide if I can afford to invest the time developing for a platform that may, at any point, "ban" my product for some obscure reason. (For example, all of my graphics are produced in 3D Studio and rendered as 2D sprites. Suppose Apple takes a dislike to Autodesk...?)

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:48AM (#33522838)

    Are you serious?

    Wow man, you are a true fanboy.

    There are mistakes, and then there is an attitude that the whole world should bow to their wishes. It's only when they realize they don't have quite that much clout that Apple backs down.

    A good company that did not believe customers owed their happiness to the company, developers owed their very existence to the company, would not have locked down the tools in the first place.

    Apple treats its customers as though it's only because of Apple's great kindness that those customers get to use Apple products. They treat their developers like a necessary evil, and it's only by Apple's grace and mercy that developers are permitted to write code for Apple products.

    That's how you get things like the ridiculous hoops needed to write apps for the App store, or the ridiculous policy of no flash when flash is ubiquitous on the internet. That's a "you get what we give you" attitude if there ever was one. The only reason Apple is backpedaling now is because they pushed it too far and received some backlash. That's it. And they are only going to change the policy far enough to reduce the backlash to an acceptable level - they are not going to change their attitude, and if they see an opportunity to lock things down again they will jump on it.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:50AM (#33522882)

    However, simplicity/efficiency is often the enemy of fairness. It certainly was in this case.

    I mean, I can drastically simplify the American legal system if we toss the laws and move to a system of laws only I know. We'll get rid of all the lawyering and costly trials, and I'll just let the secret police know who they should quietly execute.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:53AM (#33522914)

    How can you change the guidelines to justify removing any app you want if everybody knows what the guidelines are?

    Duh.

    The only reason they are doing this now is because they've gotten too much pressure not too.

    Any reasonable company would have released them from the very beginning. Most companies tell you what their criteria are for rejection specifically so you can avoid and correct any potential issues.

  • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @11:25AM (#33523468)

    What's refreshing to see is a company that actually admits it was wrong, how often does that happen?

    I'm trying in vain to find where they admitted they were wrong. All I see is "we listened to our developers," which is nothing more than a nice way of saying "we think this is beginning to hurt our bottom line" and is something MOST companies do if they get to that point.

    Didn't Steve Jobs make a big hullabaloo about how "intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform"[1] when asked about the rule? So is that magically no longer true, or do they just no longer care? Or is it, perhaps, that their transparently self-serving reasoning for instituting the rule in the first place has started to cost them more than it gains?

    The about-face is good, don't get me wrong. But trying to frame it as some sort of benevolence instead of ANOTHER self-serving action to mitigate problems caused by the first is misguided at best.

    Apple wanted to control everything, and thought they had the clout to get it done. Apparently enough developers made them nervous about it that they changed their mind. Good, but hardly some sign of a great corporate system.

    [1] http://www.taoeffect.com/blog/2010/04/steve-jobs-response-on-section-3-3-1/ [taoeffect.com]

  • by delinear (991444) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @11:30AM (#33523542)

    Whats really odd is that it took this long to come up with any kind of review policy document!

    Well I guess the reason for that is primarily twofold. Firstly, it benefit Apple to grow the App store massively in a short space of time - if they'd rejected all those fart apps and similar early on, there'd likely be nowhere near the 250,000+ apps there are in there now. Secondly, I guess there's also the question of what the guidelines actually are. As has been said elsewhere, they've probably been largely making these up as they went along. Oh sure they would have had some foundation stones to build on, but really there was nothing exactly like the App store with anything like that kind of success before the iDevices came along. Who could have predicted in the early days exactly how people would use this service, and more importantly how people would develop for it? If they'd released this list on day 1 you could have undoubtedly expected several hundred revisions to it in the interim, that would have angered developers even more ("moving the goalposts"). Now they've had time to test the guidelines and ensure that they produce a desirable mix in terms of quality and quantity (although I'd still expect more finessing, but nothing on the same level).

  • Re:Yea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @11:33AM (#33523588) Homepage Journal

    We all know companies that'd rather die than admit they were wrong.

    Yes, Apple. Does this sound like a mea culpa?

    The App Store is perhaps the most important milestone in the history of mobile software. Working together with our developers, we will continue to surprise and delight our users with innovative mobile apps.

    They didn't admit that their critics were right, the said that they "listened to their developers". As one of those developers, I assure you that what they really listened to was negative press and Android's rising numbers.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @11:40AM (#33523710)

    Well I guess the reason for that is primarily twofold. Firstly, it benefit Apple to grow the App store massively in a short space of time - if they'd rejected all those fart apps and similar early on, there'd likely be nowhere near the 250,000+ apps there are in there now.

    Right, but that aspect did not have to be in an initial version of the document.

    Secondly, I guess there's also the question of what the guidelines actually are. As has been said elsewhere, they've probably been largely making these up as they went along.

    As an application developer, I don't think that's really true. All of use knew what the rules were, the basic outline of them. They were just never officially listed. Having a list before wouldn't have stopped them from modifying it often...

    But you are probably right that Apple thought the situation was too fluid to bother maintaining a document until now, where they have a really crafted set of rules.

  • by s73v3r (963317) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .r3v37s.> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @11:49AM (#33523832)

    Would you rather they not, "Listen to their developers"? Every free-market libertarian on this site says that the way companies learn what to do is to, get this, piss off customers so that it affects their bottom line.

    Seriously, everybody (myself included) bitched about the restriction clause. Now its lifted. And you fucks still want to bitch?

  • by mr100percent (57156) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @12:02PM (#33524034) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that Apple can't trust a third party development environment to take over too much of the app share. In the past stuff like that has wrecked OSes as a vital update breaks the third party APIs that are used in bestseller apps. Apple wants to be able to release iOS 5 and 6 without worrying if they break Flash's internal APIs

  • Re:Problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @12:13PM (#33524246) Journal

    Why do you assume that's not a deal breaker for anyone? Every console ever has been hacked, people wouldn't do that if they didn't object to being restricted.

  • Re:Meaningless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @12:28PM (#33524474)

    (For example, all of my graphics are produced in 3D Studio and rendered as 2D sprites. Suppose Apple takes a dislike to Autodesk...?)

    It's always wise to do a risk analysis before embarking on a new project. Don't forget to factor in the possibility that you'll spend so much time posting ridiculous scenarios to slashdot that you never get round to doing the work.

  • Re:Problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IKnwThePiecesFt (693955) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @12:35PM (#33524560) Homepage

    Or if they didn't object to paying for their games. One of the two.

  • It uses them alongside their own contact list. A given contact can be in either or both lists. If that were the distinguishing characteristic, it seems like that would be easy enough to handle in a Google Voice app.

  • Re:Yea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @01:11PM (#33525116) Homepage
    It must upset you that they were spot on about Flash.
  • Re:Yea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abhi_beckert (785219) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @01:53PM (#33525776)

    Get off your high horse.

    Just because Apple doesn't carry out the wishes of every individual developer doesn't mean they don't listen. The ENTIRE POINT of the app store is to allow developers to create and distribute great software.

    Do you seriously think apple doesn't give a shit about developers? If that was true, there would be no app store at all.

  • Re:Google Voice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by abhi_beckert (785219) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @02:00PM (#33525904)

    2.12 Apps that are not very useful or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected

    I would say the vast majority of apps in the store fall under these points.

    The keyword there is "may". There are categories where you have to choose through 10 different free applications with not a single feature do differentiate between them. That's annoying for users, and completely pointless for everyone else.

    If you can't do something better or cheaper than anyone else in the store, then you shouldn't bother in the first place. 2.12 simply enforces that.

    If they didn't enforce it, no developer would make any money at all in those categories (because the revenue would be spread too thinly, so individual apps would have low sales), and users would struggle to find the gems among the garbage.

  • by WNight (23683) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @02:50PM (#33526604) Homepage

    As I said they listen to feedback, and have done things like making all WWDC (Apple developer conference) videos free for every registered iPhone developer.

    Wow, free access to developer resources. Well, to registered and paid-up developers. Amazing.

    There really are no "hoops" at all in application development, and honestly how can you claim there are with 250k approved apps?

    Yeah, except for anyone who wanted to code one in LISP or Ruby. Or oh, I don't know, whatever keeps a huge number of apps from being approved or rejected.

    It's a great platform to develop for as long as you don't step on a land-mine and for some reason be unable to sell your hard work. If you like running a business with a huge uncertainty like "Will I even be able to show this to customers, let alone sell it" hanging in the air, it's for you.

    The only reason Apple is backpedaling now is because they pushed it too far and received some backlash.

    Isn't that the reason most people back down from a bad position? People tell them they are wrong, and eventually they see the light...

    Do they see the light, or just stop doing the thing that got pressure while someone's watching? One's right, the other is the behavior of a sociopath.

    They still don't promise to reject an app quickly with a good reason. They'll still let unpleasant (for them) apps linger forever while their developers' businesses die.

    but often not, especially with companies. That's my point, that to me it seems rare that customer complaints change anything about how a company works.

    What's really changed? Apple is changing what they're doing here only because with the rise of android they've got less control over app developers. Next time they've got this much lock-in they'll do the same sort of thing - use it to stifle competition right up until they'd lose market share by doing so.

    Beyond enabling them by developing for their devices you're also showing you'll work with the Microsoft of the moment. Damn the industry, and open competition, I'm making money attaching myself to their locked-in users!

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