Could Apple be making nice with developers?

Apple has released a surprising statement that seems to relax restrictions on both developers and the tools they use to create apps.  BlackBerry has long been an open and easy environment to write code, and Google Android‘s approach is even more so.  Apple risks losing market share if they can’t make developers happy, and I’m one of them.  They also released more information on the guidelines they use to approve apps in the App Store.  It’s hard to believe they were so secretive about the rules they used to judge new applications and were notorious for rejecting apps with no concrete broken rule given.

The following is the statement from Apple, as you must have a developer account to access the actual URL:

We are continually trying to make the App Store even better. 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.

We are continually trying to make the App Store even better. 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.

This has 2 big impacts on my world as an iPhone developer and user.  First, it gives me back the tools to create mobile apps across platforms faster, and with better quality and stability.  Code toolsets like Appcelerator Titanium and PhoneGap are amazing examples of integrating languages, platforms and technologies to produce mobile software for multiple devices!

The second impact is on myself as a user, and the fact that my iPhone web browsing experience is often crippled by error messages where Adobe Flash content should be running.  While Apple is still leaving its restriction on Flash within the Safari Mobile browser in place, Adobe tools like Packager – which can convert Flash apps into iPhone apps – are now being approved for the App Store.  The product’s web page up until now has had a “discontinued” message after Apple started playing some really hard ball.

So, assuming this huge announcement is genuine and represents a real change in my relationship with them, I’ll say thanks to Apple.  Keep it up – this is how we want you and the entire mobile market to behave.  We’ll see where this all goes, of course, but given your previous history with developers, I’ll keep an eye on them for future threats to my choice of toolsets.  But without a doubt, my heart grew 3 sizes after reading about this move.