Apple says uncle to Flash- but not all the way…. yet

Posted on September 9, 2010

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After months of heavy discussion, debate and finger waving, Apple relaxes the iPhone developer agreement that banned translation tools like CS5 from Adobe. Now this doesn’t mean that flash video will work on iPhone’s yet, but it is probably just a matter of time (can you say Android?)

(Fierce Mobile) Months after rewriting its iPhone developer agreement to effectively ban cross-compiler translation tools like Adobe Systems’ Flash Professional CS5, Apple said it (NASDAQ:AAPL) will ease restrictions on the creation of iOS-based applications. “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,” Apple said in a statement issued Thursday morning. “This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.” The changes to sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 of the iOS Developer Program license will enable developers to design and build apps in Flash, then convert their efforts to Apple-approved code–the revisions do not mean consumers will be able to access Flash-based web content via their iPhone and iPod devices, however.

Apple credited its decision to rethink the Flash ban on developer feedback. In addition, the computing giant said it will finally publish its App Store Review Guidelines in an effort to help developer partners better understand the approval process. We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store,” Apple said.

Apple updated its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement in March 2010, mandating that all iPhone and iPod touch applications must be written to run directly on the iOS platform. Section 3.3.1 of the rewritten agreement stated “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).”

The change was perceived in many quarters as a direct attack on Adobe Systems. Apple CEO Steve Jobs responded to the resulting controversy by issuing an open letter to outline the thinking behind his decision to block support for cross-compiler tools, explaining “We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.” (The full text of the letter is available here.)

In May 2010, The New York Post reported Apple’s Flash ban was the subject of a federal antitrust inquiry to determine whether the company’s actions threatened competition by forcing developers to focus on one platform to the exclusion of others. It is unknown what role if any the threat of a federal investigation played in Apple’s about-face.

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Posted in: Apple