Speaking of Apple and closed-vs-open, Apple has occasionally been known to reverse controversial decisions, eventually. Such a reversal happened today.
Earlier this year, Apple’s refusal to allow the use of third-party development platforms to create iOS applications touched off a minor furor (and an FTC investigation). Among other things, this meant that Wired Magazine would have to create an entirely separate version of its tablet magazine app for the iPad, instead of being able to create one version in a Flash-based Adobe development environment and export it for multiple platforms including the iPad.
Today, Apple has changed its mind—and its iOS Developer Program license.
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.
Businessweek reports that Adobe’s stock has jumped 11% in morning trading since the announcement. It will be interesting to see if Wired will drop the separate development process for its iPad edition, and whether the changes will be noticeable from a user interface point of view.
But another part of Apple’s announcement might, in the long term, be even more meaningful:
In addition, for the first time we are publishing the App Store Review Guidelines to help developers understand how we review submitted apps. We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store.
App developers have long been after Apple to add more openness and transparency to its somewhat arbitrary-seeming application review process, given that the current system makes it hard to know ahead of time what unguessed-at pitfalls might render all of a developer’s hard work pointless. This announcement suggests that Apple is finally getting around to it, though of course time will tell just how open the process will really become. As Gizmodo points out, even if the rules are all out in the open, it doesn’t help much if their enforcement is still arbitrary.