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.
The truth is that the walled garden model that Apple has always implemented is now proving to be the right one. Especially when considering the spaghetti mess that Android World is becoming. Apple has been extremely strict with it’s app process but I don’t see it being arbitrary. It has been silly at times, but pretty consistent, if monumentally prudish.
There is a lot more complexity behind the scenes, I suspect, of this new announcement than meets the eye. It may also have a lot to do with their over cautious approach in the early days of the iPhone and iPad development to ensure maximum performance of the iOS, which I think was fully justified. One only has to look at the performance fiasco on Android and other devices when they start to run flash apps. In 2011 another processor speed leap will probably take place and this will ease the performance issues that Apple has rightly focussed on in 2008-9-10.
So personally I hope that Apple stay tough and keep that wall high, while being a little less prudish.
I agree. The problem wasn’t really the lack of guidelines; it was the sense that interpretation of the guidelines was up to whoever saw your app first, and that there was no appeal.
Reading this I rather wished I bought Apple stock a week ago.
Apple is one of those companies that you almost understand why they are so tight-gripped, being they hold some of the most innovative ideas out in the consumer-utilized technology market. I’d be leery to relax my fingers also, were I in their shoes… but in quasi-relaxing of a part of one finger, they’ve made the stock go up, techie bloggers’ eyes set a-glimmer and consumer interest perk-up, again.