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Apple bows to pressure, makes nice with developers

The company issues a statement saying it will post App Store approval guidelines, along with "relaxing" restrictions on development tools.

Apple's battle with developers might be heading toward a truce.

The company plans to allow developers to create applications with just about any tool they want. It will also publish its App Store Review Guidelines.

The changes could also mark a shift in Apple's contentious relationships with both Google and Adobe Systems.


Saying that it has "taken [developer] feedback to heart," Apple has decided to relax "restrictions we put in place earlier this year" on the company's iOS Developer Program license. Going forward, developers can use any development tool they want to build iOS apps, "as long as the resulting apps do not download any code."

In a statement issued Thursday morning, Apple explicitly mentions that the changed portions of its developer license are sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2, and 3.3.9. Section 3.3.1 said prior to the change that "applications may only use documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs." It also required all apps to be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript, dealing a blow to Adobe's Creative Suite 5 platform.

Section 3.3.2 required that no application "launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs, or otherwise."

Section 3.3.9 put the squeeze on Google's AdMob by limiting an application's ability to "collect, use, or disclose to any third party, user or device data without prior user consent." Advertisers could share user data only if "the collection, use, or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to your application."

In addition, Apple said Thursday that it plans to publish its App Store Review Guidelines "to help developers understand how we review submitted apps." The company said that it's publishing the guidelines in an effort to be "more transparent."

Apple's decision to post review guidelines has been a long time coming. For years, the company has been approving certain apps, while not allowing others into its App Store without, according to the developers, adequate explanation. Until now, Apple has been firm in its stance.

Earlier this year, Apple updated its iOS 4 SDK with provisions that prevented developers from using tools such as Adobe Creative Suite 5 to port applications to the iPhone. Now, those tools can be used, as long as code isn't downloaded.

Update at 6:41 a.m. PDT:: Added details on the specific sections of Apple's license being updated.