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Apple tweaks iOS rules for developers, but still no Flash

Small changes to the developer agreement allow for wider variety of code used in app development, but Adobe's Flash is still prohibited from the platform.

iPhone apps

Developers working with the iOS platform got a small concession when Apple recently updated the developer agreement.

Apple threw more gas on the fire in its feud with Adobe last month when it quietly updated its developer agreement to say that "Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited."

That was widely interpreted to preclude using other platforms that allow developers to make one application that runs on multiple devices--for example, not just on Apple's iPhone, but on its competitors' devices as well. That included, among others, Adobe's Flash.

But now Apple has slightly revised that. Currently the rules read:

Unless otherwise approved by Apple in writing, no interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s). Notwithstanding the foregoing, with Apple's prior written consent, an Application may use embedded interpreted code in a limited way if such use is solely for providing minor features or functionality that are consistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application.

While that still excludes Flash, it does allow, with Apple's express written permission, for the use of reusable code engines or libraries that many iPhone and iPad games use.

What prompted the change? It's not entirely clear, but it's probably to encourage and not restrict further development of iPhone and iPad games, which have proven extremely popular in the App Store.

Another clue: Apple is being scrutinized by antitrust authorities for its increasingly exclusive policies concerning its mobile software platform. On Friday it was reported that the Federal Trade Commission is planning to open a probe into Apple's business practices, touched off by the Flash brouhaha, and more recently, Apple's decision to exclude non-independent ad networks from its iAd platform.