Apple has changed its lockdown policy on app development and is to lift its onerous restrictions on building apps, allowing developers to use third party tools to build new apps.
The move will now allow developers to use software such as Adobe’s Flash.
The company issued a statement which said: “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.”
The move suggests Apple is increasingly worried about competition from Google’s Android system. According to Reuters, the company’s initial insistence that developers only use its tools to build apps has also drawn scrutiny from competition regulators in the US.
The newsagency reports that while the changes mean developers will be able to build apps using Flash tools, and then convert them to run on iOS, it does not mean that the iPhone and iPad will be able to run Flash websites. However, it should allow them to build an app and more easily port it to either iOS or Android.
The statement continued: “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.
“The App Store is perhaps the most important milestone in the history of mobile software. Working together with our developers, we will continue to surprise and delight our users with innovative mobile apps.”
Nevertheless the company said the guidelines would only be available to developers, and would still reject apps which it considered offensive, those that criticised a religion or contained certain sexual content.
The introduction to the guidelines states: “If your app doesn’t do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted.”
It also states: “If your app looks like it was cobbled together in a few days … please brace yourself for rejection.”
According to Apple, the App Store has developed 250,000 apps and distributed over 6.5 billion downloads since its debut in July 2008, making it the world’s largest mobile application platform.
But Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in recent weeks that devices based on its competing Android wireless operating system are being activated at a rate of 200,000 a day, making it a strong rival to the iOS system.