Yesterday, Apple released a statement highlighting significant changes to their iOS Developer Program license, re-opening the platform to third-party development tools such as Adobe’s tools for developing mobile apps based on Flash (Flash in the browser is still a no-go). Additionally, Apple posted their full App Store review guidelines.
Apple has been criticized for its ostensible inconsistency in approving apps in the past, so the company’s latest move has already been touted as a positive step toward App Store review transparency. But why now? And what does this mean for Flash developers?
The change may be in reaction, at least in part, to Android’s gaining market share. Android’s rise is due, to a certain extent, to the openness of the platform and the Android Market. However, part of what makes the App Store so great is the review process itself, which guarantees to users a certain level of quality and UI consistency. By posting the exact review guidelines to developers, Apple has made a terrific compromise between the two models.
When Apple first pulled the plug on third-party development tools for iOS development (including Flash CS5, which lets developers create Flash-based smartphone apps), there were plenty of negative reactions, especially from cross-platform developers. With that, in addition to continually refusing support for Flash on its mobile devices (which may not have been a bad call after all), it seemed that Apple really had it out for Adobe.
I don’t expect Apple to support Flash directly on its iOS devices- that is unless Adobe makes significant improvements in performance and touch-based input. The way things are going, standards-based HTML5 will take over on smartphones (and hopefully the desktop as well), and users will be much better off for it. I’ll bet there were an awful lot of Flash developers who, with Wired’s latest cover story (“The Web Is Dead“) were starting to have existential quandaries. But with Apple now loosening the straps on the App Store, Flash may actually survive on mobile as an app-creation platform.