In an impressive gesture of goodwill, Apple has decided to publicize their app store review guidelines for developers, and has even lifted their restriction on third party development software. Yes, this even includes apps written in actionscript, the code behind Adobe Air and the ever-contested, Flash. While the does not mean that Flash is supported in any of the mobile browsers available for the iPhone and iPad, it does mean that developers can now convert Flash applications using Adobe's iOS packaging tool, and submit them to the App Store without fear of automatic rejection.
As Adobe puts it, “Apple's announcement today that it has lifted restrictions on its third-party developer guidelines has direct implications for Adobe's Packager for iPhone, a feature in the Flash Professional CS5 authoring tool.” This is a big deal, because Apple's initial move to prevent this sort of thing, came right around the time Adobe launched their Creative Suite 5 (CS5), a new milestone for the creative package that includes Flash. The one caveat regarding App Store approval: no downloading of code, which basically means that games created in third party tools can't communicate over the net.
Adobe halted work on the iPhone Packager during the initial ban, but due to the shift in policy, has announced they will, "resume development work on this feature for future releases."
Apple's former stance regarding apps created with third-party software left a lot of developers with a sour taste in their mouth. Adobe took particular offense, resulting in publicly broadcast contention between the former playmates. It became such a contested decision, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an examination into the companies restrictive, potentially antitrust trade practices. Apple's change of heart isn't necessarily a result of any demands by the FTC, but could be a move to improve the publics opinion of Apple, following months of scathing news reports over the iPhone 4's antennae and tensions with Adobe. Placating the FTC wouldn't hurt either.
Apple's betting their decision to reveal submission guidelines will boost developer confidence, adding, “We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store.” This is the first time this information has been available to the public, and coupled with their other announcement, should end up benefiting all sides of the iOS community: developers, users, and even Apple.
Time will tell if Apple can completely right their arguably recent wrongs, but it looks like a good day for the App Store as a whole.