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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Apple Quietly Reverses Developer Tool Ban

Apple did not specifically mention Adobe — though investors drove up shares of the company up 12 percent on the news — but the changes seem to mean that you can use Flash to develop your apps, and then compile them to work on the iPhone and iPad with a tool called Adobe Packager. This could be boon to publishers, including Condé Nast, owner of Wired, which use Adobe’s Creative Suite to make print magazines and would now be able to easily convert them into digital version instead of re-creating them from scratch in the only handful of coding languages Apple had allowed.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean Flash is coming to iOS as a plugin: You still won’t be able to view Flash content on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. This change in Apple’s policy just means developers can use third-party tools such as Flash to create apps sold through the App Store
-- Apple Eases App Development Rules, Adobe Surges[Wired]

For all the bluster that roared from Apple on banning the use of tools like Adobe's Packager, including a strongly worded essay from Jobs which essentially ignited the debate on HTML5 versus Flash/RIA/the world, it has now softly backed away from the stance that such tools would lower the quality of the App Store and let developer use them.

Why? Well, possibly because Apple's reasoning was mostly PR nonsense designed to look like a strong technical argument ... but I have to somewhat doubt that really factored much into the equation. This is Apple we're talking about here and the company has been able to use PR to defy gravity countless times before.

The more prominent, and probably more likely, theory, is that Apple decided it wanted to trot out that amazing Epic Citadel demo (which is, by the way, truly amazing - at least on the iPhone4) they realized that there would be no way to unleash it onto the world without subsequently backing off on the whole third party development tool.

Epic's bread and butter, after all, is the third party development toolset which allows for other companies to license their technology for games ... and a huge feature of that is UnrealScript - a specific language the engine uses and how the majority of Unreal games are coded. To have shown the demo and then not change their policy would have just been an enormous tease.

And to change the policy to only let Epic in would likely have brought anti-trust champions bearing down on Steve Job's office door.

So it's true - you can probably thank video games that Apple has come to its senses.

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