Apple Says OK to Third Party iOS Dev Tools

Apple changed its stance on third party developer tools for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch apps Thursday morning with some changes to its Developer Program license agreement. The previous license rules prohibited developers from using coding tools such as the Adobe Flash CS5 to iPhone cross-compiler.

“Based on [developer] input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year,” Apple said in a statement. “In particular, 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.”

Apple isn’t detailing which developer tools it will allow, but the company’s statement seems open enough to allow coders to use nearly any development environment they want. If so, the change will come as welcome news to Adobe, although it will mark a complete reversal in Apple’s stance on developer tools that can cross-compile apps for multiple platforms.

Apple and Adobe publicly locked horns over the strict limitations on iOS developer tools. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said allowing apps originally coded in Flash on the iPhone would dilute the platform because developers would write apps that take advantage of features in only the least capable devices they were targeting. He also released an open letter to Adobe calling Flash a closed and proprietary system with major security flaws.

Adobe’s John Warnock and Chuck Genschke fired back with their own open letter saying consumers and developers should be able to choose which platforms they use and support instead of being told by Apple what their options are. “We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web,” they said.

Along with its less restrictive developer license, Apple also published the guidelines it uses for App Store approval. “We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store,” the company said.