In a somewhat surprising about-face last week, Apple eased restrictions on building iPhone and iPad applications, allowing developers to use third-party tools such as Adobe Systems' Flash software.
Though it was only a partial capitulation – the ban on third-party tools is gone, but not the prohibition on apps downloading code, so iPhones/iPads still can't access Flash-based web content – it could help ease enterprise concerns about the relative openness of the iOS platform, particularly compared to Google's Android OS that's steamrolling the smartphone market.
Almost immediately after Apple ended "all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code," citing developer feedback, Adobe revived its Packager for iPhone, openning the door Flash-based apps for the iPhone and iPad.
"This is great news for developers and we're hearing from our developer community that Packager apps are already being approved for the App Store," Adobe wrote on its developer blog , adding the reminder "that Apple's restriction on Flash content running in the browser on iOS devices remains in place."
Apple's partial about-face follows an unusually public feud with Adobe last spring in which Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered sharp and specific criticism of Flash technology. Apple has been criticized by developers for its heavy-handed restrictions on building apps, which have reportedly drawn the scrutiny of antitrust regulators. Analysts, including Brian Marshall at Gleacher & Co and Michael J. Olson, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co., say Apple was feeling the pressure from developers, who now can build apps for Android using Flash and more easily port those apps to iOS."The changes will likely allow creative pros to use Adobe's tools to build apps for the App Store," said Olson in a research note to clients last week.
"What spurred this on was the uproar from the growing iOS developer base," Marshall told Reuters . "People liked using Flash, and now they'll be able to use a bunch of different technologies."
Apple's initial insistence that developers only use its tools to build apps also drew scrutiny from U.S. regulators.
"This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need," Apple said in its statement.