Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apple radically changes app development guidelines to accommodate developers; review guidelines now posted

I assume app developers will be extremely happy to read about this: Apple has dramatically changed their development guidelines and made their app approval guidelines more transparent.

The statement, posted today on the Apple website, is reproduced in full here:

Statement by Apple on App Store Review Guidelines

The App Store℠ has revolutionized the way mobile applications are developed and distributed. With over 250,000 apps and 6.5 billion downloads, the App Store has become the world’s largest mobile application platform and App Store developers have earned over one billion dollars from the sales of their apps.

We are continually trying to make the App Store even better. We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their 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.

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.

In addition, for the first time we are publishing the App Store Review Guidelines to help developers understand how we review submitted apps. We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store.

The App Store is perhaps the most important milestone in the history of mobile software. Working together with our developers, we will continue to surprise and delight our users with innovative mobile apps.
It will be interesting to see the reaction from the app development community. I'll post reactions as this news spreads.

Update 1: According to Daring Fireball, the biggest change will be that Adobe's Flash cross-compiler will no longer be banned. This makes sense to me, and was probably already in effect in reality. As John Gruber writes "If you can produce a binary that complies with the guidelines, how you produced it doesn’t matter."

Update 2: The App Store Review Guidelines posted by Apple read like a conversation between a parent and their child -- and in a way this might be exactly what was intended, a message to young developers about what is expected of them.

Here are two examples: "We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store,. We don't need any more Fart apps." OK, got it. And "If your app looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you're trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection." Great stuff if you're 14, but what about Apple's policies concerning political comment and satire?

Update 3: This might be welcome news: "Apps that duplicate apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them." I'm thinking of RSS feed readers here -- there are tons of them, and whether you know it or not, they all compete with your publication's own branded app to a small degree.