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iPhone 4 SDK may ban Flash-to-iPhone compilers

updated 06:10 pm EDT, Thu April 8, 2010

Language appears to be aimed directly at Flash

Apple may have effectively banned Flash-to-iPhone compilers for developers using the iPhone 4 SDK. Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber noticed an updated clause in section 3.3.1 of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, expanding a previously simple requirement that apps must use documented APIs instead of private APIs.

"Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited)," the section now reads.

Although the wording does not explicitly ban Adobe's Flash-to-iPhone utility, Gruber interprets the language as prohibiting all cross-compilers. The category could even be interpreted to include other tools such as MonoTouch, Unity3D, and PhoneGap.

Despite Apple's staunch opposition to Flash on the iPhone platform, Adobe had promised to work around the restrictions with its CS5 lineup. Developers will be able to build Flash-based apps and run them through the iPhone compiler, which outputs the code in an iPhone-friendly format.

It is still unclear if Apple intends to enforce the SDK terms to prevent Flash developers from using the compiler for App Store content. The Flash-to-iPhone compiler is only a few weeks from hitting the market.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Salty

    Joined: Dec 1969



    That would be a pretty big kick in the pants to Adobe and a potential slap in the face to developers. The reason Apple hasn't caught flack from me for banning flash is that flash isn't a well designed plugin and I don't want it draining my iPhone's battery. Thing is though if Adobe's apps are being run by users, they'll know that it's that app specifically that's breaking their phone. It's up to them to decide if they want it or not.

  1. Darchmare

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This pretty much proves that it's not (just) the plug-in's lousy performance and stability that is keeping Flash off of the iPhone/iPad, but rather Apple's insistence on controlling the app market from top to bottom.

    Basically, they want to make it as difficult as possible to distribute "apps" for other platforms (Flash, other mobile devices), trusting that their dominance of the smart-phone market will ensure that when push comes to shove developers will choose them over the competition. Over time this enhances lock-in as users realize that they can't get their favorite apps elsewhere.

    As I'm sure the usual suspects will be here to say shortly: It's Apple's store and they can do what they want, but this move still stinks, all the same.

  1. richardh99

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I have a deal of sympathy with Apple's view of Flash, but this would be cutting off their nose to spite their face: ours is a cross-platform product that works across phones, iPads, consoles and digital TV boxes. For that to be viable we need to maintain a single codebase which then either runs natively on all platforms (ain't about to happen) or where the heavy lifting of the porting process is done automatically for us. We've been evaluating a very nice IDE that can help us do that, but both its future and our path for the iPhone/iPad has just been thrown into doubt. Apple have the most fantastic opportunity for their platform to become a true interaction/control hub for all types of content experience, but this short-sighted limitation will hold them and their market back, decisively I think.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What's next

    Putting in clauses that all code must be written and developed on Apple branded computers and monitors using Apple branded or approved accessories? Will we need to start following their naming and coding conventions, rather than you in-house conventions? Do they require some sort of blood oath when you submit an app that it was originally written in Objective-C and not Java.

  1. moonmonkey

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "What's next"

    That won't happen.
    You already have to use an Apple computer to develop iPhoneOS apps, like you need to use a Windows PC to develop windows mobile apps.

    They work with any monitors or accessories and that wont change.

  1. mytdave

    Joined: Dec 1969


    bad move

    As much as I love Apple and their products, I must say this is a foolish move on their part. The more restrictive they become, the more developers they will lose or not attract. They've also been down that road before too, and apparently they haven't learned their lesson.

    Apple will dominate the market by making a better mouse trap and building superior tools and ecosystems around it (them). They will lose mindshare and marketshare by alienating others.

    Who cares what tools are used to develop an app? If the app supports the official APIs and meets the guidelines for the app store then it should be just fine. Some things have changed. These days customers reject substandard apps. The development tools of choice just aren't a problem.

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