Apple announced today that they would be lifting their ban on using 3rd party development tools to create apps for their store. It only took about 4 months for Apple to remove the ban, which was enforced in early April of this year. In their official announcement Apple wrote:
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.
Whether their change of heart is truly due to developer backlash or if it’s a result of legal pressure is unclear. I think it’s important that we focus on the outcome. Developers can go back to building games with the tools they are most comfortable. Apple still holds the key to the kingdom, but they can no longer discriminate simply based on platform of origin.
A fun game that runs well is… a fun game that runs well. Whether an app has been built with Unity, Objective C or Actionscript is immaterial. The onus of writing reliable, efficient code is still on the developer. The patrons of the App Store should be allowed to decide what belongs on the store by voting with their dollars. And now they can.
To Apple, I say thank you.
To the developers, I’ll say this: When you’re cooking up your next app, keep the words of Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm in mind. “…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Make apps that fill a need, innovate or do something better than an existing app. Flooding the store with dress-up games and soundboards just because we can will only leave us with: I told you so.
As an added bonus, Apple also announced that they will finally be publishing their App Store Review Guidelines. Developers now have a clearer picture of whether their app has a shot at getting to see the wizard… before they make the long trek to OZ. TechCrunch put together a decent summary article that points out Apple’s casual tone. To me, Apple sounds like a parent taking a first cautious step with their teenager… “OK, I’m going to let you stay out past curfew just this once, don’t disappoint me.”… Let’s not get grounded again.
And no, I’m not apologizing for the title of this article…