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Ever since the iPhone App Store first opened its doors in 2008 there has been an ongoing debate about Apple's seemingly random approval process. Its refusal to allow Flash content to run on its platform has also been a contentious topic, which escalated to a whole new level earlier this year when the company decided to ban developers from using cross-platform compilers and instead forced them to use Apple's Objective-C-based tools – a move that was largely interpreted as a shot directly across Adobe's bow, but it also affected developers using other middleware tools such as Unity.
This meant that a developer had to either buy separate tools for iOS and every other platform, or else make a choice of one over the other, which could be prohibitively expensive for an independent coder. In an unusual turn of events, however, it seems Apple is backtracking on some of its previous decisions and has announced it will loosen restrictions on tools used by developers to build apps for its mobile devices as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. In Apple's words, "this should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need."
The company also promised to be more transparent about its App Store approval process and for the first time published a set of guidelines to help understand how they review submitted apps. The sudden policy change could be a result of many things, not least a response to the outcry of developers thinking of defecting to the fast-growing Android platform and the ongoing FTC investigation into the company's SDK rules. Whatever the case, a more transparent approval process is good news for both developers and iOS users.