New iPhone App rules: Unreasonable and unjustifiable

Amidst all the hullabaloo surrounding the launch of Apple's iPhone OS 4.0, the contentious company from Cupertino is coming under fire for a quietly made change to its iPhone developer's agreement.

The change, first noted by John Gruber of the Daring Fireball blog, effectively prohibits developers from using any "intermediary translation" tools in building native iPhone applications. In simpler terms, programmers will be required to use only Apple's proprietary tools in creating their apps; they won't be able to translate their programs from other platforms as they'd previously been able to do.

In simpler terms yet, Apple's saying, "Do it our way, or don't do it at all," in an even more extreme fashion than it's ever said it before.

Apple's iPhone License and Adobe Flash

Apple's iPhone license change would cause numerous apps known to iPhone and iPad users to be outlawed. Among the highest profile victims are programs created with Adobe's Flash-to-iPhone compiler; some of the iPad-friendly magazine implementations we've been hearing about for months revolve around that technology.

So why is Apple revising its rules in such a restrictive way? There's no shortage of theories. Some say it's a bold new attack in Apple's ongoing battle against Adobe; others insist it's all part of Apple's mission to create the best possible user experience. Others yet believe it's part of Apple's effort to build a regime even more oppressive than China's.

(OK, that last one was a satirical suggestion. But let's be honest: It's not that far of a stretch.)

Apple iPhone Developer Backlash

Regardless of the reason, current iPhone developers are wasting no time in voicing their thoughts on Apple's shift. Joe Hewitt, who programmed the iPhone's Facebook application, lashed out against the updated developer's agreement on his Twitter stream.

"So much for programming language innovation on the iPhone platform," Hewitt wrote. "It's so hard to reconcile my love for these beautiful devices on my desk with my hatred for the ugly words in that legal agreement."

Developer Hank Williams, meanwhile, questions whether Apple's change will lead to a legal challenge.

"This concept of what language something is written in is an insidious concept and strikes at the core of product development and of computer science in general," Williams stated on his blog. "Trying to control where something is originally done is attempting to control the thought process that yields a given result."

Apple's Closed Culture: Some Perspective

As for me, I've expressed my thoughts on Apple's closed and restrictive culture plenty of times before. And I know the response from Apple's most loyal defenders tends to be that Apple does these things so it can maintain a smooth and seamless user experience.

Rather than rehashing what's already been said, then, let me pose this question: What if it had been Microsoft making this same move? Declaring that developers could write programs for Windows using only its proprietary toolkit? Prohibiting all noncompliant creations (including, yes, Apple's own iTunes) from running on its systems?

Taken out of the context of Cupertino, it's easy to see why Apple's actions are out of the realm of reason -- and, quite simply, out of line.

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the co-founder of eSarcasm. You can find him on Facebook: facebook.com/The.JR.Raphael

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags iPhoneiphone apps

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?