Apple Relaxes App Store Approvals as Android Gains in Relevance

Apple is relaxing the rules around its approval process for iPhone apps, effectively opening the flood gates for developers (to a degree). Of course, Apple is still concerned about safety, and the company has maintained a heady top-down approach to control the types of apps that appear in the iTunes Store.

Apple will be detailing the new approval process in its documentation, as stated in its released statement from this morning:

“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.”

Many developers will be anxious to check out the new approval process, particularly as it’s been a touchy subject around Apple’s iOS for a year now. From malware protection to limiting access to adult apps, Apple hasn’t shown any indication of loosening up. This has caused several developers to join the Android camp, where open source rules, and restrictions are limited.

Android’s growing success hasn’t seemed to sway Apple, even as Steve Jobs boasted in last week’s press event of the billions of apps that have been downloaded to iPhones and iPod Touches. While Apple apps have remained more popular, evolved, and diverse than Android apps, the steady release of new Android devices is encouraging an app market that is beginning to overtake Apple’s in various ways. As TechCrunch mentions, the new approval process will also allow for AdMob ads to come through apps, ending another ongoing rally against Apple.

The New York Times brings up another motive for Apple’s sudden move; the FTC. The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have been negotiating around antitrust inquiries over Apple’s App Store regulations earlier this year.

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