Apple Takes Developers Hostage in War on Adobe

Illustration for article titled Apple Takes Developers Hostage in War on Adobe

We all know that you can't run Flash on Apple's mobile devices. But now Apple is trying to make it impossible to develop for iPhones in any other development environment but Apple's own. Oh boy.

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There's one primary target this interferes with: Adobe, whose upcoming Packager for iPhone in CS5 lets you develop applications in Flash (or specifically, ActionScript 3, Flash's native scripting language) and then cross-compile them so that they work in both a browser's Flash plugin and as a standalone iPhone application.

The thinking goes like this: While applications written this way might not have the performance of applications written in Objective-C, the iPhone's native development language, they'd be good enough—and they'd allow developers who already know ActionScript to avoid having to learn a new language. (At least in theory. The game above, "THAT ROACH GAME", was made with Flash. One reviewer noted "The animation and fades must be computed with a hand calculator. The developer should consider some night classes.")

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In iPhone OS4's licensing agreement, however, it appears that Apple is specifically proscribing languages for iPhone app creation.

How would Apple ever know what language was originally used if the end result is Objective-C (or C or C++)? From speaking to a Flash developer who may abandon an iPad application he has already been working on in ActionScript, most of the cross-compilers* use a set of unified libraries that are easy to recognize, even after the being compiled into iPhone apps.

In short, Apple is forcing a huge number of developers to change their development environment of choice simply to encourage them to move away from a competitor's platform. It is unclear if apps already on the App Store that have been developed using these tools will be banned.

Hello, FTC? Apple just passed Go. ** []

* This changed agreement affects more than just Flash developers, although it is my opinion that it is only Adobe with which Apple is concerned strategically.

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** Okay, this isn't an antitrust issue, per se. But it's certainly unfair.

Update: I took out "illegal" in the lede, because that's overstating it. The DMCA does shore up some of the approach vectors from Apple's competitors here, but it's as @fraying pointed out in the comments below, it's not illegal per se to violate a license agreement.

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Update 2: Gruber has posted a related consideration, "Why Apple Changed Section 3.3.1".

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DISCUSSION

Ok so day after day after day, you read in these comments that all iPhone apps are just shitty flash games and apps that have been ported over and do some kind of fart function or whatever you kids are using as a meme these days. Check any Apple article for the facts on that one.

So now when apple makes a move (which benefits the end user experience greatly IMO) that pretty much prevents that from actually happening like for real, actual shitty flash games being ported over by hacks and filling the app store with non native UI elements and horrific UX's, Everyone has a conniption fit, really?

So I am to believe that all of your extreme rage and indignation is genuine?

Now keep in mind this does not preclude me from wanting these developers who create good flash games and apps to make money, not at all.

That is actually one of my primary points of the benefit of the app store over proclaiming you love someones flash games but just wanting to play them free and not support them. Is the app store allows these guys and gals to make money FINALLY after getting paid almost nothing for the flash games you love so much. But as with all software there is a right way to target a platform and a wrong way, and this is the wrong way.

If you want to create a good experience on any platform you develop natively for it using native languages..

This is just my opinion though and it probably doesn't have any validity with many of you, but i'm ok with that. Have a nice one.