Apple doesn’t like Flash…

There’s been tweet after tweet after tweet about Apple’s new little clause in their developers agreement:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Essentially, the first reaction is that if you don’t write it in Xcode, you can’t do it.  That’s at least what the first reaction was to the verbiage.

Now’s its speculated that maybe it means products that create an IPA file without creating an Xcode project are subjected to this new rule.  Leaving products like Unity3D in a safe spot so to speak.  But who knows at this point.  It’s all speculation until summer time 2010.

So, since nobody really knows for sure what that means yet, and so, as Keith Peters put it:  Grab some popcorn, sit back on the couch and enjoy the fireworks for the next couple of months – it’s going to get interesting 😉

I guess my general reaction to this, after having a night to sleep on it is this:  If Apple is thinking that the flash output is less than ideal in terms of performance/packaging on their devices, then we might be able to see where they’re coming from (not that I agree, or am saying that Flash’s output is inferior, I’m not saying that at all). But, if you’ve done any iPhone development, you know  that they’re so anal about experience in their SDK/agreements that this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

IE ( and let me put it in terms of what THEY’RE likely thinking ): They know they’re going to get a HUGE influx of flash apps from virtually ANYONE (hacks/babysitters who make banners/12yr olds who like pink ponies, you name it) making content for their devices, and they’re probably not to happy about the prospect of it lowering the standard of what they want for their devices.  It think you get the point.

NOTE: I’m not saying people using Flash for iPhone content are necessarily hacks or poor developers – not my point at all.  I’m pointing out that Apple is VERY ANAL about experience on their devices – right down to the use of icons and UI experience and performance.

Case in point: the trench run.  We were asked to pull a warning from the app that showed the very first time you played the game.  It simply said, “Please restart your device for best performance”.  Apple had us remove that as it insinuated that their device was the problem, not our app.  In reality it IS their device’s problem – you SHOULD reboot your device for any high performance game, but they’re not going to let you point it out.

my 2cents on the matter.  thoughts?

  1. I think the key issue is that Apple should judge the output, not the tool.

    I agree, Flash makes it easy to build really crappy iPhone apps. I respect Apple’s choice to block those. However, Apple already has the legal tools to do this (HUI guidelines, performance guidelines, etc). What they’ve chosen to do instead is cut huge swaths of developers out of their eco-system arbitrarily, based on tool choice.

    It’s a ridiculous and largely unenforceable policy that exposes their (lawyer’s) lack of understanding about the developer market, their childish / spiteful business practices, and Apple’s short term vision. Some of these tools may be rough now and their output may be lacking somewhat, but as they mature they will account for a growing percentage of quality apps.

    • well, and I think that article about the board room decisions is starting to flush out more and more – binding developes to the toolset is obviously key to keeping apps exclusive to their platform and devices – it makes too much sense. And in the end, who’s bitching? Developers. The end user, and I’m one of them, enjoys a consistent experience – which I do appreciate. but otherwise, users who have no clue about the goings ons in the backgound could care less. Just as long as they don’t mistakenly delete a movie off their iTouch/iPad before syncing with their computer 😉 (ouch yes, I’ve done that – and ironically, apple was VERY VERY cool and quick to respond and let me re-download 3 movies. I was impressed )

  2. Completely agree. I see their point in wanting to avoid an influx of bad apps coming in for approval but this is not the way of handling it. I dont think Apple would be too happy it if Adobe up and dropped support for OSX just because the OS is not up to their standards. (not saying osx sucks for adobe)

    I’ve got my popcorn in hand, and boy is this couch comfy.

    • Pointer
    • April 9th, 2010

    An interesting move will be Adobe not releasing future versions of its developer/designer tools for Mac platform. A mass exodus of Mac to PC is guaranteed !

    • Burns
    • April 9th, 2010

    I agree to some extent that making iPhone apps in Flash makes it more accessible to amateurs, and may cause a lot of crappy programs to hit the store. On the flipside, a lot of crappy programs already is in the store, made by programmers dedicated to code instead of user experience, usability and great design.

    The flash community is filled with some of the best designers, who goes a long way to make great programs which are both accessible, usable and well designed, and I think it would benefit the platform, if more of these could get in the game, and make great UI’s as Convertbot, Peppermint and mill colour, (built in Objective-C) which stray from the abundance of boring table based apps out there.

    I have recently started programming on the iPhone framework, and I am not impressed by the fowl language Objective-C with its delegate structure, and horrible syntax due to the fact that it is built on top of C.

    That being said, I love my iPhone, I love a lot of the apps, and I love the fact that it is really responsive. If Apples terms would have stated that they would ban apps which used too much RAM, hogged the processor or were just plain dumb, everything would be fine by me. But this just seems to be a touch of the New Apple Arrogance, which unfortunately seems to be the new Lords Of The Tech Worlds way to enjoy their succes.

    I wonder how the response would be if Microsoft tried the same thing….

      • dandare
      • April 11th, 2010

      I totally agree

  3. The developers fee might put off any teenage pony fanatics but I agree that their HIG obsession might be the real reason they don’t want Flash apps produced for the device … and I agree with them.

    I’d just like to see Adobe move away from the Flash Player and start developing Flash so it compiles to HTML5. We can still use Actionscript because it’s a great language but surely they can compile to HTML5 now? It’s time to adapt and move on. We don’t NEED a browser plugin for rich content anymore.

    • interesting 😉 I just wonder too, if adobe is shifting focus to their tool, rather than the player. You might be on to something Lee 😉

      • Yotam Laufer
      • April 9th, 2010

      HTML5 is not ready for prime time. Stop saying that it is, because it’s not.

    • TJ Downes
    • April 9th, 2010

    Considering the performance of Canvas vs SWF, Id argue that theres still a reason for Flash Player. Apple too quickly forgets their own history, and its going to come back to haunt them soon enough.

    • Dev
    • April 9th, 2010

    The Source Wars begin : Revenge of the Dev !!!

    It is pointless to confine the language we use to develop an app, a good app or bad is NOT a matter of language (AS3 or Objective C).

    Apple doing so for certain reasons :
    1. limit the possibility of multiple deployment, keep the good app on iPhone Platform, not easily portable to other mobile platform.
    2. grow the developer base, for both Mac and iPhone (since Mac are still lack of developer forces, and more Objective C programmer means a more solid supply for Mac applications in future)
    3. force people to buy and use Mac (change the mindset of Mac as designer computer, now for developer too)
    4. Steve Jobs has a mental health problem, make him as insane as Steve Ballmer.

    • David
    • April 9th, 2010

    Hey Neo,

    When’s the Trench Run update coming out?

    • We are working very hard and it’s in QA right now and going through final approvals 🙂 that’s all I can tell you at this point

  4. I dislike that agreement clause by Apple in general and of course especially as developer, besides the point what gets blocked at the end or not, its not nice to get options taken away.
    On the other side that is common policy for many devices (zune, consoles etc etc) and more importantly: as end user of any mobile device if you know what you´d be getting, you wouldn´t want flash on your mobile device.
    Let´s be honest, yes, in theory flash content running great on all platforms would be wicked, but that is FAR from the reality.
    Despite what presentation videos might want to tell us.
    A LOT of flash content has performance issues even on highend systems ,so such huge hardware requirements and then still not running ideal doesn´t make it an ideal candidate for creating well performing more involved competitive apps for way less powerful devices at all.
    Many then jump in and talk about the side that that would maybe be due to the flash developer base not being matured/ skilled enough. It surely has nothing to do with the point that Adobe hasn´t added propper full on gpu support for all graphic related things for the past 10 years so flash is a huge cpu drainer, right?
    Or that AS3 is a cheap Java clone and the Garbage Collector introduced with its VM is quite prone to causing memory leaks easily.

    So while there are surely many reasons behind this move by Apple involved, just this point alone, that flash´s performance and stability is not good enough is hard to argue about, even when one is a flash developer; when one is serious and honest: flash´s performance is nowhere where it should be and well, unless they improve it tremendously it doesn´t make much sense trying to tell the world they´re missing out on anything great when it gets blocked from a device.

    The best thing Adobe can do is release a flash player version that runs kickass on any device it is deployed for, for all types of content one usually finds on the web; until then; as long as its mostly hyped up quasi nonsense that can´t compete performancewise with content made in other technologies running on the same hardware, well, one can bitch all one wants about Apple but they got at least one point there.

    Yes, all grab your popcorn and let´s see what Adobe does on Monday.

    Round 2 🙂

    I never thought i´d enjoy mud wrestling that much, its sadening in a way what grown ups get themselves into, but yeah, equally exciting..
    hey, no hairpulling!
    No hairpulling i said!

  5. I think Apple is just too lazy to staff the app-approvers that will be required if all Flash developers (and others) could create IPhone/Pad apps by pressing a button. The manual app-approval process just doesn’t scale.

  6. If you really think about the situation you can’t be surprised about apple’s position,(I am a flash developer by the way that later did iphone), apple ALREADY has most the market share(66% mobile internet usage in this country), so the concept that they would listen to any one on strategies on what would “expand” their platform kinda of redundant. They are where they want to be , I bet if you asked before the iphone came out if they could make it this far without flash , people would say no (as would I too). But they did it, they proved they can be the biggest game in town without flash so the concept they need “something” to compete makes no sense, compete with who? It seems like they dont want to make the same mistakes as myspace and microsoft, microsoft got in trouble when 3rd party apps start failing and having viruses, myspace got in trouble when you weren’t sure if the person you were talking to was the real person. Clearly facebook has a fraction of the features that myspace does but facebook has nearly killed myspace (I used to work at myspace too). ONLY when apple is losing market share at a rapid pace would they considered adding the flash feature and or the feature for other people to make apps from 3rd party solutions. Clearly apple has a lot of apps, so if anything they want to cut down the apps. They have already made their move trying to be the google of mobile web by releasing iAd. I am excited to see what Adobe will do because clearly they have some talented people and it will be exciting to see what happens. Where’s the popcorn?

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