Mobile App Update: Apple's New Rules May Hamper Flash-on-iPhone Effort

Apple's latest update to the software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone doesn't specifically target Adobe Flash media playback software, but it appears to further cement Apple's refusal to allow the software to run on its hot-selling mobile device.

Although Flash is among the most widely used pieces of software on Web , Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs has stated he doesn't want it on the iPhone because of what he described as performance issues and software bugs. But users and developers have complained about the lack of Flash support while competitors have positioned the inclusion of Flash in their devices as an advantage.

Now, following Thursday's unveiling of the new iPhone 4 OS, blogger John Gruber revealed what he said is a change to a portion of the latest SDK that doesn't bode well for Flash getting on the iPhone, not to mention certain other applications that don't follow Apple's developer guidelines.

The key section of the SDK, 3.3.1, noted by Gruber in his Daring Fireball blog reads:

"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)."

In his blog, Gruber concludes the new language in the SDK prohibits cross-compilers such as the Flash-to-iPhone compiler in Adobe’s upcoming Flash Professional CS5 release.

"This also bans apps compiled using MonoTouch -- a tool that compiles C# and .NET apps to the iPhone," Gruber said.

Apple did not return a request for comment.

Adobe, meanwhile, said it's pressing ahead with its plans.

"We are aware of the new SDK language and are looking into it," the company said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com. "We continue to develop our Packager for iPhone OS technology, which we plan to debut in Flash CS5."

In an update to his original post, Gruber said he doesn't think Apple is specifically targeting Adobe, but that the graphics software giant is likely to be affected.

"What Apple doesn’t want -- and as we see now, is not going to allow -- is for anyone other than Apple to define the framework for native iPhone apps," Gruber said. "What Apple is saying here is, if you’re going to write a native iPhone app, then you need to target our platform; if you want to do something else, then target the iPhone with an optimized Web app. i.e., the iPhone OS supports two software platforms: Cocoa Touch and the Web."

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Apple, iPhone OS 4, Web apps, Adobe Flash