Apple says it doesn't want more fart apps, but the iOS maker's relaxing of developer rules could let previously blacklisted apps and services back onto the iPhone. Chief among the items that could be resurrected are apps such as GV Mobile, advertising platforms that compete with Apple's iAds, and cross-development platform tools such as those made by Adobe and Oracle. Here's a look at what might be headed back to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch under Apple's new iOS Developer License.
Google Voice: In (maybe)
It feels like a long-shot, but Google Voice, the search giant's telephony service, just might be making its way back into the App Store. Sean Kovacs, developer of GV Mobile, a Google Voice-based iPhone app, said via Twitter that he believed his app complied with all "110+ guidelines newly posted by Apple." Kovacs then said Apple invited him to resubmit his app, and that GV Mobile would "most likely get back in."
That's hardly a guarantee considering Apple's murky past with iPhone application approval. As TechCrunch points out GV Mobile could still be rejected based on App Store Review Guideline 8.3, which says apps that are "confusingly similar to an existing Apple product" could be rejected.
In July 2009, Apple rejected the Google Voice application for the iPhone. This caused the FCC to look into Apple's actions, Apple then denied the Google Voice app was rejected, and Google eventually settled for a Web-based version of Google Voice for iPhone.
At the time, Apple said the Google Voice app was problematic because it replaced the "iPhone's core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with [Google Voice's] user interface."
Adobe Creative Suite 5: In
Apple's new rules allow developers to create iPhone applications using cross-development platform tools. In April, Apple banned developers from using tools such as Adobe Creative Suite 5 that lets you create an application in Flash, and then port it to iPhone's native language, Objective-C. Adobe said that Apple's course reversal was "great news for developers" and that Adobe will now resume development of its CS5-iPhone feature. However, this move does not change Apple's policy of not supporting Flash-based content on the iPhone. Content based on Oracle's Java and Adobe's Flash are still not available on the iPhone.
It looks like Google's recently acquired mobile advertising firm, AdMob, will be able to keep selling ads for the iPhone. Apple's new terms allow developers greater flexibility for choosing an ad provider including Google's Adwords and AdMob. "This is great news for everyone in the mobile community," said Omar Hamoui, Google's Vice President of Product Management. "We're pleased that Apple has clarified its terms and we're 100 per cent committed to developing the best possible advertising solutions and formats for the iPhone."
Shortly after Google purchased mobile advertising firm, AdMob, Apple introduced terms into its developer agreement that appeared to specifically ban AdMob advertising on the iPhone. The terms also coincided with the release of Apple's iAds advertising platform.
At the time, Apple said only independent advertisers whose primary business was serving ads would be allowed on the iPhone. "For example," Apple's former terms stated. "An advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of...mobile operating systems...would not qualify as independent." Those terms effectively shut out Google from the iPhone since the company distributes the Android mobile OS. In July, Hamoui said the iPhone accounted for about 30 percent of AdMob's business.
(New) Fart Apps: Out
"We don't need any more Fart apps," states Apple's new App Store Approval Guidelines. " If your app doesn't do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted."
Apple also warned developers its new guidelines were "keeping an eye out for the kids" reinforcing Apple's reluctance to accept racy or sexually explicit apps. The new guidelines also continue Apple's new war on amateurish content. "If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you're trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don't want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour," the terms state. When Apple introduced the new Apple TV in early September, CEO Steve Jobs said Apple users wanted professional content on their TV's and not "amateur hour" content.
Porn Apps: Still Out
Apple's new guidelines will still keep out many of the "overtly sexual" apps the company purged in early February such as Dirty Fingers: Screen Wash and Wobble iBoobs. Apps containing pornographic material or user-generated content that is frequently pornographic (such as Chat Roulette) are out, according to the new terms.
In case you're wondering how Apple defines 'pornographic,' Apple says its decision will be guided by the Webster's Dictionary definition. Apple considers anything that has "explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings" as pornographic.
Satire: In (but no amateur hour)
Apple's new guidelines prohibit apps from containing personal attacks, but "professional and political satirists and humourists are exempt from the ban on offensive or mean-spirited commentary," according to the new terms. Note that Apple is once again keeping the amateurs out with the exemption applying only to professional satirists.
Apple has had a rocky relationship with political satirists, which came to a head after Pulitzer Prize Winner and Web-based satirist Mark Fiore had his iPhone application rejected. Apple asked Fiore to resubmit his app after he won the Pulitzer, and the Fiore's NewsToons app is now available for 99 cents in the App Store.
Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).