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Apple Relaxes iOS Developer Restrictions, But Doesn't 'Need Any More Fart Apps'

Apple App StoreApple turned a lot of heads this morning when it unexpectedly opened the App Store to apps created with third-party development programs -- including, apparently, those using Adobe Flash. In a news release posted on its site, Apple declared that it would be "relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code." The company insists that the decision is only meant to make "the App Store even better," although the New York Times points out that rumblings of federal antitrust inquiries may have spurred the changes.

In addition to its new laissez-faire policy, Apple also unveiled its long-awaited App Store Review Guidelines (PDF), which will reportedly make the company "more transparent and help ... developers create even more successful apps for the App Store." Engadget, however, has already leafed through the document, and unearthed some curious new stipulations.

Perhaps the most shocking part of the document is its almost snarkily straightforward language. The introduction, for example, is dotted with colloquial lines like "We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don't need any more Fart apps," and "We have lots of serious developers who don't want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour."

Once you get to the actual guidelines, though, things get more interesting. One rule reads: "Apps with metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected." A similarly brand-protective regulation states: "Apps that misspell Apple product names in their app name (i.e., GPS for Iphone, iTunz) will be rejected." The most puzzling stipulation, however, is a line that reads: "Apps that duplicate apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them." This may be a reinforcement of the company's aforementioned anti-flatulence stance, but it could just as easily extend to the various Twitter, drawing and photo apps that clutter the App Store.

Despite how draconian the guidelines may sound when examined individually, it's important not to lose sight of the fact that Apple did just open its doors to a much wider range of development tools. And, at least everyone now has a semi-official-sounding document against which the company's oft-questioned decisions can be measured. Though some rules still appear suspiciously obtuse, both Apple and the app development community may be better off in the long run.

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