iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad developers - rejoice. Yesterday Apple released a statement announcing the removal of a number of restrictions placed on developers, relaxing the development process and making the approval process significantly more transparent by publishing official guidelines for the application approval process.

Beforehand, developers were unaware of the official process, creating a significant grey area where writers of applications remained in the dark with regards to certain policies - adult content, the use of physical buttons on iDevices etc. For example, earlier last month the developers of ReadItLater - a tool similar to Instapaper that saves webpage content for later reading - had version 2.2 of their application rejected by Apple due to a registration process seen on thousands of other applications live on the App Store. "Applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content" wrote the statement of disapproval from Apple. The application was later resubmitted - unchanged - and approved. It is not yet known when the guidelines will be published for viewing by developers.

The press release also announced that Apple "are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code." In other words, no longer are developers limited to tools made by Apple specifically for iOS software development. "This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need" the release continued.

Finally, Apple also relaxed restrictions on mobile advertising, an unexpected change given Apple's recent iAd integration. Specifically, the new changes allow developers to choose which type of ads (if any) they want their application to include. "The new terms provide immediate clarification about the status of mobile advertising on the iPhone and will benefit users, developers, and advertisers. Users will benefit from more free, or low cost, apps that can now more readily be supported by advertising" wrote Omar Hamoui, Vice President of Product Management at Google Mobile. "This is great news for everyone in the mobile community, as we believe that a competitive environment is the best way to drive innovation and growth in mobile advertising."

The changes represent a big step forward for developers, who now have much clearer rules regarding application development. And that's good news for the end user as well as the developers.

[Image courtesy of Apple]

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