Apple to Relax App Restrictions, Allowing Limited Flash

Apple is easing restrictions on how software developers create applications for its popular App Store, allowing limited use of third-party tools such as Adobe Systems's Flash software to build programs that run on Apple's iPhone and iPad.

Apple iPhone
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Apple iPhone

Shares of Adobe surged over 11 percent on the Nasdaq Thursday, after Apple announced the changes.

Apple had been criticized by developers for what they called onerous restrictions on building apps. Apple had effectively banned developers from using the widely-used Flash software to build apps for iOS, the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad.

But Apple said it will relax "all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need."

"We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart," the company said in a press release. Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall said Apple is seeing huge pressure from app developers.

"What spurred this on was the uproar from the growing iOS developer base ... People liked using Flash, and now they'll be able to use a bunch of different technologies," Marshall said.

Apple also offered to be more open by saying it will publish App Store Review Guidelines for the first time to help developers understand how submitted applications are considered. This had been another controversial area for some developers who had complained that the approval process has been opaque and arbitrary.

"We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store," Apple said.

The App Store, made popular by the success of the iPhone, has distributed over 6.5 billion downloads from over 250,000 different apps since its debut in July 2008, making it the world's largest mobile application platform, according to Apple. It also said App Store developers earned over $1 billion from the sales of their apps.

Shares of Apple rose 1.2 percent to $266.14 on the Nasdaq, while shares of Adobe rose 11.5 percent to $32.68.