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Apple permits third party dev tools but bans "amateur hour"

Unity, AIR in, but crude content and use of iPhone as a dev training ground is out

Apple has released its hitherto mysterious App Store approval guidelines to developers, as well relaxing its attitude to third party formats.

Despite fears that a cull might be looming, Apple will now allow games and applications created and exported with tools such as Unity and Adobe AIR. As long as the resultant Apps do not download any further code, they should in theory make it past the approval process.

While this means that developers may now use Adobe applications to export to iPhone from Flash, direct use of Flash itself on iPhone remains disallowed. It is nonetheless a significant step forward from Apple's previous, and very public, antipathy towards the format.

In similarly unexpected move from the iPhone creator, Apple has attempted to clearly spell out its thinking on the App Store approval process as a list of updated and tightened developer guidelines (available in full as a PDF here).

"Excessively objectionable or crude content" is out, as is any attempt to harvest information about users from their new Game Center IDs.

Apps must also be politically sensitive. "Enemies within the context of a game cannot solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity," reads the document.

Despite yesterday's release of GTA: China Town Wars HD, the depiction of realistic weapons in a context that encourages crime will also cause scowls amongst Apple's approval staff.

Perhaps most interestingly, the document suggests a clampdown on throwaway and duplicate titles. "We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don't need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn't do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted."

The guide also discourages the use of the App Store as a training ground for new developers, which may limit the potential for breakout and viral hits.

"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."

Apps labelled beta, demo and trial will be rejected, as will those with evident crash bugs or that do not offer the functionality suggested by the title.

Apple does offer a right of appeal for Apps that are deemed to contravene these tightened rules.

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Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer


A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.