The Twitterverse and Blogosphere are all abuzz with yesterday’s news that Apple has apparently changed terms of its Developer Agreement to explicitly ban apps created with cross-compilers. This got me thinking about how this change might affect those of us developing mapping apps for the iPhone (and iPad).
The change that most people are talking about is in section 3.3.1 which now reads:
I have to wonder if ESRI’s iPhone SDK or CloudMade’s iPhone SDK or any of the location toolkits such as SimpleGeo’s iPhone SDK were “originally written” in one of the approved languages without the aid of a cross-compiler. If not, apps built with these tools could be banned.
As an example, the linked SimpleGeo page states that “The SGClient is a basic Objective-C wrapper around SimpleGeo's OAuth API.” What is SimpleGeo’s OAuth API and does it meet these new requirements?
I’d like to know from some of these vendors whether or not their SDKs meet Apple’s new requirements.
But even more disturbing is this language in section 3.3.2:
“An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise.”
That sounds to me like Apple just banned the use of any third party APIs. Scary.
For now, we have to take a wait and see approach until Apple clarifies these points. But even if we can move forward using these SDKs to develop mapping apps for the iPhone / iPad, are people going to be willing to risk investing in this technology under these conditions? Even if you do everything right by Apple’s standards, there is a very real possibility of getting banned in the future when Apple suddenly changes it’s terms again.
It’s well known that Apple acquired Placebase last year, but no one really knows what the Apple Geo Team is up to. Who’s to say that Apple won’t release their own mapping platform and ban the use of all other mapping platforms on their devices? Sounds crazy, but then again, it appears that Apple has banned the use of a Lua which helped produce Angry Birds (the best selling paid app of all time) as well as every single game created by Electronic Arts.
Does this news change your perspective on developing mapping apps for the iPhone / iPad? Leave a comment to share your thoughts…