Apple slams the door on Adobe's Packager for iPhone

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There was one detail that Steve Jobs skipped over during the iPhone OS 4 Event today (if you missed it, there's a recording of it available). He had lots of good news for owners of the iPhone 3GS and the most recent generation of the iPod Touch: multi-tasking, folders, Game Center, enhanced functionality for the enterprise and lots of other stuff.

During a Q&A section following his presentation, someone asked Jobs if Java or Flash would ever be coming to iPhone OS and his reply was a terse "No." We pretty much expected that answer, but Adobe has been working on a way to convert Flash programs to iPhone Apps via their Packager for the iPhone (learn more about it). So sure, no Flash in web pages on the iPhone but people who build Flash programs for web pages can just package them up and offer them as an iPhone App.

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At least, until iPhone OS 4.0 comes out. According to John Gruber at Daring Fireball the new license agreement, which developers have to agree to, says:

"3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited)."

So nope, if you're a Flash game developer and you want to get your game onto the iPhone (or the iPod Touch or iPad) you need to start over and write it from the ground up for iPhone OS (presumably Apple has a way to enforce this during the approval process).

Adobe seems a little uncertain about what all this means. VentureBeat reached out to the company and got this response:

"We are aware of the new SDK language and are looking into it. We continue to develop our Packager for iPhone OS technology, which we plan to debut in Flash CS5."

I'm sure we'll hear more from Adobe once they've had time to process this new info.

You can look at the new license agreement in two ways. You might see it as the next salvo in Apple's war on Adobe and Flash; the clause seems directed at Adobe's Packager for the iPhone, though Gruber points out that MonoTouch is impacted as well. But then, MonoTouch converts C# and .Net (one of Microsoft's favorite combos) into iPhone OS apps. So Apple takes a swipe at both Adobe and Microsoft at the same time? Sounds like a two-fer, eh?

The other way to look at it, though, is that Apple just wants apps built from the ground up for iPhone OS so that every app is as efficient and well coded as possible. With multi-tasking coming to iPhone OS, resources are going to be even scarcer than they are now (or so I presume; I'm not an iPhone developer). So it could be that Apple is just concerned that its customers get the best experience possible when they choose an iPhone OS device.

Or I suppose both outlooks could be true.

So, how do you see this? Is this "Apple is becoming Big Brother" or is this "Apple really cares about its customers." Or is it both? Comments requested.

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