In a statement this morning, noted curmudgeon and control freak Apple signaled a surprising change of heart, announcing that it is “relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code.” Exactly what that means has yet to be revealed, but we’ll likely learn more very soon.

One of the big looming questions: does this mean Adobe’s Flash-based hero-to-zero Packager for iPhone will stage a triumphant comeback? Or will Adobe announce that it has had enough of Apple’s shenanigans and is perfectly happy in the strong, loving arms of its new beau, Android? (Perhaps a Harlequin romance novel cover graphic is apropos, I’d better start the Google search now.)

Apple also announced that it would allow at least a tiny bit of light to shine into its notoriously opaque app review process, thus revealing the arcane rituals and sacrifices necessary to get an app approved for the App Store. My guess is that it involves heaping piles of plantains and pig carcasses in an offering to appease the angry Jobs, who dances about in a loincloth speaking in tongues, stopping only to occasionally answer a random buffoon’s angry email rant. Just speculating, though.

» Statement by Apple on App Store Review Guidelines

Details about Windows Phone 7 have been sketchy so far – though developer tools and demo units have been out in the wild for some time, the lack of a final SDK and a clear understanding of how it’s all supposed to work have made it difficult to know what to expect. Well, prospective WP7 devs, it must be your birthday, because Microsoft just offered another peek behind the curtain with a series of videos from its Windows Phone Design Days. The seminar included an overview of WP7 development, personas, demo apps and more, including this lovely demo of a USGA golf score app. Below, a bit of YouTubery showing the USGA app in all its movery-flippery:

» Windows Phone Design Days videos (via Engadget)

One of the biggest drawbacks to Web apps on any mobile platform is the lack of a cohesive experience around finding and saving them — unlike iOS and Android, there is no “store” to go to, which means you’re pretty much on your own. Apple’s own list of Web apps is clunky and lacks many of the App Store’s features, and the only other real alternative is spinning the Google roulette wheel and taking your chances.

OpenAppMkt aims to change that, with a simple, store-like way of finding and saving Web apps for your iOS device. Though it’s still in beta and isn’t flush with the selection you’ll find at the major app storefronts, it’s exactly the right approach for bringing Web apps closer to par with their natively-coded cousins, including user reviews and the ability to charge for your apps. Though the site is currently optimized for iOS Web apps, there’s no good reason why this site (or a similar one) couldn’t offer Web apps in flavors for all the major smartphone platforms — after all, Web apps are still the closest thing we have to a “code once, run anywhere” solution for mobile apps.

» OpenAppMkt (via Daring Fireball, TechDirt)

In a case of selective fact-picking reminiscent of the most bitter divorce battles, Steve Jobs posted an open letter today about Apple’s ongoing hate-hate relationship with Flash. Among the juiciest tidbits is this statement about Flash’s openness:

Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

Substitute “Apple’s iPhone” for “Adobe’s Flash,” and you’ll have a similarly true statement. More funtastic highlights after the break.

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In a less-than-shocking turn of events, Adobe’s Mike Chambers announced in his blog Tuesday that Adobe will cease its efforts to bring Flash-powered apps to the iPhone, following the release of Flash CS5:

While it appears that Apple may selectively enforce the terms (of the iPhone SDK), it is our belief that Apple will enforce those terms as they apply to content created with Flash CS5. Developers should be prepared for Apple to remove existing content and applications (100+ on the store today) created with Flash CS5 from the iTunes store.

We will still be shipping the ability to target the iPhone and iPad in Flash CS5. However, we are not currently planning any additional investments in that feature.

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Engadget is reporting (based on a post on PhoneGap developer Jesse Macfayden’s blog) that Apple has confirmed that apps created with cross-platform dev tool PhoneGap will not be rejected based solely on their use of the tool.

Apple’s recent change to the iPhone OS 4.0 SDK agreement has had the development community in a tizzy for the past week — tools such as Adobe’s Flash-based Packager for iPhone, Novell’s C#-based MonoTouch and 3D game development tool Unity all seem to be forbidden under the new terms.

However, the fate of other tools such as PhoneGap and Appcelerator’s Titanium has been unclear, since they use Javascript, HTML and CSS to create native code. PhoneGap now appears to be in the clear, but Titanium functions differently, and the differences could be a problem for Appcelerator.

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