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.

A blog entry by mobile developer SurgeWorks from a few months back outlines one of the key differences:

Most noticeably, PhoneGap does not expose the native UI components to javascript. Titanium, on the other hand, has a comprehensive UI API that can be called in javascript to create and control all kinds of native UI controls. Utilizing these UI APIs, a Titanium app can look more “native” than a PhoneGap app.

Since Titanium contains its own set of proprietary APIs, this would seem to violate Apple’s new terms:

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 the million dollar question is, is Apple really just trying to take down Flash with its new terms, or is it determined to kill off the entire cottage industry of third-party app-building tools? Time will tell whether Apple will allow Titanium as-is, or if Appcelerator will need to modify its tools to avoid the wrath of Jobs.

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