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

It seems Google has finally realized Android is a viable competitor to the iPhone — it did outsell the iPhone in the US in Q1 2010, after all — and it has awoken from its slumber looking for a bite of Apple. At their I/O conference today, Google unveiled the details of their upcoming 2.2 version of Android, codenamed Froyo, and there’s plenty to get excited about.

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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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The hubbub over the changes in the iPhone 4.0 SDK agreement continues to spin out of control across the Interwebs, with bloggers, the commentariat, Adobe developers and even Steve Jobs himself jumping in to take a swing. Oh, it’s getting exciting! Tune in after the break for a blow-by-blow recap.

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As reported on Daring Fireball, Apple’s new iPhone SDK 4.0 appears to explicitly ban apps made using cross-compilers (tools that allow you to create iPhone apps using other languages, APIs and third-party tools). This includes not only Adobe’s upcoming Flash-based Packager for iPhone tool, a central gem in the Flash CS5 crown, but also up-and-coming third-party tools like Titanium:

My reading of this new language is that cross-compilers, such as the Flash-to-iPhone compiler in Adobe’s upcoming Flash Professional CS5 release, are prohibited. This also bans apps compiled using MonoTouch — a tool that compiles C# and .NET apps to the iPhone. It’s unclear what this means for tools like Titanium and PhoneGap, which let developers write JavaScript code that runs in WebKit inside a native iPhone app wrapper. They might be OK. This tweet from the PhoneGap Twitter account suggests they’re not worried. The folks at Appcelerator realize, though, that they might be out of bounds with Titanium. Ansca’s Corona SDK, which lets you write iPhone apps using Lua, strikes me as out of bounds.

While Apple is certainly within their rights to decide how developers create iPhone apps — and developer enthusiasm for the iPhone OS is likely to only get stronger with the iPad in the mix — it’s another example of Apple’s tendency to wield its godlike power over the platform with a heavy hand. Oops, did we forget to mention we just invalidated a bunch of companies’ business models while you were all marveling over the new multitasking features? But then, it has always struck me as insanely dangerous to hang one’s fortunes on the grace of such a fickle overlord in the first place.

» New iPhone Developer Agreement Bans the Use of Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone Compiler (Daring Fireball)

Update: Jon Gruber follows up with a very well-reasoned examination of the likely thinking behind Apple’s decision. The quick summary: it’s good for everyone but producers of third-party app-building software (and, of course, the developers who use it). For those who were hoping for a shortcut: time to crack open Objective-C for Dummies.