The Story about RunRev and the Apple iPhone SDK

Apple’s new iPhone 4 license terms, particularly section 3.3.1, have caused many software development communities to shake on their foundations and make many small and medium business owners worry about their invesments.

“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).”

Read more about it at http://qurl.tk/9d . As a result, many investments in iPhone development platforms and many man hours as well as finished products are now foregone. In response, Greg Slepa wrote on his blog (excerpt from http://qurl.tk/9b):

“[…] I no longer think Apple can continue to honestly claim that they have the best phone around. Steve Jobs and Apple’s legal department have taken a figurative dump on their hard work with these insane restrictions, and that creates an foul odor that stains the product as a whole. […] The new rules, interpreted as written, ban all kinds of applications written by great folks who have put in countless hours of work developing for this platform.”

Greg wrote a message (read it at http://qurl.tk/9i to Steve Jobs, who is said to have responded:

“We think John Gruber’s post is very insightful and not negative: http:// daringfireball.net/ 2010/04/why_apple_changed_section_331

Steve”

(In case you want to copy Steve’s link you can also use http://qurl.tk/9e.

This has caused quite a stirr in the RunRev community. RunRev is currently working on a version of their development environment for the iPhone, but this new condition in the iPhone license has made it very unclear whether RunRev for iPhone will ever be able to be used to release products to the iTunes store. Naturally, RunRev programmers are eager to know whether they will be able to use RunRev for iPhone (particularly those who have already paid for their license).

A RunRev user writes at the RunRev forums (firstly posted publicly at http://qurl.tk/9c):

“I received the following email from runrev this morning. I take it to mean that this announcement caught runrev by surprise, too, and that they will be seeking clarification from Apple ASAP. It would be a significant blow to the company if Apple included runrev in their ban.”

Surely, he’s right. The RunRev support department replied, quoting a message from the CEO. Above quoted user has included the reply:

“Thank you for your comments and questions with regard to the new licensing  provisions in Apple’s iPhone agreement. We value all our customers greatly and we know how important it is to you all that revMobile is launched as an outstanding platform to deliver iPhone apps in full compliance with Apple policies. We know many of you have already invested considerable energy in getting your applications ready for the iPhone and iPad.

As part of Apple’s announcement yesterday, Apple have posted updated iPhone Terms of Service. The specifics of these changes are under NDA so we cannot discuss them at this point. We have an excellent relationship with Apple and we will be working with them to address any specific issues that may need clarification in relation to their proposed changes.

Rest assured that we will be doing everything possible to ensure a speedy and positive resolution that allows you to deliver outstanding apps on the revMobile platform in full compliance with Apple policies.

I will be posting further information as I get it over the coming days.

Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further. Thanks to everyone who has offered their support.

Kind regards,

Kevin”

Apparently, RunRev is still looking for options to create a development environment which will eventually create applications that are approved by Apple. It seems that this will be a tough job, given the fact that Adobe has given up their attempts to do the same. Quoting from Mike Chambers’ post at http://qurl.tk/9f leaves no doubt:

“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.”

We also know that (almost?) the third-party JavaScript-based framework PhoneGap is said to be eligible for the iTunes store. This appears from an announcement on the PhoneGap website at http://qurl.tk/9g:

“Through email discussions with Apple, I specifically asked what, if any, impact did this have on present/future applications submitted to the App store that were built using PhoneGap. In no uncertain terms, my contacts at Apple have assured me that ‘PhoneGap is not in violation of the 3.3.1 clause of the license agreement.'”

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any clear statements with regard to other frameworks, such as Appcelerator, Nimblekit and Titanium. As you can read at http://qurl.tk/9h It seems that Unity3D is in pretty much the same situation as RunRev.

The verdict? The situation is currently highly uncertain. Unless RunRev invents a way to convert stacks to a native ObjectiveC or Javascript application, which compiles natively in XCode without the need for any RunRev-specific libraries and APIs, there is no reason the believe that RunRev applications will be approved by Apple anytime soon. Moreoever, Apple is free to change the licenses again however and whenever they want. If you want to develop for iPhone while avoiding the risk of having to re-create your work anytime soon, you probably will want to do this with a tool provided by apple.

(I believe I should make explicit that no rights can be obtained from the text above in any way).

Because of the problems described above, Economy-x-Talk won’t be realeasing any commercial applications for iPhone that have been created with RunRev. We are, however, still using other tools to develop software for iPhone. If you are interested in having us doing a project for you, feel free to send an e-mail or contact us directly through Skype. You can find our contact information at http://www.economy-x-talk.com/contact.html.

1 thought on “The Story about RunRev and the Apple iPhone SDK

  1. Mark Schonewille

    In reply to some questions… yes we might be using RevMobile to develop applications for iPhone in the future, but not anytime soon. We will wait for a clear announcement from RunRev about the status of RevMobile and Apple’s verdict.

    Reply

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