A report on Macrumors (my favourite Apple rumor site) observes that the company appears to have relaxed its iPhone App Store policy in relation to third-party web browsers. It was thought that, until now, competitors to Apple’s own Mobile Safari weren’t being approved on the basis that they “duplicate functionality” or compete with Apple’s own offering. That may no longer be the case.
“Over the past 24 hours, Apple has begun to approve 3rd party web browsing applications for the iPhone. A number of new web browsing apps have suddenly appeared with original submission dates ranging as far back as October”, writes Macrumors.
A partial list of these new applications include:
– Edge Browser (Free) – No loss of screen real estate to the address or navigation bars.
– Incognito ($1.99) – Now you can browse without leaving a history of any kind.
– WebMate:Tabbed Browser ($0.99) – Web Mate simplifies browsing by queuing up all the links you click on, then allowing you to view them one by one when you’re ready.
– Shaking Web ($1.99) – adds a sophisticated algorithm to compensate for small hand shaking to allow for easier reading.
This has led to many speculating that heavyweight competitors, such as Firefox, Opera or Google’s Chrome, could be next to land on the iPhone.
Not so fast.
While Apple may have relaxed its stance on competition — though it’s highly debatable if any of the recently approved web browsers will take much market share from Mobile Safari — a more significant sticking point of the App Store approval process is that third-party applications can’t execute code outside of the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK). In part for security reasons but also, I suspect, in order for Apple to maintain control of the iPhone third-party software eco-system. That’s also likely the main reason why Adobe Flash on iPhone hasn’t seen the light of day (see also ‘Who needs Flash on iPhone more? Adobe or Apple?’)