Apple loosens grip on iPhone apps

Apple loosens grip on iPhone apps

Company said to be allowing 'limited' development

Apple is reportedly looking into allowing developers more access to the iPhone.

Several media reports have cited sources within the company as saying that Apple may allow developers to place applications on the device itself.

Currently, Apple officially allows developers to write web-based programs only for the iPhone's Safari web browser.

One report suggested that the initiative would function in a similar way to Google Gears.

The applications would still be required to run via Ajax and HTML through Safari, but would be allowed to store code on the iPhone and place an icon on the device's desktop.

This system would allow applications to be run offline, but would still let Apple limit the application's reach to the browser.

Apple has stated previously that the decision to limit iPhone applications to the browser was made for security and stability reasons.

When an application is run through the operating system, a crash can sometimes cause the entire device to stop working and possibly damage the system.

If code is allowed to run only through the browser, a secure 'sandbox' environment can be created to shield the operating system from harm. Apple has disabled Java and Flash code on the iPhone for similar reasons.

Third-party developers have been able to install applications on the iPhone through an unlocking process known as 'jail breaking'.

Apple warned, however, that it does not officially support the process, and recent iPhone firmware updates have been found to remove or disable some third-party applications.