Having prevented the listing of any web browser apps in the App Store since it’s launch, the past 24 hours has seen Apple begin to authorize this type of application on a widespread basis. The company has been reluctant to sell any applications competing with those found on the iPhone by default, such as Safari, Mail and the iPod app.
The applications in question would seem to have been submitted several months ago, and the bulk approval today marks a shift in Apple’s policy towards this area. These new applications include:
Edge Browser (Free) – A full screen browser with no intrusive toolbars.
Incognito ($1.99) and Squeaky ($3.99) – ‘Stealthy’ browsers, which doesn’t record any browsing history.
WebMate: Tabbed Browser ($0.99) – The first ‘tabbed’ browser for the iPhone
Shaking Web ($1.99) – Aims to assist in reading web pages through a technology to compensate for the movement of your hand.
This ongoing approval of browser-based apps is likely to continue over the next few days. It’s great news for Apple fans, as a whole new range of functionality can be introduced to your mobile browsing experience. It remains to be seen whether this will encourage mobile browser releases from competing developers such as Firefox and Opera. Whether any of the browsers approved over the past few days offer a real potential replacement to Safari is debatable, but releases from Firefox and Opera could really push Apple to innovate their own mobile browser at a faster pace.
Many hope that this change of policy will carry forward to areas such as email — an area where the iPhone is arguably not making the most of the technology available. Personally, I feel that any extra competition to keep Apple on their toes is a great thing.
What are your thoughts? Are there any other areas for which you’d like to see Apple relax the restrictions placed on developers?