Apple ends secrecy deal for iPhone developers

Apple will no longer force iPhone software developers to sign a nondisclosure agreement that many had said was hampering their ability to work, an Associated Press report said.

The switch comes a week after the introduction of the first phone loaded with Google's Android software, an open-source operating system that lets developers make and sell programs without restriction, the report added.

In contrast, Apple had required every person who downloaded the iPhone software developer kit to pledge not to speak about its contents, even to fellow developers.

Recently, the company also barred programmers whose applications it rejected from iTunes _ the only legitimate place to sell iPhone 'apps' _ from posting the reasons for rejection on the web, the report said.

The move fueled a new wave of critiques about Apple's approval process, already seen by many developers as secretive and capricious.

Apple said the iPhone nondisclosure agreement, or NDA, was meant to protect Apple's innovations, 'so that others don't steal our work. It has happened before.'

However, programmers complained the NDA prohibited them from sharing tips or comparing solutions to common problems. Sharing information could help them produce programs faster and with fewer bugs, they said.

In response, Apple acknowledged that the NDA created a burden on the developer community, and so it will no longer apply to iPhone software that has already been released.