Unity and iOS (solved!)

September 10, 2010 in Technology

Dear community!

It’s been 5 months since Apple announced the new iOS 4.0 Terms of Service which seemed like they might block out Unity (as well as similar technologies) from their AppStore.

We commented on this right away (in a first, second, and third installment), and after some deliberation we even invented a workaround that we might employ in case Apple ever stopped approving Unity-base apps.

All along Apple kept approving every single Unity game submitted to the AppStore – several per day – and even featuring some of them highly, so it was clear that Apple never stopped liking the results of what Unity developers have been doing. And neither did the gamers by the way: they’ve downloaded tens of millions of copies of Unity-based games, more often than not without knowing or caring if tools or middleware had been used or not.

We never felt it right to shout out complaints, even if many of our friends and customers asked us to. We were after all in a precarious situation where Apple could have started banning Unity apps any day, and our responsibility for our thousands of customers weighed heavily on our shoulders. But it felt weird to speak in such a soft voice while under pressure, and we say sorry to those that felt we weren’t being proactive enough.

Now we couldn’t discuss publicly during the last months that Apple stayed in touch with us all along, and that we had conversations with them every few weeks. And after what we must assume has been deep deliberation and soul-seeking inside Apple, they finally came out with a response early this morning California time: they’ve simply decided to stop worrying about how applications are made.

We think this is exactly the right approach: it’s possible to make incredibly bad applications using just Xcode, and it’s possible to make just as amazingly excellent applications with a tool like Unity. The focus of a platform owner should obviously be on enabling its developers to do great work and so to give millions of users fun, thrilling, cute, enlightening and lovely experiences… wherever they may find themselves and whenever they want.

Apple has been in an accelerated learning process, and even though they’re some of the smartest people we know, figuring out how to operate the world’s most successful online marketplace can’t be easy. We have been frustrated with them along the way (and we have told them so, in a few more words), but we kept the channels open to work on a positive result. Today we respect them for coming to the right conclusion and in our eyes it’s best to let bygones be bygones!

So from all us in Unity Technologies to all of you: feel free to keep doing awesome work!

Comments (58)

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  1. Dani

    October 29, 2010 at 12:32 am / 

    Including C++ whould be awesome. So sad it not will be made… :(

  2. Alkis

    September 19, 2010 at 10:58 am / 

    I knew it would be sorted in the end!! I’m a very happy man, and happy that you are still in the iDevice business, guys!

  3. leon

    September 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm / 

    is Umbra occlusion work in indie version or it works only on pro ???

  4. Nathali Abbortini

    September 17, 2010 at 8:46 am / 

    @Carel Mendoza:

    I totally agree with you.

  5. Carel Mendoza

    September 17, 2010 at 8:45 am / 

    The Umbra occlusion technology demo was supposed to be ready by now ?!!

  6. Henok Mebratu

    September 16, 2010 at 4:16 am / 

    The thing is most of the time we’re not cheerful enough when things go positive same as our weepings when the worst happens. I believe that there is always a way, but I couldn’t figure out what would have happened if Apple decided the other way. I’m thankful for the wise strategy followed by the management at Unity! I was passionate about game development since childhood but never made it until I found out about Unity.

    BTW, Dave did any of you know there is an Ethiopian Unity Developer? This is how far you did serve the world! Hopefully, you will see some of my great works in a few months. Keep up the good work, I’m very keen on what miracles you come up with Unity 3. AMESEGENALEHU (an Amharic way of saying Thank You!)

  7. Mikey D

    September 16, 2010 at 2:42 am / 

    And as one of the initial comments said when are Apple going to get rid of their ridiculous and ball breaking opposition to flash player ??

  8. Luke B

    September 15, 2010 at 3:37 pm / 

    Welldone guys for sticking your ground – It’s certainly very intimidating when a large section of your business balances on the judgement of a group such as Apple, and I feel you all handled it perfectly. After all it is Unity, the best game development tool around! :D

  9. Brennon W.

    September 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm / 

    Congrats! I just bought Unity iPhone yesterday, and its amazing! Keep up the great work Unity!

  10. Anthony Baker

    September 15, 2010 at 1:27 pm / 

    I knew it will turn around just like that. How could Apple or anybody put in risk Unity3D development. I have been in the software industry for more than 8 years. My last 4 years were spent building bleeding edge interactive applications. I have been working with Unity3D for less than a year, and I can say is the best development platform I have had the pleasure to work with. Congratz to Unity3D team and the dev community. Cheers!
    -aB

  11. John Kirkham

    September 15, 2010 at 11:19 am / 

    Great news! I was holding off investing time in learning Unity because I was afraid Apple would pull all the apps made with it.
    With the greater certainty in the future of Unity on iPhone I’ve immediately decided to purchase a license. I guess this announcement was good business for Untiy too. :)

  12. Troy Hipolito

    September 15, 2010 at 10:20 am / 

    We are very happy to hear that. Unity is a strong, stable and maturing platfom.

    Maybe I will get an ipad now :)

    We posted a link on my linked in group called “social media games”

  13. amoslanka

    September 15, 2010 at 9:55 am / 

    huzzah!

  14. Jeff

    September 15, 2010 at 9:10 am / 

    This is Adobe’s victory. Unity benefits from it. The policy was created to counter Flash CS5 and Apple just blinked.

  15. CC

    September 15, 2010 at 8:23 am / 

    I think you speaking softly and calmly was actually helpful. The existence of level-headed, calm, and excellent software framework developers, I think, was one of the primary reasons why Apple went the way it did. By not throwing a public hissy-fit like the Flash guys did, I think you helped keep everything in perspective. Thanks.

  16. Alexander

    September 15, 2010 at 7:55 am / 

    Wooohoooooo!!!

  17. Glavanic Games

    September 15, 2010 at 5:14 am / 

    I think that speaking softly and not officially saying that ‘your in discussion with apple’ is a weak approach to what could potentially harm Unity and your customers. I am starting to dislike Apple and their ‘all commanding’ approach to business. I think they are the next ‘Microsoft of 98′ and are only damaging their own brand by been so invasive to everyone (especially Adobe).

  18. Ugur

    September 15, 2010 at 4:16 am / 

    How you fellas handled the whole situation was remarkable and definately way more professional and productive than some others did ( let´s not look at how Adobe handled it :-) ) , i imagine how tough it must have been and that you had to bite your tongue to not throw out some insults in between, but hey, it turned out for the better and seeing how you tried to stay productive made me confident in keeping on developing iOS stuff using unity all the time.
    I also liked it that you came up with that C++ workaround idea but i equally am very happy that it doesn´t have to get applied now because there really are many other things the time is way better spent on.
    I see a big chance for unity now becoming the middleware with the best device features support if you go on implementing hardware features like gyroscope or sdk and OS software features like Game Center now that the situation isn´t up in the air anymore.
    Whether its a good thing or a bad one that now flash gets accepted again now, too as solution for deploying apps, well, we´ll see.
    If their way gets accepted though it brings up the interesting topic if then no other solution has to go the xcode way of deploying apps anymore, cause some seem to see unity, flash and other middleware all in the same boat whereas there was and still is of course the major difference (next to flash performance sucking right now) that the flash solution deploys apps without requiring/without supporting xcode. I find it interesting when Apple doesn´t even require that part anymore.

    Anyway, looking forward to UT being able to work on iOS stuff again with less worries, me personally i already felt safe enough thanks to you guys :)

  19. Benedikt

    September 15, 2010 at 1:36 am / 

    … prepare to hear your cooling go crazy ! – In terms of power saving it’s really bad news.

  20. Justus Rambaldi

    September 14, 2010 at 7:17 pm / 

    I don´t worry about the Apple Policies, we have a largest market to deploy our game applications.

    iPhone and iPad don´t resume our options, it´s only plataforms, others will appear to offer new options to the developers.

    We have Android and Windows, and I hope Unity for XNA to deploy games to XBox 360 consoles.

    And I never need nothing from Apple, my development concentrates in Windows more popular and I hope too Unity for Linux too.

  21. NPoleBomb

    September 14, 2010 at 7:08 pm / 

    Congratulation!(And it was very nice to meet you Mr.David Helgason in Korea.)

  22. jk kang

    September 15, 2010 at 3:52 am / 

    hmmm

  23. Leonardo Vieira

    September 15, 2010 at 3:27 am / 

    Glad to hear that! This will save my team a lot of time! :D

  24. Jason Amstrad

    September 14, 2010 at 11:45 pm / 

    Where is the Umbra demo ?
    It was supposed to be finished soon.

  25. Daniel Wind

    September 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm / 

    Kudos to Unity Devs! This demonstrates a great commitment with your customers. Thanks!

  26. Minevr

    September 12, 2010 at 4:52 pm / 

    Good news..

  27. Bachir El Khoury

    September 12, 2010 at 3:22 pm / 

    What an excellent news.
    Finally some Apple sense!

  28. Geoff

    September 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm / 

    Still it leaves a slightly bitter taste that they could just rip the carpet out like that. For me I am happy they have back stepped and I am also happy that we have Android to compete as without that who knows what Apple would have done.

  29. Thonbo

    September 12, 2010 at 11:37 am / 

    @Aaron Sullivan – your speculations are going the wrong way – so far adobe has made no actions to compile flash into html5 – they are making some great stuff for html5 in dreamweaver – i must admit that your statement about adobe will convert flash into html5 made me laugh – typically frontend statement, they have no clue what plans adobe has with the flash player, and see everything from an html5 perspective – as if html5 is going to make the big html5 takeover – im not undermining html5 it has great potential in its own way… – to remove any doubts let me quote ByteArray.org about the future max reveal: “Sebastian Marketsmueller (Flash Player engineer) will deep dive into the next generation 3D API coming in a future version of the Flash Player. Now you may wonder, what does this means, what kind of 3D are we talking about ? What kind of API ? True textured z-buffered triangles ? GPU acceleration ? Even better ? What I can say is forget what you have seen before, it is going to be big. When this will be available ? We will share plans with you at Max during this session, I tell you, some serious stuff is coming for 3D developers.”

    so lets just rethink your speculations.. do you think this new big thing is html5 related ?

  30. months

    September 12, 2010 at 1:19 am / 

    This is great news I can keep my C# code woot

  31. Aaron Sullivan

    September 12, 2010 at 12:40 am / 

    @Thonbo
    Just have to disagree about Apple adding flash to the iPhone web browser. I don’t see it happening. HTML 5 is the direction things will head. Adobe will begin, version by version, to make Flash compile into HTML 5 + javascript code rather than a proprietary plug-in. All speculation, of course.

  32. Thonbo

    September 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm / 

    and @Frederic RP – regarding skyfire – you cant say it has anything to do with flash on iphone… it only relates to serverside video transcoding of flv/f4v files to native h264 for html5 – wich is nice yes but in the near future alot of the flash video player components used on the net will have “fallback” html5 video players like google has now… then again the browser on iphone blocks even the fallback pictures from flash banners so who knows whats gonna happen… im pretty shure that apple opens for flash in the browser pretty soon when they realize how flash is actually keeping up with technoligy and how people experience the web in a better way with rich flash sites. not to forget that mobile phones are now being made with dual core processors.

  33. Thonbo

    September 11, 2010 at 9:08 pm / 

    @Frederic RP regarding that flash is still excluded: you obviously have no knowlegde about what you are saying. flash compiles the native app code directly from the flash IDE with no needs for downloading anything from anywhere – adobe even stated that they will now continue their IPhone app compiler program for flash that was shipped with cs5 and abandoned by adobe earlier this year because of the ios developer ristrictions. i can only imagin that you are thinking about the flash player browser plugin. wich is not the issue people are talking about here. the new removed developer restrictions only apply to the app’s and doesnt have anything to do with the flash player browser plugin.

    so to sum up: flash is back in the game for good… and no not in the iphone browser (for now…)

    – but im pretty shure most flash dev’s are just as happy, that they can build iphone apps in flash “again”…

  34. Aaron Sullivan

    September 11, 2010 at 7:56 pm / 

    This doesn’t mean you can bypass XCode for those of you who seem to think it does.
    I agree that Apple made the right decision. I understand, from an app perspective what Apple was trying to avoid, but for games, it wasn’t going to help in any way. There’s no denying there will be a garbage storm of flash games coming. Some will be fun though. I hope the Eyezmaze guy compiles for iPhone. Love those Grow games.

  35. Koblavi

    September 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm / 

    Here’s wot I think happened…. I think Apple got scared outa their pants when unity started flirting with android!!! Am pretty certain steve woke up one morning from a bad dream n exclaimed “What am I doing???!!” I guess this means the pre-order date must be extended further since people hesitated to buy because of the ToS issue? @David??

  36. Dwair

    September 11, 2010 at 12:36 pm / 

    Kudos to your team!

    In fact if it weren’t for Unity, I wouldn’t be programming iPhone games. My iPhone games have reached a grand total of +100.000 downloads! With all the XCode amazingness and knowledge of Obj-C coding I wouldn’t be able to do that, pure and simply!

    I was afraid of making games in the worst-case scenario (C++ coding) because I have a lot of my own libraries that I would need to recode again…ouch

    About unity iPhone on windows…I am as fine as I am on Mac! I was a windows programmer, but Windows is definitely not the place to do serious work ;)

    But I could make with a Linux webplayer/binary compilation at least :D

  37. Frederic RP

    September 11, 2010 at 10:10 am / 

    I saw that news earlier in my newsfeed and hesitated to post in the forums but I thought it would better come from an official post :)
    They say it authorizes all applications except the ones that need to download code, so that excludes flash since “it must download a plugin”, for now (until skyfire ?). I’m glad that the situation is finally over, relieved that my early adoption of Unity3 wasn’t a mistake and happy for all developers that will continue to deliver great games (and apps !) with the help of Unity !
    When’s the party ? ;) (in Europe please..)

  38. tino

    September 11, 2010 at 3:26 am / 

    Looks like Apple can learn, good.
    My vote as well 4 unity iphone on windows, or even better – linux !
    Then you could say, author anywhere, publish anywhere :)

  39. DallonF

    September 11, 2010 at 2:07 am / 

    With this announcement that Xcode is no longer necessary, will you release Unity iPhone for Windows?

  40. photon

    September 11, 2010 at 12:51 am / 

    Jippiiiieeeeee!!! and Halleluja!!
    This is a big relieve! Thanks for your awesome work!

  41. Brad

    September 10, 2010 at 11:57 pm / 

    Well done, Dave. Sounds like the negotiations were tense; congratulations on the positive outcome.

  42. Nathali Abbortini

    September 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm / 

    @jackpoz :
    You do not need Lua when using Unity 3D.
    The programming languages that come with Unity 3D are easy enough and they are also much more faster than Lua.

  43. Lesfundi

    September 10, 2010 at 10:57 pm / 

    WOW, AWESOME, YEAH. I never had any doubts about the situation. I knew we would get one day the positive news :-)

  44. Matias Christensen

    September 10, 2010 at 10:56 pm / 

    Kudos to Unity Technologies for handling a difficult situation with such skillfulness.

  45. jackpoz

    September 10, 2010 at 10:47 pm / 

    still no Lua? :(

  46. Wes McDermott

    September 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm / 

    Awesome news Unity! I think you guys handled this issue correctly and professionally from day one.

  47. Derk

    September 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm / 

    Great news, and a good thing for all iPx developers out there. I greatly appreciate the way you handled this. I would not be surprised if you have tipped the scale in everyone’s favour with the increasing momentum of unity games coming out, and the professionalism you displayed in this matter. Rock on! :-)

  48. Tom Higgins

    September 10, 2010 at 9:06 pm / 

    @Cam: to add to David’s response, Apple posted a general PR statement about this that seems to apply globally and not to just Unity. Read it for yourself:

    http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/09/09statement.html

  49. dingo

    September 10, 2010 at 9:02 pm / 

    @David – Really great news. I really appreciate the professionalism Unity has shown. And appreciate the thoughtful way you guys communicate with your customers.

  50. Esila

    September 10, 2010 at 8:48 pm / 

    It’s great!!!!!

  51. Kevin

    September 10, 2010 at 8:43 pm / 

    Mr. Jobs, Tear Down This Wall!

  52. Gotmilk

    September 10, 2010 at 8:24 pm / 

    This is great news. All the best to you Unity :)

  53. Adams Immersive

    September 10, 2010 at 8:03 pm / 

    Great news! My hair may have turned white this summer over the issue, but dye is cheap.

    I do think we’ll see Flash-based apps. That’s good in some ways; bad in others. Let’s hope Apple can keep a lid on the shovelware, as they seem determined to do.

  54. David Helgason

    September 10, 2010 at 7:34 pm / 

    @Nuno: we will still consider the “C++ workaround”. But it’s a lot of work and we think that our efforts are better spent elsewhere, at least in the short term (by the way I think that some people vastly overestimate the value of the “C++ workaround” and/or underestimate the speed and power of C#/JavaScript/Boo running on Mono).

    @Cam: we got the word directly from Apple, but it’s assumed that this applies to anyone who otherwise conforms to the (updated) terms of service.

    @mindlube: we felt the same way, but it was never in our power to promise that… hence our frustration :)

  55. Nuno Afonso

    September 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm / 

    What I’d like to know is how would this affect the c++ “workaround”, which was something I have been looking forward for a long time. Does this mean it got cancelled? Or will it still be developed and will be released some time in the future? Hoping it is not the former option…

  56. Cam Jackson

    September 10, 2010 at 6:55 pm / 

    So does this decision apply globally? Or just for unity? Will they allow flash-converted games? I think the general consensus was that the rule was originally targeted at flash converting tools, and unity was just (potentially) collateral damage. Are they going to throw the whole rule out?

  57. mindlube

    September 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm / 

    I knew this would get resolved in a positive way for unity devs :)

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