Want to know the name of that song playing on the radio? There’s an app for that. Want to take care of an electronic pet all day? There’s an app for that. Want a burrito waiting for you at Chipotle when you run in to grab it? You guessed it — there’s an app for that too. But, before you ask, “What will they think of next?”, note that soon there may not actually be an app for that.

Apple, competing with other cellphone makers — like Google and its Droid — for the best and most useful applications (known colloquially as “apps”), has made recent changes to the rules that outside programmers must follow when creating and running software on its iPhone and other mobile devices.

The new rules include provisions that severely restrict app developers creative choices, disallowing the use of software and services provided by other companies. For example, the rules require app developers to exclusively use Apple’s programming tools, which present problems for companies like Adobe Systems. Last Monday, Adobe announced a new package of tools intended to let developers create apps that then automatically generate versions for both the iPhone and devices produced by Apple’s competitors. This is not allowed under the rule changes. Developers will also no longer be allowed to use outside services to measure and track how their applications are performing.

Apple says the company will refuse to distribute any apps in the iTunes Store that do not conform to the new rules. While Apple tends to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to all things app-related, one must wonder if these stricter policies will send programmers elsewhere, driving up the demand for competing devices.

However, this fear may be largely unwarranted, as other mobile competitors have not been able to grab a piece of the app market like Apple, which gives the company a de facto monopoly over app developers who will be either forced to comply with Apple’s rules or just not be able to provide an app for…well, “that.”

According to The New York Times, the changes have had the impact of cease-and-desist orders for many start-ups and app developers. Now in limbo, these companies are waiting to find out whether their app-dependent businesses, many of which have clientele and investors to whom they answer, can still operate under the new rules. Despite numerous emails with questions and complaints from programmers to Steve Jobs and other Apple executives — including that these new rules stifle creativity and development — the company, which announced the new rules last week, remains silent.

Nicole Soussan

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