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Apple opening up, allows developer access to LED flash and front-facing camera

Apple has been known to limit developer access to certain hardware features of their phones since the launch of the App Store in 2008. There has also been no shortage of controversy surrounding the approval process for applications submitted to the App Store, but in a surprising move, these trends seem to be on the decline recently, and this is exemplified by a few recently approved applications that make use of the iPhone 4's front-facing camera and LED flash.

Fring, a platform that offers free video chat across a myriad of devices, has been approved for the App store. With the introduction of FaceTime, many speculated on whether video chat would be a feature that Apple locked down, but it appears that they have no problem allowing developers to access the functionality and put out similar applications. Fring offers free video chat, and the real stand-out feature is that it works over 3G, whereas FaceTime only works over wifi. This opens up the floodgates for bigger players, such as Skype, to bring their iOS offerings to parity with their PC and Mac counterparts.

Also of note, Apple has approved several apps that use the LED flash as a flashlight. This kind of direct hardware access is something that many would have thought to be out of bounds for developers, and probably would have been earlier in the life of the App Store. Regardless of the reasons for Apple's apparent loosened grip on acceptable developer use of hardware features, it is trend that is sure to please both customers and developers alike.

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