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Ansca Mobile iPhone Authoring Tool Adds Android

A beta version of Corona 2.0 will be available on Friday.

At the 360iDev iPhone developer conference in San Jose, Calif. on Tuesday, Ansca Mobile announced the availability of a public beta of Corona 2.0, a development tool that can turn Lua code into Android apps, as well as apps for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Corona 2.0 will be available for registered Corona developers on Friday, with a final version expected to ship toward the end of June for $249/year. Developers who sign up now to get Corona 1.1 for $99/year will get version 2.0 at no additional cost.

Corona allows developers to quickly and easily create 2D games and applications for iPhone and Android devices. It was developed as an alternative to Adobe's Flash and Flash Lite, technologies that Apple doesn't welcome on its hardware.

If there's no love lost between Apple and Adobe, ex-Adobe employees like Dave Lazarony, former director of engineering for Adobe's Creative Suite and a current member of Ansca's advisory board, have nothing but nice things to say about Corona.

"The new version of Corona gives developers a much quicker turn-around time for building apps across different platforms," said Lazarony in a statement. "And when you can see your results so instantaneously, you're able to test them more thoroughly and try out more ideas in a shorter amount of time -- all of which ultimately allows you to build a better piece of software."

It might seem like an odd time for Ansca to begin publicly testing Android authoring capabilities in its software, given the controversy stirred up recently by changes to Apple's iPhone OS 4.0 developer agreement. Google's Android operating system, after all, is probably the only thing Apple dislikes more than Flash at the moment.

Apple's contractual changes, ostensibly aimed at making software developed by third parties eaiser to fix when broken by Apple updates -- and widely perceived to be a hit job on Adobe's Flash Packager for the iPhone -- have called into question the viability of third-party development tools.

Apple's refusal to clarify the status of third party development tools has only made matters worse, generating widespread outrage among users of such software.

But Ansca Mobile co-founder and CTO Walter Luh, who has worked both at Apple and Adobe, doesn't appear to be worried. Having previously stated that Corona programs, though they may begin with Lua code, end up as 100% Objective-C/C++ code -- per Apple's requirement -- Luh observes that Lua code is widely used in iPhone games. It's so common that he calls it the "lingua franca" of iPhone games.

"Even Tapulous' #1-selling family of Tap Tap Revenge apps -- perhaps the most well-known apps in the history of the iPhone App Store and featured onstage by Steve Jobs himself at the OS 4.0 launch -- embed Lua," said Luh in a blog post.

The implication is that Apple is unlikely to interpret its rules so strictly as to forbid a bestselling game featured by Jobs himself. Such a move would cull hundreds of top-selling games, many by major publishers, from the Apple's App Store.

Eric Goldman, associate professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law, says that Apple, as a platform manufacturer has more or less absolute power -- apart from some antitrust boundaries -- and this means that developers can get screwed.

"However, platform manufacturers who are capricious or unfairly screw developers will be punished when developers decide it is too risky to develop for that platform and go support other platforms," he said in an e-mail. "At that point, when developers abandon the platform, the platform is less attractive to consumers, and the platform manufacturer can lose the value of its franchise."

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