The love-hate relationship between Apple Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc., whose Flash technology was banned from use on Apple products so far, took a new direction, Monday, with Adobe announcing that the latest versions of its Flash Builder and Flex support building apps for not only Android devices and BlackBerry Playbook but also for the iPhone and iPad.

Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 help developers create apps for a variety of popular devices and platforms without needing to recode large amounts of the software. It includes tools to specifically target the iOS platform and is built on Flash CS5's ability to compile and package a Flash project into a native iPhone application.

Using one tool chain, programming language, and code base, Adobe said Flash Builder and Flex can be used to develop apps for iOS App Store, Android Market and BlackBerry App World.

The reaction from developers to the new mobile capabilities in Flash Builder 4.5 and the Flex 4.5 framework has been absolutely fantastic, said Ed Rowe, vice president of developer tooling, Adobe. They are amazed by how easy it is to create great mobile apps for Android devices, BlackBerry PlayBook, iPhone and iPad. Companies can now effectively reach their customers no matter what type of device they have.

Adobe's announcement was not entirely surprising as especially last year, Apple took the first step in what was seen as easing its stranglehold over application (app) developers by allowing them to use third party tools such as Flash in applications on the company's popular iOS mobile operating system.

Last April, Apple had released an updated version of its iPhone developer program license, which banned private APIs (Application Programing Interface) and required apps to be written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine.

The move had angered some developers, and companies like Adobe, which had created a cross-platform compiler - a tool that transforms code for other systems - that took Flash applications and recompiled them to run natively on iOS.

Apple, however, had defended that move, citing security concerns and battery issues.

In September, however, Apple said it has relaxed all its restrictions on what tools developers can use to create iOS apps, so long as those apps do not download the code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need, Apple had said.

Apple's announcement meant app developers can not only now use pretty much any programming tool, including Adobe Flash Packager for Apple products including the iPhone.

And though Apple's move in September still doesn't mean that Flash video format will be supported on Apple products, it appeared to offer a way for developers to use Flash tools to create content for Apple devices as downloadable applications.

As for Adobe, this is not the first time the company has tried to circumvent round the restrictions placed by Apple. Adobe is continually looking for ways to allow users of its products to reach iOS users. Besides working on a Flash-to-HTML5 converter tool dubbed Wallaby primarily for targeting iOS devices, Adobe also recently announced updates to its Flash Media Server, giving it the ability to spit out iOS-compatible HTTP Live Streaming H.264 video.

 Pricing and Availability   

To download or trial Flash Builder 4.5, please go to www.adobe.com/products/flash-builder.html. Street price is $249 for Flash Builder 4.5 Standard and $699 for Flash Builder 4.5 Premium. Flash Builder 4.5 Premium is also available as part of the Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Master Collection. Upgrade pricing for Flash Builder 4.5 is $49 and volume licensing is available.

Also, Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP today supports mobile application development for Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS.

Flex 4.5 is available as a free open source framework.