In a message posted to its developer site, Apple hinted that the move came in response to critics, who had blasted the company for continuing to muzzle developers long after they had wrapped up work on their software.
Last week, some took Apple to the woodshed after reports surfaced that the company had told developers that the NDA applied to all communication, including rejection notices sent when applications were turned down by the App Store, the only official outlet for third-party iPhone programs.
"We have decided to drop the NDA for released iPhone software," said Apple in the message. "We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don't steal our work. It has happened before."
But it acknowledged the recent negative publicity over its continued push for secrecy. "The NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone's success, so we are dropping it for released software," Apple said. "Thanks to everyone who provided us constructive feedback on this matter."
Not everyone is free to speak, however. Apple reminded developers that the NDA remains in force for "unreleased software and features."
Nor did Apple specify whether the new relaxed rules will apply to iPhone applications that have been submitted, but then rejected, for inclusion in the App Store. Apple did not respond to a request for clarification Wednesday morning.
That may be an important point to developers who have had their work rejected, but then are unsure of how much, if anything, they can say about why Apple declined to sell their software.
A week ago, for example, Alex Sokirynsky, an iPhone developer whose Podcaster application had been rejected, pulled a blog post that had hammered Apple for shutting down his developer account. Sokirynsky had said Apple took "the coward's way out" by barring him from selling Podcaster using the Ad Hoc distribution channel as an end-around the rejection.
Some suspected that Sokirynsky yanked the post because of the NDA.