Ye cats, it's Java on the iPhone! (Sort of.)

Admittedly it's an elaborate exercise in rejiggered expectations, but Java on iOS (the operating system that runs the iPhone, the iPod, and the iPad) sort of became possible last week, or at least a bit more possible than it was before, and at least in theory. Of course, there isn't going to be any Java runtime or VM allowed on Apple's precious iOS -- oh, no, those hopes, which once seemed quite fond, were shot down years ago. But at least Java transcoding to iOS is possible, and that's something, right? Right?

Basically, a few months ago Apple, which had never even considered allowing VM-based execution environments like Flash or Java on iOS, turned the screws even tighter, and forbade even those apps originally written in those languages and later ported to an iOS-compatible binary. This brought Apple-developer relations to something of a low point, and the decision was more or less quietly reversed last week.

The funny thing is that it's been the status of Flash that has driven all the press storylines on this subject. This is funny because, even with the revival of Adobe's Flash-to-iOS tool, there's no chance that Flash will do for the iOS what it does for the huge majority of its users: work in the browser. It'll just be another transcoded language, one of a list of many that could theoretically include Java. ZDNet was nice enough to name-check Java in its headline on the subject; and Jeff Martin an insanely hopeful talker on DZone implying that there might be some kind of big Apple-Oracle joint announcement about Java on iOS at JavaOne, which seems to miss the point the relaxation of developer rules are as big an announcement as anyone is going to get out of Apple.

It wouldn't be out of the question to see some announcements of third-party tools that would ease the conversion process, though. What projects are in the works now? xmlvm is active and tweeting happily about the changes to Apple's licensing, but it's not clear to me how mature their tech is.