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NEW YORK, Sept 9 (Reuters) – Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) said on Thursday it is relaxing strict guidelines on how software developers create applications for its popular App Store service even as it faces competition from Google Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the wireless sector.

Apple plans to ease restrictions on which development tools can be used to create applications for its iOS system to give developers more flexibility.

The Cupertino, California company has been criticized by developers for its strict guidelines. The company said in its statement that after listening to feedback from developers its new guidelines would still preserve the security the company needs.

Apple also offered to be more transparent by saying it will publish App Store Review Guidelines for the first time to help developers understand how submitted applications are reviewed. This had been another controversial area for some developers who had complained that the approval process has been opaque and arbitrary.

"We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store," Apple said in its statement.

The App Store, made popular by the success of the iPhone, has distributed over 6.5 billion downloads from over 250,000 different apps since its debut in July 2008, making it the world’s largest mobile application platform according to Apple. It also said App Store developers earned over $1 billion from the sales of their apps.

But Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said in recent weeks that devices based on its competing Android wireless operating system are being activated at a rate of 200,000 a day, making it a strong rival to the iOS system.

The Android system will also be based on a wider range of manufacturers’ devices and wireless carriers when compared with the iPhone. (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Derek Caney)