It seems Apple has begun approving third party web browsing applications for the iPhone platform.

MacRumours reports that a number of new apps have begun appearing over the last 24 hours.

Apple has been criticised in the past for its approach to approving apps for the iPhone and iPod touch, nixing any apps that seriously rival their own products.

Web browsing applications were previously refused on the basis of "duplicating functionality" of Apple's own Safari browser.

MacRumours notes the new apps include the free Edge Browser, the Incognito anonymous browser that will cost $1.99, the WebMate tabbed browser for 99 cents and the $1.99 "Shaking Web" app that claims to compensate for small hand shake to allow for easier reading.

This move to loosen its iron grip on the App Store could pave the way for web versions of Opera and Firefox's Fennec, when it's finalised, to launch for the iPhone.