iPhone Special Developer Report

By Scott Clark

Appcelerator Titanium

Titanium is open source software which enables developers to use their current skill set, such as JavaScript, HTML and CSS, and turn their work into native applications that appear and work as if they were written in Objective-C. Titanium features more than 300 APIs as well as a large developer and support community. It is free to download and use, and is available for Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems.

Nitobi PhoneGap

PhoneGap is another open source development framework for building cross-platform mobile apps using HTML and JavaScript. Similar to Rhodes, PhoneGap enables developers to utilize the core features of the iPhone, along with other smartphones such as Android, Palm, Symbian and Blackberry. Similar to the iPhone SDK 4, the use of PhoneGap requires an Intel-based computer running Mac OS X Leopard, and you will need to have the iPhone SDK 4 and Xcode already installed.

iPhone User Interface Framework - iUI

iUI is yet another open source product...this one is actually a user interface library for iPhone web app development. iUI, which uses JavaScript, HTML and CSS, can be used to create a web application that runs on Safari, with the look and feel of a native application built with the iPhone SDK. Besides working on the iPhone, applications built with iUI will also work in other HTML 5 compliant web browsers, along with many other smartphones.

Other iPhone Developer Options

It is worth mentioning that there are other options for developers who wish to leverage their current skillset while developing iPhone applications. Zimusof's DragonFireSDK allows developers to use C and C++ to develop applications using Visual Studio or Visual Studio Express. Zimusof is responsible for packaging applications and handling developer submissions to Apple's App Store on behalf of its customers. Developers submit their apps to Zimusoft after development and testing on their own Windows PCs. Pricing for DragonFireSDK is $99 and includes one iTunes App bundling, with additional bundles available for $10 each.

Another option is Unity, a multi-platform game Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which enables developers to create apps in JavaScript and C#. The JavaScript and C# scripts are compiled into native ARM assembler code during the build process, and are ready for submission into the App Store. Unity itself is free, while the iPhone addon sells for $300 during the pre-order phase, after which it will sell for $400. An advanced version with static geometry batching and improved build size stripping is also available for additional fees. Unity for iPhone requires the use of an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X "Leopard" 10.5.4 or higher.

Yet another solution is to use the Corona SDK, a software development kit which enables developers to create high-performance, multimedia applications and games for the iPhone without using Objective-C or Cocoa--Corona SDK uses the Lua scripting language, which looks very similar to Adobe's ActionScript 2.0--which isn't surprising since the Corona SDK was created by a team of former Adobe mobile engineers who founded the Ansca Mobile software company. Corona sells for $99 per year, and developers must also be members of the Apple iPhone Developer Program, and have a Mac machine running OS X 10.6 or higher.

Costs and Fees Platforms Support Native iPhone Feature Support Pros and Cons
Ansca Corona $99 per year iPhone, iPad, AndroidFiles only, with camera and accelerometer support forthcoming. Pros: Uses Lua, an Action Script-like scripting language; Features an iPhone Simulator and debugger
Cons: Not as many native features supported, and a lack of 3D support.
Apple iPhone Developer Program $99 per year iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch All native iPhone functions are supported, including Gyroscope, Digital compass, Multitasking, GPS, Accelerometer, Audio and Video Capture, VoIP, SMS, Push notifications, FaceTime standard, Contacts, Camera and Touch screen interface Pros: Access to all iPhone developer resources, the official iPhone emulator, ability to submit apps to the App Store
Cons: Must have a Mac machine running OS X 10.6 or higher
Appcelerator Titanium Mobile Free iPhone, Android, BlackBerry (soon) Geolocation, accelerometer, local files including contacts and photos Pros: allows developers to use JavaScript, HTML and CSS; large collection of APIs, and integration with Apple libraries
Cons: Non-intuitive user interface; documentation is a bit lacking
Nitobi PhoneGap FreeiPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, PalmGeolocation, accelerometer, contacts, sound, vibration Pros: Allows web developers to use what they know: JavaScript and HTML; universal development, since most apps produced will work on mobile and desktop browsers
Cons: Some functions push the limits of JavaScript or require Objective-C; Must have a Mac machine running OS X 10.6 or higher
Rhomobile Rhodes Free for non-profit use; commercial licenses are $500 per appiPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, Android Geolocation, camera, contacts; accelerometer, SMS, push, audio and video capture soon to be added Pros: Can be compiled to run on all major smartphone devices; develop apps online
Cons: Some features, such as XML, not supported fully, other features are still in progress
iUI - iPhone User Interface Free iPhone, iPad, most smartphones Only simulates native functionality, no real native support provided Pros: Uses what web developers already know: HTML, CSS and JavaScript
Cons: Only supports those functions which JavaScript libraries provide; No GUI; lack of decent documentation
DragonFireSDK Free iPhone Geolocation, camera, contacts; accelerometer, SMS, push, audio and video capture through the iPhone SDK Pros: They handle App Store submissions for the developer; allow developers to use C and C++ for app development
Cons: Each additional app submission costs more money
Unity Free iPhone, Wii game console access to full native features through Objective-C plugins Pros: Allows developers to use JavaScript and C# to develop apps
Cons: Cost is a bit prohibitive; Developers worry that Apple will stop accepting apps compiled with assembly code

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