Welcome!

Wearables Authors: Rostyslav Demush, Pat Romanski, Shelly Palmer, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Wearables, Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Machine Learning

Wearables: Article

Why Build Applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch?

Steve Jobs himself stated that he wanted to create an environment that supported native 3rd party app development

So Steve Jobs has finally announced the availability of the iPhone SDK. It will be available sometime in February of 2008. First, before I go on, I want to counter a lot of the press and blog comments stating that the release of the SDK is a reversal or some kind of about face. If anybody had done their homework, they would know that Steve Jobs himself stated that he wanted to create an environment that supported native 3rd party app development, but that they didn't have it "right" just yet, and that he wanted people to be patient. Obviously, he didn't remember that patience is one quality few techies (including myself) possess.

So where are we now? Does the announcement of the native, Cocoa-based SDK mean that web development for the iPhone and iPod touch are dead? Absolutely not. There are still a truckload of advantages to doing iPhone web development. To me, there is a clear dividing line between the types of apps you want as web apps, and the types of apps you need to be native.

Why Build Web Applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch?
There are a lot of compelling reasons to build web applications for the iPhone. If you're already thinking of an application then you might have an idea of whether it should be web-based or SDK-based. Web applications have a lot going for them, including:
  • No certification required. Though nothing has been set in stone or disclosed publicly, it's a pretty widely held belief that native iPhone applications will require a certification process that could be extremely cost-prohibitive for hobbyist developers and small businesses.
  • No device deployment. This makes it very easy for you to get your application into the hands of iPhone / iPod touch users. The only deployment necessary is navigating to the application's URL.
  • Server-controlled infrastructure.
  • Very simple development model - HTML and JavaScript. If you need data-driven back-end you can choose from one of many, including Rails, ASP.NET, PHP, etc.
  • Rapid development. Time to build a web application that supports the iPhone will probably be far less time consuming than building a native application.
  • Larger resources - A web application sitting on a server has access to far more data than can be stored locally on an iPhone. This may or may not be an issue for you depending on the kind of app you want to build.
  • Ease of maintenance - if you need to push a patch, you push it to your server.
Basically you can use all of the typical arguments for web-based deployment to argue in favor of web-based application development for mobile OS X devices like the iPhone and iPod touch. This also implies that many of the downsides of web development are included in the list of downsides to web development for the iPhone.

Why Build Native Applications for the iPhone / iPod Touch?
So why would you build native applications for the iPhone? It will probably take you longer to build, and take longer to test, and involve a vastly more complex deployment model  - so why do it? Because depending on what kind of application you plan on building, the payoffs could be huge. Here are some of the things I see as real compelling benefits to native development that offset the extra time and effort spent developing, testing, and deploying:
  • Application might be able to run even when the phone is locked. Many native iPhone apps do this now such as e-mail and calendar. Your application might be able to do the same (note: this is totally unconfirmed and may not be possible)
  • Complete control over look and feel - Rather than resorting to tricks and sneaky techniques to make your web application look as though it is not inside a browser, you can do whatever you like and make your app look however you like.
  • Graphics and animation. While you can certainly do some basic animation within a browser, I'm fairly certain that we'll have access to some variation or subset of Core Animation on the iPhone. That's huge.
  • Decent network access. More than likely native apps will be able to make network calls without fear of cross-boundary problems and browser sandboxing, enabling truly powerful networking apps. This includes the potential for a native IM client on the phone if Apple hasn't released iChat for the phone by then.
  • Synchronization. Hopefully we'll be able to tap into the iTunes synchronization somehow and funnel application data from the iPhone to applications residing on the desktop ala ActiveSync for Windows Mobile.
What are People Going to be Building?
This is where it gets really good. Wil Shipley put up a post about what kinds of games that he thinks might make a pretty big impact on the phone. I totally agree, and I think some of the first mind-blowing apps for the iPhone will be games. Games is one of the things that is lacking on the iPhone that every other smartphone known to man has, although there are some pretty decent games you can play online (Duck Hunt is pretty good if your fingers are accurate...).

There's also a really big opportunity for productivity enhancement applications that I can't even fathom. I'm really excited to see what comes out of the development community in this area. I'm always amazed by the apps I see floating around for smart phones.
So I expect to see a lot of games, and a lot of productivity tools, but because it's an iPhone, I think a lot of people are going to capitalize on that and make social apps or lifestyle apps.

Summary
To keep things short and sweet : web development for the iPhone is not dead. In fact, I think it's just the opposite. For the most part, I think moving desktop applications onto the web is gaining momentum, traction, and popularity. Especially with people who are on the go or who want access to functionality from multiple different devices in multiple locations. Once people quit whining about the fact that they didn't get a native development SDK on day one, I think a lot of people came to the realization that for the majority of app dev tasks that make sense on the iPhone, providing a web-based application was the best way to go. This doesn't mean there isn't a need for building native apps, because there is. For example, the day I see Delicious Library allow me to scan the barcodes of books from my iPhone in Barnes and Noble and put them on my wishlist that can be converted to my collection as I buy them - that's when I think my brain will liquefy with glee.

So, it seems as though every time I say "to keep it short", I run on for another couple paragraphs. Developing web applications for the iPhone provides you with an insanely easy deployment scenario, gives you complete control over the reliability and stability of the environment, gives you complete control over patching and updating your application, and has a lot more going for it. For what I think is the minority of app dev needs, that remaining gap will be filled by the upcoming SDK. If you don't need the strong level of OS integration that you get with the SDK, then developing an iPhone web app is still the way to go.
 

More Stories By Kevin Hoffman

Kevin Hoffman, editor-in-chief of SYS-CON's iPhone Developer's Journal, has been programming since he was 10 and has written everything from DOS shareware to n-tier, enterprise web applications in VB, C++, Delphi, and C. Hoffman is coauthor of Professional .NET Framework (Wrox Press) and co-author with Robert Foster of Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Development Unleashed. He authors The .NET Addict's Blog at .NET Developer's Journal.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Swampthing 10/25/07 10:33:17 PM EDT

3rd party app that will catch on in a hurry.

Allow the NeoReader on the iPhone. One click to content from the world around us.

jbarnum 10/19/07 12:20:31 AM EDT

Will I be able to run / develop Java (J2ME) apps on the iPhone?

cxreg 10/19/07 12:19:34 AM EDT

I know Apple is all trendy and hipster-friendly, but I'm much more excited for the OpenMoko [openmoko.org] platform. Here's the link: http://www.openmoko.org/

ShrapnelFace 10/19/07 12:18:00 AM EDT

In other news, Jobs, announced a new product call the iRock, a pet rock that sits on your desk and can play iTunes....

@ThingsExpo Stories
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader Sergey Grebnov provided an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...