Click here to close now.


Wearables Authors: Jason Bloomberg, Yakov Fain, Pat Romanski, Tim Fujita-Yuhas, Chris Fleck

Related Topics: Wearables, Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, IoT User Interface

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.

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 [] platform. Here's the link:

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief Architect at CTS, will explore the synergy of Big Data and IoT. First he will take a closer look at the Internet of Things and Big Data individually, in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. Then he will explore the relationship between IoT and Big Data. Specifically, he will drill down to how the 4Vs aspects intersect with IoT: Volume, Variety, Velocity and Value. In turn, Tony will analyze how the key components of IoT influence Big Data: Device, Connectivity, Context, and Intelligence. He will dive deep to the matrix...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Building actually breathes - immediately flagging overheating in a closet or over cooling in unoccupied ho...
Scott Guthrie's keynote presentation "Journey to the intelligent cloud" is a must view video. This is from AzureCon 2015, September 29, 2015 I have reproduced some screen shots in case you are unable to view this long video for one reason or another. One of the highlights is 3 datacenters coming on line in India.
“The Internet of Things transforms the way organizations leverage machine data and gain insights from it,” noted Splunk’s CTO Snehal Antani, as Splunk announced accelerated momentum in Industrial Data and the IoT. The trend is driven by Splunk’s continued investment in its products and partner ecosystem as well as the creativity of customers and the flexibility to deploy Splunk IoT solutions as software, cloud services or in a hybrid environment. Customers are using Splunk® solutions to collect and correlate data from control systems, sensors, mobile devices and IT systems for a variety of Ind...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The enterprise is being consumerized, and the consumer is being enterprised. Moore's Law does not matter anymore, the future belongs to business virtualization powered by invisible service architecture, powered by hyperscale and hyperconvergence, and facilitated by vertical streaming and horizontal scaling and consolidation. Both buyers and sellers want instant results, and from paperwork to paperless to mindless is the ultimate goal for any seamless transaction. The sweetest sweet spot in innovation is automation. The most painful pain point for any business is the mismatch between supplies a...
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
As enterprises capture more and more data of all types – structured, semi-structured, and unstructured – data discovery requirements for business intelligence (BI), Big Data, and predictive analytics initiatives grow more complex. A company’s ability to become data-driven and compete on analytics depends on the speed with which it can provision their analytics applications with all relevant information. The task of finding data has traditionally resided with IT, but now organizations increasingly turn towards data source discovery tools to find the right data, in context, for business users, d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 150 developers, designers, quality assurance engineers, project manage...
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless Thingies, will discuss and demonstrate how devices and humans can be integrated from a simple clust...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...