At the Free Time Studios blog, I just officially announced the release of an open source library for iPhone projects called FTUtils. Check out the post and the screencast:
I promised a list of the websites I mentioned in my talk at the HTC on Wednesday. Instead of putting my own list together, I defer to the master: Ari Braginsky. This google doc is where I found most of the sites that I follow daily:
It’s a huge list, so I’ll give you a few must haves.
- Mobile Orchard is a great iPhone Development Blog. There’s lots of great info there, and a pretty good podcast as well.
- Games from Within – Noel Llopis writes about his experiences as an indie iPhone game developer.
- Jeff LaMarche’s iPhone Development Blog – Jeff wrote the Apress book Beginning iPhone Development, and his blog is one of the best places to get started with OpenGL ES on the iPhone, especially if you don’t have any OpenGL experience.
- 148Apps.biz – All about the business of developing iPhone apps. It’s also the home of the app store metrics.
- TouchArcade is a great iPhone game review site, and a lot of developers are active in the forum there.
- iPhone Developers on Twitter is a community maintained Google spreadsheet where you can find the Twitter handles of thousands of iPhone developers.
These three iPhone analytics companies also blog metrics periodically:
As promised, Here are the slides for my talk at the Houston Technology Center’s Web Based Startup School on 6/17/09. The slides aren’t really useful on their own since I only used them as a visual aid in the talk, but they might trigger some memories for those in attendance.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – What it Takes to Become an iPhone Developer
Since the opening of the iPhone app store, many developers have turned themselves into true success stories. While these stories are more exception than rule, their telling has inspired countless others to give iPhone development a shot. The app store is a revolution in software distribution, and it gives independent developers the power to make their own success. If you are considering becoming an iPhone developer, or if you are just curious what it’s all about, this session is for you. You will learn how to get the SDK, how to join the iPhone developer program and some common iPhone business models. We will also look at the technical side of iPhone development and get a look at the tools of the SDK. Since this session falls on the day of the release of iPhone OS 3.0, we will also get a good look at the new features in the OS and SDK that enable even more rapid development and new business models.
I just got confirmation that I’ll be speaking at 360|iDev in Denver this September. I’m really excited about the conference! I was disappointed that I didn’t hear about the last 360|iDev until after it was over, and the raves of Jeff LaMarche and Owen Goss made me a little jealous. If you can swing it, come on out. It should be a great time!
Here’s what I’ll be talking about:
Using Core Animation to Build Complex and Attractive Interfaces
Core Animation plays an integral role in the iPhone user interface and is responsible for much of its intuitiveness. Careful use of animation can make even an average app a joy to use. In this session you will learn how to effectively apply the features of Core Animation in your own apps. After a brief introduction to the principles behind Core Animation, you will learn how it is used in UIKit. Then, we will dig into the meat of Core Animation and how to use it effectively. Using the open source FTAnimationManager as an example, you will learn how to tame some of the complexities of the Core Animation API. By the end of this session, you will be comfortable with Core Animation, and your apps will run more smoothly and be more visually appealing.
When looking for an attractive looking AT&T store to to showcase on its “[Where to buy iPhone](http://www.apple.com/iphone/buy/ “Apple – iPhone – Where to Buy”)” page, Apple’s designers matched the Houston AT&T store on 59 between Edloe and Weslayan with the 5th Avenue Apple Store. As far as cell carrier stores go, it’s nice, but I’ll still be at the Galleria Apple Store on July 11th.
*(Hat tip to the very awesome [Swamplot](http://swamplot.com/59-feeder-att-a-starring-role-in-the-iphone-ecosystem/2008-06-26/ “59 Feeder AT&T: A Starring Role in the iPhone Ecosystem » Swamplot: Houston’s Real Estate Landscape”))*
I met a Nokia developer the other day at a local event. We chatted about mobile phones for a good while, and he showed me a couple of the Nokia smartphones he was working with. While none of them are as blatant a knockoff as [this one](http://www.engadget.com/2007/08/29/nokias-iphone-no-seriously/ “Nokia’s iPhone — no, seriously – Engadget”), we both marveled at the strikingly familiar design: shiny and black, surrounded by a chrome ring. RIM’s newest, ([the Blackberry 9000](http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2008/03/28/blackberry-9000-in-the-wild/ “BlackBerry 9000 in the wild – Engadget Mobile”)) is no exception. Look familiar?
It’s no secret that Apple has snagged a huge portion of the smartphone market in the last 9 months. In fact, Apple and the iPhone [catapulted to #2 in the U.S. market](http://www.switched.com/2008/02/07/iphone-second-in-u-s-smartphone-market-share/ “iPhone Second In U.S. Smartphone Market Share – Switched”) in its first 6 months on the scene. As a new entrant to the market with a *single device* competing against established players hawking multiple devices, that is quite an accomplishment.
With that kind of success, Apple’s competitors have been scrambling to crack the recipe to Apple’s secret sauce. So far, they have all failed miserably. While they have all failed in slightly different ways, it is clear that no one in the smartphone market “gets it” like Apple does. **It’s the software stupid!** Yes, the iPhone is a gorgeous piece of hardware, but, like every other Apple computer, the true power lies in the software. Steve Jobs understands this, and he has said, multiple times, that Apple is a software company. The company makes its own hardware to complement its software and to allow its developers the control they need to produce amazing software.
Many people have asked me over the past 9 months whether they should get an iPhone or some other smartphone. As much as I love my iPhone, I’ve hesitated to recommend it to everyone. That changed at the beginning of March. Thanks to [Apple’s announcement](http://www.macworld.com/article/132400/2008/03/iphonesdk.html “Macworld | Apple unveils iPhone SDK”) of the iPhone SDK and accompanying [iPhone 2.0](http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/06/iphone-20-enterprise-ready-developer-ready/ “iPhone 2.0: Enterprise Ready. Developer Ready.”) software update due out in June, I am now bullish on the iPhone, and I won’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone for business or personal use.
Apple has made the iPhone business ready by adding support for Exchange ActiveSync, Cicso IPSec VPN, and making some much needed improvements to the email client. Also, as it has done with Mac OS X on the desktop, Apple has made building applications for the iPhone simple and accessible to any software developer. The icing on the cake? For $99/year and a 30% cut of sales, Apple will list your application in the ubiquitous iPhone app store, and the company will handle all distribution and billing. The developer is just cut a check at the end of the month. This allows bright developers to do what they do best: build cool applications.
The game is changing again, and I have little doubt that Apple will continue to be a force in the mobile market. The rest of this year is going to be very exciting for those of us who love mobile devices, and I’m ecstatic that I will be able to contribute to it.
I finally read past the first few paragraphs in David Pogue’s [second iPhone FAQ](http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/01/13/ultimate-iphone-faqs-list-part-2/), and I was a little surprised to see this:
> Jobs: It’s not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain.
As you can probably tell from my [last post](https://neror.com/2007/01/13/third-party-iphone-applications.html), I rather like Java, and I also rather like Apple. If that’s how Steve really feels about Java, it’s no wonder that Apple stopped supporting the Cocoa/Java bridge in OSX. I always assumed it was because of the wonderful open-source [Objective-C bridge](http://pyobjc.sourceforge.net/) in [Python](http://python.org/) (my personal favorite language) that Apple just couldn’t keep up with. Regardless of the reasons, it’s probably better that Apple chose to focus on Objective-C because the [improvements](http://developer.apple.com/leopard/overview/index.html) coming in Leopard are very exciting.
The Cocoa/Java bridge aside, I am disappointed that Steve still harbors the ancient misconception of Java being big and slow. This has not been the case since Java 1.4 was released, and Sun has made great strides in performance in its subsequent releases. From my personal experience working with Java both on the web and on the desktop, the platform is more than capable of performing at a high level.
This reminds me of a product I meant to tout in my previous post: [ThinkFree](http://www.thinkfree.com/common/main.tfo). It’s a Java applet based online office suite. ThinkFree is a great example of how powerful applets and Java are. Sure it takes a minute to download the applet the first time, but then it’s cached for future uses. It really is Word/Excel/PowerPoint in a web browser, and it it beats the pants off of Google’s office suite feature and performance wise.
Well, I haven’t written a lick of Java code in 4 months, and I probably won’t for quite a while (at least until the iPhone comes out ;)). So, this is probably my last post about Java as my knowledge of the language and the platform will become stale pretty quickly. I hope to write more about [Python](http://python.org/) and [Django](http://www.djangoproject.com/) in the coming year, though. My current project makes extensive use of them, and I’m having a blast working with them.
*I wrote this before I read [David Pouge’s iPhone FAQ ](http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/the-ultimate-iphone-frequently-asked-questions/) which mentions that the iPhone’s Safari will not run Flash or Java Applets. D’oh! Since I spent some of my morning on Friday writing this post, i figured I’d publish it anyway. The benefits of Java Applets apply to web apps whether or not they target the iPhone. So, hopefully, there’s some value in here.*
*It looks like Pouge has recanted the comment about the iPhone’s Safari not supporting Flash and Java. It’s the first item in [his second FAQ](http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/01/13/ultimate-iphone-faqs-list-part-2/). This post might be relevant after all!*
[Todd](http://www.ditchnet.org) wrote [a post](http://www.ditchnet.org/wp/2007/01/11/the-only-way-to-write-software-for-the-iphone/) Thursday on his blog that piqued my interest.
>The only way to write software for the iPhone that I can imagine is via web applications.
> Are Java applets once again an attractive option? Or will devs and users prefer HTML/CSS/JS/Ajax?
I’m of the belief that Java applets have been given a bad rap because of their early history as slow-performing, memory-hogging toys in the 90’s. The truth is that Java is now a very powerful desktop platform, and applets allow developers to use the full power of that platform in a “web app.” I don’t believe that applets will experience a renaissance in the average data driven Web 2.0 app, especially with the advances being made in the DHTML/Ajax/etc. world, but I think Todd has an interesting point with the iPhone.
If the iPhone runs a full Java VM, “desktop class” applications are only an applet away. Deployment is simple. Pushing updates is trivial. Applets are also extremely simple to package and deploy. What seals the deal for me is event handling, drawing API, networking, and filesystem access for offline and advanced usage.
I’ll admit that I don’t have a bunch of experience with DHTML, but I wonder how DHTML compares to Java when it comes to handling events, especially the multi-touch gestures? 2D drawing is also very easy with Java, but this might be a toss up due to Safari’s support of the [<canvas>](http://developer.apple.com/documentation/AppleApplications/Conceptual/SafariJSProgTopics/Tasks/Canvas.html) tag. My gut tells me that Java2D is more full featured and easier to use, but I have no evidence or experience to back that up. If the iPhone really runs OSX, then Java also has [jogl](https://jogl.dev.java.net/) to do 3D OpenGL drawing. I’m drooling just thinking of multi-touch and 3D. I’m sure you couldn’t do a whole lot with the limited processing power of a small device, but there are still some possibilities there.
Filesystem and network access is a completely different story. Provided that the applet is signed, and the certificate accepted by the user, the applet has the same rights as any other desktop app when it comes to reading and writing files to the filesystem. I don’t know of any equivalent in the DHTML world. The only thing close that I know of is the [great work](http://codinginparadise.org/weblog/2006/04/now-in-browser-near-you-offline-access.html) done by the [dojo toolkit](http://dojotoolkit.org/) team. The dojo.storage API only allows you to store data in the client in a specific location, though. It is just for offline storage, and it’s not a real filesystem API. It also requires Flash to be installed and enabled on the client. A Java applet would have access to all of the preferences, pictures, video, contacts, music, etc. stored on the phone. This is a big difference, and opens up many other possibilities.
Applets also have all of Java’s networking libraries at their disposal. You can emulate some of this functionality with XMLHttpRequest, but not all. One example that comes to mind and ssh client, or maybe a VNC server over Bonjour (although I don’t know why you’d want to do that). Obviously, there is a lot more at the developer’s disposal here.
At this point, this is all speculation. I don’t know what kind of tools will be available for the iPhone. If Apple is not going to provide the tools and rights for developers to write real “desktop class” applications for the iPhone, the developer community **will** find a way to do it on their own. [It’s a moral imperative](http://imdb.com/title/tt0089886/quotes). I’m really interested to see how this all comes out.