Friday, March 7th, 2008

iPhone SDK: Great if you like Cocoa, but what about us?

Category: iPhone, Mobile

UPDATE: We got new information on the new functionality in Mobile Safari for developers

There has been a touch of news about the iPhone SDK from Apple. Most of the press believe that the iPhone SDK exceeds developer expectations.

As an iPhone user I am quite happy. I look forward to email / contact / calendar push. I think that the tool chain looked fantastic (debugger, simulator, IDE, GUI-builder) and I am sure that I will be seeing fantastic new applications when June comes around (waiting for June again?????). Skype. IM. You name it (as long as Apple approves!)

There are some that don’t like the 30% tax, and Russell Beattie has some thoughts too:

I was right about the sandbox, though there’s a bit more access to hardware than I thought, there’s no VoIP over cellular or ability to interact with the Dock, no ability to change the UI. So though it’s not a technical sandbox, it’s an arbitrary Apple approved one instead.

Also right about the Orwellian doublespeak: Jobs called only being able to distribute your apps via the iTunes store “the best deal going to distribute applications in the mobile space.” Uh-huh. Who wants to be able to put downloadable install files on their own websites? Exchanging the carrier-only distribution model for an Apple-only one doesn’t do much for me. I mean, imagine if you could only install applications on your computer via Apple or Microsoft… it’s the same thing, no matter how “convenient” it may sound.

Overall though, I am happy. I would love to see how many people pick up Objective-C and Cocoa now. We should keep an eye on the book sales. James Duncan Davidson will be happy :)

But what about Mobile Safari? What about some Cocoa JS love? Apple started out showing off the Web applications for the iPhone, so how about enabling more in that development stream? Some may enjoy learning something new, but others want to just stay in the growing Ajax universe. With the ability to hide the browser chrome, access to Touch APIs, and a few others…. and we can do a lot.

During the event, the VP of Phone Software told us that the next update will include new features for the web apps, so we will see (Thanks to Arn of MacRumors for letting me know).

At this point though maybe Steve wants to shut down that world a little? This is his chance to get a ton of developers on the full OSX platform. Once they learn Cocoa and the tool chain, some percentage of the developers will go on to build desktop applications too!

Interesting times. What do you think? Getting ready to use those square brackets?

Posted by Dion Almaer at 1:09 am

3.7 rating from 29 votes


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I think (or at least hope?) that the number of Cocoa developers will explode. The iPhone SDK will be like Apple’s Trojan horse, luring developers to Cocoa and Objective-C.

Comment by tlrobinson — March 7, 2008

There is a great video called “iPhone SDK for Web Developers” that will update you on new Web development features coming in the iPhone SDK. I could not find a direct link, but if you dig a little you’ll find it right after you register for a (free) iPhone development account in the “Getting Started Videos” section.

Comment by Antoine Quint — March 7, 2008

I’ve been reading this BLOG for, oh about 2 years or so now and I have just now registered an account. Anyway, I don’t think developers yet realize how powerful this is. Instantly you now have your app in a familiar place for consumers to find on every iPhone in the world. How powerful is that? So what 10M iPhones this year? Say they beat out BlackBerry Lets say your app you made is sold for, what $9.99. Great now how about 100,000 users of iPhone say, that is a great deal, I want to buy that app. Well crud for 2 weeks of programming, no marketing fees (unless your smart to advertise on the web), no credit card fees, no taking on risk of stolen credit cards, oh and your app can be accessed, bought and installed anywhere in the world, in the bathroom, on a train, in a car you know making that $699,300 doesn’t seem all that bad. I don’t think there is room to complain here. Most developers would not see that type of cash if Apple didn’t put that store right on the iPhone.

Will I be learning Objective-C, of course. If I could potentially make an app and make even $100,000 in a year, I’ll be happy. I hope that by having an app on the iPhone will also drive traffic to my websites.

Comment by CamargoBP — March 7, 2008

My thoughts:

1) I don’t like having to pay the $99 to get an app I develop onto my phone. At least that’s the way it looks. You can download the dev kit for free, but the only way to run an app you develop on a real iPhone and not just the simulator, is too pay the $99. Not to mention you can’t even pay the $99 right now unless you are chosen, its still a limited beta.

I expect the hacking community to eliminate the above problem for us pretty quickly.

2) I expect to be able to skirt the 30% by creating a free app, that needs an unlock code for the real features. Unless that is against the terms and conditions. Again, the hacking community will solve the problem of getting apps onto phones without iTunes. Apple might eventually cave on the point, but lots of developers will choose to use iTunes anyway.

3) They really need to give us some AJAX love. The only really missing from Mobile Safari that other browsers have are the drag events. Expose some more of the phone features, e.g. you can kind of already get to the accelerometer, and you’ve got a really enticing platform. Alternatively, and I haven’t researched this yet, maybe it exists, expose some of mobile webkit to the iPhone SDK, and let me convert a webapp into an iPhone app, interface to it from Objective C and get at the platform features that way.

Comment by Jonathan Leech — March 7, 2008

On the ajax front. Stop whining. We’ve plenty we can do with Standard Ajax without enabling Microsoft like specialized controls. Better to whine about IE 8 still lagging behind every other browser by 2 years than to ask the most standards compliant browser on the planet to invest resources into enabling “iPhone Only” controls. I’ve little doubt that the next rev in our world will look something like the AIR API. But Apple jumping out into la la land won’t help anybody especially us AJAX people. Let’s get everybody on HTML 5, then we can talk chrome and drag and drop.

Comment by vance Dubberly — March 7, 2008

There’s an application called Jiggy for jailbroken iPhones that allows you to develop “native” applications in Javascript. It exposes all the good iPhone SDK interfaces to javascript and allows you to create a standalone app that functions as a native iPhone app. It’s still alpha, but has it’s own IDE (javascript based — hosted on the phone via built in http server) and is pretty impressive.

Comment by Beergeek — March 7, 2008

Ruby Cocoa…

Comment by Mark Holton — March 7, 2008

Some should take the GWT compiler and make it go to objective-c instead of JavaScript. Then start a new blog called

Comment by digitalIchi — March 7, 2008

Hey Dion, before Java for me there was ObjC, its a great language so much like Smalltalk but easily integrates into the rest of the stuff you have in C. If you spend some time with I’m sure you will enjoy it.

Comment by bdudney — March 7, 2008

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