The development of mobile applications is the next trend for developers and entrepreneur’s to strike gold or build a company around a compelling application. The availability of the iPhone SDK last year has ushered in the creation of thousands of iPhone applications. It was closely followed by the release of the Android SDK by Google. Application developers have rushed into creating application in either or both the platforms.
The ease of access to the built in hardware like the accelerometer, the GPS, the touch screen etc and the internal software/applications like the phone book, music player, browser have resulted in the development of some really useful applications. I liked some of the games that have utilized the use of the touch interface and/or the accelerometer. Some of the music instrument apps have done a really good too.
These two SDK and platforms are offered by companies that are leaders in Software Development. What about companies that are leader’s in the handheld/mobile space? Looks like we might have an answer for the same…
The preview of the Palm Pre in the 2009 CES show has brought to surface another piece of device that is both sleek like the iPhone. It also matches user interface and capabilities to the levels of iPhone and Android platforms.
The Palm Pre will be powered with a brand new Palm Web OS. Palm says, “The user experience is developed around multitasking and the simplicity of a web browser. It features a web based application suite and supports touch screen finger based input, background applications and is tightly interconnected with the Internet and various web services.”
A few lucky companies (Pandora) had the opportunity to play with the Palm’s new Web OS and the Palm Mojo application framework. Tom Conrad, the CTO of Pandora, spoke about the capabilities of this new development platform. You can read his thoughts over here. I am guessing Pandora would be one of the early applications on the Palm Pre market.
VoicePHP is a service from TringMe that allows a developer to write Voice based applications. It’s basically the same PHP language that most developer’s are used to in creating rich dynamic applications. The difference now is that with VoicePHP you can use voice data as input and output.
The product is currently in Beta and developers can sign up for the API by contacting them for one. They have some code samples here. I have applied for an API key. I will try to get my hands dirty with it and update with my experiences out here.
A lot of buzz is going around the development of mobile applications for Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platforms. It seem a lot of developers want to develop for Apple’s platform over Android due to the current deep penetration of iPhone/iPod Touch in the US and European markets.
If you are not a Mac developer, it takes a significant investment in terms of both money and time. There is a general perception (at least I did) that the iPhone applications can only be written in Objective C. So, if you are jumping from a Windows or Unix/Linux background, you will firstly have to invest in an Intel based Computer running Mac OS. Secondly, you will have to get your feet wet in a new OS (Mac), Framework (Cocoa Touch), and Programming Language (Objective C). I however, had opportunity to listen to Christopher Allen this past week talking about iPhone development. He described two primary models of development for the iPhone :-
- SDK – This model involves the knowledge of Objective C (similar to C/C++). The benefits of it are that it runs natively on the phone and so integrates seamlessly with the iPhone libraries making use of the improved graphic libraries available to it.
I can see advantages in both models from both the developer and the application’s perspective. It boils down to the needs of the application. A developer trying to create a mobile version of an exiting web application/service would be better off trying to use the Web Model and come up with a quick working application. It also comes with the advantage that it will work on other mobile devices with minimal changes. On the other hand, developing more touch sensitive and graphics using applications like games etc would be better suited to be developed using the SDK.
The development should be purely based on need. If you take the example of Google, they don’t have native iPhone apps for all their Web products. Some of their apps are native like Maps, Youtube whereas others are purely web based like Gmail.
The book “iPhone in Action” by Christopher Allen and Shannon Appelcline seems like a good resource to get a hang of the Web SDK.