iPhone Ready to Rumble With BlackBerry

Apple today unveiled enterprise features for the iPhone, a push to take on Research In Motion’s BlackBerry. And even though it will be a while before the iPhone can become a real challenger to the Canadian company’s ubiquitous device, the news weighed on RIM’s shares.

While You’re Waiting For The iPhone SDK…

As a previous post indicated, Apple has yet to publicly release the iPhone/iTouch non-web SDK and it is still unclear if casual developers will be able to get their applications onto these new devices. As we all wait like expectant parents, there are some great resources out there for the current, Apple-preferred method of iPhone development.

Wrox Press recently released Professional iPhone and iPod touch Programming: Building Applications for Mobile Safari by Richard Wagner. So far (not quite finished with it yet), the book is an great reference for iPhone web development and focuses on the most effective use of Joe Hewitt‘s iUI framework. The CSS-heavy framework provides an excellent base for your iPhone/iTouch applications and enables you to focus on application design rather than device quirks.

One of the best features of the book is how Wagner drives home the need for applications to be both network-resilient and network-aware. The iPhone has the ever-tenuous EDGE connections to deal with and Wi-Fi is not always stable or speedy, even on the iTouch. This book and the iUI framework should help you quickly build robust and speedy web-based applications for either device and make you an overall better mobile-targeted web developer.

Web-based iApps will continue to have their place in the iWorld even after the on-device SDK is released and you can find additional resources over at iPhoneWebDev.

If you’re using the iUI framework, have read Richard Wagner’s book or have other suggestions for mobile web development, drop a note in the comments with your thoughts/experiences/suggestions.

An Open Letter to Steve about the iPhone SDK

Dear Steve,
Your recent announcement of an upcoming iPhone SDK, made under the radar via your Hot News page, was very welcomed by most iPhone users. We can’t wait to have native version of Skype and Instant Messaging clients on our phone, and not put there via Jailbreaking. This really should have been in software developers hands a year ago, but we’ll take it anyway, if a bit late.
But that’s not what I’m writing to you about today. I’m writing to complain that the most obvious omission in iPhone apps is the fact that we can’t put 3rd widgets on our iPhones. It’s obvious to the most causal user that you already have them running. You can’t tell me the weather “app”, the stock “app”, and probably others aren’t widgets, the same as in the Dashboard, running on the iPhone. When you announced the iPhone, you told us “you won’t need an SDK”. 37Signals proclaimed validation for their ethos, that web apps and AJAX’d apps were the future. And there’s obviously an audience out there for these things (see the Digg and Facebook iPhone versions). But what I imagined was alot closer to a Dashboard widget than a web page running in Safari.
In fact, there was never a question in my mind that we’d be able to develop iPhone “apps” that would run native, with a cool little icon on the home screen, in HTML and CSS and Javascript. I assumed there’s be special hooks we could put in the html that would activate special iPhone features, and there are (text fields called “phone” or “zip” bring up numeric entry screens), but those seemed half baked also. Why doesn’t a “file” field called “photos” allow us to choose photos stored on the iPhone for uploading (to say, flickr)? And why can’t we explicitly tell a text field to bring up the url, phone/number, or qwerty keyboards?
So, I beg of you Steve, make this happen. Let us put widgets on our iPhones. Let us have more control over what our html can do. Let us do what we all thought was going to be possible. You already have all of this functionality there, I’m not asking for anything new here, just flip the switch and make it happen.
BJ Clark
iPhone Addict and Web Developer