Develop Smartphone Apps Easily – write once, run everywhere

We have many options opening up that enable us to develop for the different smartphone platforms besides their native languages (iPhone = Objective C, Andriod = Java).  While I like developing in Java, I don’t want to develop in Objective C.  Take a look at the available options we have now to develop in Andriod, iPhone, and the other popular smartphones (Windows Mobile, RIM, Blackberry)…

Write once, run on most smartphones:

  • PhoneGap – Free.  Ideal for web developers developing “web like apps” utilizing HTML 5 and Javascript.  PhoneGap wraps your “web” app in a deployable module that can not only run on iPhone and Andriod… but also Palm, Symbian, and Blackberry!  Since it is HTML5 it can run disconnected from the network.  (Combine with jQTouch for a great feel.)
  • Sencha Touch – Free. Works hand in hand with PhoneGap, providing a look and feel native on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry touch devices utilizing HTML5 web standards.
  • Rhodes – Free for open source, $500 per commercial app.  Ruby and HTML using a MVC framework.  Works on all the major smart phones (iPhone, Andriod, Windows Mobile, RIM, Symbian).  While web based, these run as native apps and integrate with the phone systems and features (GPS, contacts, calendars, camera, barcode, etc).  Bonus tools include: RhoSync (sync data easily), RhoHub (build online), RhoGallery (managing apps).
  • ParticleCode – in Beta.  It appears to be an up and coming player deploying to all the phones.
  • AppMobi – $0 to $5/usage-block (which can get expensive depending on your design). HTML5 and JavaScript.  Improves upon and wraps the PhoneGap APIs. Dev tools are free.  Cloud services are what you pay for.
  • ShiVa3D –  $0 to $500.  Lua or C++ development.  Create 3D real-time applications and games for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iPhone, Android, Palm, Wii and the iPad. ShiVa is a powerful multi-platform 3D game engine, WYSIWYG 3D Editor and MMO Server.

Write once, run on Andriod and iPhone:

  • Titanium Mobile – Free.  Javascript and HTML / CSS.  Access standard phone capabilities through their API.  Easy entry point for web developers.  However, some understanding of how Andriod and iPhone work would help.  Great tool.  However, a little slow to develop and run.
  • Corona – Free Trial, $200 to $350.  Lua programming language.   Supports iPhone and Andriod 1.6+.  Requires a Mac OS X 10.6+ for iPhone app deployments (and able to develop in Windows).   Ideal for game development.  Touts a strong feature set:  Vector based graphics (OpenGL/OpenAL), dynamic content scaling, accelerometer, GPS support, Facebook integration, Multitouch, WebKit/HTML5, Access to Compass / Camera / Photo library, physics engine, sprite based animation, OpenFeint integration (game network), OpenAL, High-res image swapping. makes it simple to use gaming features like sprite sheets, Box2D physics, Facebook Connect, andFlurry analytics.  Lots of documentation.
  • Unity 3D Mobile – $0 to $4500.  Impressive tool and framework to make any game development simplified for the web, console, or mobile devices.  Develop using .Net and/or JavaScript.
  • MonoTouch  and Mono -  $400 to $1500 (double if for both iPhone and Andriod).  Create C# and .NET based applications that run on either Andriod or Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices, while taking advantage of the iPhone/Andriod APIs and reusing both code and libraries that have been built for .NET.  iPhone Requires a Mac, Apple’s iPhone SDK and you must be part of Apple’s iPhone Developer Program to test and deploy your software on a device and to redistribute your code.  (Since you must purchase 2 products for iPhone vs Andriod, there might be limits of reusability / cross-platform development.

Alternatives for iPhone only (at the moment):

  • Flash -  ($TBD) Adobe Flash CS5, which is currently in private beta, will include a new feature called Packager for iPhone. The Packager will let you package Flash projects for the iPhone.
  • iTorque by Garage Games- ($750 to $900) – currently $99 for a limited time.  2D support with 3D on the way.  WYSIWYG 2D editor.  scripting language.  phone support for multitouch, accelerometer, touch screen gesture recognition.  Texture compression.  Full source included.  Includes the “Torque Game Builder“.

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