Smartphone App Dev Developing iPhone & Android-based apps
Posted 04 April 2010 - 09:01 AM
On the other hand, iPhones are slick, have a lot of attractive apps, and are popular. Upon examining the developers tools available, I have come to realize that Apple app development is really a niche environment.
To develop for the iPhone, one must own an Apple computer of some type. Every bit of documentation I can find indicates that the development OS must be Mac OS 10.5X or higher.
The development environment really challenges me. The user base of iPhones is vastly larger than the user base of Mac's. People who would never touch an Apple computer have an iPhone. There is almost a disconnect, too, among iPhone users. I have run across several people that seem to forget that the iPhone is the product of a company that also make Apple Computers. Don't iPhone users have to attach their iPhones to a computer, either Mac or PC, once in a while?
Why would Apple limit the developer base of arguably the market leader in Smartphones, the iPhone, to such a small percentage of the market? Apple has a very small share of the computer market, what, about 11% or so? How many of those 11% are actually going to be intrepid enough to actually develop an iPhone application? I would guess that the numbers are even more finite.
As most iPhone users are most likely PC owners, doesn't it make sense for Apple to open the developer network for PC-based developers?
As a result of my delving into the developer environment differences, I am tempted to buy an Android 2.1-based phone in order to develop apps for Android. While the apps available for Android may be limited now, at some point the shear number of developers for Android will produce more apps for Android than are available for the iPhone. Thusly, at some point, app development for the iPhone may suffer.
But, iPhone applications will always have better quality, you say. Nope; within the shear numbers of developers of Android apps will also lurk those that develop great applications.
I would hope, at some point, Apple would release a PC-based development environment for iPhone. Doing so would make a lot of sense, based upon the user base.
What do you think?
Posted 04 April 2010 - 09:06 PM
I would argue that you first have some other things to think about.
Do you intend to develop apps for the "fun of it"? Or are you going to do it as a business venture (i.e. try to make money)?
If the later, then you should first be sitting down to make a business plan. You will need to figure out all that you need and your expected expenses that you will incur. Then you need to figure out your timeline and what you hope to accomplish...and what you ultimately want to charge for your app(s). And so on.
You will also need to really research your options. The need for a Mac is not the only potential "negative" of the iPhone platform...keep in mind that if you wish to go through the offical Apple App Store, your app is completely at the mercy of whether Apple approves it or not. There are iPhone app developers who have gotten out of the business for this very reason.
On the plus side, the "audience" for an iPhone App is likely SIGNIFICANTLY bigger than that of the Android platform right now. That likely will change over time, but it is still a factor to consider. The other plus is that the iPhone platform is VERY "uniform". You basically design your app and it should work on ALL iPhones. Since Android based phones can vary so wildly, you will likely have to carefully design your app to work with as many different Android based phones (i.e. different screen sizes, etc) as possible. This might mean more work or effort on your part to reach the widest audience possible.
My point is not to push one way or the other, but rather to illustrate that each platform will have its strengths and weaknesses. And if you are doing this as "business venture", then you really need to research all those strengths and weaknesses and develop a business plan that seems to make sense to you before you choose a direction to go.
If you are doing it "for fun", then much of that above matters less...although you likely still need to figure out how much you want to "spend" in your effort to do it "for fun". You likely could go the Android path for less upfront cost...at least that would likely be my guess.
As to why Apple only "allows" development on a Mac running the Mac OS, I do not know for sure. My speculation is that it is tied to the fact that the iPhone OS is basically a "subset" version of the Mac OS (at least the OS kernel). Thus, it would likely involve a LOT more work and effort (and thus money) for Apple to "allow" development on a Windows computer...if it is even possible at all (I have to believe it is possible, however). And considering the sheer amount of apps that have been developed for the iPhone, I doubt that Apple is worrying that they might be missing out. That might come back to bite them in the rear at some point...it might not. I will note that Apple originally did not support iPods on Windows computers...they changed their tune when they realized that they were missing out on a LOT of sales of iPods. This is a little different as there are a LOT of apps already being developed with the "Mac only" limitation.
I will also add, that if you really want to develop apps for the iPhone (or iPod Touch or iPad now), it is not really all THAT much of a hardship to get a Mac to do that with. It is not like you need to go buy a top of line Mac Pro for $3000 or more. The base level Mac Mini should do just fine...and then there are always the many used Macs out there that run an appropriate version of Mac OS X. Thus, you can easily get a Mac for around $500 or so that would most likely be more than adequate for developing an iPhone app. I would argue that this is really not much of a limitation for someone who wants to develop apps as a business venture. If someone really wants to make money of developing apps, then they are likely generally prepared to spend some money in order to make some money. This will only really be a limitation potentially for someone who is looking to do it "for fun"...and I rather doubt that Apple cares too much about limiting those types...after all, Apple is a business out to make money, not to "have fun".
Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:50 AM