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11/25/2009
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Apple Accepts PhoneGap For iPhone Development

Cross-platform mobile development is getting easier, thanks to frameworks that leverage Web technology.

PhoneGap, an open source development tool for building platform-neutral mobile applications using HTML, CSS and JavaScript, appears to have received Apple's blessing, an endorsement that may encourage more cross-platform mobile application development.

In a blog post on Friday, PhoneGap contributor Jesse MacFadyen, a software developer at a Web development firm called Nitobi, said that Apple has completed a technical analysis of PhoneGap and concluded that PhoneGap does not violate the Terms & Conditions of its App Store.

That means, he said, that Apple will review PhoneGap applications on their own merits, rather than penalizing them for being the product of non-Apple development tools.

MacFayden in a follow-up comment to his initial post explained, "I was in e-mail contact with an App Store rep, and informed that our apps were being held while the techs reviewed PhoneGap. I then received word that PhoneGap was given the thumbs-up and our apps were being approved."

An Apple spokesperson did not respond to a request to confirm MacFadyen's claim.

But assuming his claim is accurate, iPhone developers can now create applications not only for Apple devices, but also for Google Android, Symbian-WRT and Blackberry devices, using open Web technologies. And developers for other platforms can more easily move into iPhone development.

The PhoneGap Web site lists version 0.8.0 as "Apple approved for App Store submissions."

This affirmation of PhoneGap as a framework that's acceptable to Apple follows a similar report in October from a PhoneGap user.

Brian LeRoux, a software developer at Nitobi and PhoneGap contributor, said in a phone interview that PhoneGap allows developers to make their applications available faster than the single-platform development model and to a larger market. He also said that PhoneGap will open mobile development to programmers beyond those with knowledge of Objective-C, Apple's language of choice.

PhoneGap, he said, may not be the right choice for graphic-intensive games, but he also said that might not be true much longer, as WebGL technology matures.

LeRoux believes that developing Web applications for mobile phones will soon become as compelling as developing native mobile applications.

The emergence of tools like PhoneGap, Unity 3D, Anca's Corona, Ideaworks Labs' Airplay SDK, and Adobe's forthcoming Flash CS5, to name a few, are making it possible to write an application once and, with minor adjustments, deploy it across multiple platforms.

While this trend benefits developers and users, it remains to be seen how it will affect Apple's iPhone empire. If most future iPhone applications also end up being released for other devices, application count won't represent the selling point that it is now to Apple.

Blue Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania, the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and a range of large and small healthcare providers are using mobile apps to improve care and help patients manage their health. Find out how. Download the report here (registration required).

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