As Apple prepares to release its software development kit, developers are already cobbling together iPhone Web-based apps. An interview with a developer sheds some light on what they're up to.
InformationWeek: What are some of the tools currently available to developers for building Web-based apps for the iPhone?
Reuter: We're starting to see more examples out there for how to develop for the iPhone. The biggest example I can think of is Joe Hewitt, who released a Web app that acts like the iPod part of the iPhone. The majority of Web apps you see out there now are variations on his template.
Ajax has been available in browsers for many years; however, it only gained dominance within the last few years because it became understood how it works in different Web browsers and what the best practices are for developing Ajax apps. Libraries made it easier to write Ajax apps, as well as providing pre-packaged solutions to common problems. That is the best analogy for where we're at with Web development for the iPhone. There are pioneers out there and some problems have been solved.
Web app development for the iPhone will become commoditized, just like Ajax. By commoditized, I mean Web development will become available to more people because the difficult parts will be taken care of.
InformationWeek: Aren't Web apps problematic when it comes to availability since most require Internet connectivity in order to work?
Reuter: Availability is certainly an issue. But it depends on the nature of the application. If it's a collaborative app where people need to share information, you need network connectivity even if it's a native iPhone application.
InformationWeek: What are some of the most interesting iPhone Web apps that come to mind?
Reuter: There's a game called Bejeweled, which is one of the slickest iPhone apps that I've seen so far. You don't feel like you're on a Web page at all. It feels like a native iPhone app. It's just one example of what can be done on the iPhone without the SDK.
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