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The rapidly growing smartphone market is having a profound impact on how
people access & manage information. With 5 distinct operating systems to develop
for, PhoneGap provides a proven universal solution. It allows web developers to
build & deploy applications using a common set of standards based
on HTML, CSS
time to market and a reduction in development costs in terms of time & hourly
These apps ar
and there are varying levels of
functionality support & performance. However PhoneGap allows straightforward
access to the underlying native code for individual platform tweaks as required.
PhoneGap is not a hack, bypassing
normal development practises: BlackBerry,
Symbian & Palm already provide a framework for web based apps and the iPhone
& Android provide mechanisms that facilitate it.
If you only want to deploy to one platform
you have a healthy bank balance
native code is the way to go.
If you want to produce a v1 app and/or deploy to multiple platforms at reasonable
cost then PhoneGap is the way to go.
Quarter 2, 2010 total smartphone sales of 61 million units.
An increase of 50% over previous
for accessing the internet than standard
Tablets (iPad et al) to outsell netbooks & desktop systems by 2013.
By 2014, it is estimated that there will be 1 billion smartphone users.
Apples App store hit 3 billi
on downloads in
Despite all the hoopla, Apple only has 14
kia & others) leading with 41%.
RIM (BlackBerry) at 18
oid (Google’s OS) at 17%.
Windows Mobile holds 6.8% but as
Windows 7 Phone was released in
is reasonably ex
pected to become
a major player very quickly.
Gartner report as above
Gartner report as above
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Android is considered by 72% of developers to have more potential than
Creating a well designed app for a device requires good knowledge of the native
programming language. For the various devices this is:
iPhone/iPad/iPod = Objective
Android = Java
BlackBerry = Java
Symbian = C++
Windows 7 Phone = C#
In addition, each platform has its own application programming interfaces (api’s)
that have to be lea
Given the rapid development of these environments it is not feasible to master
more than one platform. It is reasonable to be able to create v1 apps on a variety of
platforms but nothing more.
Native programming in the iPhone market place commands a
As each platform has a web browser & a native code interface to allow web pages
to be displayed in a standalone app, Nitobi, the creators of PhoneGap, have created
ith images, sounds &
movies as required and presents them as a native app for a device.
This presentation layer is consistent across all platforms and provides access to
key features such as GPS, accelerometer, camera, contacts, initiating calls or
email or text message,
This allows web developers to be used to create an app and for the code to be
transferrable between platforms, typically 75% code reuse.
are more plentiful so don’t command a premium in the market
place, projects are
not held up waiting for availability and the web assets can be
planned & created with a mind to deploy to several platforms with considerable
Getting started is very simple
you can use FireFox or Safari to check your app
initially, the developm
ent environments are free to download and include device
PhoneGap is open source so there are no run time or licensing costs, there is a
community of 25+ active developers contributing to the base code and 100+
developers using &
As the source code is available and because a plug
in architecture is in place, it is
possible to extend a platforms functionality with native code if required.
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Not all platforms provide the same level of functionality.
This is true regardless of
how the app is developed
native code or via the PhoneGap framework.
The iPhone has, with Apple’s usual strategy, spoilt us with slick hardware based
animations (at the cost of battery life). Most other devices do not have the
to produce such a smooth & responsive interface if you wish to replicate such
looking, functional, useful apps can be created that can
quickly deployed across a number of platforms.
Trying to reach native iPhone nirv
on all platforms
is not possible, even if you
go to native code on each platform. Ignoring other platforms is ignoring 8
% of the
What PhoneGap is not
PhoneGap does not run any sort of web
server on the phone so you
move your PHP/myS
QL/Ruby/Rails/Perl/ASP/ASP.NET/JSP website to the
framework and have it run.
PhoneGap does not provide a bypass to the app store approval requirements. Your
app will be judged on the same criteria as native code apps.
Apple app store approval is not grante
d for apps that just redisplay a website or
that downloads layouts &/or functionality so you
create an app that can
change when you feel like it.
PhoneGap is not suitable for graphic intense applications like action games.
Alternatives to PhoneGap
For iPhone only there is a similar framework called NimbleKit. For iPhone &
Android there is
. For all platforms there is RhoMobile.
Appcelerator & RhoMobile both wrap the develo
pment environment very tightly
introducing a much steeper learning
An important distinction should be drawn between someone who can create a
sign and someone who can code a
Many great designs can’t be feasibly implemented in web code.
Much of the functionality of the app
is very well understood & resourced, but not
created with drawing
PhotoShop or Dreamweaver.
Whilst a designer can be involved in the process, the main build of an app is go
Lawnchair, jQTouch, JQuery and so forth is recommended.
Database work will
require an understanding of
knowledge is required
by the web developer to compile & run an
app. The ability to follow written instructions is an advantage.
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On the desktop
& at home
The web code created can be quickly deployed to
, wrapping it up as an
p for Windows or Mac OS on the desktop. A useful win.
Sony & Samsung have been shipping internet enabled TV’s for two years now.
Google’s Android is free to licence for use
how long will it be
apps for TVs
start to appear?
Games consoles may well
be extended to run apps. You can buy internet enabled
ow soon before they are app enabled?
descartes, PhoneGap & Nitobi
descartes has been producing web applications alongside it’s desktop systems
since Netscape 0.9 was released (1994).
Nick has participated in both the introductory & advanced training that Nitobi,
creators of PhoneGap, offer. He is also active on the PhoneGap Google group
& receiving support to other community developers and is in
Our community contributions at
is being documented and
moved to its own site.
As a long standing Apple Developer and as an entrant in the origin
al Android app
competition, Nick is familiar enough with Objective
C (iPhone/iPad/Mac OS) and
Java (Android) to be able to create plug
ins for those platforms.
In theory descartes could tool up for native code development for iPhone &
Android but that woul
d leave us out in the cold for other devices. PhoneGap
bridges that gap.