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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The iPhone SDK Actually Kinda Rocks

Work has bequeathed onto me a MacBook Pro and lo it twas glorious.

Seriously, compared my that demon possessed Lenovo Thinkpad this thing is a saint. It's not just the normal Apple pretty pretty that makes me say this - I'm actually get more done, more quickly. I no longer spend minutes out of every hour fussing with lost connections, confused video modes or rebooting because life just got a little too hard for an OS.

Now this didn't take place simply because I'm a swell guy and I complained to no end about the last laptop, but rather the advent of the iPhone SDK and the office's interest in the thing. This is a Mac only affair and I never, ever thought I'd be getting Apple hardware specifically to code Apple software ... but here we are.

The good news is that the iPhone SDK is pretty good. I've played with XCode in the past with some success and it only seems to have been improved since then. This is also a Cocoa only kit, so those dragging Carbon around like the kindly old relative it is will need to send it off the nursing home. Objective-C is the new black. And by black I mean the framework for builing anything on the iPhone.

Honestly, I don't even know why Objective-C has C in the name. It's somewhat C-like in structure, I guess. The grammar will throw any newbie in for a curve for at least an hour or so ... it actually helps if you've jumped the divide into C++ or the like for periods of time.

Don't get me wrong - there's nothing bad about the way Obj-C is setup. If anything, there's a lot of good to it - just be prepared to unfocus the eyes a bit to adjust. It's a little like those 3-D pictures they used to have the mall.

To date I have a simple app which pulls some XML off a server, produces a few lists off it and can generate some descriptive text. It's more or less a basic mutant RSS reader in an iPhone form. This is all running off a simulator as right now there's no legit way to load the app onto hardware. The simulator is extremely functional, though, and editing, compiling, previewing, and then repeating gets to be a quick affair.

So the question is - if one were to get their hands on this ... what would you write? What kind of games make sense in an iPhone world? Is there something that you wish you could accomplish in the palm of your hand not covered by a Safari based solution right now?


Chase Driven said...

so now the question is what to do with the old lenovo. hey -- my kid just stopped screaming. maybe the mac book helped that too!

sterno said...

Yeah that's what i'm trying to figure out. Today I was trying to figure out what would be involved in doing a location based social networking thing. Like you walk into a bar with your iphone/ipod, and it could check out other folks in the bar and see if you had common interests, etc.

Josh said...

re: the old Lenovo ... I'm thinking of something involving a young priest and an old priest...

Proximity based apps could be interesting. I haven't toyed with any of the mapping stuff yet, just got poking into SQLite tutorials yesterday.

Gamewise I think we're back to the Facebook discussion - which could pull in some geography too. It's like the old BBS door days with much, much better matchmaking and a real interface...

Clamatius said...

Note that the simulator does not currently have OpenGL support, which will kinda blow if you are trying to develop a game with "real graphics". Of course, right now it makes it impossible since Apple isn't giving out certs.

Josh said...

Damn, I had glossed over that as the OGL stuff wasn't until farther down on my list. That's a bit of a hobbler, for sure.

Quartz is good for 2D, of course, but has little in the way of 3D.