I’ve been considering creating some iPhone and iPad apps lately, and I’ve been wondering, what tool should I use? In addition to Apple’s industrial strength Xcode development framework for developing iOS apps in Objective C, I’ve come across three interesting alternatives. As a content-oriented person, I’d rather not invest a lot of time on the coding side of things unless I absolutely have to. Each of the frameworks below solves a very different problem, which one to use depends on what you’re starting with, where you want to go, and what tools are you already working with.
TapLynx (taplynx.com) is a development framework for Xcode that helps you create an iOS app from your website without writing any code. All you have to do is edit some configuration files. It makes use of RSS so you can stream your blog, social media streams, photos and videos live to your app and asily customize the app to match your branding. The SDKs are free to download and evaluate, and once you are ready to push to production all you’ll need to do is purchase a license key. Pricing is $299 for an iPhone app and $499 for an iPad app. One license key is required per production application.
App Press (app-press.com) is a web-based tool with an easy to use interface for creating apps for iOS and/or Android. You create pages using a layering motif. Link to other pages in your app or external websites through hotspot layers. You can access your designs anywhere, at any time via a web broweser. All of your components are kept in an Asset Library with 100 MB of space and a Pro account has unlimited space. You can create applications with non-linear navigation or a linear navigation like a magazine. A free trial is available. A basic plan is $30/month and users with a .edu e-address can sign up for $5/month. Pro and Team accounts offer more features for more money.
PhoneGap (phonegap.com) is an HTML5 app platform that allows you to develop native applications with web technologies and still get access to native APIs and app stores. PhoneGap is essentially a browser, so your code will run in web browsers too. You can develop and test your app in your desktop browser and then use the free open source PhoneGap framework to package and distribute your app. Or, you can use the PhoneGap build service to upload your assets to the service and it will return to you an app-store ready app for iOS, Android, and several other platforms. PhoneGap build is free for Developers. There’s a monthly charge depending on how many private Apps you deploy. Nitobi has been acquired by Adobe who is expected to add PhoneGap/Build integration to Creative Cloud.