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The iPhone Simulator lets you test your app on your Mac

Iphone Development

The Simulator is a great tool for testing your apps quickly and for free. It doesn’t come with all of the applications that a real phone does, but for the most part it behaves the same way. When you first start the simulator you see the Springboard just like on a real iPhone, with iDecide installed (and a default
icon that you can change later). Xcode then opens the app and your code is running.

There are some differences between using the Simulator and your iPhone. For starters, shaking and rotating your Mac won’t accomplish anything. To approximate rotation and check landscape and portrait views, there are some commands under the Hardware menu.

The Simulator has limitations

 Memory, performance, camera, GPS, and other characteristics cannot be reliably tested using the Simulator. We’ll talk more about these later, but memory usage and performance are tough to test on the simulator simply because your Mac has so many more resources than the iPhone. To test these things, you need to install on an actual iPhone (which means joining one of the paid development programs). 

There are no dump questions ask

Q: Are there other things that don’t work on the Simulator?
A: The Simulator can only work with some gestures, network accessibility and core location are limited, and it doesn’t have an accelerometer or camera. For more information, reference Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0 Library documentation, via the Help menu in the Simulator. The Simulator is great for getting started with your application, but at some point you have to move over to a real device. Also, be aware that the iPod Touch and the iPhone are two different devices with different capabilities. You really should test on both, which means you’ll need to join one of the paid programs.

Q: What’s with this whole nibs have a xib extension thing?
A: That’s an odd artifact showing the roots of OS X. Nibs date back to the NeXTStep days, before NeXT was acquired by Apple. In OS X Leopard, Apple released a new format for nib files based on an XML
Schema and changed the extension to xib. So, while the format is XML and they have a .xib extension, people still refer to them as nibs. You’ll see more NeXTStep heritage in library class names too—almost everything starts with “NS”, short for NeXTStep.

Q: Why didn’t anything happen when I clicked on the button in the Simulator?
A: It’s temping to expect that button to just work out of the gate, given how much XCode sets up for you. However, if you think about what we’ve done, there has been some XML created to load a framework
and draw a button, but we didn’t tell it to do anything with that button yet...

Xcode includes app templates to help you get started

When you start Xcode, you’ll get a welcome screen where you can select Create a New Project. You’ll
get this dialog:
As we go through the book, we’ll use different types of projects and discuss why you’d choose one over another for each app. For iDecide, we have one screen (or view) that we’re not going to be flipping or anything, so start with the View-based Application and name it iDecide.

The Xcode template includes more than just source code


Xcode is the hub of your iPhone project

When Xcode opens with your new View-based project, it will be populated with all of the files that you see below. We’ll be using some of the other tools that came with the SDK (especially Interface Builder and the Simulator), but they are all working with the files that are included here.

The files and frameworks shown were stubbed out based on our selection of a View-based application. As we go forward, we’ll use different types of apps and that will lead to different default.

...and plays a role in every part of writing your app 

Xcode is much more than just a text editor. As you’ve already seen, Xcode includes the templates to get you started developing an application. 

Depending on your application, you may use all of a template or just parts of it, but you’ll almost always start with one of them. Once you get your basic app template in place, you’ll use Xcode for a lot more:

Maintaining your project resources

Xcode will create a new directory for your project and sort the various files into subdirectories. You don’t have to stick with the default layout, but if you decide to reorganize, do it from within Xcode. Xcode also has
built-in support for version control tools like Subversion and can be used to checkout and commit your project changes.

Editing your code and resources

You’ll use Xcode to edit your application code, and it supports a variety of languages beyond just Objective-C. Xcode also has a number of built-in editors for resource files like plists (we’ll talk more about them ater on). For resources Xcode doesn’t handle natively, like UI definition
(.xib) files, double-clicking on one of those files in Xcode will launch the appropriate editor, in this case Interface Builder. Some file types Xcode can only view, like pictures, or it will merely list, like sound files.

Building and testing your application

Xcode comes with all of the compilers necessary to build your code and generate a working application. Once your application is compiled, Xcode can install it on the iPhone Simulator or a real device. Xcode
includes a top-notch debugger with both graphical and command-line interfaces to let you debug your application. You can launch profiling tools like Instruments to check for memory or performance issues.

Prepare your application for sale

Once you get your application thoroughly tested and you’re ready to sell it, Xcode manages your provisioning profiles and code signing certificates that let you put your application on real devices or upload it
to the iTunes App Store for sale.

OK, enough talking about Xcode: doubleclick on iDecideViewController.xib and we’ll start with the view.

Build your interface using... Interface Builder

When you open any *.xib file in Interface Builder, it will automatically show the Main window, your view, and a library of UI elements. Interface Builder allows you to drag and drop any of the basic library elements into your view, edit them, and work with the connections between the code and these elements. All of these
elements come from the Cocoa Touch framework, a custom UI framework for the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

No—Interface Builder creates nibs.

Nibs (which have .xib extensions) are XML documents that are loaded by the framework when the app starts up. We’ll talk a lot more about this in the next chapter, but for now it’s just important to understand that Interface Builder is not creating Objective-C code. It’s creating an XML description of the GUI
you’re building, and the Cocoa Touch framework uses that to actually create the buttons and whatnot for your application at runtime. Everything we do in Interface Builder could be done in pure Objective-C code, but as you’ll see, there are some things that are really just easier to lay out with a GUI builder.


Add the button to your view

To add elements to the view, all you need to do is drag and drop the elements you want onto your view. For our app, we just need a button with a label on it.


How To Create Iphone Apps

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It all starts with the iPhone SDK

It’s time to go get some tools. Head over to You can download the SDK (and other useful Apple development resources) for free with the basic registration, but to distribute a completed app on the App Store or install your app on the iPhone for testing you need to become a paid
Standard or Enterprise Developer. The SDK comes with a simulator for testing directly on your Mac, so free registration is all you’ll need for now.

The SDK comes with Xcode, Instruments, Interface Builder, and the iPhone Simulator. Code for the iPhone is written in Xcode using Objective-C. Interface Builder is used for graphically editing GUIs, Instruments helps you assess memory usage and performance for your app, and the Simulator is used for testing.

  • Register as a developer at
  • Download the latest SDK; this article is based on the 3.1 SDK. Just look for the Download button at the top of the page.
  • Install the SDK. Once the Installation completes, you can find Xcode. app in /Developer/ Applications. Just double-click it to start it up.
You will probably want to drag it onto your Dock—we’re going to be using it a lot.
Apple sdk

These are question on your mind..

Q: What are the most important things to consider when developing a mobile app?
A: There are two key things to keep in mind when developing a mobile application. First, the device has limited resources: memory, CPU, storage, Net access speed (if they have access at all), etc. Second, usage patterns are different for mobile applications. Mobile apps are generally convenience applications—users want to fire up your application, quickly accomplish their goal, and go back to what they were doing in the real world.

Q: I’ve developed for mobile platforms before, and it was a mess. Nothing worked the same between different devices, you couldn’t count on the screen size, they didn’t even have the same number of buttons on different devices! Is this any better?
A:YES! For the most part, developing for iPhone avoids these problems. iPhones all have a 320x480 screen, an accelerometer, a single home key, etc. However...

Q: There are several different models of the iPhone out there. Are they all the same? What about the iPod Touch?
 A: Not all iPhone and iPod Touch devices are the same. For example, not all devices have a camera or GPS. Net access speeds vary by device as well depending on whether they’re connected to EDGE, 3G, or Wifi. To make matters more complicated, the iPhone 3GS has a faster processor and better video card than previous iPhone models. If you take advantage of any features that might not be present on all devices you must make sure your code can handle not having that feature available. Apple will test for this (for example, trying to use the camera on a first generation iPod Touch) and reject your application if it doesn’t accomodate a device properly.

Q: What language does the iPhone use?
 A: iPhone apps are generally written in Objective-C, an object-oriented language that is also used for Mac development. However, you can use C and even C++ on the iPhone. Since the GUI and Core Framework libraries for the iPhone are written in Objective-C, most developers use Objective-C for their application; however, it’s not uncommon to see support libraries written in C.

Q: Do I have to use an IDE? I’m really a command-line kinda developer.
A: Technically speaking, no, you don’t have to use the Xcode IDE for straight development. However, the IDE makes iPhone development so much easier that you really should ask yourself if you have a good reason for avoiding it, especially since to deploy onto an actual iPhone or the simulator for testing, it’s mandatory. This article uses the Xcode IDE as well as other Apple development tools like Interface Builder, and we encourage you to at least try them out before you abandon them.

Q: Can I give applications I write out to friends?
A: Yes and no. First, if you want to put an application on anyone’s actual device (including your own) you’ll need to become a registered Apple iPhone Developer. Once you’ve done that, you can register a device and install your application on it. However, that’s not really a great way to get your application out there, and Apple limits how many devices you can register this way. It’s great for testing your application, but not how you want to go about passing it around. A better way is to submit your application to the iTunes App Store. You can choose to distribute your application for free or charge for it, but by distributing it through the iTunes App Store, you make your application available to the world (and maybe make some money, too!). We’ll talk more about distributing apps later in the Article.

Q: Can I develop an app for the iPhone then rebuild it for other phones like Windows Mobile, Android, or Blackberries?
 A: In a word, no. When you develop for iPhone, you use Apple’s iPhone frameworks, like Cocoa Touch, as well as Objective C.Neither of these are available on other devices.

How To Create IPhone Apps

The iPhone changed everything. It’s a gaming platform, a personal organizer, a full web-browser, oh yeah, and a phone. The iPhone is one of the most exciting devices to come out in some time, and with the opening of the App Store, it’s an opportunity for independent developers to compete worldwide with big-name software companies. All you need to release your own app are a couple of software tools, some knowledge, and enthusiasm. Apple provides the software, and we’ll help you with the knowledge; we’re sure you’ve got the enthusiasm covered.

There’s a lot of buzz and a lot of money tied up in the App Store... 

Iphone Apps

Mobile applications aren’t just ported desktop apps

There are about a billion good reasons to get into the App Store, and now it’s time for you to jump in. To get there from here, you’ll learn about designing and implementing an iPhone app, but it’s not the same as developing for the desktop, or writing a web application. It’s important to think an iPhone application through from the beginning. You need to constantly ask yourself “What is it the user is trying to do?” Get rid of everything else, minimize the input they have to provide, and keep it focused.

Iphone Apps


iPhone apps are not small desktop apps

There’s a lot of talk about how the iPhone is a small computer that people carry with them. That’s definitely true, but it doesn’t mean iPhone apps are just small desktop apps. Some of the most important issues that you’ll encounter designing an app for the iPhone:

iPhones have a small screen and are task-focused

Even with the iPhone’s fantastic screen, it’s still relatively small (320x480). You need to put real thought into every screen and keep it focused on the specific task the user is doing.

iPhones have limited CPU and memory

On top of that, there’s no virtual memory and every bit of CPU oomph you use means more battery drain. iPhone OS monitors the system closely and if you go crazy with memory usage, it’ll just kill your app. And no one wants that.
Only one application can run at a time

If it’s your application running, why should you care? Because if anything else happens, like the phone rings, a text message comes in, the user clicks on a link, etc., your app gets shut down and the user moves on to another application. You need to be able to gracefully exit at any time and be able to put users back into a reasonable spot when they return.

Anatomy of an iPhone app

Before we dive into creating our first app, let’s take a look at what makes up a typical iPhone app.


First we have one or more views...

Iphone App DevelopiPhone apps are made up of one or more views—in a normal app, these views have GUI components on them like text fields, buttons, labels, etc. Games have views too, but typically don’t use the normal GUI components. Games generally require their own custom interfaces that are created with things like OpenGL or Quartz.

...then the code that makes the views work...

iPhone apps have a clean separation between the GUI (the view) and the actual code that provides the application logic.
In general, each view has a View Controller behind it that reacts to button presses, table row selection, tilting the phone,
etc. This code is almost always written in Objective-C using Apple’s IDE (integrated development environment), Xcode. 

...and any other resources, all packaged into your application.

If you’re new to developing for OS X you might be surprised to find out that applications (iPhone and full desktop apps) are really just directories. Any app directory contains the actual binary executable, some metadata about the application (the author, the icon filename, code signatures, etc.) and any other application resources like images, application data, help files, etc. iPhone applications behave the same way, so when you tell Xcode about other resources your application needs, it will bundle them up for you when you build the application.

Now let’s get started on your first iPhone App...

Make a good first impression

When users start up your application, the first thing they see is your view. It needs to be usable and focused on what your application is supposed to do. Throughout this article, whenever we start a new application, we’re going to take a little time to sketch up what we want it to look like. Our first application is pretty straightforward: it is going to be a single view with a button that Mike can press to get a decision. To keep things simple, we’ll change the label of the button to show what he should do after he
pushes it.