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iPhone SDK comparison chart

Nilay Patel

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So with hardware accelerated 3D graphics, an integrated database API, tightly integrated performance monitoring tools, and a highly specialized version of the Cocoa framework tweaked just for the iPhone and rechristened as Cocoa Touch, the iPhone's just-announced SDK sounds like a winner. But how does it compare to its well-entrenched competitors from Microsoft, Nokia, and the iPhone community itself? Let's have a look.

Apple iPhone SDKToolchainWindows MobileS60Android
Free Free Free; could be more depending on tools used Free; could be more depending on tools used Free
Wide-scale app availability
June Now Now Now Depends on device availability
Native development
Yes Yes Yes Yes
Languages suppoted for native development
Objective-C Objective-C C++, C#, VB.NET
C++ Java
Digital certificates
Required for distribution No Available, required for some phones Available, required for some phones No
Retail support
Full; 30 percent Apple revenue share; free apps allowable No Limited Limited No, but Android Developer Challenge offers money and publicity
Platform maturity
Immature Immature Mature Mature Immature
First-party support
Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Community support
Just getting started!
Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
App installation method
Direct (App Store), iTunes, custom Direct, ActiveSync Direct, PC Suite Unknown; installation on emulator is not reflective of production devices
Emulator available
Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Remote debugging
Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Target device variety
Poor Poor Excellent Good Poor (that will change, though)
Touchscreen support
Multi-touch Single touch Umm... soon? Single touch
App availability and variety
Poor (that will change, though) Good Excellent Excellent Poor (that will change, though)
Underlying architecture
Cocoa Touch / Mac OS X
Mac OS X
Windows Symbian Linux
Flash availability
No No Yes Yes No
Java availability
No In development Yes Yes Yes

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