Adobe Max 2009 missed headline: “Windows users can now develop iPhone apps”

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

Using Windows to develop iPhone appsAt yesterday’s keynote, Adobe announced that just about every mobile phone manufacturer – except stubborn old Apple of course – was working with them to add Flash 10.1 to their devices in future. Then they made their “big announcement” that the next release (CS5) of the Flash authoring tool would support compiling iPhone native applications. Flash is coming to the iPhone, sort of.

Amidst all the excitement of deluded fools thinking now was their chance to make millions selling iPhone apps without having to learn “real” programming, the real big announcement seemed to get missed. Reading through Adobe’s FAQ on the matter, two important things stood out for me:

  1. A version of the Flex/ AIR SDK is to also to be released that will let Flex Builder (and presumably other developer tool) users to compile up iPhone apps.
  2. Those tools will run on Windows.

Until now, the iPhone app developer has been faced with a huge initial cost hurdle of having to buy a Mac. The reason for this is that, until now, only two possible solutions to developing iPhone apps existed: Apple’s own objective C development environment and MonoTouch. The latter is a .NET development tool for compiling C#, IronRuby etc into iPhone native applications. It, like Apple’s own tools, only runs on OS X. Also MonoTouch costs a lot of money, whereas the Flex SDK’s tend to be free. This opens up the possibility that Apple’s “iPhone development kit for Windows” may well be free too.

The FAQ suggests there will be compromises. My reading of it is that one cannot test the apps in Apple’s iPhone simulator, only directly on the phone itself (this applies to Mac users too) and I don’t think the normal set of iPhone APIs are accessible either.

Obviously a lot of this is speculation. A public beta of CS5 is due out by the end of the year though so we will know for sure within the next three months.

5 thoughts on “Adobe Max 2009 missed headline: “Windows users can now develop iPhone apps”

  1. I guess not being able to test the apps in the iPhone simulator can be worked around, but these applications will not have access to the normal UI controls feeling is most (there are some already on the app store) will just be flash game ports…

  2. @HadleyHope: You may be correct, but Flex Slider may well address that, especially if someone then creates an iPhone-UI control set for slider.

    @zproxy, I’m sorry, but I just don’t get the point of jsc and it’s like. Unless I can debug the C# source directly, such compilers offer little beyond assisting in porting existing code from one language to another.

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