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Which Phone To Develop For?

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the building-a-house-around-it dept.

Programming 344

Rob MacKenzie writes "I have to decide on a mobile phone to develop for. We're building a house with some automation built in, and we want the mobile phone to be able to control certain aspects of it, and retrieve information on what's going on in the house. Our choices are the usual suspects: Apple's IPhone, RIM's Blackberry, Nokia's line (Symbian), any Android phone we can get in Canada, J2ME generic app, or a Web-based UI we would interact with in the phone's browser. What would you choose if you had to go with one? Which exact model? We will be buying a few to develop for, so price is a bit of an issue."

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I'd go iPhone: (5, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | about 6 years ago | (#25503365)

You can target the iPod touch as well as the iPhone, and can develop on the iPod touch as well as the iPhone ($220 development platforms with no per-month cost).

You have some very interesting features (accelerometer, GPS, camera) which make for some particularly interesting ideas

You have a large installed base thats still growing rapidly.

And apple takes only a 30% cut of revenue, in exchange for a nice distribution mechanism.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#25503431)

"And apple takes only a 30"

Only?

Re:I'd go iPhone: (1)

jcr (53032) | about 6 years ago | (#25503589)

Comparable to any other software distributor.

-jcr

Because you're locked in (4, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 6 years ago | (#25503691)

Except with many smartphones you aren't locked into a single point of sale. There are plenty of very good Windows Mobile applications that vendors sell directly to the consumer, for example.

Re:Because you're locked in (5, Funny)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 6 years ago | (#25503931)

Plus, if you are already a .NET developer, the learning curve is almost nil. The number of phones is still large (and, if coded right, is just a recompile to run on things like netbooks and MIDs)......and you can make a desktop version, too.

Layne

Re:I'd go iPhone: (5, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#25503471)

You're practically self-parodying here...

You can target the iPod touch as well as the iPhone, and can develop on the iPod touch as well as the iPhone ($220 development platforms with no per-month cost).

Excluding, of course, the per-month AT&T contract.

You have some very interesting features (accelerometer, GPS, camera) which make for some particularly interesting ideas

All of which exist on other phones.

You have a large installed base thats still growing rapidly.

vs, say, J2ME, which has a huge install base that shows no signs of collapsing.

And apple takes only a 30% cut of revenue, in exchange for a nice distribution mechanism.

"Only" 30%? And they can pull the plug on your app any time they want.

All you've managed to do so far is to show that it could work, not why it's better than anything else.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503553)

He was referring to the iPod touch, retard.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 6 years ago | (#25503605)

I think he's being sarcastic but hey that's just the way I took it.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (0, Troll)

voxner (1217902) | about 6 years ago | (#25504073)

And add to that the time spent in learning Objective C....I don't think its used anywhere outside apple.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25504075)

Excluding, of course, the per-month AT&T contract.

That's why he said to develop on the iPod Touch. You don't need a contract with AT&T for that, and it can do everything the iPhone can (except it doesn't have a microphone).

All of which exist on other phones.

But it doesn't exist on *every* other phone. One of the huge advantages of targeting the iPhone is that you are guaranteed to have a specific feature set that you can rely on.

vs, say, J2ME, which has a huge install base that shows no signs of collapsing.

J2ME ain't that great to develop for, because you have no idea what sort of hardware you're targeting. Of course, it totally depends on what sort of application the OP wants to write, and if it's not particularly complex or processor heavy, then J2ME might work great. But if it's something that actually does require substantial processing time, or require certain features or hardware on your phone, then you could run into a situation where there's a lot of phones that either run your software horribly or can't run it at all.

Non-tech-savvy consumers don't like trying to figure out which software they can run, or which software will run well. They often don't understand, or don't want to understand, feature sets or phone specs. But on the iPhone, they know that every single program they buy will run exactly the same on every iPhone. And that's a HUGE advantage.

"Only" 30%? And they can pull the plug on your app any time they want.

All you've managed to do so far is to show that it could work, not why it's better than anything else.

Apple pulling the plug is a legitimate concern, and I agree that Apple's policy on how they handle rejected applications is pretty awful. But it depends on the type of application you're writing. Some types of apps so far have been completely safe, and only a few have been outright rejected.

As far as the OP is concerned, targeting the iPhone depends on whether or not the kind of customer base he wants to support is the kind that would use an iPhone or iPod Touch. The advantage is that the iPhone is rapidly becoming the most mainstream consumer level smartphone, and thanks to the huge amount of effort Apple put into it's user interface design, it's easily the most accessible, easy to use smartphone ever created. There's a lot of non-tech-savvy people who would never consider ever getting any other smartphone that would love to have an iPhone.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (0, Troll)

poetmatt (793785) | about 6 years ago | (#25504235)

quoted: "There's a lot of non-tech-savvy people who would never consider ever getting any other smartphone that would love to have an iPhone."

This is called a trend. They die as fast as they come up. Give it a year or two and the iphone won't be so interesting.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (3, Insightful)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | about 6 years ago | (#25504337)

Yeah, I remember when that "iPod" thing was announced. I still feel bad for the suckers that bought one of THOSE things!

Oh, wait...

Re:I'd go iPhone: (5, Insightful)

bjackson1 (953136) | about 6 years ago | (#25504233)

You're practically self-parodying here...

You can target the iPod touch as well as the iPhone, and can develop on the iPod touch as well as the iPhone ($220 development platforms with no per-month cost).

Excluding, of course, the per-month AT&T contract.

You have some very interesting features (accelerometer, GPS, camera) which make for some particularly interesting ideas

All of which exist on other phones.

You have a large installed base thats still growing rapidly.

vs, say, J2ME, which has a huge install base that shows no signs of collapsing.

And apple takes only a 30% cut of revenue, in exchange for a nice distribution mechanism.

"Only" 30%? And they can pull the plug on your app any time they want.

All you've managed to do so far is to show that it could work, not why it's better than anything else.

Excluding, of course, the per-month AT&T contract.

Yep, last time I used my iPod Touch I had to pay AT&T. Learn to read, please. You have some good points about J2ME, but spouting off non-sense doesn't help.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503517)

A little unclear from your post if you are trying to sell an application or if this is for your own house that you are building.

If you want to sell an application, Apple provides a great distribution mechanism albeit a currently buggy suite of tools to get your application onto the store.

If it's for personal use, they also provide an ad hoc means for loading applications on specific devices without having to post it to the application store.

Something to keep in mind is that if you want to develop on the iPhone, you need a Mac OS X Leopard development environment.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (1)

davidsyes (765062) | about 6 years ago | (#25503525)

How about one that won't cause you to be branded a DMCA criminal, or won't require you to give your code to the phone owner/maker or the hench-dog carrier? Or, one that won't enjoin you from selling your creation?

But, as for the GPS, cameras, and accelerometers, those could come in handy if you envision quakes or tornadoes coming your way... You can track the junk dispersal pattern and more accurately provide all the addresses of your abode/domain to your insurance company. You can track how hard the quake is jostling the home, and you can track how fast the kids/pets are running around. Might even get feedback on nocturnal activities in any of the rooms...

But, if you have baby/kid sitters, your state may require you to tell them (or any contractors, for that matter) that they may be under surveillance. Otherwise, they could abuse your kids, steal or damage your property and either get away with it or counter sue you for illegal invasion of privacy for illegal acts THEY commit in YOUR home...

Re:I'd go iPhone: (2, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 years ago | (#25503751)

How about one that won't cause you to be branded a DMCA criminal, or won't require you to give your code to the phone owner/maker or the hench-dog carrier? Or, one that won't enjoin you from selling your creation?

And which phone would you be refering to? Its obviously legal to develop apps for the iPhone since there are hundreds of apps available. Technically, Jailbreaking isn't illegal either so that can't be what you are refering to. If you are refering to sim unlocking, then you've broken your contract anyway long before you start to worry about DMCA violations, so thats not going to matter. And since you never have to send your code to Apple or AT&T, you just submit the binaries, I can't imagine that you could possibly be talking about the iPhone.

So what phone are you refering to? Or do you just like spewing ignorant misinformation so you look like a anti-fanboy?

Re:I'd go iPhone: (1)

lupis42 (1048492) | about 6 years ago | (#25504045)

Its obviously legal to develop apps for the iPhone since there are hundreds of apps available.

It is obviously legal to download music through bittorrent, since there are millions of tracks available, and hundreds of millions of people downloading and sharing them.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (4, Informative)

alexj33 (968322) | about 6 years ago | (#25503611)

You've got a nice long road ahead of you if you target the iPhone.
http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2008/09/how_apple_picks_which_apps_make_it_to_the_app_store-2.html [gizmodo.com.au]

That is, unless it's a flashlight too.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (1)

Starayo (989319) | about 6 years ago | (#25503823)

There's an ad-hoc means of distribution that skips the app store, but regardless I wouldn't recommend the iPhone. XD

Re:I'd go iPhone: (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | about 6 years ago | (#25504367)

And limits you to a max of 100 customers.

iPhone: low hanging fruit... (5, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 6 years ago | (#25503689)

>

You have a large installed base thats still growing rapidly.

A good fraction of said installed base has money to spend. All of them have a track record of being separated from their money with only moderate effort.

And separating other people from their money is the primary motivation for going into any business.

Re:iPhone: low hanging fruit... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503725)

I struggled picking insightful over troll. I'd have rated +1 troll were it an option

Re:iPhone: low hanging fruit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25504183)

Please explain to me why you would have modded that as Toll?

He makes a good point. In business you market to the group that gives you the most bang for your buck. If you have a crowd that spends money on items that cost a premium this is the group that he would want to develop for because these are the kind of people who will shell out money for his product, a home control system.

Re:I'd go iPhone: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25504435)

"You have a large installed base thats still growing rapidly."

This is absolutely false in relative terms, the iPhone has such a small segment of the market it's usefulness as a platform for making money is near worthless. Nokia alone has shipped 10 million 5310s which is one of their less popular handsets. The N95 has also sold well over 10 million units.

The iPhone still weighs in at well under 5 million units (possibly not even reached 2 or 3 million yet), when you compare that to the number of units of Nokia's entire range and then also factor in Motorola, Ericsson and so on you begin to realise that the iPhone doesn't even hold a single percentage of the market. It's telling how much of the market the iPhone actually holds when the 5310, one of Nokia's minor, more niche handsets has shifted likely between 2 and 3 times as many units.

If you're looking to create mobile apps to sell and make money from then the iPhone makes least business sense right now bar perhaps Android.

J2ME is still the way to make money right now because the installed base is absolutely massive. Developing for the iPhone in terms of userbase is like developing for OS/2 when you could be developing for Windows.

Go with what makes you comfortable (1)

Praedon (707326) | about 6 years ago | (#25503367)

I'd say, if you already have experience programming, go with what you know. If it's web based, get something that has a larger screen. If it's Java, go with those that have a Java OS.

Re:Go with what makes you comfortable (2, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 6 years ago | (#25503833)

The devilish thing is that mobile phones today are as the personal computers were before the IBM PC and MS-DOS appeared on the market.

Not that it was the best product that took over then, and we are still waiting for the 'killer phone'.

Apple could have taken that path if they were more open but from the perspective of a developer they are a locked-up dead end.

The phones that I think are the ones that's easiest to develop for are the Windows Mobile phones (horrible thought), but I haven't seen the Android yet, so I can't say it's better.

As for Symbian - I suspect that only Nokia will run that and that it eventually will die.

SonyEricsson is today targeting the Microsoft track, so they will essentially be diminished to a software shell and styled HTC phones.

web based (5, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 6 years ago | (#25503377)

That way you can control things with or without the phone. Give it a simple interface and then you can use any phone or device with the web page.

Re:web based (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503445)

I second web based. I've got a couple of pages with links and a few image captures set up on the machine at home I access from my phone. Pretty easy to set up, just tomcat, some jsp pages, and a servlet to do image transfers. You can test it without the phone. You can do IP filtering so it will only accept connections from your phone, but you usually don't have the phone number in the http headers (privacy, you know) so you can't lock it to a specific phone. That may be a drawback.

Re:web based (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 6 years ago | (#25503709)

You can use a VPN on some phones, so it will have the joint authentication of the vpn itself plus whatever you use on the http/s server...

Re:web based (0)

KGIII (973947) | about 6 years ago | (#25503727)

Could always password protect the pages I suppose. If they're going to go with a phone itself then the OpenMoko seems to make the most sense to me as it is more open. iPhone you never know what's going to happen. With Android you require signing for the hardware. Blackberry seems to be really strong and have lived a long time now but, again, you never know what's going to happen in the future with them.

No matter what phone they do go with they should probably make it a point to keep an eye on things even after making their choice and should be prepared to buy a few extra for later in life when the underlying platform is no longer available. Which, really, is why I'd suggest the OpenMoko.

Re:web based (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | about 6 years ago | (#25503829)

Agree on the web-based. Make it work with most mobile browsers, and it can also work from a desktop. Hell it could even run from standard (or non-standard, rather) phones with simple browsers if it's friendly enough.

And fooey on you for excluding Windows Mobile...I know hating Microsoft is the popular thing to do around here, but you should give credit where it's due. It's the best OS Microsoft has ever made. Which isn't saying much, but I like it because it has the best variety of apps and flexibility of any current mobile platform. I would bet Android will probably overtake it as my choice once it gets a better app selection and a version or two of maturity, as it's definately more flexible, but right now WinMo is my pick, despite its quirks. *Goes off to soft-reset his phone.*

Re:web based (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 6 years ago | (#25503973)

I have a Windows mobile phone as spare and it's not the worst OS ever. It definitely has issues that's for sure and its game support is rubbish.

That said Windows Mobile wouldn't be a bad idea except for that it still limits you. If someone wanted to use MS then do a .net web app. People in general aren't that keen on Windows Mobile on their phone so picking an unpopular OS would limit your choice in phones....unless you do it in Java but then it's not really developing for Windows Mobile.

Re:web based (1)

Poorcku (831174) | about 6 years ago | (#25504131)

yeah, good idea. So that when you have no network, you won't be able to do a single calculation. not to mention you restrict it to the people who have flat or big data rates (not that many).

Definitely Web-Based (5, Interesting)

TellarHK (159748) | about 6 years ago | (#25503391)

If you design your system with a web-based system, you can even go ahead and add other types of device into the mix while still properly supporting a phone. Something that works with the aging Nokia 770's web interface, or even the newer 810 would work just fine with an iPhone, or any flavor of Windows Mobile.

In my personal experience, the iPhone would be a great platform for something like this - though the cost of entry isn't so great. However, the iPod Touch would do just as well unless you really need to have cellular access to things from long distances. The Mobile Safari interface is nice and clean, and the "Sliding" paradigm used in a lot of interfaces for it seems to be quite user-friendly and not too tough to work with.

Windows Mobile might be good for development of a standard application, and Windows Mobile devices are a dime a dozen these days if you don't mind going back a few versions. Unfortunately, the underlying OS is.. Windows Mobile.

You'll live in the house for decades... (5, Insightful)

swb (14022) | about 6 years ago | (#25503577)

...but how long will any mobile phone technology last? Will you find yourself having to re-do it all every 5 years as phone/carrier makers obsolete what you developed for?

Web based makes sense since you could possibly transition to some other technology, or, more likely, a mobile device's web access will only get better making it in-place upgradable for a long time.

Building your software to target a specific phone technology just seems terribly shortsighted for something like a house.

(IMHO, the real answer is "none" -- home automation is of limited value past a programmable thermostat and ultimately an albatross of shit that doesn't work and is expensive and time-consuming to fix. Its frightfully expensive to maintain ordinary systems like windows, gutters, and roofs, let alone a whole complex automation system).

Re:You'll live in the house for decades... (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 years ago | (#25503779)

Web based makes sense since you could possibly transition to some other technology, or, more likely, a mobile device's web access will only get better making it in-place upgradable for a long time.

I'd teir it. A web service tier that does all the actual work. A web based front end, lowest common denominator UI for any device including a laptop, it uses the web service to get things actually done.

Then you can just build a phone UI directly against the web service for any device you want a more 'slick mobile application' for than accessing it via the web.

Re:You'll live in the house for decades... (1)

philmck (790785) | about 6 years ago | (#25504105)

...but how long will any mobile phone technology last? Will you find yourself having to re-do it all every 5 years as phone/carrier makers obsolete what you developed for?

Symbian for one has a compatibility promise that explicitly addresses that problem. The introduction of Platform Security in version 9.0 caused such an (unavoidable) compatibility break that they effectively had to say "never again". As long as you follow the rules (use only the published APIs and rely only on documented behaviour) you should be OK. [Disclaimer: I work for Symbian]

Re:You'll live in the house for decades... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25504227)

I have some 5 year old windows mobile stuff that still runs. The releases are mainly just new stuff added on top. You might need to do some tweaking and updating from version to version, but for the most part back compat is maintained.

I'll second web based though, mobile devices are in and out of style in a very short amount of time and you'll almost certainly want to upgrade to whatever the new iconic phone is in two years. That phone might be on your list, but it's probably not...

Apple only if you're in a ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503397)

same sex marriage.

Symbian? Isn't that the machine that chicks ride and have the orgasms of their life?

YOu've missed the point (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#25503399)

Technology is becoming agnostic.
Build a 'phone' ready web page and stop worrying which device will connect to it.

Re:YOu've missed the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503595)

I completely agree. Unless you want to do maintenance work on your app every time you get a new phone, I'd make it device independent.

Web Based (2, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | about 6 years ago | (#25503413)

Id be hesitant to lock you into a platform before you even get started. That said, developing for the iPhone is pretty darn easy, if you are ready to get going, you can get off to a real quick start on it.

Re:Web Based (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 years ago | (#25504117)

It's easy to write for. Not easy to get your app to where people can buy it. I know of 2 guys that cant get their apps approved for sale.

it's the one and only reason I hate the iphone.

Re:Web Based (1)

Directrix1 (157787) | about 6 years ago | (#25504213)

Writing for Android is pretty darn easier.

Openmoko Freerunner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503419)

You can get the phone in Canada RIGHT NOW [koolu.com] , you don't have to hack it like an iPhone or beg someone in the USA to send you one like the G1, and it is completely open source so there is no stupid EULA's to get in the way.

Re:Openmoko Freerunner (2, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | about 6 years ago | (#25503975)

Thank you! I was reading retarded reply after reply, and was wondering why no one was mentioning the obvious.

The openmoko is clearly the best choice here, since you need to be able to have full control over your application if you want to do stuff like opening doors. Who knows what backdoors are hidden in the closed phones.

Re:Openmoko Freerunner (3, Interesting)

jeremyp (130771) | about 6 years ago | (#25504387)

I don't know, I'd prefer to develop for a phone that people are using.

Developing for the iPhone or J2ME means at least you have quite a large installed base for selling your software.

Windows Mobile? (5, Informative)

Flyskippy1 (625890) | about 6 years ago | (#25503427)

Why not develop it for Windows Mobile? It doesn't have as many restrictions as an iPhone or blackberry, is well established, is widely available, and has a good sdk.

Though, I will say that the most flexibility would probably be from a web-based app. Then you wouldn't be limited to a phone. However, it wouldn't be too difficult to make something that could work both on Windows Mobile and desktop Windows.

Re:Windows Mobile? (0, Troll)

profplump (309017) | about 6 years ago | (#25503935)

Having recently be assigned a Window Mobile phone and not owning a Windows desktop I can tell you it's is *not* easy to develop for -- you need MS Windows and MS Visual Studio. I don't know about you, but I don't really want to pay $200 for an OS and $200 for development tools just to write programs for my phone.

With a 400 MHz processor and 8 GB of storage I don't understand why I can't just run a compiler on the phone. I probably wouldn't actually type code into the phone (though with a BlueTooth keyboard it wouldn't be that bad), but it would be nice to avoid the need for an ARM cross-compiling environment (and hence the need for a Windows desktop) and it would let me make and test minor modifications or debugging changes without needing to go back to a desktop somewhere and copy files around.

Re:Windows Mobile? (1)

Rich Acosta (1010447) | about 6 years ago | (#25504393)

How exactly is that any different from developing from the iPhone? If anything, it's more expensive - Assuming you don't have a Mac, and since you can only write for the iPhone in X-Code which is Mac-only, you'll have to put up around $600 (lowest end MacMini), and you'll still have to buy keyboard/mouse/screen/etc.

Re:Windows Mobile? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25504413)

Please, tell me you are joking ... Windows Mobile ?! Why the hell would ANYONE want to develop on that platform right now. Android and the iPhone have an SDK that is light years ahead of anything MS has. Not to mention, Windows Mobile phones are just not selling. For damn good reason too.

Sure, develop for Windows Mobile if you enjoy a shrinking customer base and no appstore which is basically free advertising. (Not to mention hosting, bandwidth and credit card processing fees [including charge back fees])

Unless you want to learn a new API (5, Interesting)

w3woody (44457) | about 6 years ago | (#25503439)

Personally, having developed for Windows Mobile and the iPhone, my inclination would be to instead create a web-based UI.

The reason is simple: first, the web is pretty universal. You can (in theory) use it from almost any device with a web browser.

Second, it's going to be a lot easier to quickly prototype the control software than a custom client/server architecture with a custom protocol, which you'd get with nearly any mobile device.

And third, if you switch to a new brand of phone, you're not completely hosed; the worst thing that will happen are a few web page tweaks.

Re:Unless you want to learn a new API (1)

chaim79 (898507) | about 6 years ago | (#25504127)

Also, you can setup your web server with device-specific includes, now you can have CSS one way for the iPhone, another for the blackberry, another for a laptop, etc. Updating to a new device would be as simple as updating the includes and tweaking the CSS. Using this method you would be developing for just about all devices at once! A user could use several devices to check/update/etc all with very little support effort on your part.

Smart Home? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 years ago | (#25503449)

Doesn't Smart Home already have this kind of thing, only profesionally developed and tested? I was under the impression that they supported things that were flexible enough that you could do pretty much anything with it.

If you absolutely need to develope it yourself, how about making it web enabled. Then it could be accessed from any web enabled phone. You'd have to implement a certain amount of security of course, don't want some jackass next door turning your lights on and off during the middle of the night.

Ouch (1)

nightfire-unique (253895) | about 6 years ago | (#25503457)

Not even a mention for Windows Mobile?

Not that I care either way (though my current phone is an HTC TyTn II), but interesting how quickly it fell in popularity over the last year.

web based! (1)

cowscows (103644) | about 6 years ago | (#25503463)

If you make some basic assumptions about things like useable screen-size and a touchscreen, I'd think you're best served going with a web-based interface. With the latest generation of phone browsers, it's close enough to a normal web browsing that you can make something useable and extremely portable across different phone platforms. You gave only a cursory explanation of what your program would have to do, but it sounds like it wouldn't be terribly intensive, so a web based system seems to be very practical.

J2ME or Web (4, Insightful)

jaminJay (1198469) | about 6 years ago | (#25503465)

Seriously consider using either J2ME or Web-based content. You can never rely on any one thing, but standards like these should allow you to change target platforms more easily in the future when the company you've chosen to follow either busts or, more likely, drops one of the features you've relied upon and you have a large amount of rework ahead of you.

(My fantasies always revolved around the Palm, but that was the standard when those dreams began).

iPhone and OS X (4, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | about 6 years ago | (#25503487)

The cool thing about developing for the iPhone is that you are *essentially* also developing for OS X. So its almost a twofer.

Re:iPhone and OS X (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 6 years ago | (#25503637)

Or web based and go for everything rather than just two things.

Re:iPhone and OS X (4, Insightful)

jeremyp (130771) | about 6 years ago | (#25504425)

Wrong.

The basic principles are the same (it's all Objective-C and Cocoa), but the GUI SDK for the iPhone is not the same as that of a normal OS X GUI application.

I'm doing this too... (5, Informative)

wandazulu (265281) | about 6 years ago | (#25503505)

...and the "easiest" solution is to go the web route. You can determine, based on the browser identifier, what is connecting to your web server and adjust the CSS accordingly. In our app, for example, I use a CSS library from Google Code to make the app look like an iPhone app when I detect it's an iPhone. I use a different CSS file when it's anything Blackberry.

Your server, therefore, is what should be the controller. I'm assuming you want to connect somehow to things like the air conditioning, lights, etc. The web server can invoke a CGI program, as an example, which talks to whatever serial lines are necessary to control said equipment.

Even better, you don't need to buy the actual hardware; get XCode and you get an iPhone simulator. Likewise, RIM has a simulator for every freaking model of every phone they've ever released (as well as for the different carriers).

Total cost to you should be zip for development purposes.

Re:I'm doing this too... (1)

SlashDotDotDot (1356809) | about 6 years ago | (#25503765)

I'm just curious: what exactly are you automating, and why? Is this just a toy for geek house, or do you see this as something everyone will be doing before long? How much are you developing yourself, and how much are you using commercial components?

which planet/population rescue to participate in? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503537)

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Yahoo Blueprint (1)

Forvak (980121) | about 6 years ago | (#25503543)

Use Yahoo's Blueprint. The app will then be compatible with many phones. They also have an emulator so you don't need to buy prototyping phones. Or at least not as many. http://mobile.yahoo.com/developers/roadmap [yahoo.com]

If price is an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503547)

I personally love the iphone, but if price is an issue that is definitely not the way to go. You have to pay for the phone, 2 year contract, and $99 for the sdk. I'd say android would be your best bet. It's going to be very popular soon.

So your house stops working if your phone breaks? (2, Insightful)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | about 6 years ago | (#25503549)

I'd go web-based or Java, since many phones support it.

Think of the problems if you develop for a specific platform and it becomes obsolete. I imagine your home will be around for many years, but I doubt any interation of Android or the iPhone will be. Unless you plan to change around your programming when you get a new phone.

Anything that has strong ties to legacy software or hardware will be supported for a longer period of time. Look at user-base, ease of installation and repair, and of course, the track-record of the company...Apple would be a bad choice, I can see them switching things up without notice and all of a sudden you can't dim your lights.

Two phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503551)

You should target the iPhone and the various Blackberries as you can get both in Canada and they both have large installed bases.

Windows Mobile (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503569)

You can't go wrong with MS

Moron (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503603)

You have more money than brains. Put the control system on a server that physically resides in the house. Then access it from whatever the hell client you want. You can access it from a Commodore PET with a 300 bps modem for all I care. Just don't put the cart before the horse, which is what your curennt plan entails.

Fuck.

Web based with XML or JSON API (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503607)

That way you can develop the web page first, then tailor a platform-specific app to your user base later on.

Lots to consider... (1)

doricee (314885) | about 6 years ago | (#25503631)

Apple's IPhone, Obj-C and you need an intel mac dev platform + Apple dev license. But if you got those yea it's pretty fun to dev on. Not really the same as the others though. RIM's Blackberry, supports generic j2me and has it's own incompatible java api too. Nokia's line (Symbian), supports generic j2me. Android phone we can get in Canada. java based but not the same as generic j2me. J2ME generic app. Preferred if you just want to make the app once and have it support the largest number of devices. (doesn't allow the really cool stuff though) Web-based UI. Never tried this since I only work on mobile games. The other dev handles WinMo though it seems pretty easy to work with. Also keep in mind that Verizon likes it's apps in BREW. And if you're going international, most support various versions of java. (often incompatible though)

Re:Lots to consider... (2, Informative)

doricee (314885) | about 6 years ago | (#25503705)

Sorry about the repost, forgot to preview and put up that unreadable wall of text...

Apple's IPhone, Obj-C and you need an intel mac dev platform + Apple dev license. But if you got those yea it's pretty fun to dev on. Not really the same as the others though.

RIM's Blackberry, supports generic j2me and has it's own incompatible java api too.

Nokia's line (Symbian), supports generic j2me.

Android phone we can get in Canada. java based but not the same as generic j2me.

J2ME generic app. Preferred if you just want to make the app once and have it support the largest number of devices. (doesn't allow the really cool stuff though)

Web-based UI. Never tried this since I only work on mobile games.

The other dev handles WinMo though it seems pretty easy to work with.

Also keep in mind that Verizon likes it's apps in BREW. (the biggest money maker in the US by far, though At&t is pretty big too)

And if you're going international, most support various versions of java. (often incompatible though)

Re:Lots to consider... (2, Interesting)

Octorian (14086) | about 6 years ago | (#25504279)

The BlackBerry-specific API exists because J2ME has traditionally been far too limited and incapable for what they want to do with the platform.

That being said, I just came from the BlackBerry Developer Conference and have an interesting tidbit to share...

Whenever they were implementing some new feature, whenever possible, they did it based on a JSR, and not their own home-grown API. Seriously, the presentations were littered with references to JSRs.

Web-based, then iPhone, then nothing. (2, Interesting)

kuleiana (629890) | about 6 years ago | (#25503665)

I might be biased, as we've developed over seven web-based apps for iPhone + mobile and it seems to be the best solution. If you have the budget for several platforms, I'd next go with iPhone. Widespread Android adoption will be a slow process, and a little too exclusive (did I just say that, even though I'm an iPhone user?!? ha). Other platforms, unless your ecology currently has a wide adoption of some particular platform, aren't widespread enough, and there's plenty of iPhone adoption that's already happened/happening.

But again, the Web is your best bet. It is the only one that will work on all your phones. Otherwise, it's the iPhone because all your base will belong to us. Mwahahahaha!

Here's an interesting article on the advantages of mobile AJAX, that I enjoyed reading: http://mobiforge.com/developing/story/getting-started-with-mobile-ajax [mobiforge.com]

WAP & TAP (4, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 6 years ago | (#25503745)

For this purpose, I'd go dual interface, and not bother coding on the phone itself.

WAP (a cut-down version of HTML) works on all small-format web browsers, and should be your *high end* phone interface. But also, you should have a secondary interface, based on a voice modem, that is audio/keypress, and which would work with all phones hands down full stop.

Web-Based Django (1)

steveha (103154) | about 6 years ago | (#25503781)

I recommend you just develop a web-based solution using Django [djangoproject.com] . (Or any other web platform of your choice, but Django is the one I have used and I love it. Django makes it easy to do whatever I have needed to do, and I have done some unusual stuff with it.)

Then, you can use any phone with a decent web browser, plus you could use a PDA, a netbook, or anything else. You likely will live in the house for many years, and technology certainly will evolve... a simple web solution is pretty future-proof.

steveha

no contest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503809)

use J2ME!

Its very powerfull
Its open, you can do whatever you want
Its easy to develop for
Its secure (well, more secure than the other players)
Its well supported and documented
It cover 95-99% of the market
All you need is a PC/Mac and a recent phone.
You can develop on Windows, OSX, Linux, *BSD, Solaris, etc.
The development tools are awesome

Windows is cheap... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | about 6 years ago | (#25503827)

Waiting for Windows Mobile 7 myself before I start writing any code, but I think the advancements in .NET make it easy to write, though I'm not really sure how worthwhile on a whole.

I like Apple's applications, but it's a big fuss to get development rights, and it never touches an enterprise.

I guess it is something up to you, and your skillsets.

My choice (1)

No2Gates (239823) | about 6 years ago | (#25503845)

I'm starting my development on a rotary-dial Ma-Bell phone. Only sold in black. Infinite talk time, no limits on storage. Simple intuitive interface.

Why not use messaging? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503859)

All phones come with sms, blackberries with email etc. No need to mess with browser navigation and logging in and sending a message is really easy.
Something like www.mobiledatanow.com or www.activexperts.com would work as they use messaging.

None of the above, because it's stupid. (4, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 6 years ago | (#25503879)

Consumer-grade crap is crap and it'll fail.

Get a real automation system and wire your house up properly. Hell, with what you're spending on your phone "solution", you could easily get some PLC controls and wire up your house so that it will last for the life of your house.

Here's some less-expensive stuff, but still of very good quality:
http://web4.automationdirect.com/adc/Home/Home [automationdirect.com]

Of course, I'm just an EE that works in automation and control. What do I know?

I would choose (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25503903)

What would you choose if you had to go with one?

I would chose a phone that I can develop for, without having to get on my hands and knees to beg permission to use their precious SDK. Self-respect, ya know.

Since you're buying more than one (2, Interesting)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 6 years ago | (#25503911)

Buy a G1. It has the best tools (Eclipse) and the cheapest development costs ($25, and that's only if you want to distribute in the Android Market).
Blackberry is free unless you want to access certain APIs that require signing, then it's a one-shot $100. Their development environment is somewhat primitive, but you can use Eclipse and command-line tools as well.
iPhone, of course, requires a yearly $99, and they can reject you or your applications. You'd better like Objective-C and Xcode.
Series 60 (Nokia) is a PITA to develop for, though with them moving over to Qt that will get better. But don't expect their phones to be upgradeable.
Windows Mobile is easy to develop for, but Visual Studio will cost you.

Re:Since you're buying more than one (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25504089)

Well, the now Nokia-owned former-Trolltech Qt Software's Qt toolkit is being ported to symbian [trolltech.com] as we speak (with a pre-release [troll.no] out already). The OpenMoko [openmoko.org] project is also switching to Qt, and since Qt 4 is a superb multi-platform toolkit, it might get ported to other mobile platforms as well. So in the future, perhaps using only Qt would suffice. That were great, because I think Qt 4 is really amazing! :)

Re:Since you're buying more than one (1)

Octorian (14086) | about 6 years ago | (#25504237)

The BlackBerry code signing key is now only $20.

They're also serious about a new Eclipse plug-in, which is far more capable now in its second beta, with full build and debugging/profiling integration. (Seriously, no one actually uses their provided IDE)

Also, BlackBerry is a very open platform to develop for, in that you don't need anyone's permission to distribute your apps, and have a lot of power in what you can do on the device.

I just attended the BlackBerry Developer Conference earlier this week, and they are very serious about moving the platform forward. They also seem far more mature, secure, and integrated than these fashionable new platforms.

Also, any time someone mentioned developing for the iPhone when I was there, they said they weren't comfortable talking about it because of the NDAs and restrictions.

Web-based is the only choice (1)

miratim (532741) | about 6 years ago | (#25503913)

I can't imagine building an app like this that is almost guaranteed to change over time and then tying it to a particular mobile phone platform, which is also guaranteed to change over time.

If you do all your automation interface as a web application, then you can customize the UI using your favorite methodology for whatever browser is connected. A simple text based interface for older phones, all the way through to a rich interface for iphone-style phones that have full featured browsers.

You're missing one. (1)

DaMoisture (862785) | about 6 years ago | (#25503923)

Windows Mobile? That gets you many PDA's, in addition to mobile phones.

bash & ssh (3, Interesting)

ngworekara (1027704) | about 6 years ago | (#25503925)

I use midpSSH (a j2me app) to control a number of bash scripts/command line programs for my media center computer from a non qwerty phone. The program allows commands to be saved into command lists, suits my needs, and let me sell my samsung blackjack (received for free from an AT&T upgrade) and downgrade to the slightly less ostentatious samsung a707 sync. It seems like you might want to write the code for the fun of it, but if you're looking for a quick solution, anything you can do from the command line can be done with this arrangement.

Developing software is like loaning money (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 6 years ago | (#25503993)

Don't do it if you ever expect to make money in the process.

For-profit software development is about as successful as being discovered in Hollywood. Millions of people out there trying to be rich and famous and only a limited few will ever make it. Write software because you are good at it and enjoy it. Don't expect to live off of it, let alone make your fortune like iD.

Stick with Java (1, Insightful)

Tyr_7BE (461429) | about 6 years ago | (#25504035)

If you write it in J2ME, and stick to a relatively commonly used subset of J2ME, you'll be able to run it on any phone you might have that supports java. iPhone is a nice flavour of the month, but will you ALWAYS have an iPhone? If there's any chance of ever switching phones, suddenly all your objective C is useless. If you target J2ME, you'll be able to run it on any Blackberry or Nokia phone at least, and possibly Android as well (though admittedly I'm not too familiar with Android).

Write it once, run it anywhere. Makes sense, no?

No need for overkill (3, Insightful)

Drasil (580067) | about 6 years ago | (#25504059)

You gave the answer yourself: use a web interface and any phone with a browser.

Go with what you know (2, Interesting)

Fross (83754) | about 6 years ago | (#25504069)

My advice is, developing for mobile phones is generally more fiddly than for most platforms. Eg if you're used to developing J2EE/J2SE, J2ME is going to be familiar but irritatingly different.

The low hanging fruit is definitely the iPhone. I tried to develop for it. I failed. Here are my personal pros and cons:

Pro:
Great API exposing all the unique functionality quite well.
Good quality documentation, when you can find it. (See below)
That functionality itself is great too.
Easy to develop free apps and getting them into the iTunes application store is actually pretty reasonable and easy.

Cons
Objective C. I really just don't like it. REALLY don't like it. As a Java developer, it has some niggles that set my teeth on edge.
The development environment. If you're used to Eclipse for instance, you might not like XCode. I didn't.
Documentation on slightly deeper subjects is not always easy to find. I was sometimes left scratching my head at strange behaviour that seemed undocumented, with no recourse to investigation other than Google. This is poor.
Buying an iPhone is not cheap, specially with the contract. Guess you could get away with an iPod Touch for most functionality.

YMMV. I decided to use someone else's apps, who was already developing something close to what I wanted to do anyway. Pity, but it just wasn't worth the pain to me.

Tridium? (1)

rodrigo1979 (255519) | about 6 years ago | (#25504083)

Have you heard of Tridium? Their JACE box (sold though various OEMs - Honeywell, Siemens, JCI, etc., and authorized contractors) can take care of the control and the web UI very well. Then all you need is a handheld device with wi-fi to reach a web page for control functions.
bias alert: I work in commercial building automation controls and I am certified in the Niagara-AX Framework.

I question the questioner (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | about 6 years ago | (#25504133)

This is such a DUH discussion. I wonder if the guy asking this question even has the know-how to execute on this plan if he's asking this question in the first place. Web-based beats all for this one-off scenario.

Seth

Develop Using an Open Platform (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25504135)

Develop for the the Open Moko [openmoko.com] phone.

You will have control over the entire operation of the phone, and have the interface do exactly as you would like.

Doesn't matter. Use your voice with the phone. (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | about 6 years ago | (#25504151)

I used Hal 2000 almost 10 years ago, and it worked really well. I'm betting that it is refined even more for today. I had wished back then I could have developed a better tool, but now that you mention it, the cell phone would work great. I make my own small radio transmitter to send voice commands to the computer. You can also call the computer from a phone and give commands. Perhaps something that simply sends the voice from the phone to the computer would do? Now you're compatible with all phones much faster. www.homeautomatedliving.com

I'd go for Java (0)

Shadowhawk (30195) | about 6 years ago | (#25504221)

J2ME is a fairly well defined language without the first version problems still inherent in the iphone market. It's also fairly wide-spread (except on the iphone) and you don't have to be tied to one carrier.
Those who are suggesting a web-based approach must have huge phones with high bandwidth. On my last 2 phones, using the web-browser (built-in or Opera mini) was just painful whereas the Java apps were easy to use (I've used GMail, Google maps and a Sudoku app).

.NET Windows Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25504287)

If you have good reasons to not develop a web app do Windows Mobile with .NET (good reasons, you care about the 'prettiness' of the UI, you care about bandwidth costs or speed, you care about unique or more usable controls - sure the web is cool but it still basically sucks on most mobile devices)

Assume you dont have a decent data plan in your area a Windows Mobile might be the best choice, you could then do the controls on your house easily through a direct dialup connection or through text messaging, etc. You could say that other platforms have this capacity but I'd argue you could do it faster in .NET

Fastest platform to develop for (assuming you have visual studio) .NET has an excellent set of libraries that can help you in this respect and Windows Mobile phones are the most accessible (accessible as in, choice of plan, provider, software, and hardware). .NET for mobile platform is very easily translated into a web application or into windows application, but its definately the platform that would be the most usable for you and you can draw on a development community that has been strong for over 5 years.

Also with the release of NVidia's new apex chip WM with get a real jump start that the mobile computing market needs.

Openmoko (1)

JJman (916535) | about 6 years ago | (#25504333)

I'd suggest developing for the Openmoko Neo Freerunner. It's an excellent platform!

For the home, it has to be iPhone/iPod touch (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 6 years ago | (#25504385)

I put together a rocking multi-room home entertainment set up for a fairly reasonable price that required no professional installation or wiring. And it's all controlled by my iPhone, but an iPod touch would work as well.

Here's my set up:
2 macMinis - one is your streaming media server one is for synching
1 airport extreme base station (N band wifi)
1 airport extreme base station (older b/g band wifi)
2 appleTV's (1 for each movie viewing room)
3 airportExpresses (1 for each audio only room)
1 drobo with 2x1TB HDs
1 iPhone
1 iRemote app (free from Apple Store)

With this setup, I have all machines sharing a single NAS device that holds over 200GBs of movies and music, plus TimeMachine backups. Each airport express allows plug and play audio streaming from iTunes. The appleTV does that as well, but provides the ability to watch movies from my iTunes library and control iTunes on my mini (or other machines)

So this gives you a multi-room audio and video network.
This can all be controlled over wifi via the iPhone with the iRemote app which is a free download from the iTunes App store.

The caveat is that at this time neither the iPhone or iPod touch support N band wifi. This is why I have two extreme base stations ... the iPhone only supports B/G right now, so you'll need to set a B/G base station in bridgemode connected via cat-5. If you set up only one in B/G/N, you can run into network degradation as slower B/G devices slow your home network, you really want N for the fast throughput.

Why have 2 mac Minis? That's my preference, one streams, one synchs the AppleTV units, there is a difference there and I'm sure you might have your own way of doing things. The streaming server also hosts a NiceCast ($40 from rogueAmoeba) audio stream from whatever is playing on that machines iTunes.

The drobo is my preference for a fast and easy NAS set up that can scale to 2+1TB, which is more space than I'll need for music+movies +file backups in the next couple years.

Of course this setup only controls the flow of iTunes media and active room units, other things like DVR/slingCast will have to go with a standard universal remote. For that, I strongly suggest Harmony remotes from Logitech. The 890 works quite well, and has RF support.

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