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Platforms for mobile devices

This is far from complete, but lists some major platforms.
Platform Description
MIDP For Java applications running on virtually every mobile device. Most of the content here is about MIDP anyway.
Symbian OS Many mobile devices use this operating system. You can write native applications for them using C/C++ or other languages. Find out more information at the Symbian Homepage. Nokia owns Symbian, but other manufacturer also use this platform.
iPhone (and iPod Touch)

A device with interesting capabilities. Also, it is a single device with a large user base, so writing applications for it is possible without worrying about screen size. It features a motion/tilt sensor which is a nice gimmick. Furthermore, deploying and selling applications is made easy via the Appstore.

However, there are also some serious drawbacks:

  • It is not possible for normal iPhone users to install applications via any other channel than the AppStore (doing so requires to do a so-called jail-break, which should be mostly legal in most countries - look for Pwnage (Mac) or OpenPwn (Windows)). However, as most users will not have done this, a commercial application can only have success via the AppStore.
  • An application to be submitted to the AppStore must be signed in a way which can only be done when using the official development suite xcode which only runs on Mac OS X, so if you wish to develop on real computer (which is technically possible), you're out of luck (unless you just wish to create an application for your own personal use).
  • There is actually no guarantee your finished app will be accepted into the Appstore. Possible reasons for rejecting includes competing with built-in functionality.
  • If you think a simple solution is to purchase Mac OS X and run it in a virtual machine (it's x86-based anyway), think again. Apple in its infinite wisdom forbids to run their OS on non-Apple hardware in the End User License Agreement.
To sum it up, the policies made me lose interest in pursuing iPhone development.
Android

The response to the iPhone? This is a rather new java-based platform for smart phones from the "Open Handset Alliance". It also features a marketplace similar to the AppStore. The project seems to be somewhat dominated by Google, and there have already been cases of applications getting banned from the Android market. However, as far as I understand it, there are no constraints on getting applications from other sources.

The development kit looks rather complete at first glance with eclipse integration and debugging + emulation, and it is available for Linux, Windows and Mac. However, I didn't actually build more than a "Hello World" application.


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