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How to configure and deploy the iPhone 3G for business, Part 3: In-house apps

For many businesses, the App Store alone isn't enough

October 31, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Mobile applications for specific business needs can offer a wide range of benefits for users: access to internal databases and server-based applications (anything from sales and product management tools to patient information systems) as well as custom tools such as loan calculators or internal process guides. Providing these types of tools on a mobile device means workers can access resources and perform job functions on the road or while meeting with clients with little more than a carrier's mobile data service.

The promise of custom in-house mobile apps was one of the selling points Apple used to make its case for the iPhone as an enterprise device before the release of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.x firmware in July.

Until Apple's recent decision to drop the nondisclosure agreement, which had prevented iPhone developers from discussing the development tools and process, it seemed as if resources for easily and effectively producing in-house applications would be limited. That would have created a headache for many businesses, because iPhone developers on staff would have to start their projects from scratch, without the benefits of guides or the developer community. With the NDA lifted, however, resources are already available, or soon will be.

There are the upcoming books The iPhone Developer's Cookbook: Building Applications with the iPhone SDK by Erica Sadun and iPhone SDK Development from the Pragmatic Programmers, as well as more general articles about the iPhone SDK.

This isn't a detailed guide on how to develop software for the iPhone. Instead, its focus (like Part 1 and Part 2 in this series) is to highlight the challenges and opportunities involved with integrating iPhones into a business environment. When it comes to in-house applications, this means a different set of considerations, depending on whether you're simply adding the iPhone to your hardware arsenal or developing apps for sale in Apple's App Store.

In this series

How to configure and deploy the iPhone 3G for business

The iPhone developer program and iPhone SDK

The iPhone SDK is available from Apple's developer Web site and freely available for download. The iPhone development environment is based in Apple's Xcode, the same development suite used to write Mac applications. Xcode is a powerful and intuitive environment that provides tools for building an interface, creating and debugging code, and testing software.

The iPhone SDK relies on Cocoa Touch, which is similar to the Cocoa programming environment used to create Mac software. As with Mac software, the underlying code for iPhone applications is written using Objective C, a superset of the commonly used C programming language.

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