Underwhelming Android Experience

Ryan Heise summed it up nicely in Four Months With Android. I used an HTC incredible for 11 months. There are some great things about Android, but the negatives far outweigh the benefits for me. Android was just underwhelming. The UI and UX isn’t as nicely polished as iOS. Android apps, on average, just aren’t as well polished. Android reminds me of Windows of years past. Sure, it more or less works, but it’s just not that great of an experience.

Will Hybrid Mobile Apps Prevail Over Native?

I’ve been wrestling with this question for some time, and I thought this post may help sort out my thoughts and opinions while giving you some important insight. Are hybrid mobile apps going to become the developer’s choice anytime soon? The debate can be pretty heated as companies choose one technology over the other.

Hybrid, the Unlikely Union

Let’s get the definitions straight before we begin. A hybrid app is one of those mobile apps that uses a native web view to display HTML, CSS, and JS “web” apps. They’re only sort-of “web apps” because they are run locally, though they often pull data from online sources via AJAX requests. So, you have this HTML/CSS/JS app running inside of a natively-compiled stand-alone web browser of sorts on your phone. One such example is PhoneGap. Because the logic bits of the app are written using web technologies, you can often develop once and deploy on multiple platforms, so long as you’re using supported markup. You’re killing multiple birds with one stone.

Hybrid is the Bee’s Knees

As I mentioned above, hybrid technologies are great for developing cross-platform apps. Seriously – since iOS, Android, and even some Blackberry devices are both running Webkit most, if not all, your html, css, js is going to work remarkably similarly on both platforms. It’s pretty enticing. From your and your client’s perspective it’s a pretty easy sell. For one round of development you have the potential to hit many more users. It’s pretty cost-effective. Pretty soon you’re singing the praises of your decision and you’ve decided that from now on hybrid apps are the bee’s knees.

Quiet NSLog() in Release Builds

On the heels of the previous post, here’s a little snippit I picked up from Marek Bell to quiet NSLog() output in release builds.

Add this to your {MyApp}-prefix.pch file

#ifndef __OPTIMIZE__
#    define NSLog(…) NSLog(__VA_ARGS__)
#    define NSLog(…) {}

The reasoning behind using __OPTIMIZE__ is that it’s set only on release builds of your app, not in debug versions. It’s very simple and allows you to use NSLog() instead of having to come up with your own version.

Quiet the Console – PhoneGap / iOS

I have a confession – I’m a console logging junkie. I just like to see what’s going on. While that may be great for development, at some point you’ll have to quiet the logging down for production. Really – doing enough logging will slow everything down each time you’ve inserted a console.log() into your code.

Silencing the output to XCode’s debugging console wasn’t immediately obvious. Overriding console.log() in JS by setting it to an empty function worked in the browser for development, but as soon as I loaded the app onto the actual simulator, we were back to square one. Enter the PhoneGap DebugConsole prototype. Override it.

Insert this anywhere after your phonegap.js file loads. It’ll keep things quiet as long as DEBUG = true…

There you have it

PhoneGap + XCode4

There’s been a bit of confusion surrounding changes to XCode4 and PhoneGap. Right now the big ones are 1) Where did my PhoneGap user templates go!? and 2) How do I submit my PhoneGap-based app to Apple? Let me help you.

1) You want to create a new PG project, but you’re not seeing the XCode templates when you go through the new project menus. Check out Shazron’s blog @ Nitobi for a command-line script to get you a new project up and running. It’s not as sexy as the XCode template, but it will do.

2) You can’t compile your app for submission to Apple? That was a little more tricky to track down. See this thread on the Apple Dev Forums for a bit of an abstract view of what’s going on. I’ll save you the details. Follow these steps to XCode bliss.

  1. Select the PhoneGapLib.xcodeproj entry in your files list:
  2. Make sure the “All” tab is selected:
  3. Look for the “Deployment” section and scroll down until you see the “Skip Install” parameter. Set Skip Install to YES:
  4. EDIT: Make sure to verify your target device…
    Make sure you have the “iOS Device” option selected in the schemes drop-down:
  5. Go over to the “Product > Archive” menu. XCode will do its compile magic. Open the Organizer to see the app and the listed archives when the compile is complete. At this point, make sure you are ready to upload the app to iTunes Connect. Bonus: we get to skip the Application Loader app from now on!
  6. Select the archive and click the “Submit” button. XCode will ask for your credentials. Log in and select the appropriate app and distribution profile from the list. Submit. If all goes to plan, you’ll get a message of approval. Finished.

That was easy. Now you can navigate the XCode4 waters with PhoneGap.