Run mobile apps on your desktop
By John Andrews firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week, writing about Halloween apps for mobile phones, I got myself to wondering: can I run all these fabulous little programs on my computer rather than on multiple expensive devices that require two-year contracts?
Of course! And not quite.
• iPhone: To get the official Apple emulator for iOS, the operating system that runs on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, you need to download the whole Software Development Kit (SDK) for both iOS and the Xcode system for Mac OS. To do that, you need to be a registered Apple software developer. But don’t worry, there’s no test or anything. Just provide your e-mail address and the name of your company, even if your company name is “Home” or “Fake” or “asdf” or whatever.
Oh, and buy a Mac. The SDK only runs on Mac OS X. Get started at developer.apple.com.
For Web-based apps only, the simulator at TestiPhone.com will do you well. It shows any Web page on the diminutive (by desktop standards) iPhone screen. It does not, however, let you run any iPhone app outside the browser, and it doesn’t zoom in or out. It won’t even reject a Flash-based page, despite Apple’s refusal to allow Flash on the little device.
• Android: Just like Apple, Google has a full SDK available for their operating system. It runs on Windows, Mac OS and Linux, so pretty much everyone has access to it, except for you poor deluded BeOS faithful. You can download it from developer.android.com.
Also like Apple, Google’s SDK might look a bit overwhelming at first. There’s lots of programming lingo and package dependencies and configuration options. Just to start emulating an Android device, you need to find the right file in the folder you’ve extracted from the installer, give it a name and tell it how much storage space it should imagine it has.
The SDK comes with a tutorial for programming for Android, but if you just want to play with existing Android apps, use the included command-line utility called “adb.” Detailed instructions are included with the SDK, but I thought I’d give you that nudge in the right direction.
• BlackBerry: Research In Motion has a separate simulator for each minor revision of its software, so you’ll have to choose your BlackBerry model, wireless carrier and exact version. Since you can download it separately from other programming tools, it’s a little easier to get into it. It’s all under the “Resources” section at www.blackberry.com/developers.
Again, you need to provide your e-mail address and company, as well as a job title, to download BlackBerry’s phone simulator. Be creative.
• WebOS: Did I leave this one out of the Halloween column? I did. It’s not that Palm got bought by HP and the future of this operating system is bleak, or that developing for it is fairly pointless and there are therefore no good apps worth playing with. Not at all. If you really want to spend your time on this, go to developer.palm.com. There’s even a beta SDK for version 2.0! Get ahead of the curve! The really bendy, twisty curve!