I had the opportunity to look at the SDK developmental platform for the iPhone last week, after signing up to become a member of the Developmental Team. Don't worry, anyone can sign up for this, it's not special. What I ended up downloading was a collection of videos showing how to use Cocoa (the developmental environment) to create Visual - C programs. It was a little heady, given the fact that I am not a C-Programmer.
But the results are definitely interesting. The buttons (virtual) are all accessible in the sdk, just like in Visual Basic. But they appear to be much more powerful, with pre-scripted macros already in place. There is nice fluid movement on the screen.
The actual writing of code is not simple, but again, there are many examples and macros that you simply plug into a button, that it looks a lot easier than writing in Visual Basic. There are address macros which automatically populate the correct fields. Again, somewhat similar to some of the visual basic sdk stuff. However with such automation, some programs may get that "look the same" feeling.
The products that I have seen thus far have been impressive. Credit Apple for showing these a month in advance and then allowing us to absorb all the hype before July 11th. It is becoming a frenzy at the moment. The medical applications, showing MRI and Pet scans at the WDC were impressive. I am still looking for other medical applications however to take over database tasks such as Smartlist, HandBase and OB programs found on the Palm platform. I have no doubt that they are just around the corner.
For the iPhone to be really successful, Apple must come out with a Database Program that will blow everything away. They already have Filemaker on the Mac end and I could see something coming from this, with the ability to put in conditional flags etc. Additionally, any database file must be simple to program.
Perhaps the most impressive thing that I saw last week and in the videos offered by the Developer team, was the over-the-air connectivity. I believe that I first saw this created well with Mobisystems Office on the Palm. I stand by that today. It is almost unwritten anywhere, but I truly believe that this suite was (before they went awry with the open source PDF) the best ever created for a Palm Top Device. The fact that they offered remote storage, accessible by the Lifedrive over the air, was jaw-dropping. It acted like a FTP service and it still works really well (did I mention that it's free)?
The Apple versions of this, in both Exchange and MobileMe are the next step forward. 20 Gigabytes of storage for MobileMe and if it works as advertised, seamless access to personal files both on the home computer and on the iPhone. Exchange's ability to auto sync to the office calendar and email is fantastic. One wonders if there will be an ability to have Exchange and MobileMe work at the same time, so that a personal calendar can be superimposed upon the Exchange calendar on the iPhone? Can Exchange be turned on and then off, without erasing the calendar. On the Lifedrive, if you try to sync the calendar to the desktop, it wipes out the Exchange dates. The same holds true when syncing to Exchange. Hopefully these fine points will be worked out.
Overall, I am impressed by the products. As for the SDK, I have not had the opportunity to work with it yet. I cannot tell if it will be simple to use or not. I am a little disappointed that Apple did not adopt the Widget route, so that we could transport the widgets to the iPhone, but it would appear that the company is doing everything right at the present time. A slow roll out and updated hardware to match.