The Apple iPad is one of the more popular tablet computers on the market. With a 95 percent market share of tablet computers in 2010, the iPad is a great platform to develop innovative applications for iPad users. Apple provides many online technical resources and support for developers, from the the iPad Operating System Software Development Kit (iOS SDK 4) to human interface guidelines.
iOS SDK 4
The first thing an iPad developer needs to acquaint himself with is the iOS SDK 4, the foundation software platform for creating applications for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices. To access the iOS SDK 4, potential developers need to register with Apple at the iOS Dev Center. The iOS SDK can only be deployed on an Intel Mac computer running a current version of Mac OS X.
Tools for iOS development
The iOS environment comes with a suite of tools called Xcode. With Xcode, a developer can manage his projects, edit source code, build executable programs, debug source code, manage source code revisions and fine-tune the program performance, among others. A built application can be tested on an iOS simulator or on the iPad itself. Besides Xcode, a developer has to design a user interface for his application using Interface Builder. To fine-tune the performance of an iPad application, the developer can use Instruments.
To develop for iPad, one needs to program with the Objective-C programming language. Objective-C is an object-oriented extension of the ANSI C programming language. Object-oriented programming features including encapsulation, inheritance and polymorphism are provided by Objective-C. Objective-C source header files are identified with the .h extension. Unlike the typical source file extension of .cpp, c++ or .cxx, the accepted extension for source files that contain both Objective-C and C code is .m. The .mm extension signifies source files that contain C++, Objective-C and C code.
Creating a Universal Application
There are three types of applications: iPhone, iPad and Universal. iPhone applications are optimized for the iPhone and iPod, but can also run on the iPad in their original resolution or configured to fit the iPad screen. iPad applications run only on the iPad, not on smaller devices like the iPhone and iPod Touch. Universal applications, however, are optimized to work on all of Apple's iPhone OS devices, including the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple recommends using the iPhone SDK 3.2 to build Universal applications.
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