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Review: Corona SDK for iPhone and iPad Development

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The Corona SDK for iPhone, iPad and Android Development

Image © Ansca Mobile

Category: iOS Development Tool
Developer: Ansca Mobile
Website: www.anscamobile.com
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6 or higher for iPhone/iPad/Android development, Windows XP or later for Android-only development Corona SDK Features
  • Write once and publish on iOS and Android platforms
  • Lua code makes development quicker and simpler
  • Graphic engine built on top of OpenGL
  • Integrated game engine includes OpenFeint social gaming and Box2D physics
  • Social features include Facebook Connect
  • iPhone and Android simulators for debugging
  • Yearly subscriptions without "per app" royalty fees

Corona SDK Review

Are you looking for a better way to develop apps for both iOS and Android devices while speeding up the entire development process? The Corona SDK by Ansca Mobile can have you developing apps in a fraction of the time.

Does that sound like an advertisement? Crazy enough, the Corona SDK delivers on those statements. It won't do everything, and because the platform uses its own engine to generate the apps, you won't always have access to the latest APIs delivered by Apple. In fact, you won't always have access to new features Apple delivered a year ago. But the Corona SDK does allow for a wide range of development options, and for those projects that fit within what it can deliver, the Corona SDK can produce an Android and iPhone/iPad app in a fraction of the time it would take to produce the app on just one of those platforms.

It won't do everything. Corona started as mainly a development tool for creating iPhone and iPad games, but it has added features that lend itself to a wider variety of applications. These missing features include no integration to produce iOS GUI elements like the tab bar or split view, no multi-tasking support and no access to contact list among many other large and small features.

And while many of these features are scheduled to be included in future releases, a single one may be enough to ward you away from using the Corona SDK. After all, if your app idea integrates with the contact list on the iPhone/iPad, you simply won't be able to achieve your results with Corona.

What it does is cut down dramatically on programming time. There is no way I can emphasize this as much: what might take hundreds of lines of code to do in Objective-C may only take a few lines of code to accomplish in Lua. And because the Corona SDK keeps track of its own memory model, you won't need to worry about initializing objects or removing them from memory when done with them.

The Corona SDK also includes support for a physics engine, so if your are interested in developing the next Angry Birds, you'll find a lot of the heavy lifting is made easy through the various calls to the Box2D engine.

There are also a number of community resources that can speed development time. For example, while you don't get direct access to even some relatively simple user interface elements like a button, you can easily re-create the functionality through the use of the ui.lua script that includes both buttons and labels. There are also scripts for other user interface objects like list views and binary on/off buttons. (Watch a video of the new Corona UI features)

Is the Corona SDK right for me?

For those interested in developing iPhone and iPad games, the choice for going with the Corona SDK can be a relatively simple one. After all, it's the platform that produced Bubble Ball, which briefly knocked Angry Birds from its perch atop the app store.

For those wishing to take their development beyond games, the Corona SDK may or may not deliver the features you need. The Corona SDK supports file manipulation, XML parsing and has full database support using SQLite, which can easily take it beyond gaming for some. For example, Say It 4 me : Global Traveler, which was programmed using the Corona SDK, is a handy app that lets you pick out a phrase and a language and have your iPhone say it for you.

The Corona SDK is free to try

The best reason to check out the Corona SDK is the ability to take it for a test run for free. You can download the Corona SDK and access all of the main features. You simply won't be able to create builds for the iPhone, iPad or Android devices. This means you can play around with the development environment and find out if it is the right choice.

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