Programming iOS 6, 3rd Edition – In with the New, Out with the Old (iOS 5 & Earlier) – #bookreview

Programming iOS 6, 3rd Edition
Matt Neuburg
(O’Reilly - paperback, Kindle)

“My book is way bigger than your book.”

Matt Neuburg, author of Programming iOS 6, could make that claim and win almost any book-size contest. The recently published 3rd Edition of his well-respected how-to guide focuses on the “Fundamentals of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Development” and now spans 1,154 pages in its paperback edition. It’s definitely much thicker and heavier than any of the devices it covers.

This new edition is centered on iOS 6.1 and xCode 4.6. The author notes that he has “eliminated most references to previous iOS versions.” And he explains: “Many iOS 6 features, of course, do not exist in iOS 5 or before; I usually mention that a new feature is new, but I have not generally addressed the problem of writing backwards-compatible code. The text would become confused and bloated if everything had to be qualified with advice for different versions (‘but if you’re targeting iOS 5.1, do this; if you’re targeting iOS 5.0, do that; if you’re targeting iOS 4.3, do the other’). I believe that I can justify such omissions on the grounds that previous editions of this book exist!”

Indeed they do. Programming iOS 5, which was published in two editions, also covers iOS 4.3 and is available on Amazon.com and through other sources..

“New iOS 6 features are, of course, both explained and adopted” in the new 3rd edition, Neuburg says. “For example, having described NSArray subscripting (in Chapter 10), I then use it consistently, in place of objectAtIndex:, throughout the rest of the book. Aside from this, the book’s structure remains the same as in previous editions, growing where necessary to accommodate explanations of new features, such as autolayout (in Chapter 14), state restoration (in Chapter 19), and collection views (in Chapter 21). Also, in response to reader requests, I have inserted a short example of Core Data programming into Chapter 36.”

Absolute beginners should not start with this book. Get some basic programming experience in C and Objective-C first.

And don’t be surprised that not everything about iOS is covered in a book 1,154 pages long. “It’s far too big to be encompassed in a book even of this size,” Neuburg emphasizes. “There are areas of Cocoa Touch that I have ruthlessly avoided discussing. Some of them would require an entire book of their own. Others you can pick up well enough, when the time comes, from the documentation. This book is only a beginning — the fundamentals.”

Si Dunn

iOS SDK Development – A totally new and improved 2nd edition – #programming #bookreview

iOS SDK Development
Chris Adamson and Bill Dudney
(Pragmatic Bookshelf, paperback)

The previous, 2009 edition of this popular how-to book was titled iPhone SDK Development.  But this  new and re-titled second edition is much more than a copy-and-paste, just-make-some-tweaks update.

“[W]e have copied absolutely nothing from the old book,” the authors say. “As we looked at all the changes to the platform—between Xcode 4, iOS 6, and the iPad—we decided that so much had changed that we would be better off starting fresh.”

While they tried to cover virtually everything in their previous book, their new, 274-page edition is much more focused and, yes, it’s more pragmatic.

“This book,” they state, “is about setting you off on the right foot: understanding the fundamentals, getting comfortable with the tools and the concepts, and developing good habits. We’ve put a particular emphasis on the last of these, looking for the kinds of things that aren’t just handy classes or compiler tricks but instead are the values and routines that will help produce better apps. We’re also adopting modern iOS development practices, such as using Objective-C properties exclusively instead of using traditional instance variables and getting private methods out of public header files.”

Two other goals: They want iOS SDK Development “to serve as a prerequisite” for Pragmatic Bookshelf’s other iOS titles; and they hope you will “come away from this book with a firm grasp of the most essential iOS APIs—the UIKit GUI framework and the essential utilities of the Foundation framework—and enough of a sense of where things are and how things work to be able to grab the documentation for interesting looking features and be able to figure it out.”

The book has 10 chapters, with illustrations and short code examples. The chapters are:

  1. Tweetings and Welcome to iOS 6 – Shows how to download and install the SDK and begin working on a first app.
  2. Programming for iOS –Introduces Objective-C and “the two frameworks we use most often in iOS apps: Foundation and UIKit.”
  3. Asynchronicity and Concurrency – Shows “how many of the iOS APIs use asynchronous callbacks and [employ] the Grand Central Dispatch system to handle concurrent execution….”
  4. View Controllers – “…looks at how iOS apps are built on a strong Model-View-Controller (MVC) foundation.”
  5. Table Views – Deals with “the flexible and widely used table view, the linchpin of most iPhone apps that need to present lists of data.
  6. Storyboards and Container Controllers – Covers “how to build a visual road map of the many screens of an app and how to build much of the logic of that navigation and presentation automatically.”
  7. Documents and iCloud – Shows the tools needed “to save our user’s work to the filesystem as well as to Apple’s new iCloud service.”
  8. Drawing and Animating – Explains how to use the Core Graphics framework and Core Animation.
  9. Testing and Fixing Apps – Looks at what can go wrong and how to use the SDK’s tools to fix things.
  10. The App Store and Beyond – Focuses on moving from learning to doing, by maintaining code, running it on devices, submitting it on the App Store, and “managing it after it’s in users’ hands.”

Whether you want to learn how to develop iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch apps, or improve and update your knowledge of the necessary processes, you should read the new, improved iOS SDK Development and keep it within easy reach.

Si Dunn

My New iPad, 3rd Edition – A crisp, well-organized user’s guide – #ipad #bookreview

My New iPad, 3rd Edition: A User’s Guide
Wallace Wang
(No Starch Press, paperback, list price $24.95; Kindle edition, $9.99)

If you don’t already own an iPad, this crisp, nicely illustrated and well-organized user’s guide can make you wish you did. And if you’ve recently pulled an iPad out of the box and started using it, My New iPad, 3rd Edition can help you master features you likely haven’t tried yet.

“The iPad,” notes veteran author Wallace Wang, “offers so many features that one person may focus on its ebook reading features, another may focus on its video and music playing capabilities, someone else might be interested in browsing the Internet, and still another might focus on the ability to type and edit text to create slide show presentations, spreadsheets, or business reports.”

His 289-page book covers “the original iPad, iPad 2, and new iPad.” It is divided into 32 “short chapters that act like recipes in a cookbook. Each chapter explains how to accomplish a specific task and then lists all the steps you need to follow,” Wang says.

The 32 chapters are grouped into six parts:

  • Part 1: Basic Training
  • Part 2: Making the Most of Your iPad
  • Part 3: Getting on the Internet
  • Part 4: Video, Music, Photos, and Ebooks
  • Part 5: Organizing Yourself
  • Part 6: Additional Tips

My New iPad, 3rd Edition covers everything from turning on an iPad to putting it into airplane mode, setting up email, typing with voice dictation, creating a slide show, changing the appearance of a map, defining a foreign-language virtual keyboard, dealing with a frozen app, and using the tracking feature to find a lost or stolen iPad.

Before learning the touch gestures that control an iPad’s screen, Wang recommends first getting comfortable with “[t]he two most commonly used buttons…the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button.”

He notes: “Since you’ll be using the Home button often, take the time to practice returning to the Home screen by pressing the Home button once. If you press the Home button twice in rapid succession, you can lock the screen rotation, adjust the volume, or switch to another app.”

Wang adds: “Locking the screen rotation can be handy if you like curling up in a chair or sofa with your iPad. Without locking your screen, the image might flip back and forth between portrait and landscape mode.”

Switching between apps via the Home button can be handy, because you can leave one app, such as a game, in its current state while you make a quick check of email.

And double-clicking the Home button also gives access to the touch-screen’s up-down slider for the volume control–after you’ve first swipe your app icons to the right.

These are just a few basic samples of the many how-to tips in this book. Wang also offers numerous tips and “additional ideas” for getting the most out of your iPad and its powerful range of capabilities.

Si Dunn

Learning iOS Programming, 2nd Ed. – Updated to cover iOS 5, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch – #programming #bookreview

Learning iOS Programming, 2nd Edition
By Alasdair Allan
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $34.99; Kindle edition, list price $27.99)

Alasdair Allan’s popular iOS programming book recently has been updated to cover iOS 5. And it has a new name. (The first edition was titled Learning iPhone Programming.)

“The changes made in this second edition reflect the fact that a lot has happened since the first edition was published: the release of the iPad, a major release of Xcode, two revisions of the operating system itself, and the arrival of Apple’s iCloud,” the author notes. “This book has therefore been refreshed, renewed, and updated to reflect these fairly fundamental changes to the platform, and all of the example code was rewritten from the ground up for Xcode 4 and iOS 5 using ARC.”

Allan’s book – well-written and appropriately illustrated – is structured to provide “a rapid introduction to programming for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad,” and it assumes that you have some familiarity with C or a C-derived language, as well as a basic understanding of object-oriented programming.

And the pace is fast. By chapter 3, you are building the requisite “Hello, World” application and running it in iPhone Simulator.

In that same chapter, Allan also introduces the basic syntax of Objective-C and highlights some of the “rather strange” ways that it deals with method calls. He discusses how the Cocoa Touch framework underlying iOS applications “is based on one of the oldest design patterns, the Model-View-Controller pattern, which dates from the 1970s.” And he warns that “[a]ttempting to write iOS applications while ignoring the underlying MVC patterns is a pointless exercise in make-work.”

Learning iOS Programming, 2nd Edition does not emphasize web-based applications. It centers, instead, on creating native applications using Apple’s SDK. “The obvious reason to use the native SDK,” Allan states, “is to do things that you can’t do using web technologies. The first generation of augmented reality applications is a case in point; these needed close integration with the iPhone’s onboard sensors (e.g., GPS, accelerometer, digital compass, and camera) and wouldn’t have been possible without that access.”

He emphasizes a financial reason, as well. “Consumers won’t buy your application on their platform just because you support other platforms; instead they want an application that looks like the rest of the applications on their platform, that follows the same interface paradigms as the rest of the applications they’re used to, and is integrated into their platform.”

He adds: “If you integrate your application into the iOS ecosphere, make use of the possibilities that the hardware offers, and make sure your user interface is optimized for the device, the user experience is going to be much improved.”

Hard to argue with that.

Learning iOS Programming, 2nd Edition provides the steps necessary to develop and market your first iOS application. Allan notes: “Until recently, the only way to obtain the iOS SDK was to become a registered iOS developer. However, you can now download the current release of Xcode and the iOS SDK directly from the Mac App Store.”

Of course, if you intend to distribute your applications “or even just deploy them onto your own device, you will also need to register with Apple as a developer and then enroll in one of the developer programs.”

You may need some system upgrades, as well. To develop apps for the iOS, you’ll need an Intel Mac running OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) or later. If you plan to create apps that use Apple’s iCloud, you’ll need OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) or later.

One other recommendation from Allan: If you’re truly serious about being an iOS developer, consider also registering with the Mac Developer Program.

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Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. He also is a former newspaper and magazine photojournalist. His latest book is Dark Signals, a Vietnam War memoir. He is the author of an e-book detective novel, Erwin’s Law, now also available in paperback, plus a novella, Jump, and several other books and short stories.

iPad: The Missing Manual, 4th Ed. – A fine how-to guide for iPads new or ‘old’ – #bookreview #ipad #in

iPad: The Missing Manual, 4th edition
By J.D. Biersdorfer
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $24.99; Kindle edition, list price $19.99)

Why a fourth edition already? Apple’s iPad hasn’t been around that long, has it?

The reason behind this new (indeed) 4th edition of iPad: The Missing Manual is quite simple, according to author J.D. Biersdorfer. 

“It’s become,” he writes, “something of a spring ritual: the clocks move forward an hour, flowers begin to bloom, and Apple releases a new version of its iPad tablet computer. March 2012 was no different: the fastest iPad yet arrived on the scene and millions of people scrambled to buy it. Apple calls it the new iPad, and this book refers to it as the 2012 iPad or the third-generation iPad.” 

He adds that “Apple decided it didn’t want to get locked into upping the iPad model number every year.” (His book, by the way, can be used with any version of the iPad thus far.) 

The differences between the still-available iPad 2 and the new 2012 iPad (other than price) are mainly “a matter of screen and speed,” Biersdorfer adds. “The 2012 iPad…sports a robust A5X processor; a pixel-packing, high-definition Retina display; and a 5-megapixel back camera.” The cheaper iPad 2, “on the other hand, cruises along on a slower A5 processor and has a screen that’s half the resolution of the Retina display, though it’s still crisp. It has a rear camera with around a megapixel resolution for still photos (which is not very sharp), but can record video at 720p, which still counts as high-definition.” 

Apple gives you a basic quick-start card in the iPad box, and then you’re left to your own initiative, cleverness and occasional confusion.  

This well-written, well-illustrated “Missing Manual” guidebook provides 361 pages of clear how-to steps and tips, plus troubleshooting information and a nice index.

If you truly value your time and are trying to keep frustrations minimized in your life, this cool guidebook can be a helpful reference companion to carry along with (or on) your iPad – whether it’s the new one, the one that’s now so last year, or (gasp!) the one that’s even older.

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Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. He also is a former newspaper and magazine photojournalist. His latest book is Dark Signals, a Vietnam War memoir. He is the author of an e-book detective novel, Erwin’s Law, now also available in paperback, plus a novella, Jump, and several other books and short stories.

iOS 5 Programming Cookbook: Solutions & Examples for iPhone, iPad, & iPod Apps – #bookreview

iOS 5 Programming Cookbook
By Vandad Nahavandipoor
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $49.99; Kindle edition, list price $39.99)

This huge and helpful “cookbook” does not ignore iOS novice programmers. But the author, a veteran software developer, expects readers to at least be “comfortable with the iOS development environment and know how to create an app for the iPhone or iPad.”

His well-structured new edition “presents useful ways to get things done” and promises that readers “will learn a lot more about the basics of iOS programming, and a lot more about UIKit, dictionaries, arrays, loops, and conditionals.”

He notes that “[a] lot has changed in iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch programming since the introduction of iOS 5. The whole runtime and the way we write Objective-C code has dramatically changed. ARC (Automatic Reference Counting) is now introduced into the LLVM Compiler, which in some ways gives us more flexibility and in other ways makes the runtime more fragile.”

Nahavandipoor’s 852-page book is loaded with code examples, screenshots, and other illustrations and is divided into 17 chapters and an index.

  • Chapter 1: The Basics - An overview of  Objective-C.
  • Chapter 2: Implementing Controllers and Views – “Describes various approaches to constructing your iOS application’s user interface…”
  • Chapter 3: Constructing and Using Table Views – Shows how to use table views “to create professional-looking iOS applications.”
  • Chapter 4: Storyboards – The process of storyboarding can help you “define the connections between different screens in your app.” And, with storyboarding, “you don’t have to know anything about iOS programming to get a simple app running.”
  • Chapter 5: Concurrency – Focuses on Grand Central Dispatch, “Apple’s preferred way of achieving concurrency in iOS.” Also looks at timers, threads, and operations.
  • Chapter 6: Core Location and Maps – Describes “how you should use Map Kit and Core Location APIs to develop location-aware iOS applications.”
  • Chapter 7: Implementing Gesture Recognizers – Shows “how to use all available gesture recognizers in the iOS SDK, with working examples tested on iOS 5 on different devices such as the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad.”
  • Chapter 8: Networking, JSON, XML, and Twitter – Includes downloading data from a URL and parsing XML files. The pros and cons of synchronous and asynchronous connections. Caching files in memory and on disk to minimize an iOS device’s bandwidth consumption.
  • Chapter 9: Audio and Video – Focuses on “the AV Foundation and Media Player frameworks that are available on the iOS SDK.”
  • Chapter 10: Address Book – Structured to help Objective-C developers get a handle on the Address Book framework and how to retrieve contacts, groups, and their information. “The Address Book framework is composed entirely of C APIs.” So, “many Objective-C developers find it difficult to use this framework….”
  • Chapter 11: Camera and the Photo Library – Shows how to “determine the availability of front- and back-facing cameras on an iOS device.” Also looks at accessing the Photo Library “using the Assets Library framework…available in iOS 4 and later” and editing videos on an iOS device.
  • Chapter 12: Multitasking – Explains and presents examples that show “how to create multitasking-aware aplications that run beautifully on iOS 4 and above.”
  • Chapter 13: Core Data – Using Core Data to “maintain persistent storage for your iOS applications….”
  • Chapter 14: Dates, Calendars, and Events – Shows how to use “the event Kit and Event Kit UI frameworks, which are available on iOS 4 and later, in order to manage calendars and events on an iOS device.”
  • Chapter 15: Graphics and Animations – Introduces the reader to the Core Graphics framework and shows how to work with images and text and graphics context.
  • Chapter 16: Core Motion – Introduces the Core Motion framework and shows how to access the accelerometer and gyroscope on an iOS device. (Not all devices have those capabilities.)
  • Chapter 17: iCloud – “Shows how to use the iCloud service, which ties devices together and allows them to share data…as the user moves from one device to another.”

More than 100 new recipes have been added to this updated second edition of Nahavandipoor’s book. He also provides extensive references and links to other materials, including some Apple documents that he believes “every professional iOS developer should read.”

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Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. His latest book is a detective novel, Erwin’s Law. His other published works include Jump, a novella, and a book of poetry, plus several short stories, including The 7th Mars Cavalry, all available on Kindle.

Tap, Move, Shake: Turning Your Game Ideas into iPhone & iPad Apps – #bookreview

Tap, Move, Shake: Turning Your Game Ideas into iPhone & iPad Apps
By Todd Moore
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $29.99; Kindle edition, list price $23.99)

If you have some game ideas and a little coding experience, this well-focused and well-written book can show you how to get started as a developer of iPhone and iPad game apps.

The author notes: “Most games are typically controlled using a directional pad, analog joysticks, and various buttons. The iPhone and iPad give us a new form of input—Multi-touch. We can track up to 5 individual touches on the iPhone and iPod touch screens and up to 11 individual touches on the iPad. This opens up a whole new genre of games that previously did not exist. This is why [in this book] you are going to learn right from the start how to handle multiple touches on the screen.”

Moore’s 254-page book, which includes a foreword by Steve Wozniak, is organized as follows:

  • Preface – “Whether you are racking up points hitting a ball with a paddle or fragging your friends in a 3-D immersive world, the overall game elements are the same.”
  • Introduction to XCode – How to register at the App Store as an Apple Developer. (Also see App Store chapter at end of book.) How to get the iOS Dev Center program and download the latest version of XCode. How to build a simple game while you learn various aspects of XCode.
  • Hello Pong – How to create a Pong-like air hockey game called “Paddles” as you “learn how to implement multi-touch controls, animation, collision detection, and scoring.”
  • Graphics – How to create graphics and use them in your game.
  • Physics – How to “improve the paddle controls and create a realistic puck animation” for the “Paddles” game.
  • Sounds – How to “create realistic sounds for your game.”
  • Computer AI – Shows “how to create a computer player that can play a decent game of air hockey” and includes adding a title screen for the “Paddles” game, “so the player can choose to play against the computer or play the two player mode that has already been implemented.”
  • App Store – The author walks you “through the process of submitting your application to the App Store.” He also discusses the necessity to take “a lot of different screenshots, making sure to show the unique parts of your game.” The idea ultimately is to “help the customer make a buy decision” for your app.

Todd Moore founded TMSOFT “to create unique smartphone applications and games.” He is one of the few developers who have had “two apps in iTunes’ Top 20 Paid Downloads.”

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Si Dunn‘s latest book is a detective novel, Erwin’s Law. His other published works include Jump, a novella, and a book of poetry, plus several short stories, including The 7th Mars Cavalry, all available on Kindle. He is a screenwriter, a freelance book reviewer and a former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist.

iPad 2: The Missing Manual (It’s here!)

iPad 2: The Missing Manual
By J.D. Biersdorfer
(O’Reilly, $24.99 US, $28.99 CAN)
Amazon link: http://amzn.to/mwXfN6

Each new addition to O’Reilly‘s “The Missing Manual” series has a telling tagllne: “The book that should have been in the box.”

Users of the iPad 2 definitely may wish they had received this book in their Apple box. It is well-organized and well-illustrated and engagingly written by J.D. Biersdorfer, the popular “Gadgetwise” columnist for the New York Times and best-selling author of several previous tech books, including: iPad: The Missing Manual; iPod: The Missing Manual; and The iPod Shuffle Fan Book: Life Is a Playlist.

Along with the iPad 2, Biersdorfer’s new book also covers the original iPad and is structured to help you locate the right buttons, connectors and Home Screen icons once you have an iPad in your hands.

“Odds are,” the author notes wryly, “you had that iPad out of its box about 5 seconds after you got it, running your hands over its smooth edges, admiring its tapered thinness and high-gloss screen.”

But, with little else to guide you, you may not know what to do first to make it work and then set it up correctly. As the O’Reilly book points out, “there’s still no printed guide to using its features” — not in the iPad 2’s box.

Yes, you can boot up your PC, go online and find iPad setup and features information. You can even print out some pages, punch some holes, and stack the paper in a three-ring binder for future reference. But why bother? This book is an excellent, convenient and affordable guide to everything you need to know to become adept at using and enjoying your iPad 2.

Early on, it covers mastering iTunes, “your iPad’s best friend. You can do just about everything with your digital media here….”

The book also shows you how to find, buy, download, use, troubleshoot and uninstall apps.

Some of the other “important stuff” it covers includes:

1. Building your media library, by filling your iPad with music, ebooks, movies, photos, TV shows and other materials.

2. Using the iPad 2’s new still camera, video camera and Photo Booth app to create your own media projects.

3. Getting online and surfing via wi-fi or wi-fi + 3G.

4. Making video calls using the iPad 2’s video cameras and FaceTime app.

5.  Sending and receiving email messages using any of your email accounts.

6. Discovering iPad tricks and workarounds for problems or limitations.

All in all, this is a fine, comforting and informative guide for new iPad users. Along with smooth writing, step-by-step procedures  and logical structure, it also has a good index and numerous illustrations and screen shots.

Those who have owned the popular tablets for a while likely can also find some new tricks and helpful information in O’Reilly’s iPad 2: The Missing Manual by J.D. Biersdorfer.

The book is available in paperback and Kindle editions. O’Reilly also offers it via Safari Books Online

Si Dunn