EP Mobile has surpassed 10,000 downloads, and has matured to version 1.0. It is time to start porting it from Android to Apple iOS. This is a non-trivial task. I wish there was a conversion program that could take the Android Java program code and, with a click of the mouse, automagically transform it into Apple Objective C code. Alas it won’t be that easy. The two programming platforms are completely different. In addition Apple development requires Apple hardware. So, in addition to the work involved, there is a monetary cost of development. I haven’t had an Apple computer since my original Apple II+ from the early 80s which had a 1.5 MHz processor and 64K of RAM (yes that’s kilobytes, not megabytes let alone gigabytes). Nevertheless, in my experience, more doctors and other medical personnel carry iPhones than Android phones; so, porting the program should be worth the effort.
I will keep a log of this porting process, and will share my experiences with you in the occasional blog post. Here’s what I have done so far. Step One was: Buy an Apple computer! I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, especially since EP Studios is already chocked to the gills with various computers. Other than when I am traveling, I prefer desktop computers to laptops. Yet I didn’t want (or have room for) another complete desktop setup.
This switch allows two computers to hook up to one monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speaker system. The switch works great. The only complaint I have is that my monitor has trouble switching; I have to turn it off and on so that it syncs properly when I switch computers. But this is minor, and having this switch means all I needed was an Apple computer sans peripherals. Apple makes such a computer, the Mac mini. I purchased one from Apple (it is also the cheapest Apple computer) and it arrived in 3 days. It is a little beauty of a powerhouse in a sleek aluminum package.
I can see why people like Apple products. The hardware is sturdy and elegant, and the software is beautifully designed. It certainly helps to be a company that has total control over both hardware and software. Poor Microsoft and Linux, having to make things work on thousands of different machines and peripherals with countless possible hardware configurations! Especially pity Linux. Microsoft at least has the clout to dictate their specifications to the hardware manufacturers.
The next steps were to download Xcode and the iOS development kit. These are both in a single package and are available at developer.apple.com/programs/ios. Now it was time to sign up for the developer program. This costs $99 per year and you need to decide whether to register as an individual or as a company. EP Studios, as meager as it is, is nevertheless a full-fledged corporation and I definitely wanted to distribute the program under the company aegis rather than my own name. Googling around, it appeared that signing up as a company might be a hassle. Supposedly you need to provide things like copies of your company’s Articles of Corporation and from the stories on the Internet, it looked like the approval process by Apple might take several weeks. Even the iOS book I bought, Beginning iOS 5 Development, solemnly warns “If you are going to sign up for the Standard or Enterprise program, you should do it right now. The approval process can take a while…” Well, imagine my surprise when, less than 24 hours after initiating the process, I get an email from Apple saying they had trouble calling my cell phone and to call them back. I called the number, got right through to a human being, who asked me for my email and phone number, and then said that my application was approved. I got another email, clicked through, and, after shelling out the $99 fee, I was in! Much smoother than expected. Not as smooth though as Android, where all I had to pay was a $25 one-time fee. But not too bad either.