iPhone Games Can be Ported to Palm webOS PDK in "Days"? -- The Competition


It seems like Palm's new webOS PDK (plug-in development kit) can be used to port over iPhone games in a matter of days -- or even hours. Given how fast some iPhone games have turned up on the Palm Pre we've kind of suspect there was a little something something going on behind the screen, and our sibling site PreCentral.net confirmed it by way of Digital Daily's pre-GDC coverage.

As just mentioned, I'll be at GDC to have a look at what they're doing. If it's really just that easy to get your iPhone games onto webOS, then Palm has once again made their platform as fr (on top of the web technology SDK and Classic PalmOS emulation).

Windows Phone 7 Series looks to be packing Xbox Live gaming muscle, so they likely won't go the same route as Palm... but could Android and BlackBerry? And if developers can keep making great iPhone games and get webOS (and maybe others) as a bonus, is that ultimately better for iPhone gamers, or does it weaken the uniqueness of the platform? If it does, will there eventually be "exclusives" like there are on Xbox and Playstation, or will Apple do more first-party games like the console makers -- especially Nintendo -- do?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

TiPb at Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2010

Next up →

Zombie Castle Defender 'ZombieSmash!' Coming to iPhone and iPod touch

Reader comments

iPhone Games Can be Ported to Palm webOS PDK in "Days"? -- The Competition


Can only be good for the whole Market. If devs can port back and forth it's going to make their markets far more viable. Android not having standard hardware will always be a pain I would presume but BB and the Pre are fairly standard platforms and are ripe for the picking.
The flipside is that once it becomes easier more devs will do it and hopefully we will start getting some app competition. Thus apple won't be able to, hopefully, make sweeping judgement and decrees as easily.
Hopefully we benefit.

Typical Palm: Can't make a desktop client? Hijack iTunes. Can't come up with an original UI? Hijack mobile Safari. Can't figure out how to implement video editing? Clone the iPhone implementation. Can't get developers to write for your me too platform? Find a way to port the competitors apps.
Palm is adding nothing to the conversation. They are just parasites that need to be exterminated.

Umm...the PDK is not any parasitism of the iPhone, and all the articles that position it that way are missing the point. The PDK (finally!) lets webOS developers use C/C++ instead of just javascript for app development. Palm's Mojo SDK (HTML and Javascript) is fine for utility apps that do not require speed, but games of any complexity do require speed, and many also require low level access to the hardware. All the PDK does is give developers that level of control, if they have they decide to use it.
As for "porting iPhone games" -- well, no, Palm has not developed any no magic button to move iPhone apps to the pre, nor likely can they. However, many iPhones game engines are largely coded in C, with some Objective-C/Cocoa Touch goodness around it to facilitate entry/exit, and some iPhone-specific elements. If the developer has sprinkled iPhone dependencies around their program, porting will always be difficult. If, however, the developer has structured their application to keep the iPhone portions separate, they can keep the engine virtually intact, and merely replace the iPhone shim with a Pre shell. (It is the same as porting a Windows game to the Mac -- if the developer used largely generic language components, it is relatively straightforward; if they relied heavily on DirectX and other MS-specific APIs throughout the application, it is a bear.) Even in the best case, porting is still a fair amount of work for a developer to do, but now it is technically possible, where as pre-PDK, it was not.

Jeez, I leave in a lot of typos when posting from the phone...
Oh -- and the "days, or even hours" just references how widespread the iPhone dependencies are in the code. If they are only in a couple of spots, I believe them when they say porting could be quick. If the game has iPhone dependencies all over the place, well, that's why the articles never specify how many days :)

not a fanboy:
I'm all for competition. The Pre is not competition. It is simply a KIRF. It does not move the state of the art forward: it merely copies and hopes to take some of the market by saying "me too" loud enough. It tries to provide an iPhone experience with a keyboard and give the Apple haters a place to go that is not Apple, but pack in it everything that Apple includes. Again, that is not competition, at least not the kind that equals innovation and moves the ball forward.
People are defining competition as Apple creating something, others copying it, thus forcing Apple to create something else even better. Sorry, that doesn't cut it.

Look, danbj13, you love your iPhone. That's cool. I have one too and like it a lot. But, you know what? I've played around with a Pre, too, and it's pretty good - and packed with OS innovation that will keep Apple on their toes and force them to build a better product. And that's good for us all.
Yes, the iPhone made Palm and other raise their game, but Apple didn't invent most of those UI techniques - they're standing on the shoulders of long term mobile-space innovators like Palm and just doing it (in many respects) somewhat slicker.
The Pre is no KIRF product. It's a great OS and has lots of potential. The only question is whether Palm's pockets are deep enough to power WebOS on to the success it deserves.
Personally, I wish them well.

As the iPhone being the first Apple product I've ever owned, I was unable to understand why "haters" called Apple loyalist names like blind sheep and iTards. Now that I've read this thread and many others like it, I suddenly becomes clear.
As far as Palm goes, they got a beautiful OS but have an unattractive hardware virtually no app support. This new CEO is runny the company into the ground. No wonder Apple didn't feel the need to hang on to him.

CJ..Jon Rubes is probably the only reason Palm's still in the game. He's attracted a lot of great talent to the small company.

Look Apple fan boys the iPhone is not on top no more live with it come on the iPhone wants to be the evo in every way