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This article was published on January 12, 2012

Should iPads really be used for programming?

Should iPads really be used for programming?
Harrison Weber
Story by

Harrison Weber

Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.

As long as developers keep churning out killer apps, iOS will continue to grow as a highly successful platform. From simple games to audiovisual experiences, there’s a seemingly endless amount content in every genre imaginable, and developers want a piece of the action.

But with so much growth happening in Apple’s ecosystem (let alone the massive Android market), some pivotal changes have occurred in the developer community. You see, mobile platforms are great, but there’s a funny disconnect in the way iOS apps are developed, and it differs from the tradition of software development that has spanned the last few decades.

When you develop an application for Windows, you use a Windows computer. If you create for the Mac, you create it on the same platform. But if you’re building something for an iOS device, you’ll have to develop on your Mac and simulate it in Xcode. Then you’ll update your device and test it out separately.

It may seem like a tiny detail in the grand scheme of things, but some people really prefer to code on the platform they’re building apps for. And since tablets have enough screen real-estate for true creation, developers are starting to wonder why they can’t code and deploy on it.

Only yesterday, we covered the impending release of Processing, a creative coding platform, onto iOS, and just today I heard wind of GLSL Studio, an app that lets you learn and code games on your iPad. If these apps were the only ones, there wouldn’t be enough evidence for a trend, but apps like Textastic, Markup for iPad and Gusto are already making a huge impression on developers everywhere. Other apps, like Codify, are being used exclusively for learning and apps like FTP On The Go seek to bring even more of the overall development experience to iOS.

Nobody can deny that there’s a lot of interest brewing on the subject, but does it actually make sense? Should iPad really be used for programming? This is now a

Some devs are attracted to the simplicity and gloss of the iPad, while others are tempted by the prospect of programming on the go. Some programmers seem to completely detest the idea of typing code out on a simulated keyboard, while others love the idea of integrating a touchscreen into their workflow.

As mobile platforms continue to grow, there’s a push for these devices to help us create as well as consume. And by create I don’t mean Apple’s simplistic iOS version of Garageband. I’m talking about getting your hands dirty. What do you think of the idea? Are iPad and other tablets ideal for development, or is this just a novel trend? Let us know in the comments below!