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New Tool Integrates Cloud for Building Mobile Applications

Telerik Releases "Icenium", targeted at iOS/Android devs who don't want to run multiple development environments and SDKs.

Doug Seven liked working at Microsoft. But when he got an idea that he wanted to develop that had to do with iOS and Android application building, he knew he’d have to pursue that angle somewhere else.

Enter Telerik. Seven joined the tools maker last July, and began working in earnest on the new project. About 15 months later, that vision was realized in the form of a brand-new way to combine the cloud with traditional mobile development techniques.

The new service allows iOS and Android developers to build hybrid apps in the cloud, effectively abstracting the development environment from the target platform.

The platform is called Icenium; the “ICE” in Icenium stands for “Integrated Cloud Environment.” Using Icenium, developers build mobile apps on their local machines; compiling to the iOS or Android runtime is done in the cloud. Seven explained the benefits in a blog posting announcing Icenium:

"It enables you to focus on the content of your application without the headache of managing multiple SDKs and development environments. With Icenium you can use Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, or even device operating systems, like iOS on an iPad, to build hybrid applications that are distributable through the app stores, and run natively on iOS and Android devices."

Icenium leverages PhoneGap, which means apps are built in the familiar world of HTML/CSS/JavaScript. The platform dependencies are handled by Icenium in the cloud.

The Windows-based tool for Icenium is called Graphite. With it, developers can build iOS or Android apps -- or both -- and test them using a device simulator. The app is then compiled in the cloud and pushed out to Apple's App Store and/or Google Play, the Android app market.

When it's time to try them on real devices, Graphite includes a technology called LiveSync that pushes the newly-published or updated app out to all USB-connected devices instantly, with the touch of a button.

Seven gave a demonstration of LiveSync in action. He had multiple devices -- an iPhone, iPad and numerous Android phones and tablets, running on different hardware and different versions of the Android OS -- hooked up to his computer. He made several changes to a program, saved the changes, and pushed out the updated program to the devices. With one or two small hiccups, the devices updated within moments.

Icenium has a completely browser-based version as well, called Mist. Mist lacks some functionality of Graphite, but has the advantage of no downloads or installs, and is completely cross-platform. One feature it lacks is LiveSync, although there is a workaround. It does include a number of Graphite's abilities, Seven wrote, including "syntax coloring, statement completion, and version control integration, as well as a browser-based device simulator that can render your app on an iPhone, iPad, Android phone and Android tablet."

Telerik is offering Icenium for free until May 1, 2013. After that, it will cost $16/month per developer with an annual contract, or $19/month per developer on a month-to-month basis.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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