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Published on February 14th, 2012 | by Greg


iPad and iOS Books: Educate Yourself This Valentine’s Day

It’s that time of year again. Hearts adorn the store­front win­dows, red and pink glis­ten the aisles, and restau­rants are booked full of cou­ples (and want-to-be cou­ples). But what if you want to give a gift that of­fers more un­der the sur­face than flow­ers or choco­late? What if you’re a true nerd, har­bor­ing se­cret dreams of cre­at­ing the next great iPhone or iPad game? Or you bought your loved one an iPad for Christ­mas and couldn’t help but no­tice that it hasn’t been be­ing used as much as you might hope?

We’ve got three books to check out to­day, all with an Ap­ple bent, and all pub­lished by Wi­ley. Let’s start with the one with per­haps the widest au­di­ence: iPad2 for Dum­mies by Nan­cy Muir. It’s es­sen­tial­ly the same as the rest of the Dum­mies se­ries, which is to say, quite good re­al­ly at help­ing folks who need to start with the ba­sics. We’ve been read­ing the just-re­leased 3rd Edi­tion, which cov­ers the orig­i­nal iPad and iOS 5 as well, and is bro­ken up in­to sec­tions like “Just for Fun”, “iPad on the Go”, “Get­ting Pro­duc­tive with iWork”, amd “Must-Have iPad Apps”. Of course, the in­for­ma­tion in the book isn’t 100% up-to-date; there are al­ways new apps and up­dates to both the iOS firmware and the soft­ware that you run, but we no­ticed re­mark­ably few er­rors or in­con­sis­ten­cies con­sid­er­ing the speed of change. And while much of the in­for­ma­tion is avail­able on­line else­where, the iPad doesn’t ex­act­ly come with a good man­u­al, and this book does a great job of pro­vid­ing one with lots of pic­tures and ex­pla­na­tions. For ad­vanced folks, it’ll be most­ly re­view or skip­pable, but even tech­no­log­i­cal­ly adept folks will find tips that come in handy- for in­stance, the “Share Lo­ca­tion” fea­ture that is easy to over­look in Maps. Avail­able now, $17.

Be­gin­ning iOS App De­vel­op­ment with HTML and JavaScript is def­i­nite­ly aimed at a dif­fer­ent crowd- the mot­to of WROX is “Pro­gram­mer to Pro­gram­mer”. Fo­cused on those who al­ready know some HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and have some Ajax skills, the book is a straight-for­ward in­tro­duc­tion to iOS de­vel­op­ment us­ing web tech­nolo­gies. Make no mis­take: this book is not for true new­bies; those with­out a back­ground in pro­gram­ming al­ready or who aren’t pro­fi­cient web de­vel­op­ers will find them­selves quick­ly lost. Al­so, as the au­thor (Richard Wag­n­er) makes clear, you’re def­i­nite­ly mak­ing a few sac­ri­fices- the tech­niques dis­cussed will al­low you to get a good web app run­ning through Sa­fari, which can look great but won’t be as re­spon­sive or in­tu­itive as a na­tive app, and there are ad­di­tion­al lim­i­ta­tions. For rapid pro­to­typ­ing, or to help a client get a great-look­ing mo­bile site, this is a great guide. And many of the iOS-spe­cif­ic parts- Split View for iPad, iOS but­tons, in­te­grat­ing with the built-in apps like Maps- come with great code ex­am­ples. And the or­der­ing is care­ful, with the sec­tion on Of­fline Ap­pli­ca­tions nat­u­ral­ly build­ing on pre­vi­ous work, and fi­nal­ly end­ing with the chap­ter on sim­u­la­tion and sub­mis­sion to the App Store (us­ing a wrap­per like Phone­Gap or Ti­ta­ni­um to take a web app and make it func­tion like a na­tive app).Avail­able now, $21.

Fi­nal­ly, if you’re ready to move past the ba­sics, you should def­i­nite­ly check out Rob Napi­er and Mu­gunth Ku­mar’s iOS Pro­gram­ming: Push­ing the Lim­its. This is a book for those who al­ready have a cou­ple of apps un­der their belt, and are in­ter­est­ed in learn­ing about some of the new fea­tures in iOS 5, changes to Xcode, best prac­tices, and oth­er ad­vanced top­ics. Cov­ered are bits like iCloud, ex­cep­tion han­dling, ver­sion con­trol, and the new ARC- au­to­mat­ic ref­er­ence count­ing- which means de­vel­op­ers no longer have to wor­ry quite so much about mem­o­ry man­age­ment. In oth­er words, this it tough stuff, and in­cred­i­bly use­ful to folks who wor­ry deeply about the oth­er kind of garbage col­lec­tion. We learned a lot, even if we aren’t yet com­fort­able with in-app pur­chas­es and con­trol­ling mul­ti-task­ing. Avail­able now, $28.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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