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Telerik uncloaks Icenium cloudy mobile app dev suite

Build iOS apps with no SDKs and no Mac

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What really makes such rapid, iterative development possible, however, is the fact that Icenium apps are written primarily using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Thus, the overall process of developing Icenium apps is remarkably similar to that of building web apps – something Seven says is entirely intentional.

"We think web developers will be the primary target," Seven told The Reg. "They tend to be more opportunistic than other developers. They're our primary audience, or at least our early adopter audience."

Some developers will worry that the hybrid app development style won't give them all of the performance or capabilities they need. But Icenium takes advantage of the Apache Cordova framework to give JavaScript developers access to device-specific features, such as cameras and sensors, without resorting to native code.

What's more, developers of hardcore games and similarly performance-intensive apps were never really Icenium's intended audience, Seven explained. Companies whose primary business is in devices will probably always choose native development, he added, while Icenium makes it possible to accelerate mobile app development for companies for whom devices are only a sideline.

For now, Icenium offers only limited assistance in publishing finished apps to Apple's and Google's respective app stores, although Seven said Telerik's goal is to "get to a wizard kind of approach" eventually.

One thing Icenium can do, however, is aid in digitally signing apps for submission to the iTunes Store. Ordinarily, developers need to run an OS X application to sign their apps, meaning they needed a Mac to complete that step of the process, if nothing else. Icenium can generate the appropriate signatures automatically, meaning that, for once, app developers can actually deploy to iOS without owning any Macs at all.

In fact, Icenium developers might be better off without one, at least for now. The Graphite client is currently Windows-only, meaning OS X users are stuck with the web-based Mist client.

On the plus side, Mist will even run on an iPad or any other device with a large enough screen and a standards-compliant browser. On the minus side, it lacks valuable features from Graphite and it pales in comparison to the capabilities of any modern IDE. Seven said an OS X version of Graphite will be made available next year.

Icenium's mobile OS support is also somewhat limited. For now, Android and iOS are the only platforms supported, although Seven – a former Microsoftie who spent several years on Redmond's Visual Studio team – says Windows Phone 8 is not off the table. The main challenge there, he said, would be adapting to WP8's radically different user experience.

The full Icenium suite is available beginning on Monday, including Graphite, Mist, Ion, and unlimited project hosting on Telerik's servers. As a promotion, Telerik is offering the whole shebang free of charge through May 1, 2013.

After that, the suite will be offered via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, which Seven said he expected to cost around $20 per developer, per month. Eventually, Seven expects the company to move to a tiered pricing model, with advanced features for enterprise customers offered for a higher fee, though he wouldn't share any specifics.

Nor would he disclose what was planned for the next iteration of the product, now that the veil has been lifted and Icenium has been made public. All El Reg could get from Seven – whose official title at Telerik is "Executive Vice President, Black Ops" – is that there remains "secret stuff" in the works. ®

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