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Mike Riley

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iOS 4 Programming Cookbook Review

February 04, 2011

With the broader US expansion of the iPhone and iPad beyond the confines of AT&T's network, expectations are high that iOS devices will continue to show strong growth in the mobile device market for the foreseeable future. As such, even more developers will continue to investigate and invest in learning the nuances of the platform's rich SDK. Will the iOS 4 Cookbook help programmers pick up on the cooler and more obtuse aspects of iOS? Read on to find out.The tech book market is quickly becoming saturated with all things iOS, such that any new book on the subject must be well beyond the basics. iOS 4 Programming Cookbook rises above the crowd in this respect, as it is not a tutorial book. Rather, it is intended for serious iOS developers who are already familiar with the overall SDK and are seeking to elevate their knowledge of the more interesting aspects of the platform.

The book is packed with 15 chapters covering a broad range of iOS topics. Starting with chapters on objects, controllers and views that set the stage for learning the specific controls and function calls that give iOS its personality. After the author details the construction of table views in the third chapter, core location and maps and gesture recognizers are covered in the next two chapters. Networking and XML along with threads and timers are explored in the next two chapters. Audiovisual operations, the iOS address book, camera and photo library are explored in Chapters 8, 9 and 10 respectively.

Multitasking is given its own chapter (as it should), and its inclusion is one of the more worthwhile chapters I found. In fact I've been working on an app that happens to have benefitted from the tip given in "completing a long-running task in the background". Core Data is another chapter that anyone opting into the Apple way of data management (versus the SQLite approach used in earlier iPhone apps) will derive a good deal of value from reading. Chapter 13 covers Event Kit, helpful for any developer dealing with the iOS calendar and notifications. Chapter 14 on Graphics and the final chapter on Core Motion supply several useful tips on drawing graphics and detecting shake events and gyroscopic positioning data. Each recipe follows the same Problem, Solution, Discussion template that O'Reilly established for its cookbook series long ago, and it continues to work quite well. The Discussion section is where readers will learn the most about what makes iOS tick (it's also the portion that contains the bulk of the book's code listings), and the numerous animal track icons highlight key takeaways from the author's own iOS development experiences. These tips are what intermediate and advanced iOS programmers will appreciate the most.

One of the things I was thankful to read was that this cookbook is presented in the single voice of the author, not a mishmash of recipes from a variety of submitted sources. The single author approach keeps redundancy to a minimum while keeping the narrative and writing style consistent. The author also takes a more methodical approach to categories being covered rather than a scattershot of Stackoverflow-like questions and answers. As such, the book is best read from cover to cover versus other tech cookbooks on the market.

Highly experienced iOS developers will likely find iOS Cookbook to be mostly a review of what they already know, with an occasional interesting factoid or a routine they used but never had the time to dig deeper to discover what was really going on behind the scenes. Until iOS master Erica Sadun updates her excellent iPhone Developer's Cookbook to cover the latest additions to the iOS SDK, Vandad Nahavandipoor's iOS 4 Programming Cookbook Review adequately fills the void.

Title: iOS 4 Programming Cookbook Review Author: Vandad Nahavandipoor Publisher: O'Reilly Media ISBN: 978-1-4493-8823-2 Pages: 640 Price: $35.99 (Ebook), $49.99 (Print)

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