Appcelerator’s development tool Titanium now comes with cloud services

Appcelerator has announced version 2.0 of its cross-platform mobile development platform Titanium, which includes integrated cloud services that will make it easier for developers to build feature-rich apps for iPhone and Android-based devices at the same time, the company said on Tuesday.

The cloud services have been dubbed Appcelerator Cloud Services (ACS) and are a result of Appcelerator’s acquisition of Cocoafish in February.

“Cocoafish has been in private beta for a while, but with the launch of Titanium 2.0 we are making the included cloud services generally available as ACS,” said Jo Ann Buckner, vice president of products at Appcelerator.

At launch, Appcelerator is offering more than a dozen cloud-based mobile features that developers can add to their applications, including the ability for end-users to store, share, and publish photos; login using Facebook or Twitter; chat from within an app; and receive push notifications.

“We hope that developers will use ACS to build more feature-rich and engaging applications,” said Buckner.

Today, companies have to cut corners on usability because it can be too time consuming or complex for internal IT organisations to add new features, according to Buckner.

An example of that was a major retail company that had built an iPad application on Titanium and wanted their users to be able to create a shopping list that was accessible from a phone. But adding that was going to take the internal IT department 9 months based on their backlog. So the shopping list ended up being stored locally on the iPad, Buckner said.

“Moving at the speed of mobile is very difficult,” she said.

ACS has been integrated with Titanium, so when developers want to allow users to upload and share images they essentially just have to call the API to access that service, according to Buckner.

“There are other cloud providers out there that offer the basic infrastructure, but you still have to write the code,” said Buckner.

The cloud services can also be used when developing apps with other cross-platform tools, including Sencha and PhoneGap, according to Buckner, but that will require a few extra steps during the development process. The workflow is a little smoother when using Titanium, she said.

ACS sits on top of Amazon’s cloud, but developers will never have to deal with Amazon directly.

“We take care of the monitoring and add more servers to handle the user load,” said Buckner.

Pricing is still being finalised, but the cost will depend on the amount of storage used and the number of API calls made on a monthly basis. There will also be a free tier, according to Appcelerator.

However, Titanium 2.0 isn’t just about the addition of cloud services. As part of the new Titanium release, Appcelerator has also announced a release candidate of its upcoming mobile Web SDK, which will probably become generally available before the end of May, according to Buckner.

“[There was] a lot of internal debate over release candidate versus general availability. But we decided to go the release candidate route because we wanted a better portfolio of Titanium applications that have actually been deployed to mobile Web before GA,” said Buckner.

The SDK will extend the Titanium platform beyond native iOS and Android applications to include HTML5 Web apps to reach a wider array of devices that use other operating systems.

But the mobile Web SDK is also opening up new opportunities on Android and iOS.

“We have app publishers that want a mobile Web app to complement their native Android and iOS apps. This comes up often in banking where they want to be able to support a user that just wants to check the balance on the phone and not do anything sophisticated,” said Buckner.

The same code can be reused for native and Web apps, butt some adaption has to happen because of more limited capabilities in the browser.

Titanium is currently used by about 300,000 which have developed approximately 40,000 applications using the tool.

The split between iOS and Android among the applications developed have been 80 percent and 20 percent so far during the second quarter, compared to 77 percent and 23 percent during the first three months of 2012.

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