A short while ago, I wrote how there’s a huge potential market for a fully featured cross-platform application generator. What tools that are available, are either functionally incomplete or don’t support many platforms.
However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be used to write certain types of application. One requirement I am increasing getting is from small/self publishers and brands who want to publish information (usually on the iPhone) without actually interacting with any phone specific features.
This can, of course, be done on the web without an application but you lose the discoverability that’s provided by an app store. However, some might argue that, with 140,000+ apps, iPhone apps have also lost the ability to be easily discovered. Coincidentally, Taptu’s (the mobile search people) latest metrics show there’s growing life in the mobile web.
It’s possible to use one of many (paid for) online iPhone app generators to auto-generate an application. However, in many cases you will want more control than the templates provide.
It’s actually relatively easy (and free) to create a more customised app for the web or for the phone. Start by looking at jQTouch. It’s probably the best plugin/library that allows you to write html pages with an iPhone look and feel. This will get you a great mobile web app with minimal effort.
If you need an installable application as opposed to a web application then take a look at PhoneGap. I was once wary about using frameworks like PhoneGap and Rhomobile because of the problems with Apple rejecting applications because they were using 3rd party frameworks. Since then, lots of lobbying has made PhoneGap (v 0.8.0) officially permitted on the app store so I now take it more seriously.
It’s possible to use jQTouch within PhoneGap. There’s a very recent tutorial at tutsplus. Also, if you are quick, there’s a whole O’Reilly book online (for review) at the moment on building iPhone Apps with HTML that includes a great chapter on including jQTouch within PhoneGap.