Our DNA is written in Swift

Developer Name Calling

I decided to concentrate on the iPhone platform back in Fall 2008 shortly after the general availability of iPhone SDK 2.0.  Since then I was frequently facing the necessity of describing what I do in a few words. Generally I described myself as “iPhone Developer”. But then two generations of the iPod Touch became just as important in sales as 3 generations of the iPhone and now Apple is releasing yet another category of device running iPhone OS, namely the iPad.

So the name “iPhone Developer” does not really feel like it encompasses all 3 device types. Especially if you are talking to laymen who don’t know about the OS being the common ground between all of them. So I asked the Twitterverse, with interesting and sometimes hilarious results.

“What should we call a developer who concentrates on developing for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad”?

42 responses, sorted by postage stamp.

Thank for the many responses!

Some people tend to think we are close-minded magicians, opportunistic gods and unconscious masochists, who are in demand and need eternal optimism to counterbalance that. But at the same time a couple of colleagues aggreated around three winning expressions, counting the votes.

  1. iPhone Developer (5) – the eternal classic
  2. Cocoa Touch Developer (4) – almost as strong and actually more true
  3. iPhone OS Developer (3) – more syllables seem to decrease the oompf

Runner up: Cocoa Toucher (2)

It appears that most people still prefer a device-centric nomenclature, which is not entirely false: there is the iPhone, the iPod Touch (which is an iPhone without telephone) and the iPad (which is a big iPhone). Apple doesn’t like if people compare all their mobile devices as different iPhones so you can often read “iPhone OS” in their literature which leads me to believe that they would prefer the third term.

In the middle on a very solid second place is the term Cocoa Touch Developer which is the most precise. But if you put “Cocoa Touch Developer” next to “Java Developer” you feel somewhat degraded, because this makes you feel like a geek and not like somebody who is able to tame the shiny beautiful phone with the i. Also Apple (and the iDev community) have not made any conscious effort to promote Cocoa as a programming platform, so most laymen would not be able to tell you the difference between Cocoa and Java. As bitter as this sounds.

So which description would you give your vote? Do you agree with the majority?

Categories: Fun


  1. I’d say it depends to who you are talking. If someone barely knows about the Apple hardware – there is a good chance he/she heard about the iPhone. If there is the need to generalize this further – I think that “crating programs or applications for Apple mobile devices” fits well. The iPad will be a huge success there fore it wouldn’t take long for everybody to recognize it.