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Simplifying Java to iOS with Third Party Applications

Apple may have reservations about Java but Java developers are all set to launch their applications on iPhone and iPad with the help of third party software that ports Java code to Objective-C.

A number of third party open source frameworks support Java code development for iOS devices, along with solutions such as Oracle’s Application Development Framework (ADF) Mobile, Google’s J2ObjC translator, Java tool Codename One and Vaadin’s TouchKit.

ADF Mobile

ADF Mobile works with Oracle JDeveloper, allowing mobile application developers to create application code once and deploy it to multiple platforms. The new ADF Mobile, expected to release next year, will support native application development for both Apple and Android devices. Develop once, and package and deploy to multiple mobile platforms as on-device applications.

ADF Mobile supports flexible runtime architecture allowing declarative development as well as incorporating local or remote HTML5 content. It enables the creation of an optimized user experience and allows developers to utilize native capabilities of devices such as GPS, accelerometer, camera, etc. With ADF, you also get authentication and security support, and offline support with SQLite.

J2ObjC Translator

The J2ObjC translator is a command line tool that translates Java code to Objective-C for iOS platforms iPhone and iPad. As yet, the code translation only covers non-UI related code. With this tool, Java developers can write the application logic, data access and similar code in Java and share it across web applications, Android and iOS applications without the need to edit the generated files. Java classes are translated to Objective-C classes that directly use the iOS Foundation Framework.

Codename One

Codename One enables Java developers to build true native applications for all mobile platforms from a single codebase written in Java. A visual tool is available to design the mobile application and you can test it with a simulator. In the final step, you can create a native application for iOS devices iPhone and iPad, and other mobile platforms including Android and Windows Phone.

Codename One is a Java plugin for standard tools Eclipse IDE or Oracle NetBeans.  You can download and install for free. Codename One performs cloud-based cross-compilations from Java to C or Objective-C. “The Java development/debugging is done entirely locally but when building for the device, the cloud portion does all the heavy lifting,” says Shai Almog, CEO of Codename One.


Vaadin TouchKit offers a Java framework for building web applications for iPad. A Java abstraction is provided on top of HTML5. The Vaadin Framework is built on a server-centric model and Java EE API’s for accessing backend services, securely and efficiently. Along with creating their mobile application in Java, Vaadin TouchKit allows developers to design captivating mobile client UIs for iPhone and iPad without using scripting languages.


Tabris is a widget toolkit for iOS and Android widget rendering. It relies on a proven technology stack using SWT, JFace and OSGi. You can write your application entirely in Java, re-use existing code and benefit from first-class IDE tools without having to cross-compile. The widgets take full advantage of the native capabilities of each platform and do not suffer from HTML performance issues.

Clearly, the development community has no plans of leaving Java developers behind in the mobile application development race that’s predominantly owned by Apple. Java developers can leverage their skills to create impressive iOS mobile applications despite Apple’s stand on Java.

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